We had a lovely time with John's family in Santa Maria. We got caught up with his siblings and the cousins had fun playing together. The kids LOVED having time with Gram and Gramps. We ate yummy fruits and veggies from the local farmer's markets.... it was a good relaxing week. Unfortunately I gave my camera a week off too so I have no photos to show for our week there. But the memories are firmly embedded in our minds and in our hearts.
After big hugs and some tearful good-bye's we headed north up to the Big Sur coast. This is one of my favorite places in California. It's rugged, somewhat remote, and completely magical. On the way up we stopped to see the elephant seals just north of Cambria. This in another one of our favorite stops! They are so entertaining to watch and observe.
It was really foggy the day we drove up, so we didn't get to enjoy the spectacular views along the coast. We stopped at Salmon Creek for a hike up to the waterfalls - fun except for all the poison oak. John reacts terribly to that stuff so we are all very leary of it. It was EVERYWHERE along the trail! When you're hiking with 3 kids, it takes a lot of the joy out of it when you're spending all your energy trying to avoid the poison oak. We decided to add to our list of criteria for a possible homestead.... no poison oak!
We spent one lovely morning at one of my favorite places in Big Sur - the Nepenthe - oh how I love this place! I love the weathered wood, the lush plants, the Phoenix gift shop with wares from around the world, the pillows outside of the restaurant, the yummy pastries and drinks at Cafe Kevah. The smell of the sea air, the ocean breezes, the view..... the energy of peace....
I could have just sat here for hours, soaking up the warmth of the sun and enjoying the tranquility.
While on the Big Sur coast, we spent an amazing day at the Esalen Institute. This is a place I've wanted to see and experience for years, so we arranged to spend a morning volunteering in their garden in exchange for meals and use of the facilities for the rest of the day. The gardens are beautiful! It was so wonderful to have our hands in the dirt again and the people we were working with were so welcoming and kind.
We harvested flax seeds, cleared and prepped beds, transplanted flowers, and planted seeds. Zara worked right along with us while Bella and Thor loved digging in the dirt, and helping out with the harvesting. They were enchanted with the baby chicks so spent lots of time sitting on stools in front of the brooder, watching and giggling at their silly little antics. They were so good at entertaining themselves while we worked. It was fun to be in the garden working as a family - hard work but so wonderful too. I loved hearing the waves crashing just below us and watching the fog lift throughout the morning. When it finally cleared and the ocean came into view it was just the icing on the cake! The food was yummy too! We left late that afternoon to return to our campsite, exhausted and happy.
The next day we continued north to the Santa Cruz area and had a wonderful time with our friends Dave and Marcie Kirby and their two wonderful boys and Marcie's sweet mom. We spent a day at the beach in Capitola watching a paddle board competition, cheering Dave in after a 12 mile race, and just enjoying the hubbub of race day. We got to help Marcie celebrate her 40th birthday at a yummy mexican restaurant in Santa Cruz later that night with a group of their friends. Another wonderful re-connection and another bittersweet goodbye.
The kids had so much fun playing on this rope swing! Bella pretended she was an acrobat in the circus!
We ended the weekend with an afternoon and evening with more great friends - Phil and Lara Grace and their kidlets. They live just north of San Francisco in the Marin area. Phil came and picked us up at our RV Park and took us back to their house where we swam, visited, ate good food and enjoyed the heat and good company.
We've been on the road exactly 6 weeks today - hard to believe. It's gone so fast and has been so wonderful. Tomorrow we are heading up to Mendocino and Fort Bragg for a few days of Northern California loveliness! Ahhhh.... life is so good!