Burn Day

We experienced our first “burn day” on the ranch. In our previous suburban life a burn day meant that you could use your fireplace, now it has a whole new meaning.

After spending almost two months trimming trees, pruning the vineyard and olives trees and attempting to massacre the Juniper bushes, there are piles of brush and debris scattered about the 10 acre property. It becomes clear that we can not ignore it any longer.

A burn permit is obtained, the location – a safe distance from the house – is secured and safety precautions are put in place such as a ready-and-waiting water hose.

With much trepidation, the brush pile is lit and off she goes…in no time, huge orange flames begin their graceful dance in the air and it is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, there is no time for admiration…for the next three hours, we collect all the brush and debris and feed the belly of the beast. It feels good to finally have a purpose for the ranch “toys” we have purchased such as the Polaris Ranger. It becomes clear that items such as this are a necessity for this lifestyle.

A sense of accomplishment comes over us when we see that the majority of the tons of brush around the property has been depleted to a small pile of ashes.

As the fire dissipates…we rake down ashes to speed up the cooling process but we have to keep stepping away as the extreme heat stings our faces and makes our eyes water. At the end of the day, the smell of smoke is embedded in our clothes, hair and even nostrils but it does not really bother us because we feel strong in having met the day’s challenge.

Our first burn day comes to an end and we feel empowered. There is something to be said for a hard day’s work and the sense of accomplishment that comes with going outside of your comfort zone. With that, we are ready for and look forward to our next challenge.

The Sea Chest, Cambria

Cambria is a quaint costal town located near the Pacific Ocean just off West Hwy 46. If you are coming from Hwy 101 at Paso Robles, the pleasant drive on Hwy 46 West will take by several wineries and produce farms.

Cambria has an easy-going, artist community vibe. You will find unique shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms scattered between the two distinct downtown areas. The two downtown areas are walkable, if you enjoy a long walk; otherwise, I believe there is a trolley that shuttles people back and forth, or you can drive yourself.

Moonstone Beach is the main location for the majority of hotels that are located waterfront. Also located here is my very favorite restaurant in this area, The Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Restaurant. The restaurant is located in what I can only describe as a Sea Captain’s Cottage with its cozy wood interior walls, old books on the shelves and well-worn, sturdy furniture.

The food is always consistently good (and I’m talking about over the years I’ve been going here), some of their specialties are the House Cioppino, Local Morro Bay Oysters and Panko Crusted Calamari Steak. The Clam Chowder and daily fresh fish catches are always crowd favorites and they offer a great selection of local and beyond wine choices.

Word of warning, they do not take reservations (they often have over an hour wait) and they only take cash, so be sure to come with a stuffed wallet…but it is well worth it! The great news is, it’s located oceanfront (and I always wait for a table by the window) so wear your walking shoes and stroll the boardwalk while you’re waiting for your name to come up or sit by the outdoor fire pit with your favorite beverage. A visit here is an entire coastal dining experience.

 

A Change of Season

It’s Spring. A cool breeze blows through the olive tree branches as I prune them. I stop and let the breeze brush across my face as I listen to the faint voices and laughter from a field crew working in the vineyard next door, their joy makes me smile. I feel content.

This lifestyle is new to me. My husband and I have recently retired from our respective jobs in the busy San Francisco Bay Area. We are fortunate, we were able to retire fairly young, in our mid-fifties. After searching for several years for the perfect retirement location, we end up in California’s Central Coast ~ Paso Robles, or as my husband likes to refer to it by its official name, El Paso de Robles. This area is growing into a beautiful wine country region and we’re happy to have settled here while it is still accessible and affordable.

This location is a perfect compromise between what we both wanted. For me: the California lifestyle, still close to the beach, and located in between the Bay Area and Los Angeles where we have both family and friends. For him: 10 acres of land where he can spread his wings and putter around all day long.

We’re two months into this journey and so far we are thrilled. The move to this area has exceeded our expectations. We have met many nice people and feel very welcomed into a community where we had no ties.

The 10-acre ranch will keep us busy for quite awhile as we go through some renovations inside the home and clear brush and landscape around the property…but what else do we have to do, right? Nothing but time.

Today, I pruned some of the 50 olive trees we have on the property, as I have already finished pruning the 1-acre Petit Sirah vineyard a few weeks ago. We don’t really know what we’re doing but we’re having fun learning the process. So we settle into a change of season, both literally and figuratively as we shift ourselves into a new lifestyle and journey in life.

 

 

 

Cass Winery ~ Our First Wine Club

To join or not to join (wine clubs), that is the question when it comes to the hundreds of wineries located in the Paso Robles region. We’ve gone back and forth on this and in speaking with friends in the area, many have said that when they first moved to the area they joined numerous clubs and then cut back as time went on.

In listening to our friends, we’ve been a little selective in our process of joining wine clubs, however, when you’ve only lived in an area for a couple of months and you’ve already made several trips to the same winery, see that they offer fun events and they’re located just minutes from your home…and oh yes, you enjoy their wines…it seems like a no-brainer, so welcome the newest members of Cass Winery…us!

Cass Winery is located on the east side situated almost right in between Hwy 46 and Hwy 41. Not only is the location of this winery extremely convenient for us, we also really enjoy the peaceful, unpretentious, country setting of this vineyard. We heard from several people that Cass has a lot of fun social events and we also like the fact that they are open daily and have a tasting room and a café on site that serves delicious lunches with indoor and outdoor seating options. It’s a fun place to just hang out.

We’re looking forward to receiving our wine shipments, the private wine club member events, discounts and other benefits of being a member here. This feels like a good fit for us at this time.

We had the opportunity at an industry event to meet the owner, Steve Cass, who seems to be fun and spirited which seems to translate over to the staff.

So cheers to our new membership and the good times ahead.

Cass Winery

7350 Linne Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
tel: 805.239.1730
fax: 805.227.2889
email: info@casswines.com

James Dean’s Memorial

 

 

James Dean was a popular actor in the 1950’s who is remembered as a cultural icon for his Hollywood movie roles. He became a legend of sorts after his life came to a very untimely and tragic death at the early age of 24 when he died in a car accident at the intersection of Hwy 46 and Hwy 41 in Central California near Paso Robles. I was always told that there was a memorial for him but thinking it was on the West side of Hwy 46 from the 101 freeway, I could never find it.

Today I discovered the memorial site while traveling on Hwy 41 (East of Hwy 101), cutting across from Interstate 5. The memorial site is just a short distance from the actual crash site (the intersection of Hwy 41 and Hwy 46) where you will see an American flag on a chain link fence and his adoring fans still bring flowers 60 years after his death.

The memorial structure honoring James Dean stands on Hwy 41 located next to the Jack Ranch Cafe and adjacent Hearst Winery tasting room.

 

The Jack Ranch Cafe seems to be frozen in a time capsule with its retro decor and, as expected, the walls are flanked with images of James Dean and they sell some memorabilia, but the pleasant surprise was that they have quite an extensive menu and the food was good. The Hearst Winery tasting room is adjacent to the cafe and a nice way to cap off the visit.

 

So for any James Dean fans out there who might want to visit his memorial and pay tribute to him, I would recommend a stop here and, while you’re there, grab a bite to eat and taste some wine! Cheers!
Address:
James Dean Memorial / Jack Ranch Cafe
19215 CA-46, Shandon, CA 93461

Giuseppe’s | San Luis Obispo, CA 

On the recommendation of several people, we decided to try Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica located steps from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in downtown SLO.

The restaurant is located in the historic Sinsheimer Bros. building built in the 1880’s and the establishment oozes with charm and character. As you enter, you are greeted by the host behind a small Italian roadster which has been converted into reception desk, the exposed brick walls give the interior a cool vibe, along with vintage black and white images paying respect to the building’s historic past, and the original preserved vault – now turned into a tiny private seating area – takes the charm to the next level.

We arrived just after 3 pm when they stop seating at the restaurant tables in preparation for the dinner transition but they were serving in the bar area so we sat at a high-top table next to the fireplace and the vault. For warmer days, there is also a quaint bistro-style outside area.

 

They offer a good menu and nice libations and since they weren’t serving their dinner menu while we were there, we ordered several started items and shared them and we found them all delicious and satisfying.

IMG_0289
Bruschetta

The entire visit was a pleasant experience, the servers were friendly and we would highly recommend a visit here.