Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Warm Velkommen

We started this blog as a bit of a travel journal for us to write together... to capture with words and images the adventures on which we hope to embark, and the Adventure of life which we have chosen to share. In the ensuing year (the first one, I'm told, is the hardest... which is strange to me. It seems like the last one would be the hardest), we have not had the money or time to really enjoy as many adventures as we had hoped, but our Adventure has been both stressful and rewarding. We have nearly opposite work schedules, we have a five month old puppy which we adopted three months ago, and we are still figuring out the best way to get through, but every day brings a reminder of why neither of us would want to try this without the other. I mean, honestly, if I tried to do this alone, who would make sure my bills were paid, and there was food in the fridge... and if she was alone, who would... I don't know... bother her all the time, or.... um... oh, who would put the pillow under her knees and get her a glass of water every night? (fair trade, right?)

So, to celebrate the successful completion of one full year together, and all of the learning, loving, and growing we've done together, we decided to take off for Europe for a few days. Then we remembered we're struggling newlyweds with a bouncy pouncy puppy and figured it was better to just go to Solvang.

We occasionally have difficulty finding leisure activities that suit both of our tastes. I like beer, she likes wine. I like Star Wars, she likes Sweet Home Alabama. Even food, which is a passion for both of us, can be a problem, considering I'm mostly Irish and Scandinavian, and she's mostly Mediterranean. Compromise is really what it's all about... so I'm glad that she's willing to do so much of it, otherwise this would be much more difficult for me. We got engaged and married in the mountains, honeymooned in Ireland, went to an Irish Rovers concert and Solvang for our first anniversary... I guess our next stop should probably be Italy or Spain if we're going to balance the scales a bit here. Or maybe I'll just pretend I haven't noticed this trend and we'll hit up Iceland next.

Solvang really is a bit of a compromise for us though... not in the sense that either of us is giving up anything in favor of the desires of the other, but in the sense that there is plenty to accommodate our often differing tastes. And, in any case, it really is enough to just have the time away together.

Having not taken the travel journal with us, I'll only be able to summarize the trip a bit, but I don't expect that will offend many of you.

It's fortunate for us that almost everywhere in and around Solvang is dog friendly (though the hostess at Firestone Walker brewery in Buellton seemed confused about what that term meant when I called, "Um... I don't... let me ask my manager............ we can give you food to-go and then you can eat it outside with your dog, if you want."), and most of the places we wanted to visit were open on Mondays and Tuesdays, which we did not expect.

We stayed at Wine Valley Inn, went to Zaca Mesa, Fess Parker, Coquelicot (pronounced CoKleeCo), and Roblar wineries; ate at Cecco's, Paula's Pancake House, and Solvang Brewing Company, and fairly well enjoyed it all. I should note, however, that while the beer, atmosphere, and staff are all very pleasant indeed, as was most of the food, the mashed potatoes felt and tasted like they'd come out of a Stouffer's frozen meal. There was absolutely no substance or flavor to them apart from the gravy which was in too poor supply to cover the potato's inadequacy. Everything else on either of our plates was borderline incredible... and the Julefest ale tasted like Christmas and felt like magic. I'm pretty sure it's what Santa gives the reindeer to make them fly.

I've heard it said (though I can't remember, and you probably don't care, by whom) that marriage is a constant learning experience, and I learned two very important things on this trip. Firstly I learned, or rather confirmed an earlier suspicion, that we were incredibly fortunate with the puppy we adopted. She is adorable, intelligent, loving, sweet, obedient, and is only becoming more so as time goes on. We had her off her leash at two different wineries and she would walk beside me when I asked her to, or would sit and stay until I called to her. Everyone was surprised that she's only five months old, considering how well behaved she is. She has a little trouble listening when there are squirrels around, but other than that she's pretty much the perfect dog. Secondly, I have learned that I have nearly forgotten how to talk to anyone about anything aside from my dog. I'm going to be one of those parents. I understand that no one cares... no one wants to hear about how smart or cute your kid is, or, if they do care, they don't fully believe you. And that's fine. They don't have to. My dog is cuter and smarter than yours just like yours is cuter and smarter than mine (only mine really is). I suppose, considering I've never really been good at conversation as it is, and I don't like sports... I really should figure out some other topics for small talk if I'm ever going to be a tolerable human being again.