|Santa Barbara With Charlie
||[Mar. 25th, 2006[Snapshot Taken]05:29 pm]
Charlie picked me up from my house and we started heading North Saturday, March 25. I believe it was sprinkling, or at least looked like rain. The fight from the week before had dissolved into a ghost of an itch in the back of your throat—just enough for you to wonder whether the cough would re-surface. It didn’t. We took our bikes along for the ride, and it was my first day cigarette-free. |
Debbie, Charlie’s mom, had booked us a hotel in advance because for many schools, Spring Break had started. Driving down State Street in Santa Barbara, we found our hotel. It was of the single story seedy variety, and Charlie announced that for $170/night we should be getting the Crown Plaza. Without setting foot onto the premises, Charlie called the lady at the reservation desk and told her that we wouldn’t be making it because we’d gotten into a car accident. I laughed at this drastic excuse, but it’d gotten him out of airtight reservations before.
A few blocks later, Charlie and I agreed on the Orange Tree Hotel. It was for the same amount as the ‘Roach Motel’ so that’s where we hung our hats. The receptionist was watching a makeover talk show and I made a comment about how people generally don’t know what looks good on them, to which she responded, “like me.” I shrugged and told her she was adorable. She blushed profusely, and just like that we were friends. Before going up to the room, I noticed a pink Victoria’s Secret shopping bag Charlie had in tow. I began to feel flushed; not only were we going to spend the weekend away from everybody in a hotel all by ourselves, Charlie had gotten me a present!
We didn’t waste time in our hotel room because Charlie thought that if we wanted to execute his wine-tasting plan, we had better head out—it was already 3:00 and the wineries closed at 5:00. The mystery package would have to wait. Having Charlie’s proclaimed ‘Sideways’ tour the same day I’d quit smoking was an ominous prospect, but if I wanted to put last week’s sourness behind us, I’d have to be a trooper.
On our hotel map, we found an area advertising a cluster of wineries and drove toward that. Los Olivos ended up being a quaint little town with unfinished tee-pee like structures in the dirt. “I want it more open, not this blowing it shit,” Charlie announced, “let’s go look for some vineyards,” so Charlie drove on to Fess Parker, the most famous and furthest away of the bunch. The trip to Fess Parker advertised scenes from the movie, ‘Sideways,’ complete with the oak tree the characters had run into. “This is more like it. Are you stoked, Little?” Charlie bellowed excitedly. Because I was, I nodded my head and smiled viciously.
Fess Parker was huge. Once inside the massive and beautifully decorated showroom was a crowd around the serving counter. We got a hold of two menus featuring each type of wine we would sample. The first was a white wine with just the perfect blend of fruits not to be too fruity and aged just right. We both eagerly awaited each new coming flavor as they were poured into our keepsake souvenir wine glasses imprinted with a tiny white Daniel Boone insignia.
By this time I thought it appropriate to mention to Charlie how my favorite teacher at school was married to a descendant of Pochahontas and how I myself used to sell wine—planted in the middle of a Costco (it was a Boujoulay) and how I couldn’t even serve samples—but I did boost sales so much they asked me to represent them at a convention. Apart from that, the wine at Fess Parker was de-vine.
A Little Tipsy at Fess Parker
After we were finished, Charlie hustled to our next stop—Firestone Winery; “That cheesy guy on ‘The Bachelor’ was a Firestone. Let’s hit that up because we should go for all the big names first.” The atmosphere was completely different here—there were lots of younger people, the place was darker than Fess Parker’s open room and spacious gardens, and so it felt much like a real bar. “The wine also tastes like tires,” I complained. I couldn’t finish the selections, so Charlie downed them instead. When even he couldn’t stomach the bitter juice, he poured them into the wine jugs—“I bet they bottle this stuff up,” he said of the jug.
Firestone is also connected to another winery called Curtis. It was a two for one deal—go to Firestone, and you could taste the list at Curtis for free. “You could technically hop from one to the other as long as you get a different bar tender,” Charlie laughed. The wine here was markedly better, but of the three, it had the poorest ambiance. By this time, Charlie and I decided to take our time and talk a bit. The both of us were now sipping our wine and talking; it was one of those conversations where you don’t remember what was said, only that there was a very pleasant feeling associated with the words.
Later that night, we returned to the Orange Tree with our brains sufficiently ‘massaged’ from the wine. When Charlie entered the bathroom, he let out a hoot because not only was the thing misshapen, the shower was a stand-up box inside which you couldn’t fully extend your arms. My attention focused to my present. “Open it,” he said. It was wrapped in Victoria’s Secret signature pink tissue, which only intensified the baby blue of the little doll’s nightdress he bought me. The cut was perfect—straight across the chest with small pink ribbons connecting the spaghetti straps. It was very short and ended in ruffles. “I love it!” I hugged him; it really did bring out my best features…he’s so observant, I thought. This night, he hugged me until we fell asleep.
In Our New Hotel Room
Sunday is the day they have the sidewalk sales along the beach, so Charlie and I unhooked our bikes and began at the beginning. The day was beautiful and just right for a bike ride. Debbie must never find out about this place, we agreed, because their home was already full of knickknacks. After we bored of the sidewalk sales and biked up State street, I decided to show Charlie the duck pond. It’s the place my family and I always head toward when we’re biking. The pond is tiny and unimpressive, but the sense of adventure and the scenery on the way is the best part. “Quack, quack!” Charlie yelled gleefully at the ducks.