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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

California Dreamin 2016 - Time Warp on the 101, Seals, Seagulls and Sea Squirrels

My family rolled out of Anaheim around lunchtime on Tuesday and into the glory that is LA traffic! Also, LA traffic being glorious...that's ironic...if you live in California, you know that the traffic in general isn't glorious! Thankfully the traffic wasn't so terrible on Tuesday and so we made our way through LA and moved up the coast toward Santa Barbara county and Lompoc; the place where I was born!

I filtered this picture to DEATH - it looks more like it was painted than photographed...
Thirty-one years and some odd months ago (no need to really elaborate on months and days...right?) I was born at Vandenberg Air Force Base Hospital in Lompoc, California. I haven't been back to Lompoc since we moved away when I was two and a half...so suffice it to say that I don't remember much of living in California...I just know I was born a California girl! 

Our jaunt up the California coast was a step back in time; not just for me, but more for my parents. They moved to California shortly after getting married and as we drove through town, they were able to find the first apartment they lived in while my Dad was stationed in California and we even discovered the church they attended was still up and running and we stepped inside for a few minutes.

Trip back in time - turn left!
One of the first places we went was Surf Beach; a local beach in the area that I likely played on as a toddler, according to my Mom. It was one of a couple beaches that we frequented when I was small. There were only a few people casually wandering at the edge of the water and I noticed as we started down the sand dune that there was a large sign warning of fatal shark attacks. Once I realized the name of the beach, I realized this was the very beach that had been on Shark Week multiple times - and yes, I'm a Shark Week person! I immediately informed my Mom that she'd been bringing her toddler to play at a murder beach...ha-ha...and she assured me I'd never actually gotten in the water.

I like to be dramatic y'all - if you haven't figured out that much yet...

Lindsey & I at Surf Beach - see any fins in the surf??
The original California trio, back where it all began (sort of)
The shark on this sign looks cheeky...not menacing...
Once we'd perused the beach a bit, we headed for Vandenberg Air Force Base - the place my Dad was stationed, where my family lived and the place I was born. I have little to no recollection of living here...beyond some old pictures and what I've been told...but it was very obvious that (not shockingly) things have changed quite a bit at Vandenberg. I am the only member of my family that doesn't have a military ID, so I had to get a temporary pass to be allowed on base - which - come on US military, I was born here! 

My Dad took quite a few pictures but the general consensus from both my parents was that it was extremely different. I know that my personal impression of the base was that it looked extremely run down and very..."dead"...which was sad to me. The grass was brown; which is to be expected since California is in a drought, but it was also very overgrown in so many locations and that was not expected! My parents assured me that it did not look anything like this when we lived there - it was much more well kept and active! I'm not sure why the base seems so dead now but my Dad happily announced that the commissary and the BX (the grocery store and base exchange for those of you that are not accustomed to military speak) looked exactly the same!

When we initially checked in at the base, we were informed that the hospital on base was simply a clinic now and anything major - like a birth - would happen at the hospital in downtown Lompoc! So, as you can see...nothing is as it once was...but since the only consistent in life is change, that makes perfect sense! I hopped out of the car to pose in front of the hospital - I'm not sure what kind of look I have on my face here, but it's a weird smile. Perhaps I was jaded by my expectations and the reality? The last stop we made was the street we used to live on. We'd been told by friends that the houses had been torn down, so we weren't expecting much but hoped maybe there would be a street sign...however, even the street sign was gone! The site where we used to live was much like the rest of the base - overgrown, clogged with weeds and frankly...sad. We headed onward...

The 30th Medical Group - where I arrived in the world years ago...
Our stop for the night was Morro Bay, California and the Morro Bay Inn. We spent quite a bit of time on our time warp in Vandenberg and so we didn't arrive until shortly after dusk. Our room overlooked the bay and it was obvious, even at dusk that the view was pretty impressive. The sound of a horn in the distance...I'm assuming warning ships of the coastline...made it almost completely perfect and I kind of fell in love with the location. 

Morro Bay by morning light...
Seals sunning on a platform in the bay
Morro Rock!
We started our morning on Wednesday with breakfast at a delightful cafe near the water where I had one of the best pecan waffles I've ever eaten; the waffle was unique in that it was thinner than your run of the mill Belgian waffle...and it was divine! We rode right up to Morro Rock and took some photos before continuing up the coast toward San Simeon and our ultimate destination: Hearst Castle!

Overlooking the beach at Morro Bay!
This seagull pretty much owned this rock....ha-ha!
The final stop before we turned in at Hearst Castle was another beach overlook at San Simeon, located literally across the street from the entrance to Hearst Castle. The views were absolutely stunning...the water and the sky were so impossibly blue and the flowers were bright yellow! There were also the most delightful little fat squirrels that obviously lived in the scrub brush and were not at all intimidated by our presence. It probably didn't hurt that I offered them small bites of blueberry muffin and they reached up with their teeny paws and took it from my hand! Granted - we did later see signs that said "Don't Feed the Squirrels" but seriously...I feel like a bite of blueberry muffin did not hurt them, ha-ha!

The gorgeous beach at San Simeon
I would have liked to find a nice spot here & made myself at home for a few hours...
Do you see the sea squirrel??
Waiting on bites of blueberry muffin no doubt...
Gorgeous - right?

I'll leave you with links to the places we stayed and ate (I've linked up my other posts as well); I took way too many pictures at Hearst Castle to include those here, so I'll pick up with that another day!

In Case You Wondered (Lodging & Food)

Cool Hand Luke's in Santa Maria: a steak house with really yummy food, not too pricey!

The Inn at Morro Bay: lovely location & the rooms are nice...definitely go for one on the front!

Dorn's Original Breaker's Cafe in Morro Bay: delicious..that's all you need to know!

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