Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Monday, March 12, 2012

Family, Friends, and Monarch Butterflies

L and I spent a lovely weekend up north in the Pismo Beach area.  I love it up there.  It's beachy cool and the pace of life just seems a little slower up there.  It's the place where thousands of Monarch butterflies flock to between November and February each year.  The further I get away from Los Angeles, the happier I am.   L's brother Rick and his family live up there, and, coincidently my friend Marion was down from Seattle visiting her mother in a town just a little north of there.  So it was a two-fer weekend, seeing everyone in one visit.
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


  1. Lucky you. Been to Sue's blog? Double lucky you.

  2. I love Pismo. We should meet there sometime...

    And yes, Jen has spilled the beans. You won my giveaway!!



  3. You do a great job of describing the beach and coastal areas along there.

    We honeymooned in Solvang and went back again for our 20th anniversary. Fun place.

    And I enjoy Pismo Beach very much. A completely different "feel" in that area of California.

    Have a good one - Marsha

  4. What a great weekend. I love the pics. You live in a very beautiful part of the country. The names of the towns are so cool too...almost like names in a foreign country! I did smile at Pismo Beach though..it always reminds me of the movie "Clueles"..I don't know why I love that silly movie so much! Congrats on the win from Sue and enjoy your week!

  5. It sounds lovely and the pictures are beautiful.

  6. I think you and L make wonderful memories together...the kind you will look back at someday and sigh. Lovely photos!!!

  7. I love butterflies and wildflowers, so it was a double treat getting to see both those here today. You have such great adventures. I really loved your pics!

  8. Congrats on winning Sue's giveaway. Did you know you were a lucky girl?

    It certainly sounds like you had a very full but wonderful weekend. I can't believe you were able to do so much and see so many different places in just the two days and one night. Of course you were happy to see your friends and relatives too, but all that scenery was really an exciting extra. Your pictures and comments about them were interesing too. You do have a way with words too, Karen. I loved the wild flowers and the fact that you actually enjoyed that long walk to the beach on your way home. You two are getting to be so athletic. That picture of LaMar? Oh my gosh, I had no idea you were married to such a handsome hunk!! He is really a handsome man, you lucky girl. Of course I am sure he feels lucky to have you too. I am just so happy for you two to be able to enjoy your walking trips, to say nothing about your bicycling ones. You are so smart to hang in with your healthy living style. It will serve you very well as you get older.

  9. You look so cute and little in that last pic with your legs all curled up. :)

  10. Hello again karen (small "k")! First of all, hooray for detours. A detour is a great metaphor, don't you think? It takes you off the busy, stressful highway, slows you down a little and allows you to see and experience things you wouldn't have otherwise. You enjoy the change of scene so much that the trip actually seems shorter.

    These are lovely photos. I'm glad you didn't try to negotiate those steep cliffs in your flip flops! Come to think of it, karen, our friendship is much like your flip flops: supportive, well made, and comfortable. Have a safe and happy Tuesday, dear friend!

  11. I agree with Donna. You seem to always be making great memories and taking time for each other :)

  12. Sometimes I'm so jealous of people who live by an ocean, and then I think, "Hey Laraine, you have the desert!" And then I get even madder. :)

  13. Your photos made me so want to go there.

  14. Hi Karen,
    This is a part of our world I would love to visit. I'm in love with the views and the thought of fresh, cool ocean breezes, butterflies, wildflowers and birds.


Sit down, have some red punch and cookies, and tell me EVERYTHING...

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed