Posted by: facetothewind | August 12, 2012

Los Osos: where blue meets gray

Our cottage in Los Osos sits at the dividing line between the sunny inland and the foggy coast of Central California. This house we’ve rented for August on a sandy hill shared with lots of hungry ants is perched literally on that line. Move a few feet to the east and you’ll need your sunscreen. A few feet to the west and you’d better grab your windbreaker. There are of course those days of exception when the coast is clear. Wow, it just dawned on me that we use that expression all the time when there’s no coast involved and now I know where it comes from. Yeah duh. Whoopee I’m a genius.

This is Morro Rock just up the coast from Los Osos. It was once an island but in the 40’s they built a jetty to it and mined it for rock. The mining is now done but they left the land bridge and so it’s accessible by car, foot, or wing. It’s a sanctuary for nesting seagulls and falcons. Old men sit out at the base of it all day with telescopes watching the goings on high above while giving the wives a little space back at the trailer, no doubt.

~ T Y P I C A L  D A Y  ~

Our days consist of John working out a bit at the local gym. I do some work at the house then meet him after he’s finished flirting with Buddy the surfer with the button nose at the front desk of the gym. We take a bike ride somewhere for lunch or visit San Luis Obispo which is about 12 miles down the road. Do you know that Obispo means bishop?

That’s Tommy up there smoking a straw which is still legal at the time of this writing. SLO: the place where smoking is illegal. Completely illegal in any public space. Not in a parking lot, not on the street, not on the sidewalk, not outdoors in a restaurant. And of course not inside any public building, either. Now THAT’S my kinda town! But it does make me wonder what else they’re quick to crack the whip on. This ain’t no liberal climes of the Bay Area.

Here’s a memento someone left at “Bubble Gum Alley.” It’s a slowly narrowing passageway stuck up with an ever fattening array of bubble gum wads. It smells like souring Juicy Fruit and the sight of it makes you want to laugh then retch. Someone has taken to sticking used condoms and tampons on the gum. Oh you crazy Americans always misbehaving.

Cafe life, SLO style. I ought to be smiling, right? Gore Vidal is dead. We lost Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Marvin Hamlisch and Gore in one year. How can I smile?

This made me smile. A vegetarian pasty from the Sloco Pasty Company. Yumm yumm. You’re looking at $9 worth of buttery crust filled with kale, pesto and garbanzos. That’s a broccoli stalk slaw with toasted sesame seeds and some sort of delicious and magical sauce for pasty dippin’. I’ll pay the price to have my last name initial put on my food. (I think the G stands for Green.)

This made John smile…a nice yellow smile with corn all stuck in his teeth. I love corn, but without dental floss at the ready, I won’t eat it. This corn gobbling was at the Avila Beach farmer’s market. EVERY DAY there is a farmer’s market somewhere around here. They’re more market than farmer, really…kind of a food booth fest and it ain’t all healthy and organic. There’s a line a block long for the BBQ ribs booth. Why, even the Republican National Party had a booth in SLO registering voters. Eeks. SLO makes Tucson look liberal. Why did I think it was liberal here? A weird tidbit about California: San Francisco and Los Angeles literally suck all the liberals to them like a tractor beam for the special people. The rest of the Golden States is populated with, well, the normal Americans who eat barbecue and vote Republican. With exceptions of course!

After the Avila Beach market it’s time for a walk on the pier to get away from the boomers dancing to Neil Diamond. Eeeeesh. To think I used to like that music.

I bought my friend Lois’ wetsuit. Do you think it’s a unisex model? It has no room for the junk up front and nice lines to emphasize one’s birthin’ hips. I don’t care. It fits quite well…except for that nagging tightness on the naughty bits (nothing some seriously cold water can’t fix).  I zip it up and strut right past the surfers looking at me like I lost my surfboard or something. I figure I’ll just tell them a shark ate it, if they ask.

I jump in the water and horse around like a kid in the waves. Flipping and giggling in the frothy white. I guess they call it body surfing. But at 48 it looks a little bit like a crazy guy in a woman’s wetsuit who got out of the asylum on a day pass. John stands guard watching me trying not to roll his eyes. (He refuses to try on the wetsuit.) I went swimming in the kelp beds the other day at Pirate’s Cove. I realize I’m incredibly happy in 1/4-inch of neoprene covering my body. It insulates me from cold, heat, keeps the sand off, I don’t need sunscreen and when I’m in the water I do something I never do: float. Everything is warm, soft, and squishy — all of this a rare treat for a skinny person who is always sinking to the bottom of the pool and complaining about hard chairs and drafts.

After all that fun, it’s time to head back into the fog bank-slash-anthill that is Los Osos. The truck makes its way past farms and fields toward the coast, making the transition from blue to gray. The colors fade and the temperature drops precipitously. We find our little cottage tucked under the whispering pines, crawl into bed and pile on the blankets knowing that in Tucson in August, it’s 106. This is very special indeed.

I think I’m going to put dental floss in my backpack now.



  1. Comment didn’t post. I’m trying again:

    The food sounds fantastic (and can’t believe you don’t eat corn-on-the-cob any chance you get — who the hell travels with dental floss??!), and don’t like the sound of Bubblegum Alley (yuk), but the photos and descriptions are gorgeous.

    And please don’t draw that false dichotomy distinction between Repubs and Dems. It used to mean something. It doesn’t anymore.

    • Actually, that’s a good point. I don’t cringe so much now seeing the Republicans when I know the Demos haven’t done much differently. I did see a group of Occupy folks walking by. That was encouraging.

  2. Hey, David! I’m used to being amazed by your photography — the B/W of your two shadows off the bridge is gasp-worthy. And I’m used to being moved to teariness (though I wasn’t this time). But I’m not used to LOLLing so much at your posts. The wetsuit para, though, made me audible in the next room (too bad you weren’t here to hear it). “But at 48 it looks a little bit like a crazy guy in a woman’s wetsuit…” = wonderful! I can relate to all of it except the need for junk-room between the legs and the unfamiliarity of being soft and squishy. For you, it’s a wetsuit. For me, it’s everyday life. I could float for Australia.
    BTW, I may be getting picky in my mid-middle age, but I wanted to edit out the self-deprecating comments at the end of several of your paragraphs here, especially the second and third ones. It’s not like you to sound insecure.


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