Max’s Surf and Turf Trip

Where should we go on our first road trip of Summer 2018? To the beach or to the mountains?


¿Porque no los dos?

A mixed beach and mountain trip sounded good. Sort of a “surf and turf” approach to travel. Since we only had four days available we decided a relatively short loop trip up the coast, across the central valley to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and then back to the Rancho would nicely fit the bill.

We targeted Cayucos as our beach town and Kernville as our mountain retreat.


We first visited the California coastal town of Cayucos in September 2016. (You can read about that trip here.) Back then we promised ourselves we would return to this delightful dog-friendly town where time seems to have stopped in the 1960s.

The drive to Cayucos from the Rancho takes a bit less than four hours. Half that time is spent on freeways, the balance on far more scenic roads including the legendary coastal Route 1. As navigator, Max spent the time perched on his car seat between the AJF and me.

Max driving

This accidental photo of Max in his navigator seat makes it look like he was driving!

We stayed at the same little motor court as last time. The owners remembered Max and proudly introduced him to their new doggie, the 18 month old mini-poodle mix, Miss Maggie. It was dog love at first sight.

Max and Maggie 1

Max and Maggie – getting to know you, getting to know all about you.

Whilst Max does not socialize well with most dogs, he is a pushover for cute, younger females. This is a trait he shares with…never mind, I’m not going there. It was hilarious to watch them play endless chase-me-chase-you games on the motel’s lawn area while we quaffed the occasional adult beverage.

Jog on beach

Max and the AJF jogging on their “private” beach.

In the crisp but June-gloomy mornings we took the Malt to run on Cayuco’s gray-sand beach, redolent of ocean smells and covered with pieces of kelp and other sea matter washed up the night before. There were few other beach walkers and most of them were accompanied by friendly pooches intent on discovering something stinky to roll in.

Max beach treats

Of course, beach treats taste great after a little (very little) exercise.

Folks would grin and point at the Fluff tippy-toe bouncing along the shore. Several people inquired as to Max’s breed and I couldn’t resist telling them that he was a Lesser Pyrenees, distantly related to the larger and better known Great Pyrenees. It was frightening how many people nodded wisely and never questioned that revelation.

Big crab

Krusty the Crustacean meets the Malt.

We let the small white dog off leash (we’re such scofflaws!) and he was thrilled to run free even to the point of wading into the tiny wavelets that came ashore. At one point we found him on alert and carefully stalking a suspicious looking rock that turned out to be a large crustacean who may have been evaluating the Fuzzbutt as a possible tasty snack.

Running free

Out standing on the beach. Probably running from the crab.


Speaking of snacks, all that fresh air and exercise built up some good appetites and there is no shortage of tourist-oriented eating and drinking places in Cayucos.

One thing you need to know about California coastal cuisine: if seafood is on offer, it is likely deep fried. Oh sure, nowadays you can find quality fish prepared in simpler, healthier, or more sophisticated ways but make no mistake, the deep fryer still rules in beachside eateries.

Max and AJF lunch

Waiting on a clam chowder lunch.

Both the AJF and I wanted to maintain our slender, girlish figures so we focused on eating fish grilled simply with a touch of lemon and white wine. The Malt focused on eating anything that wasn’t nailed down because he apparently doesn’t care a whit about girlish figures and it shows.

Max with Succulent

How was lunch? Uh….succulent. (snorf)

However, our primary foodie goal was to find the tastiest clam chowder in Cayucos. Both red and white versions are available at every restaurant and seafood shack but, of course, only the white New England style is considered the True Clam Chowder.

Chowder is a serious matter on this stretch of the coast; the nearby town of Pismo Beach proclaims itself the clam capital of the known universe, a claim supported by the 8-foot tall clam statues spotted around town. To avoid shrieks of “Fake News” I should acknowledge that every other seaside town around the globe also proclaims itself the clam capital. It’s not an exclusive club.

Harborside dinner

Harbor-side lunch spot. After all the chowder I felt that I was the star of the whale watching tour. Moby Tom, the not too great white whale.

In two days we sampled four clam chowders from the most highly acclaimed purveyors in Cayucos. The competition was stiff, the drinks were stiffer and my butt was the stiffest after sitting so much (snorf) and at the end we declared as best the offering of the Sea Shanty restaurant.

Sea Shanty

The Sea Shanty –  winner of our “best clam chowder” award!

Most all the restaurants in Cayucos are dog-friendly, particularly when the dog in question is small, polite and arrives in his own stroller. Sitting with us at the table, Max received a few clam nibbles after a quick Google indicated moderate clam consumption is okay for Furbeasts.

Tom and Max on beach

By afternoon the June Gloom faded and the cloudless sky was the perfect back drop for another beach jaunt!

As before, the Cayucos Motel was sold out both nights. There was at least one dog in every room ranging from Chihuahuas to a huge Newfie and yet, amazingly, the nights were peaceful and quiet without any barking.

We had a fabulous two-day beach visit. The car seats were sandy as was the dog and the AJF. (Just kidding about the AJF.) But our time was up so we loaded up the Mighty Mazda and headed for the high country and the scenic, historically interesting mountain town of Kernville.

Coming tomorrow, soon, eventually, maybe: The Turf: Max Visits Kernville.

Meanwhile, back at the Rancho…strange vegetables were being propagated!

Weird daikon

Uh oh, better get out of town quick!

27 replies

  1. What a great (and fun) adventure. Please tell Max that daughter Laura brought home from the Humane Society a sassy little 9 month old rescue pup found in a ditch in Waianae last November. She’s an affectionate Terri-poo and has already picked her best friends within the K Street. On her first birthday in Feb. we realized she was born the week Prince left for the 🌈 bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A new pup! Now that’s exciting news and more details are needed starting with name and followed by many photos! You’ve got my email. Of course, if Laura chose the pooch it would be sassy! Hehehe…don’t tell her I said that. 🙂 Pure karma about the timing of the birth date – the Dogfather is clearly watching over you folks and the canine gang at Hale K!


  2. That whole central California coast is so beautiful — or was. It’s a bit — okay a lot — built up these days. I remember making a pit stop in downtown Pismo Beach and finding mich of it blocked off, for a kids’ totally amateur, unsponsored skateboard race. Those days are so over, but it’s good to see some traces of it remain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, tell me about it…the over-development is remarkable and not in a positive way. We stopped in Morro Bay and ai yai yai we went running away. Cayucos is still a funky old place that eschews all forms of corporate branding, cherishes the 1960s stuff and is staunchly dog-friendly. Maybe I should be keeping this place a secret?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nah. I’m sure that you, like me, have a select — it sounds so much nicer than tiny, don’t you think? — group of subscribers who will appreciate the place and guard its secret. Those folks that have been priced out of Morro Bay and think Cayucos could do with an upgrade, dunno what they’ll do, but they’re likely not reading either of our blogs. So no worries.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, I can assure you that my subscriber base couldn’t fill the Sea Shanty on free chowder night. It’s all those other greedy buzzards who mess things up. Now, get off my lawn, I’m having a curmudgeon attack!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this adventure! And you meant the restaurants love a dog who is small, polite and ADORABLE in his stroller. Max looks so cute–especially when he drives. heh, heh, heh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Max is an excellent guest at meals when he is in his stroller. Before, we would put out his mat on the floor but he was always getting antsy and wandering about or, worse, getting on his hind legs to beg. :shame: With the stroller, everybody’s happy and we can go for longer after-dinner walks without playing a game of drag-the-dog.


  4. Good dog? Are parrots welcome??
    If you can’t decide between beach and mountains, go half way. There’s a Pit of Misery called Sacra Tomato where the politicians live at the intersection of I5 and I80.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have a spawn, uh, child who has lived in Sacto for years and loves it. Of course that boy never was quite right. 🙂 I don’t know if parrots are welcome in Cayucos. The only birds we saw were sandpipers which are cool and seagulls (albatrosses) which are vermin with a pilots license.


  5. Lesser Pyrenees indeed! I am surprised the motel was not full of barking dogs all night as well. You lucked out. I like reading about the chowder testing. In Texas, we are not privy to decent chowder, so I imagine I have never tasted the flavors like you enjoyed. Max seems to be holding up well, not worrying about the girlish figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh well, I doubt that Cayucos has any decent Tex-Mex so things balance out I guess. About the quiet motel: thing is, the walls are all old 1960 thin style construction and you can hear sounds from room to room but for some reason the doggos all respect each other’s privacy and keep it on the down low while staying there. Only 7 rooms so it’s not like a canine hive infested with dogs but usually you’d expect at least a little back and forth.


  6. Sam says anyone who eats red clam chowder ranks right up there in the “taking your sister to prom” category. And he also thought maybe Max was a pretty decent driver keeping you in your lane. Even short vacays are welcome in the summer time. Cheers on the next edition of this trip. 🍹

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mean, really! Red clam chowder? To borrow from “Ghostbusters:”

      – Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

      – Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…

      – The dead rising from the grave!

      – Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!


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