The date was set for 8 August 1998. Jennie Hango
flew into San Jose from Boston on the 6th, where she was met at the
airport by Jeff Allen and
Beth and Jon Leonard. After an
obligatory trip to In 'N' Out
Burger & a visit to Jon & Beth's house, Jennie & Jeff
headed back to Palo Alto. Jennie spent the next day goofing around in
the Bay Area and had lunch with Doug Wade. That evening, Jennie and
Jeff waited for the SoCal contingent to arrive. Around 1am, they
rolled in. Jim Frinier, Ocie Mitchell, and Paul Berry were ready to
catch a few ZZZZs before the early morning departure of 5:30am.
Jennie had the first leg of the trip, and she would've made both
Bostonians and Angelinos proud. It's 93 miles from Palo Alto to Santa
Nella, and about 20 or 30 of those are on a 2-lane road. Jeff had
made a reservation for 7:00am, when Andersen's opens, and made sure
that we'd be able to get soup that early. We rolled into the parking
lot at 6:59am. Alas! We were not the first people into the
restaurant! We're pretty sure we had the first bowls of soup, though.
A small side note: Jim doesn't like Split Pea Soup, and Jennie was
dubious about it. Since this was a Rally, rally rules applied. Each person
in the car had to eat a bowl full of soup at each restaurant. Anyway,
we walked in & sat down & ordered the soup. Then we went to
the gift shop while we were waiting. Jim bought a soup gift mug,
which we later decided to eat in the event of getting to Carlsbad
after they closed. We also got postcards, and discovered one of those
souvenir penny machines. You know, the kind that flatten a penny and
impress some sort of special design on one side. For 50 cents, who
could go wrong? We got our soup at about 7:20, and proceeded to eat.
We convinced our waitress to take our picture, and we asked about the
exocommunication of the Carlsbad store. We saw a sign on the wall
when we entered stating that "The Carlsbad Andersen's is no longer
affiliated with the Andersen's chain." Was there some sort of schism?
We were eager to find out. Our waitress wasn't able to shed much
light on the subject, so we resolved to investigate this mystery at
our future stops. After having our pictures taken by the Hap-Pea and
Pea-Wee board, we left lovely Santa Nella at about 7:45, and promptly
started heading the wrong way on CA-152. We pulled a U-turn in the
middle of the highway, and drove like hell for Selma.
downt he highway, Ocie came up with a new "______-er? I hardly know
here" phrase, and it was decided that that "letter opener" needed to
be relayed to Mark Wilkins
immediately. But, it would need to be told by e-mail, rather than by
telephone (it being approximately 8:20 am on a Saturday). Using Jim's
cell phone, Jeff called support at WebTV and convinced one of his
coworkers to su to his account and send the mail to Mark. Talk about
geeky! Anyway, we continued on to Selma, and hit the parking lot at
9:03. We spent 3 minutes in our U-turn maneuver back in Santa Nella,
so we all lamented that wrong turn (Jeff had made reservations for
Santa Nella for 9:00am). We were promptly seated and again ordered 5
bowls of soup. Selma had the best presentation, hands down. Five
bowls were brought out, as well as an oversized teapot full of soup.
The soup was poured for each of us, and we dug in. We again had our
pictures taken, and when the manager heard our story, she came over to
say hello to us. As we were nearing the bottoms of the bowls, Ocie suddenly
pushed his away. As there were several spoonfuls of soup left, we all
began to tease him about not finishing. He then said, "No, there's a
fly in my soup." Sure enough, there was a little black fly doing the
backstroke. We all agreed that he didn't need to finish his soup, and
at least some of us tried to ignore the knowledge that the bowls had
all been clean, and that we'd all gotten our soup from the same source
(thanks, Jim....). The news got back to the manager, and she felt bad
about it, so she decided to give us a tour of the entire place. The
Selma Andersen's is the newest restaurant and hotel, and they put a
lot of work into the buildings and grounds. They have a small train,
as well as a koi pond and two black swans. Alas, the train didn't
start running until 10:30am, and we had to get back on the road.
After having our pictures taken at the Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee sign
(again), we left. Of note: Jim found a new way to make stamps adhere
to postcards -- he dunked the stamp into the soup & then stuck it
to the card. Slimyu and damp, definitely. No word on whether the
postcards were actually delivered. We were unable to find one of the
penny-smashing machines, though it could've been in the gift shop that
didn't open until after we left. At about 10:00, we set out again,
with Buellton as our destination.
This Selma-to-Buellton segment would be the most gruelling leg of the journey, because very little of the 192.8 miles would be on the freeway. We crossed I-5 at Buttonwillow and stopped for the first non-Andersen's food of the day: In 'N' Out Burger milkshakes. We refueled as well, and finally switched drivers. Ocie took over the drive through the mountains. We made pretty good time until we got close to Attascadero. As the road drops down out of the hills, it takes some pretty tight turns, and the map does not do it justice. Once we got into town, we quickly found US-101. Before heading south, though, we stopped at an A&W Rootbeer restaurant for soda and "real food" and a pee break. We then resumed our journey. We drove through San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria and were then only a few short miles from Pea Soup Andersen's Ground Zero.
Buellton was, is, the Original Andersen's. It started as a small roadside restaurant. As its reputation for Split Pea Soup spread, the restaurant grew, added a gift shop & bakery, and eventually, 3 more restaurants joined the chain.
the city limits of Buellton, and took the Avenue of Flags exit. The
Avenue is a stretch of old U.S. Route 101, back when it was just a
divided highway, rather than a freeway. When the freeway went
through, they realigned 101 a few hundred yards to the east, and the
old stretch of road was turned into something of a park. Traffic
still drives on the old road, but the median has been converted to a
park, and the flags of many nations are flown along its edges. The
Andersen's in Buellton has the most Pea Soup Andersen's decorations.
There is a map showing the four Andersen's Restaurants, large pictures
of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee, a windmill, and several prominent signs saying
Andersen's. We walked in & sat down, & ordered our soup.
Then we went to take a look in the gift shop.
More of the story is to come; I just haven't had the time to write
it down yet. Here are the rest of the pictures of note from the