Cayucos - July 17, 2010

My life long friend from high school and fellow Ye Olde Forester, Pai, lost the love of her life, her spouse, her mate, Doug, this year. A tragic, indescribable loss. The memorial gathering would be in July, in Cayucos where they made their home and nest.

Strangely enough, another high school friend and I had found each other after all these years, Kerry aka Kerriette. Emails fly back and forth, she pops up for weddings and gatherings, but we have never made it to where she lives, of all places: Cayucos. Here we go!!

One of Anne's killer headaches delayed departure, but eventually we were at Toni's for breakfast, and left poor Jena and new my precious grandson Landon in 103° weather to watch the zoo. It's hot in the valley as usual, but it's going to be cold on the coast so we pack long pants. Our attitude "If we forgot it, we can buy it" doesn't work in the tiny village of Cayucos, especially when what you forgot were jackets. Ooops.

Kettleman City was still 103° for an ice, tea and a potty break, we pass James Dean Intersection (oh wow, really?) and on Highway 46 we watch the exterior temp gauge on the truck go from 102 to a whopping 76 in 26 minutes, one degree for every minute. Simply amazing. Then, all of a sudden, without warning, fog. Real salt water scented fog. Highway 1 at 3:22 pm and it's 73°. No, 72°. Gee. Then, there is the ocean. I am not a water person, more a mountain and tree hugger, but that first sight of the ocean takes your breath away, every time.

We check in to our hotel, and stop by a real estate office where we try not to faint at the prices. Currently, a very small house with work needed will run between 40 and 60 k in Merced. In Cayucos, the smallest of houses go for 300 k. We find Kerry's house, drool all over her knotty pine, skylighted, delightful little house with a ocean view from the patio, meet her kitty Grey at long last, head back to the hotel to change and off to dinner.

Hoppe's Bistro is a story in itself. Get yourself a cup of tea, or skip a few paragraphs, waaay down this page. We picked Hoppe's from passing by, and Kerry said it was one of the most expensive places. When in doubt, go for the gusto.  We ask for an outside table, spy one in an area by itself, totally secluded, surrounded by six foot or better walls of pure blossoms and greenery, where Teg seats us. Was this area created just for us or what? We later find out this is the most coveted table on the patio, table 71. No, there are not 71 tables all together, more like 30, half inside, half outside.

We are surrounded by Rose of Sharon, a tiger rose, geraniums, pink jasmine, shasta daisy, butterfly bushes, clockwork orange, nasturtium, heliotrope, hibiscus bits, euryops, alyssum, dusty miller and a few others I can't remember. Absolutely stunning.

The menu is not standard faire, it was developed for more discriminating tastes. Each entree has a special touch, the salad and cheese menu are extensive, as well as the appetizers. Pizza to pheasant, burgers (Kobe) to quail, and My Mother's Butter Lettuce Salad. The humus was the best I had ever tasted. David had Grilled Angus Filet Mignon with Caramelized Garlic and Roasted Tomato, Kerry had Seared Fresh Sea Scallops with Fresh Spinach, Asparagus and Lemon Butter, Anne had Seared Wild King Salmon, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Sake-Miso Beurre Blanc Their website lists all the delights. They did not have a liquor bar, but our waitress, Anita, was wonderful about it. She brought us lap blankets when the evening cooled off and it became apparent we were not locals as we started to shiver, where Kerry and Anita were both quite comfortable. Remember, we think 70° is sweater weather.

Dessert topped off the fabulous meal: Ginger Creme Brulee with local berries. We ordered one, Anita gave us three spoons and we took turns licking the bowl.  Kidding! Kerry and Anita exchanged local stories, we mourn the fact we would freeze here, and we all ate until we were actually uncomfortable, but our taste buds were in absolute heaven.

Back to the hotel for the night, another surprising experience. Cayucos Beach Inn. The pet friendly motel was a horseshoe arrangement of fourty units with a central common area: parking, grass areas, patios, barbecue grills, and a pet center including a purple fire hydrant and dog bath. A chuckle was to see the normal peep hole in each room's door, then to spot the one twelve inches from the ground, and the hand painted paw print  around it on the inside of the door! There was a long bathroom counter with two sinks, a kitchen counter that included a frig, microwave, sink, dish towels, hot pad and a twelve cup coffee maker! The beds were just right, a bit short on pillows, but a lantern with an 'in case of loss of electricity 'note was interesting.  

Breakfast was at the Old Cayucos Deli, which fell a bit short. We sat in their fenced garden patio, waterfalls, blooming purple morning glory, tall nasturtiums, but the food came on paper plates with plastic ware. Anne's cold seafood omelet was a real disappointment, David's turkey wrap and potato salad was 'ok'.   Next was a wander down town, the one main street, through antique and unique stores. A silver hurricane lantern and a bright, wild tie dye dress and scarf went home. A walk on the beach and it was time to head out to the celebration at the Vet's Memorial Hall.

Pictures are still worth a thousand words. Kerry, Jim and Taru, Bryan and Beverly, Kathy Wasowski, Max, John and Cathy, Norma and Clark, Pono, Barb and Mr A.  Pai sang a song for Doug to get things going, accapella of course, and she received a standing ovation. There wasn't a dry eye in the huge crowd nearing 200 people. It was a fairly spectacular tribute to Doug. I believe he would be pleased.

A walk on the wharf with Barb where we met Bill and Marva with their pup Ripple, then warmth was needed. Drambuie and O'Doul's, seafood nibbles, clam chowder and shrooms at Schooner's solved that problem. We would be regulars if we lived in Cayucos.

One more good night's sleep before we met Kerry for breakfast at the Seafood Shanty. You can always tell the best food by where the locals go. The eggs are cooked in butter, the biscuits are a bit heavy, but it's still a definite repeat location.

As always, it was still good to get home, even to the heat.


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