Literally and figuratively. My time away from this blog has not been intentional. It feels like my life has been on full tilt since the beginning of the year. Mostly working. Trying to help parent an angsty 13 year old. The daily rigors of life. Not taking moments for myself.
And then…a week. At the end of March, while DK was on her school’s east coast trip, we made it possible to also take that time and get the hell out of town. It took a couple weeks to find the place, and we still had our doubts. Aside from the occasional trip to Disneyland, Han & I had never been on a vacation when it was just the two of us without music or family taking us to a destination. We had a few requirements. We wanted to be on the beach. Han wanted a jacuzzi tub in the room. All I really wanted was some good fish ‘n’ chips and the chance to not work. And I’m happy to report, we got it all.
We couldn’t believe our luck! The room was spacious and comfortable. And the town was like a step back in time. It’s amazing that such a town even exists in California. Just north of Morro Bay, Cayucos is a just little beach hamlet that feels like it was built specifically for this vacation. I know that sounds weird, but it truly was everything we wanted. Plus, the place we stayed was a bed and breakfast so every morning, we had a homemade, delicious breakfast (quiche, waffles, bacon & eggs!) and every afternoon they offered wine and snacks.
We arrived on Sunday after taking the coast up. We drove through Malibu and all the way up to Cayucos. We stopped in Oxnard (don’t recommend it) and San Luis Obispo where we discovered a Mexican restaurant we would try later. After we settled in our room, I walked across the street and got 2 orders of stupendous fish ‘n’ chips and fresh oysters on the half shell for Han. We couldn’t believe it! Han got in the jacuzzi and I lay on the bed. We had the sliding glass door open so the ocean breeze was coming in the room, the gas fireplace was blazing, and the sound of the ocean was so soothing. It was perfect.
On Monday, we drove a little bit north to Cambria. My parents have stayed there and really liked it. I thought it was a charming little town. Han had been through there on a tour a number of years ago, but he remembered it well. We drove up to the Cambria Pines Lodge and then I found a sign advertising the Red Moose Cookie Company. I’m a sucker for cookies so we followed the sign. We ended up in a tiny little space where the people were so nice and let us sample everything. We left with peanut butter cookies, molasses cookies and pumpkin cookie sandwiches. From there, we headed north again to check out the elephant seals. My dad had said it was worth it. I should say that the weather was good. It was clear, windy and cool. The elephant seal rookery was cool. There were so many of them! Here are some photos:
After elephant seal viewing, we headed back to Cambria and stopped at the Indigo Moon cafe for lunch. Another delicious meal. After that, we drove back to Cayucos. We stopped at a little convenience store and bought some water for the room. We wanted to have pizza for dinner, but it was closed, so we ended up having Duckie’s again. I had a shrimp burrito and Han had the Duckie’s burger. I forgot to mention their garlic fries. Outstanding. Our evenings (and our mornings) were spent mostly on the balcony, watching the waves and occasional surfers, the comings and goings of folks to the beach.
On Tuesday, we went back to Cambria and met up with our friend, Bruce. He’s a retired salmon fisherman that we know through Flan, so we went to his house in Cambria for a couple hours. It turns out that the place where we’d had lunch the day before used to be Bruce’s health food store a number of years before. So trippy. It had been a while since we’d seen Bruce so it was good to see him. After that, we decided to head down to San Luis Obispo via a quick trip through Morro Bay, where we snapped a couple photos of the famous rock and saw a seal in the water.
I was experiencing a weird phenomenon that day. I was realizing how terribly easy it is to disappear from your own life and be perfectly happy about it. Does that sound weird? I didn’t miss anything about not being at work, not having to think about doing the dishes or going grocery shopping. Then, at the same time, it was a little disturbing that I could just not be there and everything still went on. It was a weird feeling and it put me in a strange head space.
In SLO, we found that Mexican restaurant: Cielo. It’s new and it was pretty good. It’s right next to the Mission and the San Luis creek. I wanted to walk along the creek (there is a pathway), but there were ‘hoodlums’ hanging out around the entrance and I was intimidated. Han offered to go with me, but then I felt silly and decided not to go. I took a couple photos though.
That didn’t contribute to my already weird head space. But then, I remembered a place I’d seen, advertised as a ‘book bar and coffee house.’ Han dropped me off and said to take my time. It was called Kreuzberg and they sell used books and sell coffee and lunch items. Since I was full from lunch, I skipped any food or beverages, but I did do some book shopping. I found 2 books (Alice Hoffman’s “Local Girls” and Charles Baxter’s “The Feast of Love”) for $10, a steal. Then Han came to get me and we headed back north to Cayucos. We did have pizza that night from Ocean Front Pizza which was about 2 doors down from our room. That night, I wasn’t feeling very good. I don’t know if it was the head space contributing to my malaise, but it was an early night.
On Wednesday, we decided to drive on 46 east and see what was there. It turns out there are some awesome views and a bunch of wineries.
We didn’t stop at any wineries, but it was a really lovely drive. The weather had warmed up and it was just gorgeous. We took 46 east to 101 south then headed west on 41 and ended up in Morro Bay again. I had seen a restaurant the day before and remember that Bruce had mentioned that he’d eaten there so I suggested we go there. It’s called Dorn’s. We got an awesome window seat with this view:
I had fish ‘n’ chips again, plus we had calamari as an appetizer. I liked the batter on this fish better than Duckie’s but it was a bit greasier. After lunch, we headed back. It seems like there should be something we did, but there isn’t. Sitting on the balcony. Reading. Watching some TV. We rented a couple movies but didn’t watch them that day. Then, as the sun started setting, we decided to walk down the pier. It was awesome. Here are a bunch of photos from that:
After the pier, we thought we’d try the restaurant that was right next door to the B&B, Schooner’s Wharf, but there were no seats available and we didn’t feel like waiting. We went back to our room. We didn’t want to have Duckie’s again. So, we drove to Morro Bay and got McDonald’s. Not very high class, but it’ll do! We watched TV and listened to the water.
On Thursday, we got up and watched one of the movies we’d rented, “Stranger Than Fiction.” It’s one of my favorites, but Han hadn’t seen it. He enjoyed it. The weather was warming up and we both commented how hot we’d been while sleeping the night before. There’s no air conditioning in the room, but Han had brought a fan, so he set it up so it blew in the ocean air. It was good. We just lolled around that day. I forgot to mention that one of the days, I forget which, we visited the Brown Butter Baking Company which specializes in brown butter sea salt cookies. They had a different taste, but one that grows on you. We’d also stopped at Ruddell’s Smokehouse (which I guess will soon be featured on a Rachael Ray show, don’t know which one).
For lunch on Thursday, we did go back to Duckie’s. This time, we both had salads. Han had Cobb and I had one that was iceburg lettuce, shrimp, avocado and bleu cheese. Yum! Han was going to work on some songs for a while, but then realized he didn’t have a capo for his guitar which really bummed him out. I had planned on going for a walk while he played and he said I should still do that, so I did. I went down and walked along the beach. It was certainly the warmest day since we’d been there and the water felt really good on my little feetsies. It’s a rocky beach:
but it’s not the kind of rocky that is uncomfortable. There were actually jade rocks everywhere! It was really pleasant. Here are some more pics.
From the beach, I walked into town and returned the videos. Then I strolled into this store called Wine Country Olives and was given samples of these spectacular locally grown and pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I promised I’d be back with Han. Then, I went back to the room. After a little while, Han wanted to walk along the beach, too, and I wasn’t about to miss another chance to do it. We went first to the Olive store and made some purchases and I took this photo a nice sculpture.
From there, we went to the beach and walked back toward the room. We picked up rocks and just enjoyed being out there.
We went back to the room for a while. During the whole week, I had tried to get online, if only to check my email quickly, but the B&B’s wi-fi didn’t work very well. Just as well for me. I didn’t mind. We also had brought some board games and puzzles, but those stayed in the box. It seemed whenever we had free time, we were out on the balcony. I also read the book “Local Girls” that I had bought in San Luis Obispo. Before we went to dinner that night, Han found a lonely road into the hills that we took. It just wound through avocado groves and the sun had just gone behind the hills so it was the perfect gloaming time and just really peaceful.
We went to dinner at the nicest place in town, Hoppe’s Garden Bistro. (By the way, for some reason I can’t insert hyperlinks, but you should totally google all of these places). Hoppe’s is considered “the most acclaimed restaurant on the central coast.” We sat outside in the garden and it was really lovely.
We had the seafood assortment as an appetizer (shrimp, scallops, oysters, and seafood stew). Really good. I had a glass of mer blanc, also good. Han ordered the surf and turf and I ordered the filet mignon with caramelized garlic and roasted tomato.
Just look at the size of those pieces of meat! Han’s was on a bed of butternut squash puree, which was heavenly. The scallop was wrapped in bacon and there was foie gras on top of the filet. Wow. Mine was really more about the meat. The sauce was very rich. By the time we were served, it was kind of dark out in the garden so I don’t even know what half the veggies were on my place, but the steak was delicious. I ended up dipping the last few bites into Han’s puree. I’ve got to learn how to make that. And we couldn’t leave without dessert. Han had the caramelized banana sundae and I had lavender creme brulee.
You could smell the lavender when you brought a bit of brulee to your mouth. It was really good, but very rich, and I couldn’t finish it. We were glad we had waited until the last night to really indulge in this great meal. Unfortunately, it was all a bit rich for my blood and I didn’t really feel too good the rest of the night. Maybe I should have stuck with seafood, but by then, it felt like all I’d eaten! I’d definitely eat there again.
So now it’s Friday, and it’s time for us to leave. We got all of our stuff together and had one last breakfast, although we should have skipped it since it was the least yummy of them all, and it set us behind our timeline a bit. The drive home was rather grueling as we hit LA and San Diego traffic. But we were home.
The rest of the weekend has been a matter of getting back into what we need to do. Me with the household stuff, Han with the studio work. Also the Acoustic Duo had a gig last night that went really great so that was a nice thing to be able to do. And tomorrow it’s back to work with happy memories to think about when I feel stress. I’ll know that there is a small beach town in central CA that felt like another home to me. Plus, it’s baseball season again and the Padres are already 2-1. It seriously feels like I was gone much longer than I was, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but I’ll take it.