a taste of the Eastern Sierra

The family here in town usually gets together for breakfast on Saturday morning. The routine is that my brother, Brian, or my sister-in-law, Bobbie, will call and tell us where everyone is meeting and when. If I don’t hear anything by 11:00 a.m. I will call them.

SchatsThe later happened on a recent Saturday. I called at 11:00. They were in Bishop. They had made a trip to Nevada to see Bobbie’s sister and had forgotten to tell us. Now I could have gotten angry, but Brian asked me if we wanted anything from Schat’s Bakery. Now how could I be angry with an offer like that?

If you’re not familiar with it, Schat’s is a very famous, highly regarded, very busy bakery in downtown Bishop. The town of Bishop in the middle of the Owens valley at the base of the Eastern Sierras.

Terry and I love that part of the world. We have only been there together twice. The first time I was sick and we had to cut our trip short. The second time we had a full agenda and covered the entire length of the Owens Valley, from Mammoth Lakes in the north to Lone Pine and Whitney Portal in the south. It was a marvelous trip.

I told Brian to bring us some Danish pastries and a loaf of Schat’s famous Sheepherder’s Bread. Brian and Bobbie delivered them to us Saturday evening.

It was such a delight to have a taste of the Eastern Sierra here at home.


my late birthday getaway

I bought tickets to the San Jose tour stop of Wicked before I knew my job situation was changing. I thought it would be a great birthday getaway, albeit a couple of weeks late. I made reservations at the Fairmont and we planned dinner at Grill on the Alley. After I learned that my company didn’t love me anymore, we decided to go anyway. The tickets were already paid for, and we switched from the Fairmont to the Marriott, where Terry had enough points for a free night. We had a $15 coupon from the Grill, so we kept that in the plan.

On Friday I was in a funk and not terribly excited about going. But everything was already lined up and I knew that Terry would not allow me to back out anyway. So we headed up to San Jose.

I am glad we did. The dinner at Grill on the Alley was marvelous, as always, and the service was great as usual, if perhaps a touch slower than I would have liked. But then I was concerned about Terry moving slowly on her bad knee and wanted to make sure we made it to the theater in time, given that more walking was involved with the Marriott in the equation than there would have been with the Fairmont.

I had nothing to worry about. We got there plenty early. The show was stunning.

I will tell you why tomorrow.


business travel

I hate business travel. I hate being away from Terry and Tasha. And I hate airports. Flying is a pain too, since the airlines have been reducing the number of flights to keeps the planes more full, but mostly I hate airports. But then who has had anything good to say about the airport check-in process since 9/11? As much as I cringe saying it, it’s one place where the terrorists really seem to have won.

But when the VP says everyone needs to show up in Houston for a team Face-to-Face (or F2F as we say these days), you simply suck it up and go.

Ultimately, I’m glad I did. There were plenty of presentations that put me to sleep, I got sick of people who so enjoyed hearing themselves talk that they couldn’t restrict themselves to their allotted time. As usually happens at such gatherings, I got a serious case of PowerPoint poisoning.

At the same time I got to meet in person for the first time people with whom I have been working remotely for a long while, including my manager. I got to reconnect with people I have worked with in the past. I saw people I haven’t seen in person since my old campus closed.

Getting people with different roles and responsibilities and different priorities together in the same room is not the same as doing a teleconference. The dynamic is entirely different. It’s good to have that interaction.

Making the trip was worthwhile. Being back home is better.


Bella Sera

Remember those television commercials several years ago for Bella Sera Pinot Grigio? The couple who picked up the bottle found themselves on the terrace of a beautiful seaside villa overlooking the Mediterranean at sunset. That commercial is in part responsible for the fact that when we buy wine for our getaways one bottle is almost always Bella Sera. Such was the case when we had our anniversary getaway to Monterey last week.

We had a marvelous time. We had a great afternoon Wednesday at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a wonderful stay at the Monterey Bay Inn. We had a superb anniversary dinner on Wednesday at Schooners, where I had made-to-order clam chowder with fresh clams still in the shell, a first for me. We enjoyed a fun morning Thursday at Point Lobos.

Wednesday evening, however, we came about as close as possible to that scene from the Bella Sera commercial while remaining in California.

It was a first-rate twentieth anniversary getaway.

BellaSera


complete flip

The year 2014 brought an interesting flip in how Terry and I do things.

TerryCalendarFor a number of years we have been creating a calendar from the photos of our trips. Initially the pictures were all mine. But as Terry got interested in photography we started including her photos as well. The first year that we included Terry’s photos three of the twelve were hers.

At the same time that Terry was getting more interested in and getting better at photography, I was hit by the realization that trying to get the right picture was interfering with my enjoyment of the particular moment. I also realized that I wanted to communicate more through my writing.

This meant that the balance of the calendar continued to shift. For our 2013 calendar Terry had nine photos and I had three. And then this year, our 2014 calendar, all twelve photos were Terry’s.

I’m fine with that. Terry is a good photographer who keeps getting better, and I enjoy writing.

It all works.


eggs benedict

Terry and I have been visiting the marvelous Goose and Turrets bed and breakfast in Montara, California pretty much for as long as we’ve been together, which goes back to 1991. I’ve been staying there since 1986, which goes back to my first marriage. That means I’ve been a guest from the first year or two that they’ve been open. The proprietors, Raymond and Emily, generously gave us two free nights there last year in recognition of my being their longest continuous visitor.

We always love going there, because, the wireless Internet access notwithstanding, it is a place of quiet, serenity, and calm. It’s a place to de-stress and recharge.

It’s also a place to get the best breakfast you can find anywhere. Breakfast is served promptly at nine. You have your choice of coffee or tea, which you specify at check-in. They also serve juice. Breakfast is four courses: fruit, grain, a main dish, and sorbet. How many places can you go where you get dessert for breakfast?

Terry and I were there the first week in December to celebrate her birthday. There was one other guest, a beautiful young woman from France named Elena whose family Raymond and Emily know. For breakfast on our second morning Raymond prepared Eggs Benedict as the main dish. Elena said that this was her first Eggs Benedict. It was mine as well.

Terry loves Eggs Benedict, but like Sam I Am of the famous Dr. Seuss book, I have always avoided eggs in any form other than scrambled. But being a good B&B guest, I was not about to disrespect Raymond’s efforts. I took a taste. The Hollandaise sauce was perfect, and the dish was superb, even though I have never been big on poached eggs. Like Sam, I came around in the end, and I am glad I did.

If you’re looking for a getaway, go visit Emily and Raymond. And tell them that Terry and Mike sent you.


Cambria Scarecrow Festival

I’ve said that Cambria doesn’t change a lot. One innovation there, however, is the Cambria Scarecrow Festival each October. It’s a recent occurrence, having started in 2009. Terry and I first discovered it in 2011 when we were in Cambria in October.

The festival has expanded greatly in the past two years. This year there are more scarecrows, and a few have migrated up Highway One to San Simeon. They are more sophisticated. One family of scarecrows is actually in motion, riding bicycles. Many of the faces are more completely drawn, replacing the zombie-esque appearance a lot of them had in 2011.

Here is a more-or-less random sampling of 2013  scarecrows, courtesy of Terry.

Scarecrow

The Cambria High School Band

 Scarecrow1

Police officer and artist

 Scarecrow2

The Addams Family and Popeye & Olive Oyl

 Scarecrow3

Not sure who the figure in the left represents. Neptune on the right, in front of the White Water Inn.