Timeline: April 6-17
A few more of those delicious scones sent us on our way Thursday morning and prepped us for the drive back to Oakland. Both Jessica and Kris had plans for the evening (yoga and volleyball, respectively) leaving us free to consume a big lunch at where else, In-N-Out, somewhere between SLO and the Bay Area.
Just about 90 minutes into the drive north we pulled off Highway 101 for the detour 3 miles west to Mission Nuestra de la Soledad. Founded in 1791, it was the thirteenth of California’s Spanish missions, and is named for Mary, Our Lady of Solitude. After the 1835 secularization of the mission and the later sale of some of its structure for building materials, it fell into a state of disrepair and soon after was left in ruins. A restoration project began in 1954 and a new chapel was dedicated in 1955, which now functions as the chapel of Our Lady of Solitude, a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey.
We toured the inside of the mission, viewing the chapel and the museum with its displays of historical relics and recreations of some of the living quarters. Around back of the main building are the remains of the original walls and some outbuildings that have not been restored.
It was nice to be outdoors again, another windy day yet strikingly beautiful with white fleecy clouds alternating with stormy grey ones to fill the blue skies. We marveled at the beautiful rose bushes that adorned the front lawn of the property, pausing to take a few pictures. OK, quite a few.
Finished up at the Mission, we drove another 30 minutes up to Salinas for our long awaited stop at In-N-Out. For those of us who love this place, it’s always a treat to visit. I understand that many can’t see the attraction of it (queue up fans of What-A-Burger, Carver’s, etc.) but for some reason the burgers just resonate for us. We arrived back in Oakland without incident, got the car gassed up and washed (always bring back the car you borrow in better shape than when you picked it up) and spent a relaxing evening in the apartment. Jessica’s appointment got cancelled so we got to enjoy her company as we waited for Kris to return. We had another busy weekend lined up and it was nice to spend time on the chilling side of the energy expenditure scale.
Saturday rolled around, meaning a yoga session for Jessica and Joanna and then around noon, with the arrival of Bay Area friend James, we rolled out of the house, destination Muir Woods, a little under an hour away and home to our destination for the afternoon, the Pelican Inn. Jessica and Kris have been meeting friends there for some time, enjoying the food and drinks and laid back atmosphere.
As it had been raining most of the week, driving past the entrance to Muir Woods National Monument and a mile or more past, seeing cars parked by the side of the road, confirmed that most of the residents of the Bay Area had the same idea as us, that is, to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. We parked in back of the Pelican Inn, unloaded our supplies (blankets and board games) and found a spot to nest in on the lawn outside the Inn.
The plan for the afternoon would be to order pitchers of cider and Guinness and mix them together, an odd sounding combination yet curiously refreshing and consume various snacks from the Inn’s kitchen, including fish and chips, and one or more meat and cheese plates. And so the time passed as multiple pitchers were consumed with good friends doing what good friends do, filling the time with conversation, some meaningful and some whose meaning escaped the group, likely the result of the sun beating down on the slightly inebriated.
As the afternoon began to wane, we packed up our belongings and loaded the cars before taking a short walk down to Muir Beach, a cove and lagoon that was full of folks enjoying an afternoon near the shore. Not too warm, the waves still invited a few in, including a large dog of the water loving variety who chased in and out, snapping at the surf crashing around it.
We finished up at the beach and too early to call it a day drove back to Oakland on Kris’ suggestion to check out the recently opened, Arthur Macs Tap & Snack. We parked across the street and entered the front door, a single storefront with a counter at the rear and seating outside on a moderate sized patio.
We started with a round of beers and two snacks, Garlic Bombs (garlic fry bread, lemon, and Parmesan), Wings (Naked with Tika Masala, veggies and blue cheese sauce), which held us over until our two pizzas were ready. The garlic bombs were delicious, thick knots of yeasty pizza dough that complemented the meaty wings. Our pizzas were also very good, and all in all, the amount of food we ordered to split between the seven of us proved sufficient.
It was a nice way to close out our day and so, hunger and thirst slaked we adjourned for the evening. Sunday morning saw the girls’ head out to Walnut Creek to check out a potential dress for Joanna to wear to the wedding while Kris and I passed the time reading and watching some NCAA Men’s Playoff Basketball. After the girls returned we all took off for Alameda to check out Alameda Island Brewing, a new brewery that we’d not yet visited.
It’s a nice looking operation and we found the bartender on duty to be a delight to interact with, knowledgeable about the beers he was serving. I have a weakness for good Scotch Ales so I started with their Sea Haggis, an 8% traditional take on the style, packed full of malt with a residual sweetness derived from its extremely low IBU’s (International Bitterness Unit) and found it nice enough to order its bigger brother for my second beer, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Sea Haggis, coming around 10% ABV.
Finished with our beers we drove over to Otaez Mexican Restaurant, a reliably good spot we’ve visited a number of times with Lydia and Walter. We started with a pitcher of Cadillac Margaritas (we’d eventually consume a couple) and ordered our meals, for Jessica the Enchiladas Poblanas (Two enchiladas with cheese and topped with mole poblano and avocado), Kris the Chile Verde (Pork chunks simmered in a green sauce), while Joanna and I split a Combinación #1 (Chile Relleno, Taco Dorado, Enchilada, Rice and Beans) and small Sopa de Tortilla con Pollo (Chicken, corn and potatoes in a spicy chicken broth topped with crispy tortilla strips).
A Taco Dorado is the made the way I prefer my tacos, a fresh corn tortilla placed in a deep fryer with the meat inside while it cooks, the Chile Relleno equally good, in this instance a pasilla pepper filled with Monterey Jack cheese, covered with a fluffy egg batter, lightly fried in a pan, and then smothered in a red sauce. It was a perfect way to end our ten day stay on the west coast, quality time with Jessica and Kris, Mexican Food made the way we grew up eating it, and Cadillac Margaritas to put the finishing touches on the day.
Our trip home was uneventful, flight on time, and smooth sailing with the prevailing tail winds. We picked up our luggage, got into our Lyft ride home and arrived there for the first time in ages to discover that not one thing had leaked, blown up, or decided to stop working. I’m not betting on the household gremlins cutting us any long-term slack, but it was nice to be home and not have to worry about making a phone call to a repairperson the next day. Who knows how the next trip will go? We’ll take it one day at a time.
Mission Nuestra de la Soledad: http://missionsoledad.com/
Muir Woods National Monument: https://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm
Pelican Inn: http://pelicaninn.com/
Arthur Macs Tap & Snack : https://www.yelp.com/biz/arthur-macs-tap-and-snack-oakland-2
Alameda Island Brewing: http://alamedaislandbrewingcompany.com/
Picture attribution Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16935748