>Despite my unfortunate mislabeling of the previous post as "fun trips that are not fun any more" rather than "fun trips," I am having a great time on my jaunt through the sunny (albeit not overly warm) state of California.

Here Liz and I are outside the Museum of Jurassic Technology:

(I got my ridiculously fashionable coat on sale at Esprit during the snowstorm that prevented me from visiting Alex a few weekends ago. While shopping, '80s music was playing over the sound system and I felt like I was in junior high all over again - the setting and sounds were the same, although to be fair, I didn't shop at Esprit back in the day, as it was out of my price range, but I am majorly digressing here. The point is, the coat is cute and now too tight because I've eaten an enormous quantity of marzipan and other baked goods while on my trip.)

On my birthday (Saturday), we drive up to see Suebob. She showed us around her town and treated us to the yummiest tacos and guacamole ever. Her house is adorable, and I loved meeting Goldie, her sweet golden retriever. (Husband was not tormented by Goldie, so no worries.)

Then Husband and I headed to Santa Barbara, where we stayed at an overpriced hotel by the ocean. I decadently ate lobster tail for dinner. For dessert, Husband and I picked up marzipan petit fours from The Andersen, a Danish bakery, and ate it once the stupid hotel found a room for us with working heat. Luxury hotel my ass...

On Sunday, we started out bright and early and hit the little town of Solvang, which was founded by Danish immigrants who were sick of midwestern winters. The town remains 60% Danish, and is full of cheesy architecture that I loved. We bought more marzipan pastries from Olsen's, which displayed a ginormous gingerbread house:

From there, we drove up the road to a lavender farm that Liz recommended. It was heavenly, which of course means that we departed the sublime and descended into the grotesque. We made a pit stop at the world famous Madonna Inn (featuring a waterfall in the men's restroom as well as loads of pink decorations and ornate insanity around the hotel) on the way to San Luis Obispo, where we had to check out Bubble Gum Alley:

Then it was on to Hearst Castle, which was probably the most obscene place I ever visited. It is very nice that the man was generous to his guests, but damn. It is hard to say an ill word about the gorgeous indoor swimming pool, which had thousands of pieces of Venetian glass tile glowing under the water.

After a long day, what better way to relax than to spend the night in a spacious, heated yurt? (Maybe something with a bathro

Once we unpacked, we sat on the porch and gazed at the gajillions of stars in the sky. It was incredible! In the morning, I took this photo of our lodgings:

If it had a bathroom, it would have been perfect... Oh well. It was still a worthwhile experience. Husband and I hiked two short trails in two different state parks for breathtaking views of nature:

Winding up our sightseeing journey at Winchester Mystery House, designed by Mrs. Winchester (inheritor of the Winchester Rifle Co. fortune) to confuse the spirits of the people killed by Winchester rifles. Featuring doors that open into walls (or sheer drops, as seen below ), stairs that end at ceilings, and mysterious nooks and crannies, it was quite a contrast to Hearst Castle.

Last, but not least, Husband and I landed in Count Mockula's delightful home, where her sweetie cooked us a yummy meal, her adorable baby entertained us, and we savored after dinner hot chocolate before heading off to our (free) hotel, from which I am blogging right now while attempting to keep my eyes open. We'll see Kara and her family again tomorrow (and Suebob, too!), then head to San Francisco for a few days.

Good times!!! (Pictures can be made bigger by clicking on them. And thanks for bearing with this loooooong post.)