After our long drive down the coast, we finally arrived in Cambria at 12.30. As it was lunch time, we thought it would be a good idea to find somewhere to eat. When we got out of the car, the heat hit us in the face. We checked the temperature and were horrified to see it was 102. The little town was packed with visitors but we found a parking place up the hill on Cornwall Street. We strolled down the hill passing a shop called Vintage Automobilia with an old Lincoln Zephyr from the late 1930s or early 1940s parked outside. In was in good condition and Tom, of course, had to stop and drool. When I could drag him away, we walked on down towards Main Street where all the shops were.
This is our second trip to Cambria and it seems to have changed a lot since then. On that first trip we had a traditional English tea in a little tea shop and I tried to find it again but failed. Cambria tries very hard to be British but it fails miserably. It is full of fast food restaurants, art galleries, realtors, spas and shops selling T-shirts, ice cream and frozen yogurt. One of the fast food restaurants, Main Street Grill, had a loud speaker announcing when food was ready to be collected by calling out the ticket number and exactly what the order was. The announcements could be heard clearly from some distance away and it was very annoying. We didn’t stay long and certainly did not find anywhere we wanted to eat lunch, so we walked back to the car and drove the same way back to Highway 1. I have since found out from several friends that there is much more to Cambria which we missed completely. If only we had carried on down Main Street, we would have found a lot of nice restaurants, including the The Tea Cosy, which is the tea shop we visited last time. We will suspend final judgement on Cambria until our next visit.
I had booked three nights lodging about an hour’s drive south east of Cambria and it was time to make our way there. About a month beforehand I had searched for somewhere to stay in Cambria but at that time everything was either booked up or too expensive. I resorted to my favorite site Airbnb – which is an online service where people advertise space in their homes which can be booked. Tom and I have found several nice places, normally for just one night. It is much better, and cheaper, than an impersonal hotel room plus there are lots of benefits. For this trip I found a nice little place in the hills outside of Atascadero. It was called The Best Nest and our host was Amie.
From Cambria we drove south on Highway 1. At Morro Bay we turned left onto Highway 41 towards Atascadero. We left the ocean behind us and started climbing uphill. When we were almost into Atascadero, we turned left again and wound our way further uphill to our destination. The house was easy to find as we had been sent detailed instructions, including the information about looking out for the yard art. As soon as I saw the vertical flags I knew we had arrived. The flags were just the tip of the iceberg and her yard was full of garden gnomes, shells and other objects found on a beach and placards with cute sayings. We checked the temperature before we got out of the car and it was 108!! Amie welcomed us warmly and she greeted me with a retirement card and a gift of grape licorice twists, which surprised and touched me.
The Best Nest is a detached self-contained little studio near Amie’s house. It is a very nice place with everything we needed. Well, not quite everything because but it had no air conditioning and it was absolutely sweltering inside. Amie had put in two big fans but they did not seem to make much difference. She told us that normally the weather was cooler up in the hills, especially in the afternoon when the coastal breezes cooled things down. We just happened to arrive on the hottest day of the year when there were no cooling breezes. Amie showed us round the well equipped kitchen, dining area, bedroom area and separate bathroom and pointed out the TV and extensive DVD collection of films. We were asked if we intended to visit any of the wineries nearby and we said yes so she gave us some passes to a couple of local wineries plus told us the best places to eat in Atascadero and Templeton.
It was really too hot to stay there very long so we drove down to Atascadero to find somewhere to cool off. Atascadero is a fair sized town but there were very few people walking about. We drove up and down the main street several times to discover where the restaurants were but neither of us felt like eating so early. It was then we spotted the Galaxy movie theater and made a beeline for it. When we walked inside it was bliss, this was the place to be! There were half a dozen movies on offer but none of them where on our wish list. Most of them were geared towards children which was only to be expected as the kids were on summer break. Our best pick turned out to be ‘Man of Steel’, which fortunately was starting in fifteen minuets. Tickets and popcorn in hand, we made our way into the theater. The film was something I would not normally have chosen to see but there was nothing else that appealed to us at all.
Afterwards we ate at La Mexicana near the movie theater. There were no tables available when we arrived so we sat in the bar where I had a margarita and Tom had a martini – well we are on vacation. We didn’t have long to wait and were soon shown to a booth. The chips and salsa went down very well and we both enjoyed our meal. When we walked out we were hoping that the weather had cooled down and it had slightly but it was still way too hot.
On our way back and just before we reached the BestNest we had to stop because a half grown fawn was delicately tripping across the road. The mother deer was not far behind and we watched as the pair of them joined a small group of deer with about four young fawns. The house was still very hot inside but it was cooler outside. We opened all the windows and then went outside where it was definitely cooler and stayed chatting to Amie, while she watered her garden, for quite a while. Finally we braved the house and settled down for the night.