With the exception of going to Disneyland, there aren't many tourist clichés about California that Sally,
Darryl and I didn't indulge on our trip.   We:

Went to wine tastings in Sonoma County
Watched seals at Jenner on the coast
Rode cable cars in San Francisco and had cocktails at the Top of the Mark
Had dinner at Clint Eastwood's restaurant in Carmel
Drove the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles
Went to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon
Visited the Reagan Presidential Library
Went to a taping of the Tonight Show in Hollywood and
Saw Faith Hill in concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Heck, we even went to the State Capitol in
Sacramento.  Most importantly, we attended
my niece's wedding.  And we ate and ate and ate and....
A word about hotels...

One of the things that made this
trip so great was our selection of
the five hotels we visited.

My personal favorite was our
selection of Vintner's Inn in
Sonoma County.  Here's a photo
of the patio of our room (where
Sally developed a personal
relationship with a hummingbird
she named "Chuck".  This
picture is taken through the
grape vines of the vineyard that
surrounded us.

When we moved on to San
Francisco, we stayed at the
Tuscan Inn at Fisherman's
Wharf.  I had stayed here on
business in the past and liked it
quite a lot.  It's a bit worn
around the edges now, but you
can't beat the hospitality of the
staff and the location--around
the corner from the end of the
cable car line and across from
the ferry to Sausalito.

Sally's favorite hotel was the
LaPlaya on Carmel by the Sea.  
Here's a photo of her enjoying a
mojito in the bar.

I probably didn't enjoy the hotel
as much as Sally did because that
was where our rental car decided
to give up the ghost.  I spent a
significant amount of my time in
Carmel waiting for tow trucks
and driving to the Budget office
in Monterrey to pick up a new
car for us.

In Santa Barbara, we stayed at
the Hotel Santa Barbara
downtown on State Street, which
provided a great location to see
the sites of the city, and in Los
Angeles, we were at the Luxe Bel
Air on Sunset Boulevard.  It's
kind of a funky place.  When we
checked in the receptionist said
that she'd upgraded us to a
"theme suite".  She wouldn't tell
what the theme was, but it
turned out to be Japanese.  The
huge room had a great patio
overlooking the
Westwood-Century City area.

So obviously, if you're going to California, you've got to have a big finale, and on Friday, we did.

We started in Pasadena by touring the Gamble House, a famous representation of the Arts and Crafts school of design
from the early 20th  century.  Darryl is a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan (for some reason) and although Frank didn't
design the Gamble House, two of his disciples did.

From there, we went to Universal Studios for a taping of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.  Conan's guests were
actor Seth Green,  a stuntman,and Demi Lovato from the Disney Channel.  Even though we had to wait in line for an
hour-and-a-half to get in (see photo at  top of page), it was worth it, and we had a great time.

Afterward, we hotfooted it down to Hollywood to see Faith Hill at the Hollywood Bowl.  Yes, it was a long way from Star,
Mississippi to the big  stage she was standing on Friday night, but she did indeed make that stage her own.  She put on a
great show and the audience loved her.

To toast the success of the trip before returning home on Saturday, we went to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a nightcap.

It was truly a memorable trip.
Well, OF COURSE, I made a
compilation CD
for the trip.  Here's what was
on it

Pacific Coast Party  Smash Mouth
Highway 101   Jackson Taylor Band
Santa Rosa   The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Late Great Golden State   
   Dwight Yoakam
(More Bounce in) California   
   Soul Kind #1
20th Century Fox Fanfare   
   The London Symphony Orchestra
Ready to Take a Chance Again   
   Barry Manilow
Fake Tales of San Francisco   
   Arctic Monkeys
San Francisco   Judy Garland
Studebaker   Warren Zevon
I Love L. A.    Randy Newman
Moving to L. A.   Art Brut
Los Angelenos   Billy Joel
All I Wanna Do   Sheryl Crow
Hell Looks a Lot Like L. A.   Less Than Jake
Hooray for Hollywood   Duke Ellington
The Little Old Lady from Pasadena   
   Jan and Dean
Sweet Dreams  My LA Ex   Rachel Stevens
Disneyland   Five for Fighting
California Girls   David Lee Roth
California Girls   Gretchen Wilson
California, Here I Come!   Al Jolson

Yeah, Darryl is lots of fun, but
when you're traveling with him,
all of Baton Rouge comes along
for the trip.  (Needless to say, that
if you're an investor or tenant in
Baton Rouge, you should do
business with Darryl because he'll
always take your call.)

Sally and I have made a joke out
of it over the years,and on this
trip, I thought I'd do a "photo
collage" of Darryl on the phone in
scenic locations.  This is as far as I
got before I gave up.

Darryl on the phone in San

Darryl on the phone at San

Darryl on the phone at Alcatraz...

You get the picture.

Sally, Darryl and Matt in the Golden State
July 2009
Sally, Darryl and I were resolved
to go somewhere that started
with an "I" in 2009--either
Iceland, Italy or India.  Oddly
enough, Iceland was the front
runner until schedules couldn't
be worked out.  

As it turns out, the second week
in July was the only week they
were available.  I said I had to be
at my niece's wedding in
Sacramento that week.  From
there, it was inevitable that we
would decide that we'd all go!
After arriving late on Thursday, driving to Santa
Rosa and getting settled in at Vintner's Inn, we
relaxed on Friday and visited a few Sonoma
vinyards, including B.R. Cohn (left).
The highlight of the trip came on Saturday, when we drove over to Sacramento for the wedding of my niece
Meghan to Mike Wilmoth (above).  They were both adorable, and Michele and Nick put on a fine wedding.   

Afterward, Darryl, Sally and I poked around town, visiting points of interest like the State Capitol (left).  We
thought we were going to see Arnold, but we didn't want to wait around for him to come out of a meeting.
On Sunday, we went into San Francisco and
spent a couple of days doing tourist stuff--and
eating, of course.

On Monday, we took the ferry over to
Sausalito and bought--of all things-Christmas
trees.   (What could we do?  They were on
Like all good tourists, we drove California 1 along the coast from Half Moon Bay to San Simeon.  The Hearst
Castle was as advertised.  I could totally see some obsessive-type person spending ten years and millions of
dollars to build it--and then going quite mad at the prospect of having to live there.
Needless to say, the three of us were thrilled at the prospect of visiting the Reagan Presidential Library
in Simi Valley--and it did not disappoint.