The drive up was perfect until we got to Buelton, which is just outside of Solvang. There, the highway had all lanes closed going north because of a fatality involving a tanker truck. We were rerouted around it, and actually, that detour gave us a really beautiful view of the rolling hills, farms, and vineyards typical to the area. There was field after field filled with those little golden flowers. Huge meadows of yellow waving in the breeze.
In no time at all (seemingly) we'd arrived at our hotel, and Marion drove down to meet us. There was just a little time before dinner, when we were all going to meet Rick and Diana, and so we drove over to the beach and walked around. It had been a pretty day, and the beach was filled with families and all types of people out enjoying it. The view looking north up the coast was beautiful.
We went to eat at a little Thai restaurant called Thai Tilay. If you're ever in Pismo Beach I highly recommend it. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it was really really good. They served a coconut milk based soup that tasted amazingly like a recipe a friend of mine just gave me. Such great flavors in every dish! Everything was served family style, and so we each ordered something and shared it. It was a good evening spent catching up and hearing about everything going on with our nieces and nephews. Rick had gone to podiatry school in San Francisco, and Marion was familiar with where they'd lived. Such a fun night with everyone.
At the end of the evening we went back to Rick's, saw the niece and nephews who were home, and then we said our goodbyes. Marion headed north back to her mom's and we turned in at the hotel, bellies full and minds happy.
The next morning we got up, had breakfast, packed everything back in the car, and headed towards home. It was very overcast and damp from the nearby ocean, and chilly out. It felt good to be in the warm car. At one point south of Solvang the road came back out close to the coast again and we got out to take some pictures. It was such a beautiful place, kind of wild and lonely along the rugged coastline.
The railroad tracks ran by just below the road.
There were wildflowers growing everywhere.
Once we stopped, two other cars also stopped to take pictures. It was lovely there. Back in the car, we didn't stop again until we got to Goleta. We took the Hollister exit and followed signs pointing to beach access. We ended up in a small parking lot with no beach in sight - just a trail and a grove of eucalyptus trees to the left. We had no idea how far away the beach was, but figured it wasn't far so off we went - me in flipflops and toting my purse of all things. About a quarter mile into the trail I was feeling very ridiculous about bringing that purse, but the damage was done. And actually we passed other people along the way who looked as if they'd made the same miscalculation so I carried on as if a pumpkin colored purse was a normal hiking accessory. I'm 50 ++ years old, so it's okay to look ridiculous sometimes. The first half of the trail was in the eucalyptus grove, shady and cool. We saw Monarch butterflies and heard woodpeckers.
L was more prepared for a hike than I was.
We came to a clearing on the trail, and it looked like you could go any number of ways. We chose the trail that went most directly towards the beach.
Back into another grove of eucalyptus, then a right turn up a hill, and there it was: the beach. There was a steep tricky trail winding down to the actual beach, but with my bad ankle and in flip flops trying to hang onto a camera and purse, I didn't dare try it. So we stood up on the bluff and snapped away.
It was windy and it was a lonesome spot to stand looking out at the empty ocean. There was a small group of girls having a picnic on the bluff next to us. There were hikers here and there with very happy dogs. There were mountain bikers. The air was cool - perfect for the workout - and the sun would peek out from time to time. Before we'd started out through the grove I'd almost decided not to try it. I was afraid my ankle would give out, that I wouldn't be able to do it. What a beautiful hour or two I would have missed out on! I'm so glad I pushed on and tested my ankle strength. I have a pair of flip flops that are amazing. They're supportive and well made, and they're more comfortable than most athletic shoes. They certainly carried me through on this walk, and I was able to enjoy the rocky beauty of the coastline, the peaceful eucalyptus grove, and the Monarch butterflies flitting about. It was the first time I'd heard a woodpecker.
We arrived home tired and glad to be home, but full of good memories of a weekend well spent. A quick getaway chock full of family, friends, and nature. Perfection.
Communing - and photographing - nature