The Miracle: Road Trip stories

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One thing that has always been on my “bucket list” is to see a whale. I lived half my life in California and much time on the Pacific coast and I have also spend much of my “Arizona” time on vacations at the beach, San Diego and all along the Pacific coast. I even went on a cruise where they almost guaranteed that I would see whales cavorting right off the ship. It was comical, Elaine told me later as she sat and watched the whale fanatics move across the ship in one collective pod every time someone shouted, “Whale, starboard” or “Whale, port-side!”

Of course the ship captain said, “I don’t know why we aren’t seeing any, last week we saw them all over the place.” I can tell them why, Lori wasn’t on that ship. It’s gotten to be a joke everywhere we go, that I have just missed the biggest migration ever seen.

During the coarse of the trip Elaine said that all that would be needed to make this trip perfect is to see a whale. I rolled my eyes and said, “Well, we all know that won’t happen, they know I will be watching.”

Even so, between navigating and everything else, I had my eyes peeled the entire trip. Finally, off the coast of California, it happened. We had been watching what looked like a whale watching boat when we came around a bend with an impossibly huge and sweeping view of the Pacific when Elaine gasped and said, “I think I see a whale spouting!” I screamed, “Where…..where??” Then I saw it too. As she frantically looked for a place to pull over, she said, “Where are the binoculars?”

Now, the binoculars had been the same place the entire trip. On my side of the car in the door. As I fished around in there, I couldn’t find them. In the meantime, pulled over, she saw it again and again. As I tossed things here and there, up in the air in the backseat and front, I saw my dream start to swim away…….as we both searched with gradually escalating voices for the elusive binoculars, “They’ve been there the entire trip,” she said, a bit frustrated now.

Finally I grabbed my camera and focused on the spot where we saw it. It spouted again!

It was then that she then went around to the passenger side and proceeded to take them out from where they had been the entire time.  Meanwhile, the miracle was swimming out to sea, but not before we got a good view of the grand spectacle of nature that I have always wanted to see.

Yes, I guess you could say it was a perfect trip.

And no, this picture isn’t one I took, the whale was a bit further out, but this is what it would have looked like had we been closer.

 

Another slice please……..don’t mind if I do.

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Trip continued from yesterday……..

The next morning I was like a little kid, hyper and chomping at the bit to get down to the ocean because, well….the water was so close! I have never lost my excitement at getting that first glimpse of the water, it’s tied to so many good memories I have as a kid, and each time is magic, but breakfast was included in our stay and more importantly, I was in dire need of coffee.

As you can see, I fell in love with how the light was streaming in the morning windows…….and the coffee was much to my satisfaction. I had a feeling, since the night before, Nashua had shared with us that she enjoys a good cup of Turkish coffee. Somehow I knew it would be strong enough to stand up to my specifications and I was not disappointed.

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We were ushered to a table and given fresh orange juice, and a wonderful frittata filled with cheese and potatoes with a side of sausage and fresh fruit. It was all excellent and it tempered my anxiety about getting on the beach enough that I could sit and enjoy it, as well as take a couple of pictures.

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After that, a long walk on the beach was in order. We watched dogs play and collected some interesting rocks along the shore. The weather couldn’t have been better and that added to the almost surreal atmosphere. It was like God’s stamp of approval on the day. Having spent many cold and foggy days at the shore, I was ready for anything.

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When we came back we headed up to the rooftop again, since we had only seen it at night before. The view from the rooftop was stunning……….It is definitely yet another selling point to this Hotel. Unfortunately, the only photo I got was with my iPhone and it wasn’t very good, however you can check out the Hotel website, where you may be able to see it.

Another benefit of staying in the smaller Hotels is the people you meet. I have already told you about Nashua, but we also met a very charming young gentleman named Lance who also is employed by the Hotel. He was very well spoken, with an unbridled enthusiasm for life that was catching. He poured us each a glass of wine and the four of us talked together in the lobby for a very enjoyable hour or so and I never got the feeling they were merely being polite, they were really interested.

We also met a couple from Brisbane, Australia, both very friendly, celebrating their anniversary. They asked for a recommendation for dinner and we gave them the name of the place we were going to right down the Pier, the Sandbar Grill, a local hangout which was excellent. We ended up seeing them come in as we were finishing up. As we left they were getting on very well with the couple beside them.

Unfortunately I never knew quite what he said because his accent was so thick and he talked so fast, we never understood a thing he said. He sounded a lot like “Gimli” from Lord of the Rings. We nodded back and forth a lot. Fortunately, we understood his wife quite well so that helped.

We also met a very interesting lady named Rika, who is a film set designer in LA. She talked to Elaine quite a bit, being interested in just about everything. She wanted to know how long she had been driving her motor home.

She had an elegant, yet understated and humble way about her. Graceful in the way that always makes me feel somehow lumberous and awkward, while not meaning to. She is also part owner of two restaurants and I love the name they chose: Can’t Fail Cafe.

We were thinking of heading out after only one night but we were so captivated by Hotel 1110 that we had to stay another night and I am so glad we did. It was a great send-off to the rest of our trip along the coast. We ended up meeting up with Rika again at Phil’s for lunch before we all went our separate ways. Phil is famous for winning a throw-down against Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay for his Cioppino.

Hotel 1110 was a delightful surprise and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we will be back this way again someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

A Perfect Slice of Time

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E. drove furiously into the night as we mapped our way to the exact address of Hotel 1110 on the Pacific coast. We were under the gun. The ad on the internet said the Hotel doors would be locked at 10 and it was fast approaching 9:15 when we finally called to make sure someone would be there to let us in by 9:30. The accented voice on the other line assured us she would be.

I made a couple of mistakes navigating, which made for a few stressful moments, and the first time we drove right past it. We had to drive up quite a few blocks before we were presented with an opportunity for a U turn.

“Is that it?” I said.

“I’m not sure, do you see a place to park?” She asked.

We drove back into a narrow little alley that opened into a few spaces, but we weren’t sure it was the right place so we went back out and found a place on the street. We were beyond ready to settle for the night. Past ready to start a much-needed overdue vacation. Ready to feel once again the healing properties of the ocean.

Despite our initial trepidation at the parking situation, once we entered the foyer of this captivating place, any misgivings we might have had were laid to rest. And when we met the charming innkeeper, who made us feel at home and instantly welcomed we both breathed an inward sigh of relief.

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She checked us in and with a charming Lebanese accent introduced herself as Nashua. Gazing around, already eager to run upstairs and let my camera out of its case, I felt like I had stepped into another era. It was part Victorian, part Bohemian with a splash of old west Bordello thrown in, but very tastefully so. We gratefully accepted our keys and stepped up wonderfully creaky stairs to a hallway that I imagined held hidden passageways and doors that led to secret rooms.

We abandoned the elevator after the first time because it was so slow, but to me that only added to the charm. Our room opened with a real key and once inside, we were greeted by Audrey Hepburn who seemed to approve and who could ever argue with her?

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“This is awesome,” I said, “Just like one of the places in my dreams!” I often dream of old buildings and long passageways and doors that lead to stairs and narrow alleyways. I instantly yielded to the adventure this was turning into.

The windows cranked out revealing a neighboring view you might see in an old Alfred Hitchcock movie. Amidst the late night traffic noise, we heard the unmistakable sigh of the sea and the barking of seals.

Vacation had truly begun.

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Join me tomorrow as I continue our adventure, won’t you?