We regretfully moved from San Simeon to Paso Robles on Monday. Did some laundry and headed out to two wineries: Wild Horse and Dunning. We seem to always find something we like and those two were no exceptions. Dunning is way, way back in the hills and they had a resident flock of wild turkeys.
The next day was set aside for more wine tasting, followed by a visit to Susan and Fred Miller in Atascadero. But earlier in the day, on the recommendation of Susan, we went out to breakfast at The Other Joe’s in Templeton. She said the hash browns were to die for. I was skeptical because I am not a fan of hash browns. But it turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten. The hash browns were fantastic: crispy and brown on top and creamy and soft underneath. I recommend this café!!!
After we had digested a little, we visited Mission San Miguel Arcangel in the little town of San Miguel. It’s more run down than Mission San Luis Obispo, but I liked the sense of peace that emanated from there.
From there, we went to two wineries on the east side of Paso Robles. Because there are so many to choose from, I usually select wineries that focus on Zins and Cabs. Since most of them include other varietals in their tastings, we still get a bit of variety while searching for the perfect zin. Bianchi was nice, but it was Tobin James that seduced us into joining their wine club. It has a Western theme and when we entered, we both thought “Belly up to the bar”. We did and began tasting okay chard and zin. We had told the pourer that we really loved fruity Zins, so she started pouring reds from the reserve list. One Zin was “Fatboy”; it wasn’t the best Zin we’ve ever had but definitely the second best! At $55, it was way more than the most expensive bottle we ever bought. We loved all three of the reserve Zins we tasted. So we decided to join their wine club and received a 15% discount. They send shipments of 8 reds twice a year, but they select the wines. I want Fatboy, Fatboy, Fatboy!
We got back to the RV park in time to park the wine, sit for a little bit and then headed to Atascadero to find Fred and Susan Miller’s home. Luckily, Susan had warned me about the Garmin getting the route wrong because it did, in fact, dead end us in someone’s front yard. The alternate Mapquest instructions got us to their place, and what a place! It is way up on a hill and has grand views in a couple of directions. Their grounds encircle the house and include two pools with waterfalls, several sitting areas, fruit trees, raised veggie beds, oak trees and more. It is an area with dark nights and they have a telescope to enjoy the stars. It was getting dark and a little chilly so we went inside and enjoyed good company, good wine, a great meal and what Susan said were “low-fat” brownies. Maybe they were but it was hard to tell with strawberries, ice cream and caramel sauce surrounding them. (Sigh of contentment)
Our wine perambulations over, we headed 100 miles north to Carmel. After some research, I had found that there aren’t that many campgrounds or RV parks in the area and the few I found were $50 or $60 per night. That didn’t please me. Dave had a phone app called The Ultimate U.S. Campground Project and it showed us campgrounds at Laguna Seca (now Mazda) Raceway. We went there and got a site with a great view, electric and water for $33 ($2 off for senior discount). It’s about 10 miles east of Carmel, but I’m willing to drive a little more to save $17 per night. We are between a firing range and the racetrack, but there’s nothing much going on right now.
Thursday was our big day out. We pulled it together and first headed out for Point Lobos, south of Carmel. It was warm with a little breeze. With high clouds overhead, the Pacific ranged from steel gray to deep turquoise blue. We walked to Weston Beach, the area where Edward Weston spent a lot of time photographing the rocks. They are full of interesting composites with intricate designs. One of things I love about the beaches covered with gravel is the hissing sound the water makes as it recedes. I found an art installation on one of the really rocky beaches.
After lunch, we drove down to Bird Rock and watched the mating ritual of Brandt’s Comorants. Their throat patches were bright blue and they were shaking their wings. It was really neat.
Having got Dave’s cold, I was coughing quite a bit and getting tired so we headed for the Carmel 17-mile drive. About half the drive is through a forested residential area. Then we reached the coast. We got out of the car and were hit with maybe a 25 mph blast of cold air – a surprise after Point Lobos. But the stormy sea was magnificent so we hopped out for a few minutes at the various stops. I loved the point where people would tee off on a little patch on the rocks right by the water.
The various stops on the drive are amusing. One is the ghost tree: “…a Monterey Cypress with a trunk bleached white by wind and sea spray.” Of course, there are several similar Cypresses right around it.
We finished the drive and headed back for our last night on the road. This 6-week trip was totally enjoyable. Going from the desert to the seashore gave us great contrast. The desert – so quiet; the ocean – endlessly thunderous. But two things they had in common was giving us the opportunity to gaze out over vast landscapes and some great star nights. We’re looking forward to our next trip in September.