Where should we go on our first road trip of Summer 2018? To the beach or to the mountains?
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.
THE SURF – MAX RETURNS TO CAYUCOS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
tomorrow, soon, eventually, maybe: The Turf: Max Visits Kernville.
Meanwhile, back at the Rancho…strange vegetables were being propagated!