Serenity ~ that what these hills say to me, yet the picture was taken on CA Highway 101 while trucks and cars were whizzing by. That's how my life has been lately - serene at first glance, but rushing and whirling by just out of view.
I was in California from February 5-10, teaching at Asilomar, for the Art & Soul mini-retreat. The place was heaven: perfect weather, perfect people, perfect everything. It was a wonderful escape from my Maryland winter.
I arrived on schedule, met up with Claudine and Nina at the San Jose airport. We rented a really nice Jeep SUV(teachers carry a lot of stuff) and took off for Monterey. Of course we had to stop for some extra supplies at Target - paper towels, munchies, water and wine.
Being on east coast time, I was up early every morning before the sunrise, walking the beach and snapping photos. It was the only quiet time I had before days of teaching and late nights catching up with friends. The only time we see each other is when we are on these teaching trips. Of course we talk/IM every day, but there's nothing like being there.
I had the most wonderful students ~ I think we were all high on the beauty and relaxing atmosphere. Two lovely ladies opted to spend the whole 3 days with me, Faythe Crosby and Cheryl Torbet. I call them my Marathon Students. It was a great chance to bond with them ~ something that is hard to do in a one day. Fortunately I get a lot of repeat students too. It's always good to see a friendly face.
Nina and I planned 2 extra days to explore the area and drive down the coast to Cambria. It was a journey that brought tears to my eyes. Such beauty at every turn. You just don't understand what people mean until you experience it for yourself. We kept yelling "Photo Op!" at almost every turn. I was surprised at how remote it all was. We stopped for lunch at Napenthe, a wonderful restaurant and shop that some of our students had recommended. Imagine dining atop Big Sur with a view of the Pacific. Imagine dolphins below creating magical sparkles in the water. We really felt like we were closer to heaven. We had also been told to stop and see the Elephant seals on the beach...which beach, where? But they were easy to find by the crowd along the roadside. Our timing was perfect. It was pupping and mating season and the beach was covered with seals of all ages. I could have stayed all day, but we had a sunset to catch in Cambria. Did I mention that the weather was a warm 70 degrees the whole week. Our timing was perfect.
We arrived, checked in to the Fogcatcher Inn, right across from Moonstone Beach. There was enough light to begin our stone scavenging and then the magestic sunset. We dined at a lovely restaurant that was playing the same Iron & Wine CD that we had been listening to on our drive. Another sign that we were aligned with the universe that day.
The Friday morning fog rolled in and gave new meaning to the Fogcatcher Inn. We did some more beach scavaging and then headed to 3 wonderful shops we had spied the night before. Birds of a Feather came highly recommended and of course lived up to expectations. I bought vintage lace and trims, Nina, a moonstone egg to feather her nest back home. Then it was back up to San Jose, but this time on Highway 101. That trip was surreal, moving between mountains, valleys, vineyards, desert, oil fields and the undulating green hills that grace the beginning of this entry. We missed the photo op at the retro gas station in the middle of the desert because we were too nervous to linger there. But imagine our surprise to chance upon the San Miguel Mission, right alongside the highway.
The best thing about our Friday night stay near the airport was that the hotel/motel was right across the street from Sushi Zen (and Bad Guys Bail Bonds). We had a yummy meal and then went to bed because we had planes to catch in the morning. I awoke Saturday morning with an inkling that there would be trouble ahead, because it was just beginning to snow on the east coast. I got as far as Houston and then they closed the airport in DC. I was prepared for this so I checked into a nice hotel, treated myself to room service and crossed my fingers that I would make it home on Sunday. Which I did. I arrived home just in time for the joint birthday parties for my son Chris (21), daughter Kerry (17) and my sister, Katie (the big 5-0). That was the beginning of this whirlwind week. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.