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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: San Diego

Closing the Door to the Travel Year 2017

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

It is time to sum up again what has happened in the past year; ups and downs, and then move on to new adventures. Even though we were not able to travel as much last year, it was still a memorable year for other reasons. 


In January, I traveled to Finland to visit my family and friends. At that time we had just found out that we were expecting a baby, and I knew that most likely I will not be able to visit Finland later in a year. I thought we might be traveling to closer destinations, but honestly, during this pregnancy I felt like home was the best, so our travels were minimum this year. 


While I was visiting Finland I also went to Matka Nordic Travel Fair in Helsinki. It had been a few years since my previous visit to the fair and it was interesting to see all the changes.





After visiting a travel fair in Finland I also participated in a fair here in Santa Clara, California. The high light of the Travel Adventure Show was meeting Phil Keoghan from the Amazing Race, but there were also many other interesting keynotes at the show.


In March, my friend and I toured around Eugene Oneill's Tao House in Danville (the main picture). He was a famous novel writer who also won a Nobel prize. The house is part of the national parks system and so I was able to mark it off from my list.

In April, we got some guests when my husband's family was visiting us. Their only wish was to see Alcatraz. So we headed to San Francisco and took a ferry to Alcatraz Island in the beautiful spring weather. Even though I had been to Alcatraz before, there was still plenty to see there and we had a great trip.

In May, we headed out on a road trip to Southern California. Our little miss got to experience Disneyland for the very first time, and of course, that was the highlight of the year for her. 


The actual reason for this road trip was a family wedding. It took place in Temecula Wine Country which was so beautiful.

After the wedding, the trip continued all the way to San Diego. We visited famous Old Town San Diego, some beaches, Cabrillo National Monument, the Gaslamp District and some Top Gun filming locations


From San Diego we headed back up north, but we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave desert, Cesar Chaves National Monument and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. At Sequoia we saw one of the biggest trees in the world: General Sherman. We also drove part of the original Route 66

After the road trip it was time to settle down and get ready for our new family member. We did one shorter trip and went to see Port Chicago National Monument as well as the house of John Muir. They are also part of the national park system. 


At the end of April, during the great solar eclipse in the US, we had a beautiful little baby girl. Absolutely the highlight of our year! A couple of months went by just like that, while we were trying to adjust to our new life. I at least managed to visit some old colleagues at Instagram Headquarters for lunch.  


The year 2017 was one of the worst wild fire years in California. We also got our share of it when the winds blew all the dangerous smoke our way. On those days we had to stay inside the house. Even the sun was just a little dot in the sky which could be seen through the smoke. Both Napa Valley and Sonoma Wine Country suffered tremendously, and hundreds of people lost their homes. It was horrible!

One of the most unique places I visited this year was for sure the Museum of Ice Cream. I have never been to a place quite like that and certainly never swam in a pool of sprinkles. We had fun in the museum even though we would have gladly stayed there even longer. 


Our new baby did her very first trip when we travelled to Southern California for the holidays. The drive over there was long and slow, but coming back home was nice since we cut it in half by visiting Solvang. Solvang is a cute, Danish-style town close to Santa Barbara. Very close to Solvang is Michael Jackson's Neverland, where we visited before driving back home. You are not able to go in of course, but you can see all the mementos and pictures the fans have brought to the gate, and read some of the things they have written on the stones.


At Christmas time, we visited The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California. Every year it is beautifully decorated for the holidays. We also went to the Historic McDonald's Museum. I will be writing about both of these places in a post soon.


Happy New Year to everybody!

National Lighthouse Day

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

Did you know, that there is a day dedicated to lighthouses? Here in the US, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated on August 7th. Since I have always lived on the coast in Finland and here in California, I am used to seeing and visiting lighthouses on my trips.

Point Reyes National Seashore is pretty close to where we live, so we have visited there multiple times. The lighthouse was first opened in 1870 and it served for 105 years. Now it is one of the most visited places in this national park. You can visit inside the lighthouse, but not before you walk down the 308 stairs to it. Next to the lighthouse there is a little museum. It is absolutely worth it to go down to the lighthouse, but just remember that you also must climb the stairs back up. If you are lucky, you might see some whales or sea lions from the lighthouse. 


These two lighthouses above, we visited on our road trip up the Northern California coast. The one on the left, Point Cabrillo Light Station, is still in use, and is located in Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park on the Pacific Coast Highway. Inside the lighthouse they have a little museum and a gift shop. The lighthouse on the right is on the same road and has been seen in many movies. Point Arena Lighthouse is also open for visitors but you have to purchase a ticket to get on the tour.  


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was opened in 1856 and it is located in Washington state. The lighthouse is in a state park with some beautiful views and hiking trails around it. I think I still have some stories from this particular trip to be written. On the right is the Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands. It is a great destination if you are visiting San Francisco, but you should check the opening hours before going. It can only be accessed through a tunnel which is only open for certain hours.


In May I visited San Diego, California and of course stopped at some lighthouses as well. At Cabrillo National Monument (left) one can visit Old Point Loma Lighthouse. One can visit the lighthouse inside and even climb up to the light tower. The picture on the right is from the New Point Loma Lighthouse which is not open to visitors. The lighthouse was featured in the Top Gun movie.

I'm sure we will visit many other lighthouses in the future, since we love to drive on the California coast. I hope that next summer we can visit some lighthouses on our trip to Finland as well, and maybe even stay the night at one of them!

Chillin in San Diego, California

Paula Gaston

One of the highlights on this road trip were the days we spent in San Diego. After hectic days of visiting Disneyland and a wedding in Temecula, it was nice to be able to relax. San Diego is the southernmost city of California and borders Mexico. There are about 1.5 million inhabitants in San Diego, and it is widely known for it's year-round perfect weather, beaches and chill life style. The sun was hiding from us but it didn't really matter so much. We toured around the city for a couple of days, and enjoyed some Mexican food which I highly recommend to everyone visiting this city. 



In 1542, a European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped onto American soil in this very same spot. He wrote notes about his encounters with locals, which have given the historians some important knowledge. 

Today Cabrillo National Monument is part of the National Parks Service. Among the sights at the monument, one can also visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse on the premises. Point Loma offers amazing views of the ocean, the city of San Diego, the Navy Base and even all the way to Mexico. At the coast line one can see the New Point Loma Lighthouse (which I wrote about in my previous post) and some tide pools which appear during the winter months. Cabrillo National Monument is at: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.


The missions on the California coast were communities established by Spanish missionaries in 18th and 19th centuries. The missionaries were Fransiskans Frians, and along with their religion, they also brought their culture to California. Mission San Diego was the first one to ever be built before the missionaries headed up north, and therefore can be called the birth place of Christianity in the United States. It was established by Junipero Serra in 1769. The actual mission building was destroyed in a fire and later occupied by the army during the Mexican-American war and left in ruins. It has been totally rebuilt since then. They are still doing some archeological excavations by the mission and the items found can be seen inside the museum.

Today most of the missions serve as churches and museums. They are largely funded by tourism, and I earlier wrote about our visit to Mission San Miguel. Mission San Diego de Alcala can be found from: 10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego, CA 92108.


This was the original site of the mission mentioned above, and where everything began. The mission was here for five years and after that it was moved to it's current location. The purpose of this was to find a spot where the soil was better for producing food. A Spanish settlement still stayed at the old location and during this time Old Town San Diego was born. Before those times it was mostly occupied by American Indians.

Today the Old Town is a protected park and a popular among the tourists. There are several museums, shops and restaurants in the old buildings in the area. After touring around, we decided to have lunch in one of the idyllic restaurants. You can either drive or take the local train to The Old Town. Their visitor center is at: 2415 San Diego Avenue, Suite 104, San Diego, CA 92110

In the old school building we also met an old fashioned teacher. 

In the old school building we also met an old fashioned teacher. 

In Old Town San Diego you can get the feel of old Mexico and eat some Mexican food. 

In Old Town San Diego you can get the feel of old Mexico and eat some Mexican food. 


The Gaslamp Quarter located in downtown San Diego is a historical block with some old Victorian houses. It was established in 1867 when Alonzo Horton brought in some gas lamps in order to move the downtown closer to the ocean. Today this area is known for its night life and events, and has plenty of nice restaurants. We had a nice afternoon stroll in the Gaslamp Quarter and sat down for some ice cream in one of the restaurants. 


Balboa Park  is close to downtown and a fun way to spend some time. It is the center of San Diego's museums and the entrance to the famous San Diego Zoo. We visited Balboa Park because we wanted to see the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. These little houses are mostly open on the weekends and a great way to get to know some foreign cultures. They can be found at: 2191 West Pan American Rd, San Diego, CA 92101.

House of Finland - from my home country

House of Finland - from my home country


Most of San Diego practically follows the coast line, so there are plenty of beaches to choose from. We were not lucky enough to enjoy the beach weather, but we did stop by a couple of the beaches. We saw so many cool beach houses, and a few of the beaches had piers full of entertainment and restaurants. 

Two days in San Diego went by quickly and we felt like we didn't get to see everything we wanted. From my previous trip to San Diego, I remember the beautiful La Jolla, and I also heard that Coronado is well worth a visit. We on the other hand were headed to some new adventures, so we had to say our good byes to lovely San Diego.

Visiting Top Gun Movie Sites in San Diego

Paula Gaston

I'm sure everyone remembers the movie Top Gun which is still one of the great classic American movies. Our road trip in Southern California continued from Disneyland and Temecula to San Diego, where we visited a couple of the Top Gun filming locations. 


On our first morning in San Diego we drove up to the Cabrillo National Monument. The views there were amazing! One can see the city of San Diego, the navy base, the ocean and even all the way down to Mexico if the weather is clear. There are two lighthouses by the monument. The older one you can go in for a visit but the other one is a little harder to find. The New Point Loma Lighthouse is down by the tide pools and it replaced the old light station in 1891 which was having trouble operating in heavy fog. Right next to the New Point Loma Lighthouse there are some houses which are now used by the coast guard. One of them was featured as Viper's house (Tom Skerritt) in Top Gun. In the movie there is a scene where Maverick (Tom Cruise) visits Viper at his house. 

Unfortunately one can not visit the New Point Loma Lighthouse or the houses, but you can see them from the monument. 

They can be found at: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106.

House in the movie (YouTube)


Another place that we visited was the Kansas City Barbeque in downtown San Diego. We wanted to do a little walk downtown, but since we were already getting hungry, we stopped for some food here first. When filming Top Gun a director from Paramount Studios stopped here for a beer and later brought in the director Tony Scott. They both liked the place and so it is seen in two different spots in the movie. Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) meet in the bar with Charlie (Kelly McGillis) and Goose's wife Carole (Meg Ryan), and sing "Great Balls of Fire". Also one of the closing scenes was filmed here.

The owners of the restaurant kept some mementos and started collecting other Top Gun related things. In 2008 a fire destroyed the building but they were able to save most of the mementos. Kansas City Barbeque was re-built to look the same as it was when they filmed the movie. There is at least the old piano and a jukebox which can be seen in Top Gun. The walls are covered with autographed photographs and other Top Gun gear. Even though the visit to this place was not in our original plan, it was well worth it and we got our tummies full. 

Maverick in the bar and the bar today on the right.

Maverick in the bar and the bar today on the right.

The famous piano.

The famous piano.

And this is what it looked like in the movie:

Great balls of fire (YouTube)

Kansas City Barbeque can be found at: 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.

We missed one known filming location: Charlie's house. The house has been empty for a long time but, it is protected since it is an old Victorian house. In recent years they have painted the house. I read from somewhere that they are building a luxury hotel next to the house, and thinking of converting it into a souvenir shop. We would have loved to stop by, but it was not really on our route, and we didn't have so much time to drive around. Oh well, next time!

The address of the Charlien House is: 102 Pacific Street, Oceancide, San Diego, CA, 92054.


10 Travel Pictures from My Past

Paula Gaston

We just finished a road trip in California, but before sharing those stories, I decided to participate in a blog challenge which I have seen in several Finnish travel blogs. I got the picture themes from Ne Tammelat -blog (which is in Finnish) and anyone who has a blog is welcome to join.

So here are my 10 (and even few extra) travel photos:


I love Filoli Gardens in the San Franciscon Bay Area. You can find many hidden spots in the garden and they have also filmed the television show Dynasty over there. Both spring and summer time are the best times to visit Filoli, and I did write about our visit there about a year ago.


Is there anything more traditional than this? I think everyone who has ever visited Paris has posed in front of the Eiffel Tower. This picture is from 2008.


When looking for this picture I was first trying to figure out if I should use a picture that was taken far away from my home country Finland, or my current home in California. I think Japan is pretty far from both of those places, so I chose a picture from our trip to Kyoto to see Fushimi-Inari-Taisha. 


Even though I have seen several big cities, I think Tokyo is the winner here. It was just so hectic and crowded, but also cool at the same time. 


You can't get anymore tired than this! I was traveling from Finland via Sweden to Chicago when my flight was delayed over six hours due to thunder storms. Then they added an extra flight on my route so I flew to Philadelphia first. I finally made it to Chicago, but my luggage didn't. Oh well, that happens! 


I can't really use a sunset picture from anywhere else than California. California sunsets are the best! 


I have always liked Mexican food but who ordered all this? Ooops! There is no way two girls can eat all this! 

We like to treat ourselves with some good food and wine on our trips. This picture is from San Diego.


I had to really think about this since I usually always find something interesting in each place. I chose this picture from Jerusalem since I mostly just remember chaos and queues from this place. We did a day trip from Eilat to Jerusalem and we only had limited time to explore the place. Maybe if I had more time there I would have been able to see all the beautiful places in the city. 


It seems like I have a lot of these pictures.. ha ha. The two first ones are from Lake Tahoe, California and the last one is from Yosemite National Park.


On our road trip in Northern California we drove thru this redwood tree. It was such a fun trip! If you want to hear about our newest road trip and where we went... stay tuned! More about it on my blog soon! 


If you want to participate in the blog challenge, here is the list of themes for photos. Please link my blog (Gone with the Wine) in your post and I would love to read your stories, so if you have time to leave a link to your on a comment, that would be great. Have fun!

1. A Perfect Moment
2. The Traditional Tourist pose
3. From as Far Away as You Have Been
4. In the Heart of the Big City
5. Zzz – Tired of Traveling
6. Sunset
7. Treats on Trips
8. A Famous Place Which Was a Disappointment
9. I Would Do Anything for a Good Photo
10. A Picture from a Road Trip