Category Archives: Central Coast

The happenings and history of the California Central Coast

Paso Robles: Top Wine Country Travel Destination

One of the older established online travel sites, Orbitz, has a list of places their editors say are the top destinations. This year, they have 17 different regions to visit and only one is in a wine country vicinity: Paso Robles. In fact Orbitz listed Paso as the number four most exciting and amazing places to travel to … in the world.

bon-niche-cellars_PasoRobles

Yes, the sleepy little town I fell in love with decades earlier is now a wine enthusiast’s nirvana. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Paso’s small town feel has largely been kept intact. Nestled in the eastern hillsides of California’s Coastal Range, this Central Coast diamond has become a highly sought after travel destination. Orbitz states the over 400 wineries now spread all over the northern reaches of San Luis Obispo County:

“Produce some damn fine varietals”

From it’s many tasting rooms to Victorian style buildings to “a perfectly walkable downtown”, there’s certainly plenty to enjoy in this remarkable vacation destination. Rolling hills may obscure the many wineries, but being in close proximity to town yet offering a faraway feeling, are some of the many reasons to visit Paso Robles, according to Orbitz’s expertise.

Hotels range from luxury accommodations to the more typical arrangements. Also, foodies shouldn’t be alarmed because this town has more than its fair share of great restaurants. So the next time you’re looking for that unique cozy charm of a small town, yet the extra amenities of a larger city, Paso Robles should be number one on your list of amazing places to travel.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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El Nino Conclusion: Godzilla Got Tamed

We were told by every weather prognosticator this side of Toyko, that 2015-2016 winter season would be one to remember as the Godzilla of all El Ninos bore down on the Golden State. The result? Meh.

Godzilla is leaving - was he ever here?

Godzilla is leaving – was he ever here?

With the middle of spring in California, the forces of nature turn as the winter half of the year gives way to summer-type weather. The current week should offer up everything, with highs already hitting the 90 mark. Lows have been in the 30s, which isn’t unusual this time of year. By Friday, wine country should see a bit of rain – something we haven’t had a tremendous amount of, even though El Nino was suppose to rage with a wrath of moisture.

Not much to talk about

We noted three months ago that winter had done its usual thing, but no big rains had come our way. The same forecasters who bellowed about El Nino coming out of the sea with monster like vengeance, proclaimed March would make up for a less than destructive Godzilla. But no, there wasn’t much to say about wet weather last month other than a sprinkle or light shower here and there on the Central Coast. As April wanes, so does the intensity of rain and ultimately, this year likely will go down as nothing more than a typical season of weather … at best.

The warmer-than-normal Pacific Ocean, that is suppose to fuel El Nino’s watery devastation, is fading away. In fact, folks at the National Weather Service see a distinct possibility of La Nina moving in next fall. La Nina is El Nino’s alter ego where the surface water temps switch to cooler than normal and in-turn creates colder and drier than usual winters in California.elnino-lanina

Rain, but enough

It should be stated that our Californian brethren to the north have received above average rain, which is good for our reservoir system. However, the Sierra Nevada snow pack, where we get a majority of our water from, did not quite reach their average, especially in the central and southern sections.

Weather people got it wrong again and with it the drumbeat of drought will continue in wine country. Conserving water will persist throughout the coming year, which would make five straight years of deficient water capacity in California.

As I’ve mentioned before and Blue Oyster Cult put simply and accurately:

“History shows again and again
How nature points up the folly of men”

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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The Worlds First Motel

On the event’s 90th anniversary this month, it seems only right to look back at the world’s first ever motel.

Postcard of the Motel Inn

The only way to travel prior to affordable automobiles, was by bus, train or ship. Considering the advent of mass produced cars at the turn between 19th and 20th centuries, combined with the improved development and true major production with much less cost created by Henry Ford and his Model T, travelers needed places to stay as they motored along the United States’ fledgling road systems.

And where else might the eventual first ever motel pop up, than in California where highway and freeway travel would be become a standard for the world.

The motel is born

The simply named Motel Inn (originally called the Milestone Inn), was built in San Luis Obispo as a natural rest point halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Businessman and architect Arthur S. Heineman, the owner, named it after his and his brother Alfred’s company name, Milestone Interstate Corporation, which was created as a venture to build motor courts up and down the West Coast.

The early years of the Motel Inn.

There were hotels and other temporary living quarters available to travelers including encampments, but nothing that truly accommodated tourist, vacationers and their cars. Also, the attraction of a more feasible way to lodge, made the idea grow. Thus, the ‘motor hotel’ was formed to meet the need.

Also known as the Milestone Mo-Tel, the red-tile roofed facility opened on December 12th in 1925. Built on the Camino Real and Highway 1, a traveler could park his car in a garage and slip comfortably into a nice and clean white stucco two-room with kitchen bungalow that slept at least four adults. A buck and two bits ($1.25) would pay for a nights stay. Comfort and convenience on the cheap – in the beautiful setting that is offered on the California Central Coast.

Stumble

The Roaring Twenties were in full swing and Heineman’s creation would appear to hit it out of the park like a Babe Ruth home run. However, he wasn’t able to find the financing for a proposed chain. Competition, the 1929 Crash and subsequent Depression nixed any expansion plans afterwards.

What’s left of the Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo – circa 1990.

Having changed hands several times over the years, the Motel Inn closed in 1991 and very little remains of the historic motel other than souvenirs at what now is the Apple Farm Inn right off U.S. 101 and Monterey Street. Earlier this year, there was a proposal by a couple developers to resurrect a newer version of the Motel Inn. 10 years prior another proposed concept to revive the infamous motel never left the drawing table.

Airbnb notwithstanding, having just traveled by car this past Christmas reminded me of the vast array of hotels and motels still being used with no end in sight. Mr Heineman’s vision was ideal but maybe – as many pioneering businessman find – his timing wasn’t right.

Whether the Motel Inn ever is brought back in some renovated form is not as important as the endearing and iconic accounting it brings to the history of automobiles and travel.

Sources: The End of the Road: Vanishing Highway Architecture in America, VisitSLO, San Jose State

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Happy Thanksgiving From Wine Country

PR roads fallThanksgiving is a great American tradition and officially starts off our year end holiday celebration.

In Paso Robles this time of season, the Central Coast of California is stunning in its colors with the flowing vineyards of red, orange and yellow reminding all of us of what a beautiful place we live in.

I know some of you are already heading into the holiday rush; but, here’s hoping everyone including your family and friends have a fantastic day and celebrate all that is good with life and thank God we still live in a blessed land.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family, followers and social media folks.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Hearst Castle Is Crown Jewel Of California Central Coast

In San Simeon, California, the Hearst Castle sits on a hill above the Golden State’s Highway 1, which itself is one of the most beautifully scenic and stunning drives in all the world. With unobstructed views and towering nearly a third-of-a-mile above the Pacific Ocean, Hearst Castle is certainly a magnificent jewel and inspiring creation by a visionary: William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst was originally from San Francisco, and quite the successful newspaper mogul, who built the infamous sprawling countryside mansion nearly a century ago with the help of an incredible architect, Julia Morgan. The collaboration of these two creative minds and their relationship is a story itself and something we will probably write about later on these pages.

The ‘ranch’

Siting roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the nearly impossible construction of what was called La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill), took an incredible amount of time, money and work. Engineering such a feat was an amazing accomplishment in and of itself, regardless of the fact that this out-of-the-way estate – or simply called the ‘ranch’ – is an exploit of unmatched beauty, elegance and charm.

The inside pool offers typical elegance and beauty of Hearst Castle

The showpiece is full of art and antiquities from all over the world, making this also an unbelievable museum. There are unique and dazzling pools to incredible artistic ceilings, both custom designed and brought in-tact from Europe. Rare works of ancient art are everywhere, which brings more history to an already historical landmark. Awe-inspiring vistas offered from many different views, make this special estate one for the ages.

Personal experience

I was recently able to see this must see jewel of the California Central Coast. I came away inspired by the breathtaking views, but maybe more so, by the creation of Hearst Castle and sheer determination it took to put logistics, manpower and a vision altogether and make it work. The tour starts at the bottom of the hill on a bus and winds up for several miles while the castle appears and disappears during the journey. Everyone’s taken for some kind of tour through the Hearst Castle area, which usually last 45 minutes, then you’re on your own until you want to leave on the many buses passing up and down the hill. Of note: I was interested to find out that the usual wealthy norms of the day weren’t practiced at Hearst Castle because of the more laid-back California mores, plus equality was relatively even-handed.

The Hearst Castle towers over the California Central Coast.

William Randolph Hearst never wanted the quarter-of-a-million acre ranch for himself and always shared the glamorous mansion with a constant flux of many guest, most of whom were famous in their own right. His goal was to have the property passed on to the state for others to to enjoy and that’s exactly what happened as a state park. Therefore, anyone who visits Paso Robles wine country, should take the time to drive out to the crown jewel of the California Central Coast and see this unforgettable man-made wonder.

Additional source: Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Classic Cars Invade Central Coast – Labor Day Weekend

September 4th and 5th, check out the Paso Robles Classic Car Weekend.
There will be cruising Downtown on Friday night from 6 to 8 pm. Then Saturday, the City Park in Downtown Paso will have a cornucopia of vintage vehicles on display. Classic cars including Hot Rods will fill the park for delightful time from 9 am to 4 pm. The event is put on by the City of Paso Robles and the Golden State Classics Car Club. Net proceeds will go to local charities.

Go to the link below for more.

Source: Classic Cars Invade Central Coast – Labor Day Weekend

Godzilla, El Nino … And The Blob?!

“History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of men”

I’ve had this ringing in my ears for almost a month after seeing Blue Oyster Cult sing one of their big hits “Godzilla” at the Mid State Fair. No, this isn’t about classic rock groups or ‘B’ movies, but instead the irony and how true it rings now that the supposed Godzilla of El Nino’s sits out in the Pacific, ready to emerge once fall is in full force.

Godzilla

That’s what the weather experts are calling for this coming season (source: L.A. Times) and therefore we may see the rainiest El Nino on record. Of course, predicting nature and weather, even among scientist, is little more than a bad game of dart throwing. Still, from every corner, we’re being told that after having one of the worse droughts on record, we may end the drought with the most massive subtropical moisture driven winters ever. This may be worse than any ‘B’ movie can conjure up.

The National Weather Service states every computer model now has the Southwestern U.S. staring down the barrel of a big El Nino late this year. It likely will last through early spring. Whether this all comes to past is up for grabs since the history of nature has a tendency to show us again and again the folly of forecasting weather – it’s never been an exact science.

“With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound”

Certainly this summer has been influenced mightily by the warm waters off our California coast. We’ve had monsoonal flow from Arizona all the way up here in Central California. The Godzilla of summer storms hit California in July bringing the remnants of Hurricane Dolores right to our doorstep, causing terrible damage. There was terrible sounds of furious thunder and lightning, plus flooding and mudslides after heavy winds and three-and-a-half inches of rain fell – most of it in less than a couple hours.

Godzilla Versus The BlobThe Blob

Not to be outdone – with another ‘B’ movie reference – we also have the ‘Blob’ to contend with. Nicknamed the Blob, it’s a warmer than usual body of water that may have contributed to pulling Dolores further up the Pacific Coast. It sits in the Gulf of Alaska and although much more shallow than El Nino as far as the depth of warm water is concerned, the Blob brings an X-factor to weather forecasters.

The farmers, especially grape-growers, don’t seem as apprehensive since the vines are dormant during winter. Frost is usually the big concern in early spring after bud-break, however, if this powerful rain phenomenon should continue into spring, diseases like rot and mildew can wreak havoc with vineyards. Dolores was relatively quick, but a constant drumbeat of incessant downpours are a trademark of El Nino. If El Nino should make a premature arrival in early fall, wet weather can also ruin grapes prior to harvest; but, this years early picking will probably dodge that pitfall.

The Blob’s warm waters off Alaska and Canada is a big unknown. A typical El Nino has only warm waters off California with cooler temps north. This year’s conditions though are more intense with bigger and deeper warm water. No one is sure how this will affect the normal El Nino pattern – it could bring storms farther north and moderate the impact, or it might exasperate the conditions and make for a monster weather system.

The truth of the matter is, the Blob could influence the Godzilla of El Nino’s, which in-turn may raise its ugly head and turn around, heading back into the depths of the Pacific. October is roughly the beginning of the rainy season in California and climatologists say the next several weeks will determine more certainty as to whether this prediction of a devastating rain pattern will actually happen. Until then, it’s something no one knows for sure.

“Oh no, they say he’s got to go go go Godzilla”

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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