We drove east out of downtown Solvang on Hwy. 246, turning left onto Alamo Pintado Road and then parked at Sunny Fields Park. There is a fair shoulder along Alamo Pintado Rd. all the way to Los Olivos, except for a couple of short stretches. It is slightly uphill going but naturally downhill all the way back , always an added bonus.
About three miles north of Solvang, we reached the tiny town of Ballard, which has a restaurant and a couple of businesses plus several residential streets. We turned off the road to ride through the town, where a little red school house built in 1882 and used continuously since then, holds pride of place. On this particular day, there were chairs out on the grass, probably for a graduation ceremony. This bit of early Americana was a refreshing sight.
It is a pretty ride through the countryside here. A bit further along we saw English walnut trees grafted onto black walnut trees; at one time our own San Ramon Valley was covered with these trees, and walnuts were an important crop. I remember when my parents bought their house in Danville in 1950, the idea was to have a walnut crop that would pay the property taxes. However, I don’t recall this idea working out in our family’s case.
A couple miles north of Ballard, we reached Los Olivos, a small but prosperous looking community. We walked around the town, chatted with one of the inhabitants, had coffee, and bought a couple of gifts in the general store.
The sanctuary and gardens of this church are beautiful and beautifully maintained. I would guess that this church is a social as well as a spiritual center for this small town.