Adventures in California

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Last fall E and I ventured to the coast of California, where we discovered elephant seals, monarch butterflies,  rolling sand dunes, and bubble-gum alleyways. It was a quick trip with its share of hiccups thanks to the wonderful world of non-rev travel (benefit of Evan's luggage handling job over the summer), but it was well worth it for a few days in a fresh environment.

We flew into LA and drove north a few hours to Pismo Beach, a quaint beach-town known for its clam shell festival, gelato, and Italian cuisine. Our first full day was spent exploring the sand dunes right along the coastline and soaking in as much sun as possible before heading back home for Minnesota's "hibernation" season. Tip: By entering the dunes via the Oso Flaco Lake entrance we avoided ATV craziness and noise. 

Another day took us up North to a hike in San Luis Obispo called Bishop's Peak. We were told there's a spectacular view of the ocean from the summit, but we enjoyed the mystique of fog-wrapped cliffs instead. 

A few years ago I spied an awesome photo in National Geographic of an alley covered in bubble gum. It wasn't until after we made our travel plans to California that I discovered we were headed right towards the famous bubblegum alley ... 

Other adventures included checking out (and smelling!) the elephant seals, which migrate along the coastline that time of year. After we returned home I got in the habit of visiting this live seal cam every day! Up close they really look like creatures from some horror movie ... and wait until you see them fight! 

My favorite dinner was probably at Giuseppe's in Pismo Beach. Giuseppe himself, an elderly Italian man, sat by the front door playing his xylophone all night! The fresh clams at Steamer's weren't bad either. Since Pismo Beach is known for their clam chowder we had to sample some at Splash Cafe - quite tasty, although we had to fend off seagulls. As I alluded to earlier, our return trip from LA didn't go very smoothly, so we spent our "extra day" at Venice Beach and dined at a little cafe right on the boardwalk called the Figtree Cafe

We loved our cute little unit, just two blocks from the beach. It was cozy but had everything we needed, with a little courtyard out front. Completely furnished with Ikea ware! 

Now that spring break season is upon us we're kind of sad we aren't jetting off to somewhere warm. That's why I made this little slideshow to recap our travels last fall - come enjoy this virtual spring break trip with E+C!

Music: "Learn Me Right," by Birdy and Mumford & Sons - from the Brave soundtrack
Perfect for St. Paddy's Day!

Check out our other travels: last spring we were skiing in Colorado and two years ago we were in St. Louis!
Anyone else getting the travel bug this time of year?

Birthday Tribute

My dad's the type of person who can find an adventure in everything. Whether it's walking the streets of New York City, hiking in the Black Hills, or enjoying an evening bike ride, he will find something new or interesting ... or peculiar to do. I'm not saying he's a daredevil - in fact, he's quite afraid of heights. He simply has the mindset for adventure. This is really just another way of saying the old cliché: he sees the glass half full. Whatever is in front of him, be it work, play, or even mindless errands, he is curious, open-minded and sees the possibilities. And that's how adventures are born.

Hiking at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota.

We used to live in NYC back when I was a toddler, and my mom has told me how dad enjoyed his walk home from work through the busy streets. Yes, he loves his hometown in the Black Hills of South Dakota and is quite the nature boy, but he never let that keep him from enjoying another experience. One day he actually found a sofa on the street and carried it right up to our apartment. The big green sofa of my childhood came to be because he found it on the street and said, why not?

Apparently my favorite past-time as a lil tyke was swinging upside down!

Dad and I were out on a bike ride one summer evening when we came across a Jaguar parked at the end of a long driveway. For Sale, it read in the window. Naturally, we had to check it out, peer through the windows, contact the owners ... we continued on our bike ride, then stopped by on our way home for an official test drive. Leave it to dad to head out on a bike ride and come home with a new car!

But not all of dad's adventures result in sofa and car purchases. Many are just about exploring a new path when out on a run - something he's instilled in me. Part of the excitement of running outside is the fact that there are choices to make. Shall I turn left or right? Over the bridge or around the path? What's going on down there ... ? With nothing but my own two feet I have the power to explore. It's really quite liberating and the rhythm of those choices lulls me into a nice runners high (never heard running and lull in the same sentence before, have ya?).

Although it's impossible to list all of the things I've learned from my dad over the years, here are a few that come to mind right now:

-You can make a home anywhere, if you have the right mindset. And everything you need will more or less be available, although maybe not in the form you expect.

-Don't assume you know yourself well enough not to try something because you don't think you'll like it.

-Be your own drummer - foster positive relationships and be socially savvy enough to bolster your own success, but don't worry about petty stuff getting in the way of what you want to do - or be.

-Make up words

-Be curious.

-Be geeky.

Dad and his geerkery
Hiking Crazy Horse Monument when we got caught in a hail storm!

Happy Happiest of Birthdays to you, Dad!
"... Let's have an adventure! (from the pancake song)

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