Cambria 2009 Family Vacation Print

We rented a house in Cambria, California in July, 2009 for a one-week family vacation.  It was one of those wonderful vacations that didn't cost much to get there (we drove and it's only 250 miles) and it didn't cost much to be there (we ate dinner in the house every night and packed a lot of picnic lunches, and watched DVD movies many nights).  And, we finally scattered my mother's ashes and my father's ashes, together.


Cambria is a sleepy little town on the central California coast, a few miles south of San Simeon, where Hearst Castle is located.  If you've never been there, it's your loss; if you have been there, you know what I mean.  My parents built a home there in 1985 and we loved visiting there--in fact, have always loved it there.

Mother died in 1989 and Pops died in 2004.  They were wonderful parents, and wonderful grandparents, and it was difficult seeing them both go.  Without going into a lot of detail, I can only say that we disinterred Mother's ashes (which she would have preferred) so we could scatter them with Pops' ashes, and spreading them in the area offshore around Cambria was cathartic and good for us, as well as them (we think).

That being said, the rest of the trip was a wonderful blend of family, grandchildren, and relaxation around the house.

If you follow this site, you'll know that I participated in a nude photography workshop with Mark Comon and the Paul's Photo group at the home of Kim and Gina Weston in Carmel in late June.  My friend Art Litman and I drove up together for that trip and had lunch at McPhee's Grill in Templeton.   I had never been to McPhee's Grill, but before he opened McPhee's Grill, Ian McPhee operated an excellent restaurant called Ian's in Cambria and we ate there many times with (and without) my parents when we visited Cambria.  So, on our way up to Cambria this time, Sue and I followed the same route--taking the 154 from Santa Barbara around Cachuma Lake and by Los Olivos to rejoin the 101 just north of Buellton, and then up past San Luis Obispo to Templeton for lunch.  It's a great spot and I recommend it heartily.  And by the way, besides having great food, it's in a building that dates from about 1860 and Templeton could be a Wild West town were it not for the paved streets.


After lunch, we continued on Vineyard Drive to Highway 46 and drove down to Highway 1 to Cambria.  Sue had rented the same house she rented last year while Duane and I were fishing in Baja, and Jennifer, Duane, Christopher and Brooklyn had driven up on July 4th so they were there a day ahead of us.  Following the familiar drive into Cambria, we arrived while Christopher and Brooklyn were still napping and enjoyed a brief visit until nap time was over, after which we grilled steaks for dinner and then walked down to the beach, which was just two blocks from the house.


We called it Frog Beach because there were frogs (or, maybe, one really big frog) around that made a lot of noise.  But, as you can see, it's a great beach and it was very popular with everyone.  As with every other area in Cambria, deer came to visit every morning and evening, which is fun for all to see.


I made the usual attempt at taking the family Christmas card photo and did so at three locations.  This one, which I was hoping would be the best because of the huge piece of driftwood, turned out to be the worst from a people perspective because we aren't all that visible.


Oh, well.  You'll see the real one later on...

We went back to the Main Street Grill for lunch twice (much to the consternation of some friends) and enjoyed it immensely again.  It's changed a lot from the days when Mother and Pops first built there; back then it was an open air pit barbecue with a tiny little shack that had an outside order window.  Now, it's fully enclosed (but with a full pit barbecue inside), a full bar and real bathrooms.  But, you can still eat outside, which is what we did.  The Pig Sandwich (BBQ pulled pork on a bun), the Root Beer Freeze (think root beer float, blended) and Ranch Beans are still great.  So is the Avocado Veggie Sandwich, the burger, etc., etc.  

We went to Sand Dollar Beach, which is about 35 miles north, and ate a picnic lunch before going down to the beach.  It's a great beach, where dogs can run off leash and the scenery is spectacular.  Here's the view while walking down the trail to the beach.


 Gabby could run up and down that beach to her heart's content and she did so until her heart almost stopped--and loved every minute.


Sand Dollar Beach was so cool, in fact, that we went back again a few days later and this time packed a lunch to carry down to the beach.  We got there in the late morning, watched Gabby run some more, and watched Brooklyn and Christopher enjoying it.



  We went to Leffingwell Landing several times (it was a favorite spot for Mother and Pops) and Duane and I fooled around with photography each night.  While we were trying long exposures of wave breaks, I caught Duane as waves were starting to become an issue.


Jennifer brought her Bible and looked up the "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" blessing on her Blackberry and we said goodbye to Mother and Pops during the trip.  We never went out for dinner--I took up a batch of my Chile Verde for dinner one night, and a batch of my spaghetti sauce for dinner another night, and we made Jack Pot Noodle Casserole our last night--one of those silly casseroles that I used to love when Mother made me go to a potluck dinner at church in my youth.

After eating the casserole, we went back down to Frog Beach and as we arrived, this fellow was waiting for us.


He modeled and preened for a while and then slid back into the ocean so we could enjoy the rest of the sunset.  After sunset we came back up to the house to enjoy the rest of the evening watching another movie, and before they went to bed I saw Christopher and Brooklyn enjoying the fire.


As you may have gathered, we enjoyed this trip a lot.  Christopher and Brooklyn were very upset at having to leave.  Guess we'll have to go back!  My photos are here; I suggest you use the View Slideshow link that will appear on the left after the Gallery is opened.