SLO, Day 3 + 4
In honor of Holy Week, y’all, I’m giving up procrastination. I’m doin’ it for Jesus, yo.
Day Three was for bike rides through the vineyards. Victoria and I were, a little, um, hung over from the night before, so getting an early start was not easy. As a matter of fact, if it were up to me, we would have skipped the vineyards and the bikes altogether and stayed in bed eating cheese puffs and watching cooking shows on the hotel TV for the day. Luckily for me, though, Victoria is a mother of two and doesn’t take bullshit from anyone. I was up, with my bed made, standing at attention by 9 am because I was afraid she might tell me to stop my bellyaching and yank me out of the room by my earlobe.
We slogged our way through breakfast (it’s hard to pack in the protein you know you’ll need for later when all you want to do is throw up). Undeterred by our condition, Victoria reminded me that when the endorphins kicked in, we would be so glad we didn’t quit on ourselves. Boy, was she ever right. Still, it was hard to hear. You see, I’m not an endorphin junkie. The most thrilling athletic thing I’ve done recently is to stand on a kitchen chair to water a plant up high. I’ve never been involved with team sports, and I’ve had to quit running because my knees have gone from well lubricated machines to piles of kindling. So, the prospect of biking up hills at nine a.m. after a night of heavy drinking sounded downright…well, stupid. But, I had to put aside all the stories I tell myself about my body’s inability to do hard work and I hoisted myself onto that saddle, tied my skirt in a knot, and I rode like the Devil himself was at my back. And I LOVED it.
We stopped at the first winery we came to. We sampled some delicious white wine and we put our feet up and let the warm breeze dry the sweat from our brows. By now, the nausea had passed and I was definitely in endorphin territory. I took pictures of olive trees because it was warm and OLIVE TREES! were growing on the property. Just like CITRUS!
Being a thoroughly city-fied kind of gal, barnyard animals have always seemed like exotica to me. Horses and cows are just so outsized and foreign to me. My perspective gets blown standing next to them. I mean, have you seen a horse’s HEAD recently? Just the head, y’all. They’re the size of the upper part of my body. That kind of thing frightens me just a little. Sheep and goats and their body parts too: they’re just straight up from another planet. We passed a field of horses and when we stopped to take a water break, they came right up to us and put their enormous heads right up against the fence. Naturally, I had to take a picture.
There is something deeply satisfying about the symmetry of a planted field. Small scale vegetable gardening has always appealed to this need I have for straight lines. Maybe it’s because growing things from seed is such a crap shoot. You never know if things are going to come up. Seeing things in tidy rows that appear perfectly straight from every angle is great compensation for the prospect of enormous failure. I still marvel at rows of corn and peas on every roadtrip through farm country. Grapevines, inherently knobby and unwieldy, appear especially hard to plant in straight rows. Maybe this is why their formation is even more awe inspiring to look at from a quarter mile away.
There is a little phenomenon that happens around 2 pm every day in the area around SLO. The wind picks up. It lasts about an hour or two. Do you know how hard it is to bike INTO a headwind like that? I kept thinking that if I could just attach my jacket and a few other choice pieces of clothing to my handlebars, I could actually be pushed back up the hill we were trying to bike down. Seriously. It was hard to bike DOWNHILL, the wind was that strong.
Remember how my knees crack like dried twigs and my thigh muscles consider standing on a chair the equivalent of running the Boston Marathon? Yeah. So, I do this thing whenever I find myself on a bicycle with a long road ahead of me. I sing to myself. The same thing over and over and over again. It becomes a sort of meditation so that I can take my mind off how much pedaling SUCKS when I’m low on energy. Last summer, after I fell in a sinkhole at the park and had to pedal home in the dark with my leg oozing blood, I sang “Pushin’ Up My Baby Bumblebee” over and over again. I can’t remember exactly what I was chanting while I pedaled with all of my might into that wind (I think it was the opening theme to “Dallas”… or maybe it was “Sweet Home Alabama”…) but it got me back into town thankful that I had pushed through the pain.
Day Four of my trip to San Luis Obispo included a quick bus ride to Pismo Beach. Points have been awarded in the categories of Most Gorgeous Bus Ride I Have Ever Been On, Cleanest/Best Smelling Bus I Have Ever Been On, and Best Destination For The Price.
I do love me some ocean living, I do.
Dan, Victoria’s husband, endlessly teases me about being a most-of-the-time vegetarian. He thinks my mamby-pamby pacificism and my aversion to cold weather would all be cured if I just eat more red meat. “Just once”, he pleads with me, “Just once I want to see you eat a hamburger”. I don’t know if it was the morals-and-values-scrambling euphoria of being at the beach, or if I thought my vacation should end with a toast to Manifest Destiny and the industrialization of American meat packing, but I very suddenly and urgently needed to have a hamburger while we were at the beach. It was positively delicious. I can’t remember if Victoria took a picture of me chowing down on that lunch for evidence, but, Dan, I raised a Cherry Coke to you and licked my fingers clean afterward.
I also took a picture of pigeons on the roof of that burger-slinging joint. You know. For posterity.
The water was freezing, but that did not stop me from sticking my feet in. I always forget how rejuvenated I feel after a day at the beach. I spend so much time in sweaters and boots here in the Northwest. Sometimes it feels completely strange to have my ankles exposed. (I’m working on correcting that self-imposed Puritanism.)
So, my feelings about Days Three and Four of vacation? Jazz hands and boners all around, y’all.