Friday, September 3, 2010

California Dreamin'

Tonight, I took a shower in the waterfall shower at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Osbispo, CA. The Madonna Inn is mad genius at work -- every room is done up to a different theme and we just happen to be staying in the safari room -- home of the aforesaid waterfall.

The Inn is also home to a passionate group of the most wonderful dancers who clearly spend many a night here dancing to the tunes of Hank and Frank at the Gold Rush Steakhouse. Well into their 70s and 80s, this group of regulars knows how to cut a rug -- in heels and shiny wing tips. From the swaying white-haired vixen whose gentleman friend did not dance to the tiny man with the widow's hump twirling around the floor with his hand on his partner's butt -- they were like seaweed gently wafting along in the tidal pull. One could imagine them at home in the Rainbow Room in New York -- waltzing as easily with the city aglow behind them as they twirled under the pink chandeliers.

This is a place that is about as far afield from the yurts at the Treebones Resort in Big Sur which is where I slept last night. Oddly, these two places to rest one's head go together in the same way that Venice Beach and Morro Bay; Ohai (stay at the Emerald Iguana) and Santa Monica; or Cambria and Solvang go together. California -- it's a big state.

This California road trip (vintage 2010) was really all about the yurts at Treebones. They sit perched high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. The first night we rolled in after a foggy drive up the coast to a warm and welcoming lodge and a VERY cold yurt equipped with a small gas stove flanked by two Papazan chairs. The Nancy's Squared had arrived -- foregoing the yurt equipped with a ping pong table for the yurt that had two queen-sized beds (with lots of warm and cozy comforters) and those aforementioned chairs. They were a great place to sit as we warmed our feet by the small gas stove. A bit hard to escape though -- obviously chairs designed for the young. Dinner was ribs that fell off the bone and the house special salmon. All bedecked with fresh vegetables from the organic garden. No cell phone. No internet. No television. Just a bedazzling array of stars and a resort that includes a human birds nest overlooking the pacific.

Falling asleep to the sound of the sea lions barking and the gentle breeze blowing through the trees was priceless. At some point, that first night, right below our yurt a memory was made as a young man proposed to a young woman 'neath the stars in a nest made for two.

We spent the following day driving up the coast to Carmel for a walk on the wide, white sand beach (alas, no Clint Eastwood to be seen) and a leisurely drive back down for a stop at the Henry Miller Library and a short hike to Mcway Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It's a nice hike out to the vista point -- a bonus was the blue whales cavorting off in the distance.
In Big Sur, it is all about the vistas which greet you at every turn as the highway switchs back and forth along the high bluffs of the central california coast. Our yurt -- much warmer after a sunny day -- welcomed us back with its cheery red airondeck chairs offering a perfect view of a pacific sunset accompanied by the birds chirping in the trees. A midnight trip to the bathrooms up top the hill brought another opportunity to breath in the fresh mountain air and drink in the stars.

I could see living in El Sur Grande -- anchored by the moutains behind and refreshed by the sea vistas below. Looking forward to the colors of the setting sun because that would mean another night of stars at play in the inky blackness of the night.

Practical Matters
I flew into San Diego (Jet Blue, JFK to SD) to meet up with my friend Nancy -- it is easier to fly into LAX or San Francisco. Our route took us from San Diego to Santa Monica where we overnighted at the Loew's Santa Monica -- enjoying an early morning walk on the pier and a quick tour of Venice Beach. Then it was on to Ojai -- a wonderful little mountain town just inland from Ventura. Our room ("Leaf" at the Emerald Iguana was approximately $220 for a small cottage with a full kitchen and separate living room (breakfast included).

From Ojai, we meandered north, stopping in Solvang for lunch and quick tour of this small slice of Denmark in California -- where we whiled away a bit of time. From Solvang, it was on to Morro Bay for the night where we stayed at the Blue Sail Inn (~$129).

Then it was off to Big Sur for a couple of nights at Treebones Resort (~$230/night for a yurt with 2 queen beds -- breakfast (freshmade waffles) included). We started the drive back to San Diego and, on a whim, landed here at the Madonna Inn -- in San Luis Obispo -- for a couple of nights (rates vary, the Safari Room was $259) and then it's off to Moonlight Beach (the Inn at Moonlight Beach, ~$200/night including breakfast) where we will hang with the ladies for a day of shopping, laughing, and eating.
Then, it is the long flight home to NYC to start planning my next California road trip. Mojave Desert anyone?



  1. I love your blog. Love your writing. And these photos are amazing, Nancy. I have now officially added the Madonna Inn as a must-go-to destination. I'm lovin' the idea of a California road trip with Diamond and Diego. Thank you!

  2. right back at you amy -- i am saving your most recent post until i have time to devour it. a road trip with diego and diamond sounds like fun. hope they are both on the mend.

  3. sorry to be a stickler but seals don't bark, sea lions do and very loudly. I live in Monterey and hear them every night barking away. seals sometimes make clicking or grunting noises but nothing like sea lions.

  4. thank you -- I amended it to sea lions. and i agree that they are LOUD. the yurts were pretty far up from the ocean and we could still hear them loud and clear.