Posts Tagged With: vacation

Foul Tasting

Beautiful View

I was traveling up California’s beautiful coastline and wanted to have a nice dinner with a beautiful view.  I didn’t make a reservation because so far it’s been easy to slide in at the bar for dinner—it’s low maintenance, there are usually interesting people to chat with, and locals know the best things on the menu and have the inside scoop on the town.

I stopped at the first spot recommended— stunning.  Oceanside.  A gorgeous drive up.  Really pretty.  They had valet service which seemed a little over the top since the place is so small.  I just self parked and took the flights and flights of stairs up to the entrance.

I passed a couple about my parents’ age on the way up who were positively glowing.  They commented on the beautiful night, the amazing view, and their delicious meal.  They were carrying two paper bags which I assumed were full of pastries for breakfast.  He had on pants and a golf shirt and she had on capri pants with walking shoes.

After the long hike up, I made my way to the maitre d’s stand.  As I approached I watched her eyes start at my feet, work their way up my body, and back down again.

The outfit I was wearing could be described as bohemian chic— on a good day.  I was casual and had just come from a spa.   Skinny olive colored pants, black top, hooded sweater, open toe sandals, hair in a bun.  I suppose, to the untrained eye, my outfit could be interpreted as thrown together, haphazard, slightly wrinkled.  It’s fair to say that I’d not spent a ton of time primping for dinner.  But, the judgemental body scan I got from this maitre d woman, whose own ensemble was not far from thrown together, I did not deserve.

“Do you have room for one for dinner?” I asked, noticing my voice sounded less confident than I wished.

Maitre d glanced to someone to my left.   She paused.  I got the feeling she was summoning security.

“Let me show you the menu, first.”  She pulled the bi-fold paper out, splayed it in front of me, and pressed out the crease.  “The

There isn’t a bad view along CA Hwy 1.

dishes on the left are appetizers and they’re all $50.  On the right are our entrees and they’re $75.”

I tilted my head to the left, looked her in the eye, and waited to see what she would say next.  I think she was waiting for me to say something.  I was speechless.  I’ve never been shown a menu or  given the prices of the items before I was seated at my table.

Turns out, I’ve never known what it feels to be unwelcome.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to spend $125, or more, on dinner.  But, if I did I could.  Was I dressed to the nines?  No.  Did I look horrendously out of place?  No.

“Perhaps I can show you to our bar?”

“No, thank you.  I think I’ll try another place.”  Again, with the soft sounding voice.  Surprising mostly myself that I didn’t have much more to say to this woman.

“But, you’ve come all this way and you don’t even want to see it?”

“No, thank you.  I’ve seen enough.”

Here’s the thing…

1. People are treated like this all of the time.  It’s not at all fair, it’s an awful business model, and it’s life.  There was a time

Steve and Machelle

when I would have stayed to prove some mythical point.  But, had I done so I would’ve only been supporting a place that is undoubtedly unfair to people.  Plus, bitter tastes terrible.

2. If I’d stayed I wouldn’t have found Big Sur Bakery where I ordered the world’s best crab cake and roasted vegetable salad at a fraction of the cost.  Plus a perfect glass of Sauvignon Blanc AND a butterscotch ice cram pie.  You read that right— butterscotch ICE CREAM pie.

3. If I’d stayed I wouldn’t have met an academy award-winning actor, whom I admire,  and his lady friend.  He too was rocking a bohemian chic look.  So was she.  I wondered if they were also discouraged from the same restaurant.

4. If I’d stayed I never would have met Steve and Machelle who invited me to join them at their table.  Steve’s a cowboy and  businessman.  He asked if I could saddle a horse.  I said yes.  So, he invited me to his ranch in Kansas where he’ll introduce me to a bevy of cowboys.  To that I say, “Giddy up.”

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Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So Far….

From the North Rim of The Grand Canyon

Hello, one and all!  It’s been weeks!  Weeks since I’ve written.  Weeks since I’ve had a steady connection.  Weeks since I’ve organized my thoughts on what’s happened on the road.  I’m staying put for a few days in Napa, California and will once again be filling your inbox with posts from The Stretch 2012.  In the meantime, here are some things I’ve learned since I started this trip almost two months ago.

1. As soon as I start feeling really sad to leave a place, I know it’s time to go.  I’ve learned that part of that sadness is actually fear that the next stop won’t be as special.  But, every single stop is spectacular in its own way and you just never know what’s around the corner.

2. Grocery stores that sell ‘coons for cooking leave one full paw on the skinned animal so the buyer knows it’s indeed a ‘coon and not a cat.  Promise.

3. Dining alone is not so bad. I actually like it.  I don’t even bring a book with me anymore.  Most of the time someone will invite me to join them.  If I end up alone for the whole meal the bartender usually sends a round on the house.

4. Earthquakes scare the crap out of me.  People who live in California sleep through 3.8 earthquakes.  I contemplated packing my bags and leaving the state as soon as it happened.

5.  Hospitality is the true sport of kings.  I now fully understand what it means to make someone feel at home and welcome.

Las Cruces, New Mexico sunset.

6. Saying “yes” leads to way more interesting happenings than saying “no, thank you”.

Almost as good as new.

7. Broken bones heal.  It just takes a while.

8. Above about 3,000 feet one cocktail feels like two… or more.

9. Sex cult members would like for you to join them but if you don’t want to they don’t seem to mind and still want to be your friend.

Highway 1

View from Highway 1 vista.

10. Esalen in Big Sur, California houses the mac-daddy of all hot springs experiences.  I wish I could show you pictures but photography would likely be discouraged at this clothing optional enclave.  I now judge those who take the option.

11.  California Highway 1 is the coolest, spookiest, most harrowing drive I’ve ever taken and I’ll do it again and again.

12. Seeing two national parks in one day is seeing one national park too many.

13. Sacred Peace Pipe ceremonies are usually not open to the public and are not advertised on the community bulletin board.

14. Checking your car’s tire pressure is super easy and when all the tires are right it’s a huge relief.

Standard uniform.

15. I like wearing the same four outfits over and over.  I wish I could ditch half the stupid stuff I brought with me— like the sequined tank top that’s shedding shiny discs all over the bottom of my suitcase.

16. Everyone has a story and everyone has the propensity to be a teacher.

Open road. Totally alone.

17. Gas station attendants across America agree that beef jerky is the most popular snack sold.

18. Lying down on the double yellow line of a quiet freeway gave me a sense of freedom I’ve never felt before in my life.  I hadn’t seen another car for more than two hours so I stopped my car in the middle of the road, blasted a random CD I bought in Austin, and laid down on my back right on the double line.  Like a star fish.  Stared at the sky.  Laughed and cried at the same time.

19. At one certain pueblo, no one wants to discipline the War Chief’s unruly and aggressive dog.  He’ll goose you and then back you into a corner nipping at your ankles.  The dog, not the War Chief.

20. I’ve fallen head over heels for the car I’m driving.  When I spot it in the parking lot I all but skip toward it and give it a hug.  It holds the contents of my entire life, provides shelter, and takes me to every single new adventure.

My one true love.

Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Camping in Marfa, Texas

Worth every single mile to get there.

Glamping is more like it.

Marfa, Texas is one of the more remote and inspiring places I’ve ever been.  To say it’s out of the way is accurate.  100% accurate.  And, I’m so glad I made the journey.  It’s a place to disconnect.  In fact, staying connected is more of a challenge than relaxing into its slow groove.  It’s a town of less than 2,000 but a hotbed for creatives.  Every body knows every body and if you need to get in touch with someone but don’t have their number, you can call the Get Go and they can probably track ’em down for you.  You can spend days reading about Donald Judd and his Chinati Foundation.  You can get high end custom boots at Cobra Rock Boot Company that feel like a perfectly fitted foot sculptures.  KRTS, Marfa Public Radio, has to be the envy of the rest of the country’s public radio.  Do yourself a favor and start streaming it full-time.   I spent two hours in the Marfa Book Company— the coolest book store in the country, seriously.  Kindles be damned.   The Marfa Lights, mysterious beams of light that dance and glow over an empty swath of land, bring in a community of skeptics and hopefuls each night.  They were out in full force the night I was there– the lights and the hopefuls– and our little band of Marfa Lights Brothers had a ball drinking beers and swapping conspiracy theories.  The McDonald Observatory is just two small towns over and the drive is one of Texas’ beauties.  Meander out  just before sunset and then stick around for the observatory’s Star Party.  The stars blanket the sky and a dozen high power telescopes give you views of Saturn and the Moon like you’ve never seen.  I’m not even into astronomy and I stayed until midnight.

Wanting to step outside of my normal path, I chose not to stay at the comfortable, air conditioned Hotel Paisano— where

This could be a good option back in NY.

Liz Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson stayed while filing Giant.  Instead, I chose a safari tent at El Cosmico just down the road.  This is camping for rock stars.  My safari tent was tricked out with a chandelier, 400 thread count sheets on a super comfortable bed, a radio so I could binge on KRTS, and my own bedside lamp.  Falling alseep to the sound of wind and nothing else was a luxury all its own.  If you stay at El Cosmico, you need to embrace the full experience.  You’ll have to cross a dirt patch of field to use the ladies, shower, or brush your teeth.  It’s communal but totally private and there’s no wait.  But, have you ever showered outside?  Once you do, you’ll never want to go back inside.

If you ever get the chance, GO  TO  MARFA.  A great resource for planning your stay is The Texas Mountain Trail. Along with,  Beth Nobles , the regions best asset and ambassador.

Also, if your body aches from all that driving to get to Marfa, call Suzi for a massage at 512 567 1964.  If you can’t find her, call the Get Go.

Categories: Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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