Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Los Olivos & Lavender

Today is Saturday -- of Thanksgiving weekend -- and we have been in the Flying Flags campground in Buellton, CA for a few days. We did some small town exploring -- to Los Olivos and Solvang ("The Danish Capital of America"). This is the area where the movie Sideways was filmed and there are so many wine tasting rooms in each town. But those of you who know me know that I will choose lavender over wine anytime.

So, in addition to perusing art galleries and bookshops, we drove out to a lovely organic lavender farm. Clairmont Farms -- you can check out their website.

Enter through an olive-tree lined driveway to a field of 12,000 lavender plants. Herbalists -- they grow mostly the Grosso variety. Loved their setup and explanation of their outdoor distillery (pictured) where they make their own lavender essential oil. And sell that along with the other usual lavender products -- sachets, creams, sprays, sprigs, culinary sprinkles, and recipes (lavender cookies and lavender coffee, anyone?) I also liked the BARRELS full of dried lavender buds.

Turned out the man went to Brandeis (Rebecca's alma mater)!!
And the woman, Meryl, and I hit it off -- although the place was buzzing with customers she took the time to chat, to view our vehicle, and take a photo next to their Statue of Liberty -- which you can't see -- is surrounded by other more-perfume-grade lavender varieties.

What a find on another sunny CA afternoon.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving




another magical beach morning
and a sandy version of a wishbone for you
may all your wishes come true this season
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beach Collage 1


Beach Collage 1 - She Drew A Line in the Sand
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Must be California


Alan in front of the chewing gum Wall in San Luis Obispo

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At Pismo Beach -- a psychic, recumbent tricycles, and a slack line. Lots of surfers. Kites and kids. Clam Chowder at the Splash cafe. Definitely CA!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fishers of the Bay

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We both love ports. These are some photos we took in Morro Bay. The harbor is home to pelicans, sea lions, and otters. I also enjoy watching the fishers weave their net repairs.
Alan and I kayaked this contrast from yesterday's wind; today was mild and calm.

Hearst Castle

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Very windy this morning. A lovely day trip for a tourist attraction...and interesting what they tell you and what they don't -- about Hearst. There are four separate tours, each costs $20 a piece. You get driven from the visitor's center five miles up the hill to the castle. On the basic tour we took -- We walked the grounds, through a guest house, and into the dining room and other downstairs rooms in the main house, also the two swimming pools -- one indoor and one out. And a 45-minute film about Hearst with clips of old movies of some of the celebs who came to visit -- from Chaplin to Churchill.

Any readers who have been to the castle? If so, what's your take?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holidays on the Road

Finding accommodations for holidays weekends is a challenge. We have passed July 4th, Labor Day, and Columbus Day while on the road. All have presented some problems -- took much searching and many calls to find availability and where we ended up was always NOT our first choice.

So, where will we spend Thanksgiving? Yes, we should have thought about that awhile ago...for now, we have decided to extend our time here in Morro Bay. Tangent -- this is a lovely area. The beach, small town, friendly people, good bicycle path into town, casual waterfront dining. Most of the year daily temps are between the 50s and low 70s. As an older gent said to us earlier this evening -- where else can you get an ocean front cottage this cheaply? He and his wife and her two sisters and their children, etc all have motorhomes and condo in this region.

Oh, back to Thanksgiving plans. We could only reserve here till Thanksgiving morning; they have no openings for the holiday weekend. As I begun to check around places claimed that they were all full for turkey day and the days following -- and reservations had been made 2 months, 6 months, a year in advance. So we "should" have made reservations before we even left NY!!

Anyway, we did get reservations further down the road at a larger campground that only had spaces left with no hookups available. No problem. We can be self-contained and they do have amenities and necessities including showers and limited wifi.

Got Thanksgiving dinner reservations at a restaurant within walking distance from that campground. I don't think we want to cook a turkey on board.

As the holiday approaches I know that we have a lot to be grateful for...
and we will miss our usual connections with family and friends!!

What did you miss today?

You missed a lot today because I didn't take my camera with me on my walk on Morro Beach this morning. And there were many sights to see -- the usual beauty of the water and the waves, the marauding gulls and curlews, a lone surfer or two. Other singular sights to savor -- a coastal horseback rider, a man dressed in jeans and heavy jacket practicing tai chi on the sand, a young man riding his bicycle in the surf, and a surfer standing on his board and paddling. Sand dollars and one starfish, resembling a purple ornament outlined with white pearl beads.
Pure morning delight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sand to Sea

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Morro Bay

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Our campground info. says:

"There is a towering 576 foot guard standing watch over Morro Bay Harbor. Some have dubbed it 'The Gibraltar of the Pacific.' Locally it is known as Morro Rock and is the last in a chain of long-extinct volcanoes known as 'The Morros."

Pretty it is and anchors the town and beach. Right out our back door -- through the gate and over the dune and there it is. If I stand on our picnic table I can see the rock and the water...but most of the time, we'll just walk over.
This is our second night here with reservations for one more night and the possibility of a few more after that. Depending on the weather. It was in the high 70s today and we hope to go kayaking tomorrow.


I have been thinking of taking a surfing lesson since before we hit the left coast but it has often been cool and cloudy as we have traveled down the coast. Here at last, at Morro Beach (235 miles south of San Francisco), weather, time, a surf shop/school and me feeling particularly adventurous came together.

Surf shops seem to be run by surfer dudes who seem, at least from my few dealings with them, not too sharp about business. It took repeated phone calls to get them to set up the appointment.
Then Dustin, father of 3, just back from winning a surfing contest showed up on time and off we went.

The on-the-beach lesson part was brief and soon we were into the very cold (mid 50's) ocean water; I was wearing only a fairly light wet suit.

Dustin guided me into the surf, told me when to get on the board lying down, turned the board around, watched for the wave, pushed me into it and shouted "pop up". The parts that he did were all easy - the popping up is the hard part. It is where you go from lying down on the board to standing up in one smooth motion all while the board is surging on top of a wave and rocking and rolling in every direction. Too much weight left or right and the board turns sideways to the wave and you roll. Weight too far forward,the board dives and you go over the front; too far back and you fall over backward.

Sound like fun?

It was!

And after many tries and lots of tumbles I even got up and rode the wave for a few seconds.

Wow, what a thrill.

Even went back in the afternoon after my body temperature came up to normal and had another go at it without Dustin. Still lots of fun but much more difficult.

If I am going to get reasonably good at this it will take some practice - we will see.

My husband, Surfer Dude




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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beachfront - The Story

Right now at a campground at Morro Beach. We drive slowly down the coast -- especially when it's my turn behind the wheel on windy, curvy, cliffhanging Highway 1. With incredible "vista points" so a driver can stop and appreciate the ocean views.

This campground is directly across the street from the beach. Alan and I walked over earlier (last two photos in last entry from there)and enjoyed watching the surfers.
This campground has all the amenities -- including good cell phone and internet, hot showers, electricity and water and dumping, and cable TV. We don't need all these all the time...but sometimes it's a treat.

Going South
This written yesterday in word processing program.
Two top photos below entry are from this campground -- our view and me sitting outside the van playing with watercolors.

Left our Big Sur campground this morning. Passed Esalen – but didn’t stop there. Thought we’d drive onto Morro Bay. But about halfway there, we found here! A National Forest campground (Kirk Creek in Los Padres NF) facing the ocean. We heard that it was very windy here yesterday but it is lovely today – warm and sunny, and calm.
It was before noon and we had plenty of energy if we wanted to drive further. But why would we? This is a great and special place to find.

There is a little traffic because people drive into the campground and around the loops looking for an empty campsite – which there are none. But there isn’t an active management here so no one puts up a sign that says “full.” You pay for your campsite by filling out an envelope form and putting it with cash payment into a locked container.

There are no services except for toilets and bathroom sinks. No electricity or water, certainly no cable or internet (I’ll send this the next time I’m online). And we are fine in our cozy, self-contained van.

And I’ve been BUSY since we got here. I made a large luscious fruit salad for lunch, took the trail over a creek and down to the rocky beach, played with watercolors, read, and now just having a great time typing away at my outdoor table while being inspired by the water.

Beachfront - Photos

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PS Carmel & Big Sur

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I forgot some things…

Real Estate
Last entry I wrote about the three-quarter million dollar fixer-uppers. Then I got this card – this must have been before the bubble burst.

Beach Weather
We walked to the beach at Carmel. It was 78 degrees out. Elementary school groups were eating their lunch out on the sand.

No High Heels and No Lap Dogs
A Carmel street map – the colorful foldout freebies bordered by ads – had a column with area tidbits. One said that there was an ordinance that outlawed wearing high heels in the town! All I know is that I didn’t see anyone wearing them – feet were fit mostly with flat sandals, water shoes, and sneakers.

It was also not a lap dog kind of town. Spotted a few Steinbeck-inspired full-sized poodles and other large black dogs of various kinds.

Local Sightings
A local magazine had a column of sightings. Down the coast I’ve read helpful pieces like about where the otters are or viewpoints of the migrating monarchs. So I laughed after I realized this paper was writing about different species – I found out that Tom and Katie and Barbra S had all been spotted in Carmel this week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting Tired of the Coast?

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Are you, dear reader, getting tired of the California coast? Does it look like we are?
Spent a few days in Santa Cruz, went to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, traveled more down the coast today with a stop in the ritzy town of Carmel -- not one house in all the area real estate listings was under three-quarters of a million dollars AND an advertisement in a lifestyles magazine for the rich and famous described the preserve with lots for sale as where, "fathers would teach their sons to putt and mothers would teach their daughters to ride." Certainly, a different stratosphere than we live in.
Riding down Highway 1 while filming of a car was being done in the other lane. Maybe we'll see the Roadtrek in an upcoming movie.
Now in Big Sur -- where it is lovely. But they had bad fires this past June and are concerned about how rains this winter may cause floods and road closures.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breaking News

Wow...I just heard that I am being considered as Secretary of the Inferior in the new administration.

Actually, I received the funniest ecard delivered like a TV news report with the creative script written by my good friend Susan. I'm not sure if this is going to work -- but try this link to view/listen to this short piece:

Let me know if you can access it and if so, what you think? Maybe Susan and I can do a youtube version (how about it, Susan?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Santa Cruz Beach

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The sun was setting, the moon was rising. Wet-suit clad men and seal pups were surfing. Seagulls and a heron were diving for dinner. And my husband (Captain Alan) was about to be eaten by Moby Whale (outside the UCSC Marine Lab). He escaped and we made it back to the campground in time for a festive dinner made with ingredients we purchased earlier in the day at a thriving downtown farmer's market.