SoCal Road Trip 2012: LA, Sideways Wine Trail, Santa Barbara

Pinks Hot Dog


Introduction (LA, Los Olivos, Marathon, San Diego)
Pre-Trip Road Trip to DC: John Kerry at Senate Visit
LA, Sideways Wine Trail, Santa Barbara
Hollywood, Daikokuya Ramen, Universal Studios
Operation Jack Marathon, WB Studio Tour, and Socal Beaches
San Diego Zoo and Seaworld
Hollywood Sign, Rose Parade Floats, and More Ramen
San Diego Model Railroad Museum


My parents drove us to the airport and got there with plenty of time. We used the self service check-in and got the priority tags on our checked in luggage. We had our boarding passes printed and my wife humorously noted that I was priority access while she was Group 2. I told her she could board with me but she still thought it was a bit ridiculous. Mind you, I earned Priority Access with flying 25k miles in the last few months. I also had the Citibank AA credit card so I still have Priority Access back then. I officially made PLT a week before this flight.

I boarded the flight before her as she wanted to get Starbucks coffee. I got all of our stuff in the overhead and sat in the MCE double window seats on the 757. As I flew mostly shorter routes, I was used to newer 767s and overhauled 757s. I was shocked that the JFK-LAX 757s had the old two aisle interior with very small overhead bins. I will not be missing this plane once it gets replaced.

I sat in the aisle while my wife sat at the window. This is the last time its ever going to happen. She had to get up for the bathroom three times. I was trying to get some sleep as we got one of the first flights to LAX! I should’ve knew as she had her Starbucks coffee then the complementary coffee onboard. From then on, I always sit closer to the window than her.

Los Angeles

We landed around noon, got our bags and got to the rental car place to pick up our car. The first thing we did was stop by Pink’s Hot Dog. It not necessarily awesome but thought she should try it. There is always a long line for this place. Parking was easy to find in the middle of the day. At night it can become a problem.

Pinks Hot Dog

Pinks Hot Dog

Pinks Hot Dog

Pinks Hot Dog

So we went to the Grove to meet with a friend of ours who was visiting home during the holiday break. We caught up quickly while she was doing some shopping and we sat for a while over coffee. We were remarking about how weird it was to see each other so often as she was staying with us in Boston over the summer, I stayed at her place in Austin before the Dallas Marathon and now meeting on the west coast.

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We were heading up to Los Olivos for wine tasting so I picked a SPG property north of LA so it would make our drive a bit easier tomorrow. We stayed at the Sheraton Agoura Hills. Without status, we didn’t much more than just the room I booked.

Los Olivos and Wine Tasting

The following morning, we drove up to Los Olivios for some wine tasting.

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We first went to Fess Parker as this was a large winery. We went to two other smaller wineries that escapes my memory. They were much smaller wine shops and we got a bottle from Fess Parker and another winery.

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Fess Parker Wine Tasting Menu

Fess Parker Wine Tasting Menu

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We stopped in the small town of Los Olivos where there are probably more tasting rooms here than anywhere else in the world. These wine tasting rooms are either ran by a larger vineyard or an independent shop that has wines from various vineyards to taste. I stopped in Los Olivos Wine Tasting room the first time I was there in 2009.

This time, I stopped in Epiphany that is just down the road on this trip. I was trying to find this place again about 9 months later online but realized that they had completely renovated their tasting room there so it looks nothing like the original. I would be interested in stopping in there again to see the new tasting room as it is very modern, spacious with glass facades and an outdoor garden. It has a modern California vibe to it.

[googlemaps //,+los+olivos&fb=1&hq=tasting+room,&hnear=Los+Olivos,+Santa+Barbara,+California&t=m&fll=34.666535,-120.114899&fspn=0.007262,0.013776&st=109146043351405611748&rq=1&ev=zi&split=1&ll=34.684458,-120.120792&spn=0.007262,0.013776&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

During my tasting at Epiphany, I actually met a pilot for United. He was flying the smaller planes out of Santa Barbara. We talked briefly about this time as a pilot. He also recommended a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Chuck’s of Hawaii. We looked at reviews and saw it was a decent place. We would be staying in Santa Barbara that night so we needed dinner there.

We got to Chuck’s of Hawaii and this is definitely one of the darkest restaurants I’ve ever been in. This was definitely a place you take your mistress to have dinner so you won’t be seen. I have excellent vision even in the dark but this place was just that dark. The clientele was mostly older or retired couples or older families who also bring their adult kids. In Europe, they would call most of the patrons pensioners. As a side note, they are known for being a good steakhouse.

The food was ok but it was over-priced. The decor was nice but very tacky and over the top. The Hawaiian theme just didn’t work in my opinion. Also, this restaurant believes that it is always dark in Hawaii.  I will definitely be hesistant to take restaurant advice from a much older couple.

Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort

Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos from this resort. It was a nice coastal resort. The room was a bit small but I did get a complimentary drink at the bar.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the gym at this resort as we got in late and we were going to be leaving early the following morning.

We went to Pete’s Breakfast House Restaurant for breakfast. We managed to get a table quickly but not uncommon to have to wait for a table. It was a very good place for breakfast and I highly recommend it. We also bought some jam from them as well as it was amazing on our toast.

Pete's Breakfast House - Eggs Benedict

Pete’s Breakfast House – Eggs Benedict

We stopped at Santa Barbara pier and I did another wine tasting there. We grabbed a quick bite to eat on the pier and drove down near Malibu on our way to check into the Andaz West Hollywood.

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We managed to stop at a few different beaches and take in the West Coast Sunset. At this time, there were not a lot of people on the beach so it was very relaxing.

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Even though it was two days before Christmas, I had a global teleconference coordinating an important production launch of one of my products. I spent much of the time during the drive after the sunset at Malibu to the drive down to Santa Monica on the call. Once we were done, we went to the first of three ramen restaurants during our road trip.

We went to try Santouka Ramen, which was in the Mitsuwa Market Place in Torrance, CA. The ramen was good but not something my wife would go out of the way for. After our meal, we checked into the Andaz West Hollywood.

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After a good meal, we checked into Andaz West Hollywood. This will be covered in the next post.

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