Last week we took the Jupiter Too up to Solvang, the quaint little Scandinavian town on California's central coast.
Other than eating pancakes (very, very good pancakes) and looking at European kitsch, there's not a whole lot to do there, so we also spent some time exploring nearby areas.
One afternoon we found ourselves at Pismo Beach, the only beach in California where you can drive on the sand. I didn't really get the appeal: Why would we want to drive on the sand? Moreover, why would one want to be on a beach where others were driving on the sand? But Steve wanted to try it out just to say he did it, so I went along for the ride, so to speak.
It actually was kind of neat. It was also unbelievably windy.
We drove near the waterline on the wettish, compact sand until we got to the end of the vehicle area. At that point we got out and snapped a photo.
About 30 seconds after Steve took that photo, the wind ripped that frisbee-like thing out of Elias's hands (or so he claims). It spun like a wheel on that yellow outer rim and rolled away past the "No Vehicles Permitted" sign. We told Elias sorry, it's gone. But he started crying, which is unusual for him. Luckily the frisbee-thing then lodged itself against a fence just outside the vehicle area, so Steve said he'd go get it.
Since we had to get back in the truck anyway and because it was so windy, we drove the 200 or so feet over to the fence rather than walking. Steve retrieved the toy then got back in and...discovered we were stuck.
I told him to put it in reverse because I know in snow you're supposed to rock back and forth. But snow tends to compact whereas sand tends to bury you deeper, plus the truck wasn't moving in any direction. Steve got out and discovered the sand was up to the running boards, thanks in part to the powderiness of being farther from the water and in part from the wind blowing so much of it against the tires just in the short time we were stopped.
Steve got out to contemplate our situation while I googled "vehicle stuck in sand." About then, a guy in a red pickup truck came driving up and started talking to Steve. The guy--who turned out to be a firefighter, too--told Steve the same thing I had just discovered in an eHow article: We needed to let air out of the tires.
So Steve let air out of our two front tires and the guy hitched us up to his truck. A minute later and we were back on the compact sand, and we had learned a valuable lesson.
Now that we know how we're supposed to drive on sand, we might even go back sometime...with the trailer! (They allow camping on the beach, too.)
As for the other stuff we did:
I found an absolutely awesome playground not far from the touristy section of Solvang. It had amazing wooden play structures, misting stations (though it was too cool to need them), swings, slides, a pristine baseball diamond, etc.
In Arroyo Grande (about an hour from Solvang) we went to a great ice cream place called Doc Burnstein's. They had some really neat flavors, like a coffee ice cream with ground-up espresso beans, Birthday Cake (Anna had that--and it did taste exactly like birthday cake), Merlot, and the one I liked most: Marzipan!
Also, while our truck might have been stuck in the sand, at least our heads weren't! Yeah, that's a really lame segue into the other highlight of our trip: feeding ostriches and emus at an ostrich farm.
Here's video of Steve feeding the ostriches. (The kids each fed the emus instead, because they were a little more tame. The emus, that is, not the kids.)
Our campground was really nice, too. Lots and lots of grass for the kids to play in.
The only downside is that it was so windy we couldn't have a campfire any of the nights we were there, which meant no s'mores and no pie-iron pies (more on that another time).