Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Around Town: An old person's guide to the 101 - LA Canada

My friend (and former physician), the late George Hjelte, regularly drove from Pasadena to Palo Alto, up Highway 101. He made the trip to see his daughter. He did this well into his 80s, loading up the car with his favorite pooch, making stops along the way.

“I’m not in a hurry,” he told me.

For people in a hurry, there’s the Interstate 5 to the Pacheco Pass, right through Old Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world), to connect with Highway 101.

People in a hurry drive (or fly) straight through to their destination. Life becomes an endless jumble of TSA checkpoints, weak cocktails and texting.

On the next-to-last weekend of the summer, the weekend before Labor Day weekend, we decided to not be in a hurry. Our first stop was to drop off Miss Audrey Hepburn (our black Lab) with her uncles in West Hollywood at 9:53 a.m. And then we were on the road by 10:15 a.m.

The timing is quite unlike the glory trips of our children’s childhood, rising in the dark, loading the car with sunflower seeds, juice and pillows, always on the road at first light to arrive in Idaho by nightfall. We were young then. We were in a hurry. Last weekend, we hit the 101 at a more civilized hour.

Our first stop, of course, was in Buellton. This was not the Buellton of our children’s childhood, with a stop at Andersen’s Pea Soup. We were adults now, so we stopped for lunch at Mother Hubbard’s, where the locals eat.

My “health nut sandwich” was the best I’ve ever had. The sandwich comes with Swiss cheese, sliced tomato, avocado, alfalfa sprouts on whole-wheat bread with a little mayo. The bread was homemade and fresh-baked. Len had the chicken. A group of local ladies was seated at a nearby table. They reminded me of Thursday Clubbers.

After lunch, we explored the street. There were a lot of vintage cars parked nearby. Next door was a western-wear shop. It smelled deliciously of leather. At the end of the block was a Mexican market, where we bought gum.

The only problem with having lunch at Mother Hubbard’s is that you can’t eat lunch two hours later at the Wild Horse Cafe in King City. We stopped for tea and root beer. Len says the root beer at the Wild Horse reminds him of his childhood. We did not have wild burger, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, fresh avocado slices, two strips of bacon and mozzarella cheese over a grilled hamburger patty, served on a grilled hamburger bun. Nor did we order the 8-ounce rib eye steak and eggs.

But we did go to the Wild Horse Country Store to buy homemade plum/apricot jam and local wines. Jack, the owner, helped us select a 2004 Dancing Bull Chardonnay and a 2004 Line Shack Cabernet Sauvignon.

We shared the wines with those we love. Like the folks at Dancing Bull always say, “Skip the swirling and sniffing (and spitting), and just enjoy our wines.”

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La CaƱada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at

Around Town: An old person's guide to the 101 - LCF Valley Sun

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