On the Pacific

Orchids & Strawberries on the Oxnard Plain

Orchids at the Gallup & Stribling Orchid Farm in Carpinteria - Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

Leaving Santa Barbara, we followed Route 101 back south. Today, the highway was a bit less congested than on our way north on Friday. So, we stopped at several road-side attractions just because we had some extra time.  Our favorite were the orchids at the Gallup & Stribling Orchid Farm in Carpinteria. They offered some of the most beautiful – and beautifully kept – flowers that we have seen.

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We then headed to the city of Oxnard.  Sometimes referred to as the “Strawberry Coast”, it was easy to see why.  In every direction I looked, I was treated to the sight of vast areas of real estate covered by strawberry plants.

According to Wikipedia, Oxnard is: “at the western edge of the fertile Oxnard Plain and is one of the world’s most important agricultural centers, with its distinction as the strawberry and lima bean capital.” There is even a Strawberry Triathlon in March and  California Strawberry Festival in May to celebrate the delectable treat.

Herzog Wine Cellars & Kosher Wine

herzog wine cellars
Herzog Wine Cellars – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

On the far east side of town (and essentially at the very gateway to the Southern California wine country), we located the Herzog Wine Cellars. The building is  a beautiful and unique structure where kosher wines are produced by the Herzog family, much as they have been for over a hundred years.

In the event you didn’t know what a kosher wine is (I didn’t either), here is a quote from the Herzog website:

“…kosher wine can be handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews — those individuals who strictly observe kosher dietary laws. In addition, kosher winemakers are forbidden to use any products, such as unauthorized yeasts or animal-based fining agents that might fall outside the parameters of kosher convention and thus compromise the ritual essence of the wine.

We tasted some excellent whites, reds and even dessert wines and took a short but informative self-guided tour of the winery.  After a quick look at the menu, we also decided that the on-site restaurant – Tierra Sur – would be our destination of choice for dinner on Monday evening.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach

balcony with a view of the Pacific Ocean
Our view of Mandalay Beach from our room at Embassy Suites – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

Today’s agenda may not have been the fullest, but it sure felt like it, and it was time to locate our hotel. Our choice? The Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach… and it was right on Mandalay Beach – what an excellent location! Our room was on the second floor and had its own little balcony that overlooked the ocean. It’s an all-suites hotel with many great amenities! After getting settled in, we took a short drive to the marina area. We wanted to check out the location of the restaurant where we would meet our friends (Ralph & Lauren) who were driving up from  Los Angeles to have dinner with us. Dinner was to be at a place called The Whale’s Tail.

The Whale’s Tail Restaurant

According to our server, the Whale’s Tail has been in its present location for over thirty years.  (Unfortunately, the Whale’s Tail was permanently closed in 2015. ) Situated not far from the mouth of the burgeoning marina, it boasted an all-windows upper level with additional outdoor seating area. Also available was a lower level (with plenty of windows, too). It seemed a bit better suited for dinner, with a comfortable, relaxed feel that made it the perfect place for just about any occasion.

We enjoyed a glass of wine as we watched various types of boats move up and down the waterway. Many were obviously eager for the official arrival of spring and warmer weather. Others were oblivious to the late winter chill in the air as they guided their sailboats toward the Pacific.  Ralph and Lauren met us back at the hotel, and the four of us took a leisurely stroll along the beach. We laughed at the memories of our past antics, happy to be together again – even if it was only going to be for dinner on this trip.

Appetizers, Dinner, Cocktails & Conversation

view of harbor
View of the harbor from The Whale’s Tail restaurant – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

We had planned an early meal due to the need for our friends to return to Los Angeles that evening. We headed to the Whale’s Tail where we enjoyed some great Pacific Ceviche, Calamari and Artichoke appetizers, dinners of fresh Halibut, Pacific Snapper and Sea Bass, cocktails, and excellent conversation.  The months since our last time together seemed like only days. We all lamented how quickly time passes.

And much too soon, dinner was over, and our friends had to head back to L.A.  Yvonne and I were quite tired ourselves. We enjoyed a nightcap and some quiet conversation on our balcony, then opened the windows and headed to bed. We quickly fell asleep to the roar of the crashing waves in the distance.



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We launched this website in 2004 after getting married on a beautiful bluff just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, on the patio of a small restaurant called Rocky Point. Since that time, we have returned to the West Coast as often as time and funds would allow, always seeking new restaurants, wineries, beaches, unforgettable memories…“


Yvonne & Richard