things we miss

Terry bought a bottle of port early in the winter for us to enjoy on a cold, wet Saturday evening, but we didn’t have one of those until last Saturday. I had been tasked with getting chocolate at the grocery store on Thursday, but I failed at that task: it wasn’t on my shopping list. Terry said that she would head over to RiteAid to get our chocolate, but I suggested it would be just as easy for her to go to See’s Candy. She did and brought home a marvelous box.

Goose & TurretsSo on Saturday we had a marvelous port and See’s chocolate candy while we sat in front of our artificial electric fireplace. It made us think of all the evenings we spent in the Hummingbird Room at the late, lamented Goose & Turrets bed and breakfast in Montara, California, north of Half Moon Bay and south of Pacifica. We would sip our port and eat the chocolate truffles that the proprietor Emily made for us while sitting in front of the gas fireplace, listening to the sound of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. We knew that we would have a superb breakfast in the morning that Emily and her husband Raymond would make for us and the other guests.

Those were wonderful days. We miss them.

re-thinking getaways

When we lived in Gilroy going on a getaway was easy. If we wanted to visit our good friends Emily and Raymond at the (now closed) Goose & Turrets Bed and Breakfast in Montara we would head up Highway 85 to Interstate 280, take Highway 92 to California Highway 1, drive a few miles north and we were there. The drive was less than two hours.

If we wanted to go to another favorite destination, Cambria, we hopped on U.S. 101 and drove south to California Highway 46, headed west, and connected with Highway 1. Then it was only a few minutes to Cambria. It was a manageable three-hour drive.

Here in Hemet it’s not so simple. It’s easy enough to get to the San Diego County coast, but it is more crowded than we would like. We could head to the San Jacinto mountains or the low desert, but those don’t offer the getaways on the water that we love.

CambriaTerry decided that we needed to go back to Cambria. Our favorite motel, the White Water Inn, had gone all upscale on us, completely refurbishing rooms and doubling their rates. So she found us a room at a place called the Fog Catcher Inn. She reserved a partial ocean view room but we got a full ocean view room instead. That was marvelous. It was also halfway between our two favorite restaurants, Moonstone Bar and Grill and the incredible Sea Chest, both in walking distance.

But to get to Cambria from Hemet we have to go through the Los Angeles basin. There is simply no way around it. The drive to Cambria was six-and-a-half hours. We had a wonderful time and being at the ocean is always reinvigorating and healing, but we ate too much rich food and both our digestive systems made that clear to us. We just can’t eat rich food in the way we once could.

The drive home took seven-and-quarter hours. We made more stops and longer stops than on the drive north. My first thought when we arrived at home was the same as it was when we would get home to Gilroy after a trip down here to Southern California, braving that infamous, unforgiving Interstate 5: “Oh, Aunty Em, I’m so glad to be home and I’m never going to go away again!”

After catching our breath upon our arrival here Terry said that we need to find getaways closer to home.

She’s right. We do.

repairing my favorite jacket (and remembering a getaway)

Somehow it seems that most of the jackets that I own my marvelous wife Terry bought for me. But one is my favorite. It is a Pendleton. I love it.

The jacket has quite the history. Back in December 2010 Terry and I headed up to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for her birthday. It was mid-afternoon on our way into the town of Sonoma and I was in one of those need-food-now low blood sugar states (these days the word is “hangry”). We therefore stopped at the first restaurant we saw, which was Pizzeria Capri Ristorante. (I didn’t actually remember that. I’m referring back to my account of the trip on this blog.) It was a cold, rainy day. The pizza was delicious and the place was playing acoustic music from the Coffee House channel on SiriusXM. We checked in at the resort and did very little the rest of the day except for enjoying the fire in the fireplace and some wine. We likely had cheese and crackers or something similar as well.

Pendleton jacketThe next morning we had breakfast at the coffee shop affiliated with the resort but facing out on the main street of town. Terry did a spa treatment in the afternoon and I did some writing in our room while it rained. We had dinner at the Santé Restaurant, which was relaxed and leisurely with marvelous food and impeccable service. It was a marvelous weekend.

It was that morning, however, after breakfast at the coffee shop that we went across the street to a local espresso shop. Next door was a Western shop. In the window was a beautiful Pendleton jacket. I asked Terry if that could be my Christmas present rather than the new jeans jacket I had originally asked for. She liked the jacket as well and was quite agreeable. Thank you, Terry!

The jacket is very well made, except for the pockets, which quickly wore through. This was a problem, as I would take Tasha for her walks on cold mornings and I would have to dig into the jacket lining to retrieve Tasha’s pickup bags. I kept thinking that I needed to get that fixed, but never did.

Earlier this month Terry went to a local tailor shop to have an outfit of hers repaired. When she was going to pick it up I asked her to take the jacket in. She did and the pockets are now repaired.

I only regret that I took so long to have that done.

all good things

Terry and I recently received some disappointing news.

Our all-time favorite bed and breakfast, the Goose and Turrets in Montara, California, has closed. Emily, who with her husband Raymond owned and ran the B&B, emailed me the notice posted on their web site:

The End of the Road

After 32 successful years and thousands of wonderful and interesting guests, the Goose & Turrets B&B is closing. Raymond and Emily Hoche-Mong are in their mid-80s and have finally admitted it is time to retire.

As of 1 April 2018, we’ll have no more guests. Will we miss them? Yes. And no. We figure we have prepared approximately 18,000 breakfasts; (no gluten, vegan, name the allergy and we have met it). We’re a little bit tired.

Thank you to all of our guests. We’ve treasured the many experiences we’ve shared. We have been educated by many of you and our horizons expanded. What are we going to do now? Go to France a lot more often and EAT.

I have a long history with the Goose & Turrets. My first wife Ruth and I went there in 1986 just as Raymond and Emily were opening the place up, when some rooms had a shared bath and they continued to work at Bechtel during the week. We made a few visits there.

I lost touch with the G&T for a couple years after Ruth’s death in 1989, but after Terry and I got (back) together and I wanted to arrange a quiet getaway I checked back with Emily. By that time every room had a private bath and she and Raymond were operating their B&B full-time.

Goose & TurretsTerry and I made many visits to the Goose & Turrets between 1991 and 2014 and it was always such a pleasure to be there. If we arrived when Raymond and Emily were away I would, not intentionally but reactively, look askance at the inn sitter in a way that her or she could not help but notice. (“What did you do with Raymond and Emily?”)

We always enjoyed the quiet, the comfortable themed rooms (our favorite was the Hummingbird), the interesting conversations, the afternoon tea, and, of course, the breakfasts. When Terry and I departed the Bay Area in 2015 I was recognized as the longest-term continuous guest at the Goose & Turrets.

Raymond and Emily have earned the opportunity to relax and will continue to live at the George Street location when not in France, but it its truly the end of an era and I shed a tear or two knowing that the one-time lodge for Spanish-American War veterans is no longer an operating bed and breakfast.

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.


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.