Happy Returns

Since we’ve been at The Aerie, the real turning point that marks the end of one year and the start of the next is the week following The Beloved’’s big Symposium, which is always right after New Years. It completes her busiest time of the work-year and so we always take a little break afterwards. In the past we’ve gone to Sonoma, Santa Cruz, and Disneyland. Last year, we went back to Cambria — and in a lot of ways, we’ve decided that Cambria is “our spot” to relax, so we were off to there again.

This year, her meeting was in Santa Clara, so Penny and I headed up on our own so that we could meet at the house we were renting. Penny’s a pup that knows her way around road trips to the Central Coast, so early on Sunday we packed up the car and headed north.

We rented a different house than in the past, but we liked The Acorn Hideaway as much, if not more, than The Poppy Cottage. The house was nicely outfitted and had lots of squirrels to torment the dog (live ones outside, ceramic ones inside).

What's Around The Bend?

What’s Around The Bend?

We spent most of our days doing the things that make us happy here. Heading off to Fiscalini Ranch so that Penny could have a lot of unfettered running space, though I did some of this alone as the Beloved was recovering from a bit of a cold.



The Ranch was wonderful as always, but awfully dry and brittle. While much of the country’s been complaining about Polar Vortices, the Golden State has been enduring three long years of drought. The grasses on the Ranch were as brown as you’d expect them in the middle of summer. Penny didn’t really seem to mind.


Yep. This was pretty much the whole time.

We also headed down to Morro Strand State Beach (and a good thing since the week was mostly in the upper 70s and low 80s — very unwinterish even for here), where we could get in a nice stroll and some quality seabird chasing and bumper-retrieving.

Going to get the bumper. One wave at a time.

Going to get the bumper. One wave at a time.



Penny seems pretty happy at Morro Strand State Beach

Penny seems pretty happy at Morro Strand State Beach

We also hit up our favorite restaurant one night and enjoyed a gorgeous golden sunset.


Moonstone Beach at sunset

I think I see a squirrel -- Penny

Happy Family

But in general the three of us are pretty happy hanging out at our temporary home, reading, drinking some good local Paso Robles wines, and maybe napping by the fire.



Can’t wait for next year.


27 thoughts on “Happy Returns

  1. Your pictures of Penny always, always make me smile. In fact, they make me downright happy! She expresses her joy in life so perfectly, racing in the wind, long ears (and tongue) flapping! She is truly one of the prettiest dogs I “know,” and I love it when you share these kinds of pictures. And oh, yeah…you and “Beloved” are nice, too. *grin* Looks like you all had fun at a beautiful spot. Yay for you! Hope it feels good to be home again, though. I’m usually happy to get back, after a while.

    Thanks for sharing, Steve. (Seriously, the family portrait is beautiful!)

    • Hi Marcia — yeah, I’m always happy to get home after being away. I think The Beloved felt a little rooked by spending a couple of days sleeping off her cold, but whatareyougonnado? :)

      • I hope she’s all better now. But I know how she must have felt. Mark was sick 15 days over Christmas, and lost his entire holiday vacation. :( I’m glad she got to do a few things, like go to dinner at such a beautiful spot. The golden light in the pic is gorgeous!

  2. She really loves the beach doesn’t she, I love that one of her in the waves watching the surfers. Are dogs allowed on beaches over there?

    • Jane — she sure does love a beach. In CA, there are several beaches that are designated as “dog beaches” where the dogs can go off-leash. They’re supposed to be under voice-control, of course. San Diego county has 3 beaches where dogs can go free most of the time. It’s a great thing.

  3. Sunday morning I had to drive out early to the Bay Area; I couldn’t help noticing that there was no fog as I drove over what is normally one of the foggiest stretches of highway in the Valley. If it’s so dry not even fog will form, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like come this summer when we get blazing hot temps in the 100s.

    Seeing these pictures of Penny run through the surf (and you and the Beloved and Penny on the deck) does remind me of the upside of living in CA. It is dry, but at least we don’t suffer from subzero windchills (I’ve met Californians who don’t even know what that is) or have to dig our cars out of the snow before taking off for work in the mornings. And Penny will never know what it’s like to watch Dad shovel a trail into the yard so she can relieve herself!

    • HG — it’s funny — my sister-in-law just this morning posted a picture of my brother shoveling out a path so that his old Boston Terrier had a path to pee!

      We drove back on Sunday across CA-46 and then south on I-5 through the Central Valley. Really bleak.

  4. Your photos rock. As does your new theme.
    That image from Morro Strand State Park…I think I need you to email me a best quality jpeg of that shot so I can use it as my screen saver. *grin*

  5. Such great pics!
    I do wish there was a way to share precipitation. It’s always heartwrenching to see parts of the country bone-dry and others under flood waters. Why can’t we spend some of the military budget on precipitation sharing?
    Nothing makes all of us happier than a beautiful happy dog picture…and great vacation pics! :)

    • Lauri — don’t I wish! We’re all super-excited because some rain has FINALLY showed up on the 10-day forecast. THAT’S now a cause for celebration. :-/

      Penny doesn’t seem to mind that much. She hates the rain (it burns her) and it was nice and clear at dog beach this morning.

  6. Pingback: Shine On | Stevil

    • It really is quite beautiful — and I think it’s been less-spoiled because it’s sort of hard to get to. That said, we could have very much appreciated more wintery weather — drought’s been going on too long here.

      • Interesting as I always think of the US as being full of people. Nice that you can completely get away from it all.

        We are also in a drought phase here – but being summer this also means lots of fires.

        • It’s funny, because you’re only a few hours from Los Angeles, but it’s pretty nice — especially in the winter. Summer can be a bit touristy — a lot of people drive the Pacific Coast Highway.

          I think our next fire season — usually in the late summer/early fall — is going to be a tough one.

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