California Dreamin’

Egads, I’m sure you (all… three of you who are reading this) probably thought I’d abandoned this blog! I promise I haven’t, but time has been short, and writing moments and motivation have been even shorter. It’s those dreaded Matters of Consequence again, getting their ugly selves in the way. I’m going to work on it.

You see, in just about a week and a half, I will be on my way to my second (or third?*) favorite spot in the entire world: Central Coast! If you’re not familiar with California, Central Coast is a broad term for the area north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco. It starts at Mussel Shoals (my former landmark of ‘breathe easy, you’re out of Los Angeles now’), and it includes all the places you see in Sideways, like Santa Barbara, and Pea Soup Andersen’s (both locations!), plus those yummy stretches of cliffs and sea along the PCH (that’s Pacific Coast Highway if you never lived in Los Angeles and threw that term around casually). But what’s best about Central Coast is SLO County, and that’s where we will be going.

Ever since we lived in Los Angeles, we have traveled to this tiny little place called Avila Beach, which is about ten miles south of San Luis Obispo proper (that’s what SLO stands for, but everyone in the area pronounces it just like the way you want to enjoy life when you’re there: SLO-ly). The hotel we stay it is about a block off the beach, but you can hear the waves crashing onto the shore as soon as you step outside in the morning.

Oh, and did I mention, there’s wine? Loads and loads of wine. There are wineries every which way you look in SLO County, and it’s delicious wine. Buttery chardonnay (never thought I’d ever like that, but oh lord do I ever), dry, dry zinfandel (my favorite), and smoky syrah. Needless to say, we’ll be touring every winery we see, as usual.

But there’s another reason I love this yearly trek across the country to our former weekend getaway spot. It’s the way my brain feels in Central Coast.

I’ve always loved the Eagles, and when I try to describe my life in California, I use the Eagles as a perfect example. When you think of all the good, good songs written by the Eagles, like “Take it Easy” or “One of these Nights” or “Busy Bein’ Fabulous” (okay, that last one’s not a good song, but I freakin’ love it anyway), those songs were written while the Eagles were in Central Coast. Songs that make you anxious just to listen to them, like “Life in the Fast Lane?” Written in LA. No doubt.

And that’s what life in LA was like. I felt like every single day, “Life in the Fast Lane” was blasting behind me as the soundtrack to my life, and I was just waiting, and holding on for a moment of escape when I could head three hours north and let “Take it Easy” be my theme song.

Central Coast still holds true for me in that way. Even though my life is FAR improved over the days in Los Angeles, now that we’re back in Pittsburgh (so nice to not have to get up at 9am to watch Steelers games), it’s still an escape and a relief to find myself back on the coast in Avila Beach. A typical day in SLO goes like this for me:

~ 7am: Wake up, grab yoga mat & chocolate chip cookie from kitchen (free chocolate chip cookies 24 hours a day at La Fonda). Eat cookie on walk to beach. Do yoga on beach.
~ 730am: Shake sand off of yoga pants and buy cup of coffee from Avila Grocery. Watch dogs run on beach. Walk out to edge of pier, look for dolphins. Sip coffee slowly. Breathe in healthy air. Feel alive.
~ 8am: Shower. Watch Mexican soap operas while drying my hair.
~ 830am: Breakfast with husband at one of three places (Custom House, Avila Grocery, or Fat Cats, if we feel like trekking to Port San Luis, a mile or so away). Planning of day over many, many cups of coffee.
~ 930am: Writing. Sometimes, we go into SLO and have more coffee at Peet’s. Sometimes we sit in our room at La Fonda and write there. Sometimes we go to Joe Momma’s coffeeshop, where you can look right at the ocean as you scribble away.
~ Noon: Biking. Or riding horses on the beach. Or, this year, kayaking (finally get to see the Port San Luis Lighthouse, after finding out there are kayak trips there daily). Or going for a long walk on the Bob Jones Trail.
~ 3pm: WINE TIME!
~ 7pm: Dinner. Seafood, with BYOB wine. Or tapas, with cocktails.
~ 830pm: Pick up a movie from the DVD library at La Fonda, pour one last glass of wine, and snuggle down in front of the TV. Probably fall asleep before I know the major dramatic question of the movie.
~ 7am: Repeat.

I don’t know what it is about the easy-going lifestyle, or the sea air, or the fact that I can get up close and personal with sea lions whenever I damn well please (although not too close, because I hear they bite), but something in SLO County turns me into a different person. It turns me into that super-optimistic, free-spirited, going-to-change-the-world-someday girl that I was when I used to hibernate in the Cathedral of Learning or Hillman Library during college, armed with only my journal, my writing notebook, and a whole pile of beautiful pens. It turns me into the girl who fearlessly writes new scenes, who gets lost in a Dave Matthews song and has to write the short-story-sequel. And it’s fabulous. Every single minute of it.

So, although I’ve been quiet lately on this blog, you can expect to hear from me in two weeks (and also on 101 Achievements, as we’ve got many Achievements lined up for this trip).

Sea Lion
Unless, of course, I get snatched up by the sea lion community. I feel pretty at home with those dudes, I gotta admit.

*I’m still up in the air on this one. Pittsburgh is definitely my favorite place on earth, but I’d have to say SLO County and Cambridge, MA are a toss-up for second place. I think it depends on the reasons I want to run away in the moment, which of these places is my favorite. And right now, love that dirty water though I do, I really want to run away to the West Coast.