Talkin’ on sunshine
It’s early Friday morning and so here I am like clockwork with another post. I hope everyone is OK with my predictable blogging, appearing each week at this time. If I were to do it more often or less, I think it would annoy everyone, so I have settled on this schedule. Thank you so much to all my old and new friends, for visiting, reading and commenting. This community has been growing steadily and I truly appreciate you all, every one of you.
We have had a busy two weeks since we returned from our trip. It was such a welcome break — about a week — and it had been too long since we had done it. I am still unpacking. Even though the place we went is just a couple of hours away and in a similar climate — sun almost night and day, it seemed, and more like July than September, I like to be prepared for everything. One thing I found out about myself is that I now need far more specific items to make me comfortable, than I had for a long time. When I first started traveling on my own (with friends) in high school, I hauled way too much along. Then I went through a period of extensive travel with just a few black things, rolled up like sausages. It was part of the fun of the trip to see how many outfits I could get out of how few items that way.
Now I am back to taking too much. Geoffrey had gotten me a beautiful set of Tumi suitcases (to replace the Vuitton luggage that was stolen on our first honeymoon), monogrammed with my initials. The largest of the three pieces is almost like a trunk. It is so brilliantly constructed that it has every possible kind of pocket and organizing device. But, stark naked, it weighs 50 lbs. It is now too big to take on a plane (and when I fly I no longer check a bag, anyway). So I took that set with me on this trip. I had each piece packed to the max, with all the outfits for day and night, plus the kind of nightwear I could use with the rest of the family, and then little comforts like all my devices, iPod, snacks, jewelry, reading materials, swimwear and gear, my own pillow and towels (just in case, LOL) and my coffee K-cups (I know, I know, forgive me but I cannot bear bad coffee — I took a box of Peets). Yep, it was overkill, as every possible thing I could have wanted was there in our corner of the estate, when we arrived.
The town itself is a haven for the international rich and famous. Yet, it has an unprepossessing little village at its heart, that was charming, walkable and welcoming. It is loaded with shops and eateries and reminds me of Carmel, farther north on the coast. One thing I noticed right away, as we arrived late in the day from our journey northward, was that everyone brings their dog to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Very European. It is one of those places where people may be in shorts and a tank top, but sporting a blinding platinum and diamond bracelet that anywhere else would surely be fake. They are totally comfortable doing it and stepping from their Teslas or Bentleys. No one seemed to notice our modest wheels, either — too well bred and heeled, and totally uninterested.
You never really see the homes. They are all behind walls and sometimes even the gates are solid so the entries are obscured. Many of them, though, have ocean views. All one sees from the narrow, twisting ‘country’ roads are the tops of the trees and the sun that seems to be up earlier and down later than anywhere else. It was September but it was sweltering. We were all housed, the entire extended group, in a family villa, each of us with our own separate buildings, totally outfitted. I have stayed in castles and luxury hotels in the past, but this extensive compound, completely hidden from the road, was a first. We had to go through three security gates to get there, and then once inside, all our doors were open for the duration. It was almost medieval in its sense of seclusion while being ultra modern and yet, somehow down-home and comfortable.
All that really matters to me is that I have my own bedroom and bath, so this was unexpected sumptuoy. These photos were taken within the two, twelve foot high concrete walls: one that surrounds all the estates on this part of the winding road, and one that encloses the individual estate where we were staying. So the low walls you see here separated each part of our group, from the others. Talk about security!! And boundaries. They say good fences make good neighbors. Apparently!
To say we literally ate, morning, noon, and night is an understatement. I long ago learned to just order whatever I like and then take a few bites, bringing the rest home. Otherwise, this would have been gluttony on top of sloth. I took just the D610 with one lens on it and tried to be low-key using it. After all, this is someone’s private estate and I didn’t want to over-expose it. But I do want you to see it. It is typical California style vacation (second or third)-home extravagance: Spanish mission architecture and furnishings, open, sturdy, yet equipped with every modern convenience (Californians are used to having the world at their feet and fingers wherever they go), within walking distance of the village (but with no sidewalks or shoulders on the heavily forested roads — so you take your life in your hands walking, even in broad daylight as Maseratis come screaming around the corner with no warning), past wall after eerie wall. We had no idea who was even on our private road. Only in town was there any sense that there are thousands of people living in the surrounding community.
Another lovely thing was how dark the entire area is at night. There are no street lights of any kind and because everyone is behind high walls, very little ambient light. We would walk outside and sit under a literal planetarium, using our SkyMap Google app to identify the stars, constellations and planets overhead. Human beings need more dark time, but it also made driving a nightmare! The flowers were photographed in the hothouse, by the way.
We had a lot of time to interact with the others and it was no different from other experiences, except I think everyone was trying to be as flexible, entertaining, and accommodating as possible. Being in the villa with nothing serious to do put all of us in a relaxed, good mood. And having our own buildings enabled each nuclear group to do our own things without interfering with anyone else. The planned events, taking place at other estates nearby, came off without a hitch. I did just about nothing but still lost two pounds, snagged some interesting shots that I will post on Flickr, and when we got back, we both felt as if we had been on vacation for a month! Now we are busily renovating some of the rooms to make space for my family visitors who are coming for the holidays. (Didn’t it seem like I was just doing that, like a few months ago? Here they come again!). We are making over the Christmas room to be just a guest room and putting a smaller tree in the family room this year. Big change for us, as that Christmas room was in place for over a decade.
Next up, my fave town on the Central California coast — where we have decided to retire. So, stay tuned.
Images: Chez BeBe, California golden shores; click to enlarge them