May 21, 2012

Santa Ynez Valley, CA

After spending the afternoon in Santa Barbara, we relaxed for a bit in the trailer, and then continued our drive to the Santa Ynez Valley. To get there, we chose to get off of highway 101 for a bit, and take highway 154. Highway 154 leads a steep and quick ascent into the mountains, climbing from sea level to around 4000 feet. We made the drive right around sunset, so we were only able to catch the last light on the beautiful valley views from the top of La Cumbre Peak.

View off of La Cumbre Peak
The church we were staying with, Shephard of the Valley Lutheran Church, was conveniently right off highway 154. It was located right in the middle of the gorgeous valley, surrounded by horse farms and vineyards. In the morning, we pulled out the bikes and went on a road bike tour of the valley through the towns of Santa Ynez and Solvang. On our rural bike ride we rode by Arabian horse farms, a miniature donkey farm (tiny Eeyores!), and stopped at a Shetland pony farm. Quicksilver Ranch, the Shetland farm, allows visitors to come and take a closer look at their ponies. Their latest batch of babies were born just a week before we visited, and they were out in the fields grazing with their mothers. The baby Shetlands were horribly adorable, all fuzzy and tiny.

Baby Shetland with its mom

On the way to Solvang, we also passed numerous vineyards, apple orchards and strawberry farms. It was a pretty scenic road bike ride.  Baby!!
A vineyard on our ride
A field of freshly cut hay
Solvang, Danish for “sunny fields”, was founded by a Danish colony in the early 1910’s, and the town’s roots are visible in the Danish-styled architecture. There are numerous wind mills throughout the downtown. We walked around a bit, and then satisfied our urge for good Danish food by eating some Danish hot dogs (large pork hot dogs on a bun, with deep fried onion rings and honey mustard sauce, with a side of cucumber salad). 

The Danish village of Solvang
A danish style bakery
A Danish hotdog
Solvang was also a recent host to the Amgen Tour of California. One of the race routes came through this interesting town, and there were posters on the streets celebrating the fact.

Amgen Tour of California posters
For more pictures of Santa Ynez Valley, click here.

Happy back wine country biking,


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