Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pessagno Winery: Salinas Valley Gem

Salinas, CA -- I’m always enchanted when I discover a new part of California.  So when my college roommate whom I’ve known for 30 years said, “I’m taking you on the River Road Wine Trail in the Salinas Valley—John Steinbeck country,” I happily agreed to go.  The spring day was 68 degrees as we drove by agricultural fields that stretched for miles.  Farmworkers were harvesting broccoli and cauliflower in front of a stunning backdrop of the low-lying Santa Lucia Mountains. It looked like our fairy godmother had sprinkled ice plant blooms with a wand, just in time for us to gasp at the display of vibrant pink and purple blossoms.

We spent the afternoon at PessagnoWinery where owner Steve Pessagno joined us for a glass of wine, engaging us in conversation ranging from the benefits of owning a winery, “great lifestyle, good friends, wonderful wines,” to the downside of abundance, “it’s a challenge to maintain a slim waistline,” to the way of the universe. 

I said we were made of the same stuff as the stars—carbon atoms.  He of course knew better.  After all, to be a winemaker of his caliber he understood chemistry.  He corrected me with some gobbledygook about the alchemical process of transformation that involved helium, hydrogen and free neutrons that even now I can’t recall.  Still, we were in agreement.  We are the universe and the universe is us.  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yogananda: Self-Realization Center

Pacific Palisades, CA -- Before I left the grounds at the Self-Realization Center, I saw a sign cast amidst a clump of orange daylilies.  It was a quote by the Yogananda that captured the essence of his spirit. “Everything else can wait, but our search for God cannot wait.” -- Paramahansa Yogananda.
Thank you dear Yogananda for sharing your divine wisdom with this spiritual seeker.  Namaste.

Rodeo Drive: Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, CA -- When I was little, I loved watching the Beverly Hillbillies, falling in love with the Clampetts who struck oil, calling it black gold, Texas tea.  Since now they were rich, they moved to Beverly Hills—swimming pools and movies stars.  It was a natural for me to visit the shopping capital of the world, Rodeo Drive, a three-block district of high-end stores with designer names like Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Tiffany & Co. and Chanel.  But I never did run into the Clampetts, only tourists.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Time of Wisteria: So Long

Basecamp, CA -- My heart is breaking.  The time of wisteria will soon be gone.  Wisteria—the pretty groups of light purple flowers that hang on a vine much like a cluster of grapes, are sprinkled throughout my neighborhood.   These flowers smell like Lily of the Valley and last for only a few weeks—too short, that's for sure.   I love this quote:  "Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened."  So long wiseria.

Keep On Truckin: Venice Food On The Go

Venice, CA --  The new way to eat in Venice is from the mobile lunch trucks. These cheap and hip, controversial trucks line trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard offering nouvelle cuisine twist to old favorites like hot dogs, tacos, and cheese steaks. Much to the chagrin of brick and mortar business owners, there’s only one regulation in place that controls the trucks—they must have an agreement with a permanent business to provide a bathroom. Locals claim these trucks take away precious business and leave a lot of trash behind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery

San Diego, CA -- Watching the sunset at the only place on the peninsula that allows people to stay after 5 p.m.—Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, a West Coast version of Arlington National Cemetery.  Admittedly it is a creepy place to watch the sun go down, what with all the identical white marble tombstones and randomly distributed carnations, but my son and I were undaunted. Since it was still so cold we waited for sunset in the car, facing due west.  Jordan took a little snooze and I looked out over the horizon and saw distant ships sailing into the mist, imagining early explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo peering through his scope aboard his vessel the San Salvador to the shore and I wondered if he could see me, snuggled in the car wearing a big warm jacket, set among the tombstones, gently touching the sleeve of my sleeping son’s arm. “Wake up…it’s almost time for the sun to set.”

Cabrillo National Monument: San Diego Treasure

San Diego, CA -- Cabrillo National Monument is at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula.  It offers a panoramic view of San Diego, the naval shipyard to north and the Coronado Bridge and Island to the south.  I took my son Jordan, who was visiting from Davis for the weekend, to see the place where Spanish conquistador Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, became the first European to set foot on what would later become the state of California.