Balancing Act

A well needed break!

After smashing through a record number of Prius projects this month, working long hours and finalizing all oversea trade show arrangements at my work (we're exhibiting in Canada, Mexico and Brazil in addition to domestic shows), it's finally time to slow down and take a well deserved break with the lady!

Hamsar 45060 DRL module installed on a 2012 Prius; reduced high beams

Hamsar 45060 DRL module installed on a 2012 Prius; reduced high beams

2012+ 3rd gen Prius, JDM power folding mirror with illuminated mirror switch

2012+ 3rd gen Prius, JDM power folding mirror with illuminated mirror switch

JDM Prius power folding side mirrors

JDM Prius power folding side mirrors

Aftermarket JDM-style 3-in-1 combo side mirror welcome winker LEDs.

Aftermarket JDM-style 3-in-1 combo side mirror welcome winker LEDs.

Between designing a multitude of product cut sheets and booth signs in Adobe Illustrator while working with vendors against deadlines, only to repeat the entire process to have the same cut sheets and booth signs done in Spanish and Portuguese, the whole ordeal took about a good two full months. In between that, I have to work with domestic trade show arrangements (not as hectic but time consuming nonetheless) and I also had to work with customs to import the trade show items into Brazil and Mexico. And just when I thought shipping the booth to Mexico on Wednesday clears up some time for me to tackle other back-logged projects, I was handed a new trade show assignment (registration, payment, etc.) due Friday, 5/24/13!

The customs aspect of the export process is the most daunting to say the least. Not for all the oversea shows, but specifically exporting to Brazil. My International Exporting class at Cal Poly Pomona (IBM 416) briefly described the arduous process and high cost of doing business in Brazil as a foreign entity and I have applied my first hands-on experience of what I've learned in that class in a real world situation and it isn't fun.

The lady has also completed her composition exams to fulfill her requirements for a Masters in English and is expected to graduate this June. She and her classmates have started studying for these exams (2 of which are 4.5 hours each) nearly a year ago. She also had to take a week off from work just to do some last minute preparation. And now that it's done, it's a huge catharsis. I know how it feel as I've taken six courses during my final quarter at Cal Poly Pomona, working on relentless group projects one after another and simultaneously working full time.

What better time to wind down and relax? An extended Memorial Day weekend in California's Central Coast of course.

The Central Coast of California is our go-to-place to release stress and rejuvenate after a series of rough consecutive weeks. It's about 220 miles from where we live, or 3 to 3.5 hour drive. Far enough to escape the city life of L.A. but still close enough to drive to. We've been there many times and the charm never seem to diminish. Before we had our Prius hybrids, our trek up to the Central Coast is usually a luxury that's enjoyed twice a year; once in spring break and once in October after midterms. Since we've owned our Prius hybrids, we've taken monthly trips to the Central Coast, sometimes twice a month. These are usually day trips, though, with no concrete agenda and often taken on a whim.

We started our trek up north on an empty stomach at 7:00 AM PST and arrived a little after 10:30 AM. Call me crazy if you will but I find long road trips very therapeutic, especially trips up north where the ride is nice and smooth and isn't inundated with traffic. Our first stop was at our favorite restaurant in the area, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, in front of Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA. Here we had lunch that consists of some calamari frita, clam chowder and fish n' chips.

Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill

Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill

Calamari Frita

Calamari Frita

Fish 'n Chips

Fish 'n Chips

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Followed by rounds after rounds of cocktails:

805 + Walk on the Beach

805 + Walk on the Beach

Keoki Coffee

Keoki Coffee

Blue Hawaiian

Blue Hawaiian

Classic Martini

Classic Martini

Long Island Ice Tea

Long Island Ice Tea

Chilling with the lady, getting a nice buzz under the sun, enjoying the ocean across the street and surrounded by great service and friendly  San Luis Obispo county locals - it's like a catharsis of euphoria in a sea of camaraderie. Encountering friendly SLO locals also means exchange of friendly banters from associates (students, alumni, staffs, etc.) of our sister school, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After all, we always represent Broncos whenever we're in Mustang country.

Beautiful day in Moonstone Beach

Beautiful day in Moonstone Beach

Moonstone Beach boardwalk

Moonstone Beach boardwalk

After our stop at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, we walked along Moonstone Beach with a euphoric buzz, enjoying both the negative ions spewing from the sea breeze and the gorgeous unspoiled view of this somewhat obscure beach.  A recently adopted tradition of ours is to fly our 7' shark kite wherever we go and write down the date/time and location of where it took flight:

Kite flying

Kite flying

Our trip along euphoria lane was cut short, somewhat. I've read horror stories and negative reviews on many travel sites, such as TripAdvisor, on accounts from vacationers who would check into their reservation only to find out that their reservation doesn't exist and that they were left stranded due to no vacancies. I think to myself, "how can this happen if you book well ahead of time and keep your email confirmations?" We were about to find out. When we checked with Cambria Landing Inn at 2PM to see if our room was ready, we were told by an associate named Lauren that we were not scheduled to check in until Sunday, May 26. We were baffled at first. I even thought for a second that I may have booked the wrong nights. Obviously, this wasn't an option for us since we canceled our original reservation at the Sand Pebbles Inn next door to stay two nights at the Cambria Landing Inn and made our reservations well ahead of time (April 18th). We checked our email confirmation and sure enough, it wasn't user error (or in this case, vacationer error) and our reservation was correct. The problem is the weekend of our stay is Memorial Day weekend and literally all lodgings along Moonstone Drive were booked, minus a couple of $250+ a night rooms. After several phone calls here and there, Jonathan the general manager talked to us and was able to find us a room at another inn, the Captain's Cove Inn. Jonathan actually escorted us and spoke with David, the manager over at the Captain's Cove Inn to explain our situation. Amidst the fiasco, it turned out an assistant manager at the Cambria Landing Inn moved our original reservation for May 25th to May 26th on the same day we made the reservation back on April 18th.

After all was said and done, Cambria Landing Inn, Pacifica Hotels (parent company) and especially Jonathan pulled through. Not only did he secure us an ocean view room at the Captain's Cove Inn fully comped, he also included a bottle of chardonnay for our check-in inconvenience, invited us to a buffet style breakfast at the Fog Catcher Inn (another Pacifica Hotels establishment, next door) on Sunday morning and discounted our already deeply discounted rate for Sunday's stay. Essentially, we only paid close to 30% of our original 2-night reservation over Memorial Day weekend, because someone screwed up big time. The person who made the reservation error followed up with us on Tuesday, May 28th, to apologize for the inconvenience and also to ensure that we were taken care of. Talk about extraordinary customer service! Because of how well the situation was handled, we are customers for life. Our next stay at another Pacifica Hotels lodging will be in August at Half-Moon Bay Lodge up in Half Moon Bay, CA.

Front ocean view room at the Captain's Cove Inn, Cambria, CA. Comped by Pacifica Hotels.

Front ocean view room at the Captain's Cove Inn, Cambria, CA. Comped by Pacifica Hotels.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Room #5 at the Captain's Cove Inn. Cambria, CA.

Our own private ocean view patio

Our own private ocean view patio

Captain's Cove Inn, May 25th, 2013.

Captain's Cove Inn, May 25th, 2013.

Reserved parking.

Reserved parking.

After resolving our discrepancy with the Cambria Landing Inn, we helped ourselves to some more beach combing followed by another round of cocktails at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill.

Another Moonstone Bloody Mary and a glass of Chardonnay

Another Moonstone Bloody Mary and a glass of Chardonnay

Moonstone Margaritas

Moonstone Margaritas

Moonstone Bloody Mary

Moonstone Bloody Mary

Our night began with a stop at Madeline's Restaurant in downtown Cambria. I ordered the Long Island Duck Breast while the lady ordered a Filet Mignon. The Long Island Duck Breast is served pan seared, and topped with dried apricot and cognac reduction along with scalloped potatoes and vegetables for sides. I've only had duck served Peking roast duck style and the change is welcoming. The Filet Mignon, also pan seared, with pan jus, garlic mashed potato and vegetables for sides. It isn't an out-of-town break without a bottle of local Central Coast red wine over dinner. We used Madeline's online coupon to enjoy 50% off our bottle of wine.

Madeline's Restaurant

Madeline's Restaurant

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

Long Island Duck Breast

Long Island Duck Breast

On Sunday, we spent an early half of our day southbound in Los Osos where we enjoyed a walk in the Elfin Forest Preserve. The walking trail loops around the Elfin Forest Preserve and is about a mile long, very easy for young and older folks alike. The trail is also wheelchair friendly. Great scenic walk with plenty of photography opportunity. Best of all, you dictate your own pace.

Elfin Forest Preserve, 17th St. entrance

Elfin Forest Preserve, 17th St. entrance

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

Elfin Forest Preserve

After our detour to Los Osos, we found ourselves in Morro Bay for a quick lunch at Rocca's Surf Shack. We had some quick seafood bites consisting of a bowl of clam chowder and a combo platter of 1 lb of steamed mussels and 1 lb of steamed clam, "Black and White" combo and washed it down with a pint of 805 lager.

Black and White combo with 805 Lager

Black and White combo with 805 Lager

Whenever we are in the Central Coast, we drop by the Galley's Seafood Grill & Bar for some great seafood. We are also creatures of habit. For this trip, not only are we saving our appetite, we are also deviating from our normal selection and elected to dine at new restaurants in local Cambria instead. Once lunch became a past tense, we walked off our caloric intake by exploring the town of Morro Bay and drove up to the Morro Rock.

In front of Morro Rock

In front of Morro Rock

After our stint at Morro Bay, we drove back to Cambria to check into our room at the Cambria Landing Inn.

Complimentary chardonnay

Complimentary chardonnay

Cambria Landing Inn

Cambria Landing Inn

Then we walked next door for some pre-dinner cocktails at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill.

805 + Moonstone Bloody Mary

805 + Moonstone Bloody Mary

Hurricane and Long Island Ice Tea

Hurricane and Long Island Ice Tea

Our Sunday evening concluded with dinner at The Sow's Ear in downtown Cambria where I helped myself to an entree of Braised Short Ribs; slow braised short ribs on the bone topped with a red wine and port reduction and served with buttermilk mashed potatoes with fresh chives. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone goodness and the flavorful stew of the beef swimming in the reduction mixed in its own fatty concoction was pure harmony for the taste buds.

The Sow's Ear Restaurant

The Sow's Ear Restaurant

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Braised Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs

Bread in a Pot

Bread in a Pot

The lady enjoyed Beef Stroganoff, made of tender steak tips sautéed with wild mushrooms, shallots, tarragon, and crème fraiche, tossed with fresh Papperdelle noodles.

Our much needed break concluded on Memorial Day, a great day to drive back from the Central Coast due to the lack of traffic on major highways. Prior to returning home, we had lunch at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill and walked around Moonstone Beach for a bit.

Coastal ground squirrel

Coastal ground squirrel

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Our next road trip will be to Twentynine Palms in June (tentative) followed by Timber Cove in Sonoma County in July. Still deciding if we want to include a multi-day pitstop in Carmel, Monterey and San Francisco along the way to Timber Cove. Half Moon Bay is scheduled for August and a return to June Lake in September. Sedona, AZ is in the air for autumn. Between all the scheduled road trips, we're also planning a flight to Virginia, if time and budget is on our side especially since we have a two week trip to the Philippines in December. Next year we hope to do a two week cross-country  Prius caravan road trip with our friends from Los Angeles, CA to Philadelphia, PA.

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