It's T-Minus Two until Christmas. On noon on Saturday, two days before the big holiday, and we're heading out. Seems we're not the only ones. Traffic is completely jammed on Interstate 5, disappearing up into the San Gabriel Mountains as we head up into the escape from L.A. known as the Grapevine.
Actually, I was going to leave tomorrow on Christmas Eve for this little getaway but Tim had wanted to leave a day early and maybe spend a night halfway. Sacramento is about 5 or 6 hours of driving for us if traffic isn't too bad. I had no objections to leaving early.
I went online to see where we could find a place to stay along the way. When I logged on to my Marriott rewards account, I found 15,000 points I didn't remember I had. I'm not really trying to accumulate points with them right now so I see what that many points can get me.
What is does get me is a room, a little over 300 square feet, with a king size bed and a full size sofabed in the heart of Visalia's downtown. I have to still pay the tax, which comes up to a quarter. I offer to pay it in cash with the coin in my pocket but the front desk manager say's that part is comped also.
It's not a wheelchair accessible room but it does have step-free access, which is all we need tonight. Tomorrow's hotel will need more accessible features but this will do fine for today.
Visalia is a very pretty little town, about an hour's drive north of Bakersfield, a few miles east of Highway 99...the main traffic artery through California's Central Valley.
The hotel sits about 100 yards south of Main Street, adjacent to the convention center. It's a very nice, classic Marriott hotel and will do well for this overnight rest stop.
Around the corner, we walk past a few skaters who are spinning the temporary ice rink that's been set up in a empty lot between buildings. Just beyond is our dinner destination.
Crawdaddy's is a Cajun place on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. It's nice if a little expensive.
My wife orders a crawfish etoufee that she says is more like a gumbo. Too tomato-y for her but Tim and I really like it.
Tim gets some tenders...
...while I get a very good chicken Cordon Blue.
After dinner, we take a little stroll through the quiet and pretty downtown district. Being just a bit over 24 hours until Christmas, it's very quiet although a couple of bars are doing booming business. We're not in a drinking mood tonight, instead, we'll head back to the room and watch classic movies like "The Wizard of Oz" until bedtime.
In the morning, we can pay $16 for the hotel's breakfast buffet or we can walk a short block to get our meal half price at one of the local Mexican restaurants. Guess which option we choose.
Colima, back on Main Street, is warm, inviting, and friendly.
Letty...the true Mexican among us...isn't feeling her roots this morning so she goes with bacon, eggs, and pancakes.
Tim gets a delicious bowl of steaming menudo...
...while I get this delicious plate of chilaquiles and eggs.
It's all very delicious and a perfect meal to fortify us for the drive up to our destination.
We'll be sharing our adventure of Christmas in the state's capitol soon, stay tuned for that,
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