Sunday, January 10, 2010

Taking it SLO

It's been pretty chilly over the holidays and I've been wishing for warmer times and thinking back on what a great summer I had this past year. I unintentionally ended up making a mini California tour- LA, Lake Tahoe, and last but not least, San Luis Obispo (or SLO as the locals apparently call it). I had heard it was a cool little college town, but wasn't really expecting anything out of the ordinary. Boy, was I surprised! I only went for the weekend, but we packed so much in and I still wish I could have stayed longer.

As always, it helps when your tour guide is/was a local. We started off the day with a climb up Bishop Peak. It probably took an hour and a half or so to get to the top. The views are breathtaking and well worth the climb. It was a great place to start the trip, since the entire town as well as the ocean are visible from the peak. It definitely helps you get your bearings and gives you a great sense of the landscape.

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring around the neighboring beach towns on a scooter. Scooting is probably one of my favorite forms of transportation, but we almost froze to death during this particular run. I left SLO, which was a sunny 75 or so, wearing a tank top and skirt. Within minutes we had fast forwarded seasons and found ourselves in Pismo Beach, where it was a chilly 50 some degrees. It literally looked & felt like a bizarre winter wonderland with surfers emerging from the fog. Add the wind blowing against your skin on the scooter, and you'll understand my discomfort. For that reason, we made a quick loop and then headed back for summer at Avila Beach. The fog fell away, we found the sunshine again and spent some time thawing out on the sand.

We finished off the tour with a ride over See Canyon. We took a little road, very much off the beaten path, that I doubt most locals even know about. Fortunately for me, (yet again), my guide is an avid biker (that might even be an understatement) and this road is known as one of the best bike trails in town. So, we took the scooter off road for a bit, climbed another hill and stopped to admire the gorgeous views out over the bay. The fog was thick over the hills and I had no problem admiring its beauty from a safe distance in the sun.

The fun continued with an amazing meal at Novo Restaurant. We ate on their back deck beneath twinkle lights and overlooking the creek that runs through downtown. Beautiful setting & fantastic food!

Unbelievably, the day didn't end there. I told you we packed a ridiculous amount of things into the weekend, didn't I? We left dinner and made it to Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort just in time for their very last opening for a Sulphur Spring bath. "Wow" pretty much sums up that experience. They have a large outdoor garden with private sulphur tubs throughout. You walk down the tree-lined path to find your own secluded spring surrounded by a wooden deck and completely open to the sky above.
Sunday was just as fun-filled. We headed back to Pismo beach (with more appropriate attire this time) and ate some of their famous clam chowder at Splash Cafe. Then, we followed that up with an afternoon of wine tasting at the Edna Valley vineyards just outside the city. I'm pretty spoiled already, living so close to wine country here in San Francisco, but they definitely hold their own in comparison. I was very happy to go home with my tasty bottle of 2007 Dry Riesling from Wolff Vineyards.
It was a fantastic weekend and now that I think about it, it might be time for a return visit sometime soon...

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