Note: I'm letting too much time pass between an inspiration to write and actually publishing something. I'm working on it. This actually took place the weekend of March 1.
Last weekend I had a delightful and uplifting time with my church neighborhood group. 10 of us went on a retreat to Cambria, CA to unwind and get to know each other better. Cambria is a cute little town on the coast with great views of the ocean. (OK - coast and ocean views kinda go together, but it's still worth mentioning.)
We arrived at our rental house on Friday after a 4 hour drive from San Jose. I rode with the couple who leads the group. We spent a lot of time talking about my divorce, God's will in marriage, and the idols we each have. We stopped in town for a late dinner and ate in a fancy restaurant in the cute little downtown area. I had to try the seafood pot pie. The filling was based on their clam chowder and the crust was delightfully flaky.
The other groups rolled in over the next few hours, and we stayed up talking until midnight - which required some effort given my standard 9:30 bedtime. Besides me and the lead couple, it was mainly young women in their mid-20s. I shared a room with the one single guy in the group.
On Saturday we had banana pancakes and then hiked a trail along the ocean down to the tide pools. The views were gorgeous. Then we went to see the elephant seals. The beach had hundreds of baby elephant seals, who are as big as normal seals. There were some adult males, who are about 10 feet long and weigh 5000 pounds. Their backs are covered in scars from fights they’d had.
For lunch we went to yet another scenic ocean outlook and ate sandwiches. A ground squirrel kept creeping up looking to steal a meal, causing the occasional shriek from the nearest startled sandwich owner. It reminded me of the voracious - and uninhibited - squirrels of the UT campus main mall area who would brazenly crawl into backpacks looking for food, regardless of any attempts to shoo them away.
After lunch we visited a winery where we tasted 6 wines for $5. The chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon didn’t really do it for me, but I enjoyed the sweet Riesling and the Port. Once again, the views were great. The owner came out and showed us the barrel room and the the area where they receive the grapes, crush them and then ferment the juice.
We drove back to downtown Cambria and walked through shops. I got bored of that pretty quick, but perked up when we decided to go to the bakery for pie. I chose the blueberry peach pie - a la mode of course.
When we got back to the house that afternoon, half the folks went for a run, while the rest of us took a nap. We also had to solve the kitchen disposal/drain clog. It came down to unscrewing the u-shaped pipe section which was full of shredded paper and egg shells.
After a dinner of homemade burritos, we played a game called Resistance. It centers around figuring out which players are "spies" trying to sabotage the rebel missions. Not exactly ideal for building trust, since you begin to suspect everyone is lying. Once again, we stayed up until midnight.
Sunday morning I finally pulled on my running shoes and headed out for a jog. My sense of direction failed me totally and I ran away from the coast - and its gorgeous views. But with the fog on the ocean, I didn’t miss much. I did see a few wild turkeys and even found a dirt trail into the forest. There were lots of inclines and declines, so I got my workout.
When I got back it was time to packing lunches and bags, clean up the house, and close it up for the week. We headed back on a scenic drive over the green mountains and then up the valley, enjoying the beauty of nature and the new friendships we had formed.