It has occurred to me in the past that we might have some cosmic force following us across the country, something that uncannily puts us in the perfect place at the perfect time. It reared its head back in Boston, when the Yankees just happened to be visiting Fenway on the night of our visit. Likewise, our swing through Denver just happened to coincide with a Dark Star Orchestra show, one of our favorite bands to see live. Our fortune has been very, very good thus far for these and numerous other events.
Well, the hits just keep coming. While we stayed overnight in Sonoma a few miles back, I happened to visit BeerAdvocate and took a curious look at the list of their highest rated beers in America. First and fourth place both belonged to a place called Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, Calif., which I immediately looked up to see if we were anywhere close. As it turned out, we were about 40 minutes away.


We walked in the door at about 11:15 a.m., which seems insanely early to get a drink after two solid days of wine tasting. But we're troopers, Joey and I - we had some extreme drinking situations during our freshman year as roommates (which I'll tell you about in person sometime), and we've turned out okay so far.
The guys behind the bar were happy to have a conversation about the house brew. I quickly inquired about Pliny the Younger, their creation which holds the #1 spot on the BeerAdvocate list mentioned above. As it turns out, Pliny the Younger is a seasonal, and only available for a short time in February.
Their other champion beer, Pliny the Elder, was on tap and ready to go. It lived up to every bit of its reputation. It was sharp, full of hop flavor, and one of the most perfectly balanced beers I've ever tasted.

My eyes drooped shut with every delicious sip. This would be a dangerous place for an IPA lover like me to work. Wisely, we ordered up some pizza to insulate our stomachs for the afternoon, which was pretty delicious in its own right.
On our way out we bought a six pack or so for wherever we stayed for the night. We had two days in which to conquer the Pacific Coastal Highway, so we had time to be leisurely.

Thank goodness for that. Once we reached the coast and hopped onto Highway 1, it wasn't five minutes before we were out of the car, in awe of the scenery. I can't describe it was well as the photos below can. Click on any of them for a larger view.

Our good friend Joe told me a good deal about what to expect of the Pacific Coastal Highway's culinary offerings: Mexican, more Mexican, and the occasional gas station hot dog. But he said that along the highway we'd run into more than a few taquerias and other small operations, and find some of the best Mexican food we'll ever have.
Joey and I made a point of following his advice, and got these three astounding creations from two different, unassuming little places we ran into on our way north. The first were chicken tacos with a delicious green sauce; below that, you'll see a beef taco overflowing with fresh vegetables and salsa; and finally, the avocado-covered morsel was made with juicy, chilled white tuna and tomato. This was nothing like the "Mexican" food from the East Coast, and equally dissimilar to the numerous Tex-Mex meals we'd eaten recently. Once again, Joe was right.

After a little more driving, we found ourselves a Motel 6 and laid our heads to rest for the night. The next day we'd be seeing more of the same, and we couldn't have been more excited.


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