California Dreamin’

29 03 2012

Hey guys! Did you miss me! OMG I was gone like TWO WEEKS without posting! How did you survive?!

Just kidding.  Please don’t unfollow me for that. I just couldn’t help it. Don’t worry, I’m not delusional enough to think anyone even missed me.  I just missed the writing, and all of you fabulous readers. 🙂

Ok, I didn’t miss yall that much. I was too busy soaking up the beautiful sunshine and ocean breeze of the central Cali coast. San Luis Obispo to be exact. My next home, if I have anything to do with it. The 20 hour drive to get there was soooooo worth it.

J’s sister finished up at Cal Poly so we headed down to celebrate with her. Then she graciously let us impede upon her and her little studio house for a full week, Saturday to Saturday. Talk about hostest with the mostest!

And what a week we had! I don’t have enough PTO to be able to take an entire week off work, but I do have a job I can do anywhere. So I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn each morning to start working by 7 so I could get off by 3 or 4. I set up my monitor and laptop and chugged away, trying to ignore the sunbeams streaming through the skylights, the cool fresh breeze that blew in when the door was opened, the mocking songs of the birds outside: “too bad you’re stuck in there while we’re out here – chirpity chirp chirp!”  Mean little birds.

But as soon as the laptop lid closed, there was no stopping us. J’s sister was a wonderful addition to our usual two-party adventures as well as a patient tour guide. We explored both inside the city and out.  And I have fallen head-over-heels in love with the entire area and everything about it.

I don’t even know where to begin with our adventures! We got there on a Saturday, exhausted after rising at 5am to make the 12 hour drive from Bend in time for dinner with the family. I’ll admit – meeting more of J’s family was a tad stressful for me, even if it was the good stress that comes with excitement. We had an amazing Italian dinner full of family, laughter and full bellies.  I even managed to stay awake!

Sunday was cold and windy, a storm blowing in from sea. We ventured down to the coast anyway, paying a visit to the pygmy oaks of the Elfin Forest, overlooking the mudflats and out to Morro Bay.  These were cool trees in a cool place, but I have to admit I was a smidge disappointed. The whole time, I thought they were saying “Elephant Forest.”  No elephants, just elfins.  Still awesome, don’t get me wrong, just no elephants.

Elfin Forest, Los Osos CA

Pygmy oaks in the Elfin Forest. A far cry from the great live oaks of the south!

It was unfortunately chilly, but we pressed on, heading down to Spooners Cove. I have never seen waves so HUGE!  I took about a zillion pictures trying to capture the sight, but of course with no frame of reference, you can’t grasp the magnitude of the water swelling, tumbling, and crashing.

Spooners Cove, Los Osos CA

Just believe me when I say, those storm waves were monstrous! (And isn't that rock COOL?!)

Pebble Beach, Spooners Cove, San Luis Obispo CA

Searching for souvenirs for Spartacus. Won't these look great in his bowl?!

One of the things I loved about the whole SLO area was all the exposed geology. That’s right, I love rocks. Big rocks, hell yeah! (Only my sister and fellow Pablo Francisco fans will get that, my apologies…)  The Los Osos Valley had quite an exciting past, if the remains left today are any indication. The rock formations at Spooners Cove were pretty awesome, but the rock of the Nine Sisters series of ancient volcanic plugs made my little rock-loving heart go all pitter-patter.  Monday afternoon, with the storm blown over and the sun smiling down, we climbed one named Modonna for a closer look.  I giggled and hopped in circles at the sights before me. I am such a nerd…but this is pretty awesome.

Nine Sisters of Los Osos Valley CA

View from the top of Madonna. Sweet Jesus, it was a stunning panorama.

Madonna, Nine Sisters, Los Osos Valley CA

It's hard to see, but the rock formations looked like huge swirls or water ripples around the protruding pockets of harder rock that poke up now that the softer rock around it has eroded away. Come on, I can't be the ONLY ONE who thinks this is neat-o!!

Being in a college town, we brought our excursions into downtown Tuesday for a once-in-a-lifetime experience: “Spaceballs” on the big screen! Oh, you heard me right. The historic theater in downtown SLO shows a weekly “rewind” film, voted on by local movie-goers. And we happened to be in town to catch “Spaceballs” in all its theatrical glory. Conveniently, a local brewery has Pint Night on Tuesdays as well, so we washed down all the Mel Brooks and popcorn salt with some nice local brew and great people watching. (This is when I realized that being in a college town means we would be the oldest people in the room, no matter where we were…)

By Wednesday, I was settling into a routine of sorts and was mentally moving in. (I’m sure J’s sister looooved that…I was on my best behavior, I promise!)  After a fairly quiet evening Wednesday with the Wii, I passed out super early. My work/vacation was catching up with me. But that meant I was nice and rested for Thursday: an absolutely amazing day.

After work I walked downtown to meet J for a little shopping. We ventured into a used bookstore. It was as though I had ascended the stairway to heaven. It was the type of shop stuffed to the brim with books. Every kind of book imaginable. Stacks and stacks crowded the floors, overflowed from the shelves, and hid behind other stacks. I completely lost myself in the musty embrace of literature. The store was so full I felt like I was in another world, an intruder in a land where books were the inhabitants, and I was a strange foreigner.  Somehow, J coaxed me back out to the sidewalk of reality. Only two books were torn from their world to be enslaved by my inquiring mind – the miracle being I only bought two….

J’s sister joined us and we wandered over to yet another amazing sight for my desperate eyes, eyes used to blinding white surroundings of cold winter snow. SLO blocks off 5 or 6 blocks of downtown for one of the weekly farmers markets. Holy produce, Batman! How spectacular to be in a place with a year-round growing season! We headed for the food carts first, passing by tables and tables of delectable freshness. There were fruits I had never seen before, and plenty I had. We passed strawberries, lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, satsumas, berries, fresh honey, and a man wearing plastic armor playing an electric cello. (No lie.) We finally got to the end where a line stretched long for a food cart selling bar-be-que.  We got tri-tip skewers and roasted artichoke halves – some of the best food I’ve had in quite a while! To top it off, we ducked into a nice little restaurant and just ordered dessert – a beignet sampler and butterscotch pudding with salted caramel. Talk about fat-kidding out! That was the most heavenly pudding I have ever eaten in my life! No jello box or snack-pack stands a chance after tasting the REAL thing! Finally heaving ourselves out of the booth and waddling toward home, we stopped to actually buy some of the gorgeous produce. (Ok, J’s sister did most of the buying. It’s just part of her weekly grocery shopping. I couldn’t resist and also walked away with a container of succulent strawberries.)

By the time Friday rolled around, I was pretty convinced we were in the best place on earth and nothing could top the amazing things we had already done. A bunch of morons also used to think the Earth was flat. Jumping in my little Mazda, we headed back towards the ocean to a place called Hazard Canyon. J’s sister had found a cool little place in the dunes and shared her secret. With the warm rays of the sun on our faces, we raced down the fine sand slopes, our shoes filling with the tiny grains as we played like a bunch of kids.

Coastal Dunes, Los Osos CA

Still climbing the dunes, before blasting down the other side!

Then we hiked down to the real treasure: a hunk of fascinating rock jutting out in the waves. From high up on the dunes, we could just see the waves breaking before they reached the shore. As we descended, we finally caught sight of the rock. Finally making it down to the water line, we collected the unique rocks with holes through them, examined the pretty shells (some with their residents still occupying them), and poked at the anemones living in the tide pools.

Tidepools, Los Osos CA

The houses of tiny little crabs and snails. The best part: J's shrill shriek when the crab popped out and crawled across his hand.

Sea Anemone Tidepool, Los Osos CA

Poke these squishy guys and they close up, playing tug-a-war. They're great for "pull my finger!"

Loving Life, California Central Coast

Life is grand...

I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, and I was completely enchanted with this place. Really completing the experience was the eucalyptus forest by the parking lot. Have you ever seen a eucalyptus tree? Well, you need to. They smell fantastic and have a beautifully colored bark. And they make great climbing trees.

Eucalyptus Trees, Central California Coast

Just a couple of monkeys

I’ve always wanted to live on the coast or beach, and I’m convinced this would be the perfect place. Yes, I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again: I love everything about this place!  The awesome, sun-shiney weather, perfect for flip-flops and gardening. And flowers! Everywhere I looked, something was blooming, lending sweet aromas to the cool breeze.  J and I used several of my lunch breaks to go running in the nice weather; I don’t mind it as much when all the sidewalks are lined with bursts of color, and every huff and puff is rewarded with a sweet smell. We also sampled amazing restaurant after amazing restaurant – and not as overpriced as up here!

Right, right, I’ll stop now. I obviously don’t need any more convincing that it’s the greatest place on earth, and you’re probably ready for me to shut up already.  Fine, I will. Smells like dinner’s ready, anyhow.

😀

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4 responses

29 03 2012
transparentguy

Welcome back.

30 03 2012
ksnapped

Why thank you 😀

30 03 2012
alan

You should be a writer. I love reading you stuff.

31 03 2012
ksnapped

I think I’m blushing…:D Thank you! And with that kind of encouragement, I just might!

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