Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mt. Wilson Trail Race - A decision made over margaritas!

It seems that drinking margaritas often emboldens me to make decisions that my normal, fairly pragmatic self would never make. First case in point: a few years ago, while drinking margaritas with Michael in a foreign country, we decidedthat it would be a great idea to get married. Almost five years later, I definitely count that as the best decision of my adult life, and almost every time I raise a salted rim to my lips, I make a silent toast to that cactus juice queen, tequila.

The most recent occasion in which tequila played a central role in an inspired decision was this past week. Michael and I met some friends/colleagues (another couple) at a Mexican dive in Pasadena. The guy in the relationship is an avid outdoorsy person and is quite the runner; the female is also a runner, but she and I share very similar woes - ACL surgery and some issues post-surgery. Anyway, it's now a tradition for them to run the annual Mt. Wilson Trail Race which takes place over Memorial Day weekend. I originally wanted to run the Mt. Wilson race, but then I had my months of major foot/knee injury this past year, so the date came and went and the race filled up. After talking to them about the race on Tuesday night and listening to their encouraging "You should do! Yeah, yeah, yeah!", I woke up around 5:30 am on Wednesday morning and ran up a brutal hill. That was my condition - if I could force myself to get up and run more or less 2 miles up an ass-kicker of a hill, then I would show up Saturday morning for the race. I don't know if many people have seen the musical "Avenue Q", but this musical mentions these little figure called "The bad idea bears" that come to you when you've been drinking and they make you think that a horrible idea is a really great idea.

That was kind of how I felt yesterday morning when I arrived in Sierra Madre, CA, a lovely little hamlet in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. The Mt. Wilson race is apparently the second-oldest trail race in the country, started in 1908. I arrived without a number, but hoping that a cute new haircut and my sad eyes would convince the race director to give me a number. Or that one of the few 300 racers wouldn't show up and then I could run as he/she. No dice - the race director held firm and encouragingly said that I could sign up for next year's race in February.

Well, I had not dragged my ass out of bed at an early hour on a holiday weekend only to be turned away so easily. Rob said that a friend of his ran the race illegally last year, so I determined that I would jump in the race just a few blocks up. Which was exactly what I did - when I saw Hilary, I started to run behind her. After running around a bend, we suddenly transitioned from a street to a road and then trail. This was my first trail run experience, and I had no idea what to expect, although I knew that it would be an "experience". Hilary even called it 'terrifying', yet here I was, running it not even for a time or photos but just for fun. As the trail lost NO time in ascending swiftly, I decided that I was certifiably CRAZY. Somehow, a 2,000 foot climb in 4.3 miles seemed like an impossible task, but turning around was equally daunting because we were running single-file. At times, the trail widened and other times it almost seemed too narrow for one person, and the thought of a misstep and a fall did make me shudder on several occasions. Meanwhile, the climb up, up, up was fairly relentless, but once I passed the 2.3 mile marker, I thought that I could probably make it the rest of the way. It was a joyful moment when I reached the turn-around and the boy scout troop (no idea what number) cheered me on and told me "Run around the pole! Run around the pole!". I happily ran around the pole and then headed down, down, down.
While the ascent was often broken up with periods of walking on my part, the run was terrifyingly fast as the mountain seemed to pull people down at a lightening fast pace. I felt that I was racing along, but it seemed that all the people whom I had passed on the way up just flew by on the descent. I was more than happy to let them pass at that point. Again, the idea of falling and flying off the mountain held little appeal to me!
It was a great run down though, and it felt strange when my feet transitioned from trail to pavement. I ran most of the way towards the finish line, and when I was two blocks out or so, I ducked off the street and hopped on the sidewalk, slowing my pace down to a walk. If I had officially run the race, I would have finished in about 1.41 or so, which seems slow for an 8.6 mile run, but then when I throw in the 2,000 feet up, that sounds like a much better time! As usual, when I was finished, I felt so elated! It was also great because I did know 4 other people running, so I enjoyed cheering for the 2 people I knew who came in after me, and also clapping and shouting for other individuals who were finishing. I rarely hang out at races as a spectator, but I do know how it lifts the spirit to have people, even if they are strangers, cheering you on.
I would definitely call the Mt. Wilson Trail Race an "experience". Like Hilary said, there are moments that are terrifying, especially when the racers in the front start to come down and what is a trail for 1 person suddenly becomes a two-way thorough-fare. My body feels pretty wrecked today - sore in placed that I would have never expected, like my neck and shoulders - but I have no regrets about it and would love to run it legitimately next year!
Finally, no photos of me, but here is a placard of the trail that is posted up in downtown Sierra Madre:

Finally, that was a crazy 'first' for me - not only was it my first time on the Mt. Wilson trail, but this also counts as my first trail race, and I might officially be hooked!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The end is near!

I realize that "The Rapture" was supposed to happen last Saturday, but no such luck. In my own school calendar world, however, the end does not refer to an apocalyptic event but to that final day when the campus is final free of children, big and small, and we (the faculty) can finally exhale. There are different ways to measure "the end" - is it graduation? The last day of meetings?
Personally, I will exhale on Sunday, June 4, around 9:00 pm. At that point, graduation will have concluded (nice use of the future perfect tense! How often does that happen?), the students will hopefully be on the bus, and then I will wave goodbye to them as the bus doors close and the buses pull away. And then, at that point, the students no longer in my charge. At that point, I will go to the faculty gathering and drink wine and eat lots of coconut shrimp, if there are any left.
In the meantime, yesterday was the last day of classes, and I have my final review session with my intermediate students today in about 30 minutes. They have been GREAT classes. This year, rather than spending the entire final week or two reviewing, I assigned a project. Now, almost any teacher will tell you that the IDEA of a project is often better than the final product. I had major doubts about this project as the students waded into it, and I began to regret that I had not given them more review days. Suprisingly, the final projects were excellent! They were fake news reports; many of the students took a current event and then totally embellished it. One student had me rolling in the aisles of the class with laughter thanks to the "infomercial" for "Bigote en una lata" (Moustache in a can) that he included in his news report. It was actually a great way to end the year with these students.
In the meantime, I am quite excited about the holiday weekend. Major plans abound!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crazy-busy week in review!

After a really low-key, "tranquilo" weekend which I spent grading and watching multiple episodes of "Law and Order", Michael returned from northern CA on Sunday night with a visitor! His brother spent a few days with us, so Michael took Monday and Tuesday off to spend time with him. As much as I wanted to hang out and eat my way through LA, no such luck. I'm in the final stretch of the school year which is not the ideal time for a day off. Despite every single museum in LA being closed, they enjoyed driving from the east side to the west side and back. They also ate at one of our favorite Mexican places, LoterĂ­a Grill, TWICE on Monday. First, they went to the food stand which is at the LA Farmers Market where they demolished two plates of chilaquiles. Then, we went to the restaurant in Hollywood - I got to tag along this time, and we ate our way through several plates - quesadillas which are unlike any quesadillas that I've ever had, enchiladas with mole, chiles rellenos and sopes. All good stuff. On Tuesday, they had more luck with museums, and we ate at my new favorite place, "Palate" in Glendale, CA. Michael and I celebrated his birthday there and loved the experience, but we had forgotten how absolutely amazing the food and the entire experience are.
We rarely eat out twice a week, but it was nice to have family in town and to veer from the norm.
After Michael's brother left, I then prepared for a busride, deep conversations and an overnight trip with students Thursday-Friday. I always chafe a bit before this trip, and some years it ends up being a better experience than others. This year, I actually enjoyed the trip, maybe because of the students, maybe because of the faculty-bonding moments. I tend to be exhausted and grumpy by this time of the year, have zero patience and can lean towards the bitchy-side. However, this trip left me feeling warm and fuzzy about the kids and my colleagues. That almost NEVER happens at the end of the year. Staying up until 2:00 am while drinking and talking with my cabin-mate may have something to do with the generous feeling towards life and people. Whatever it is, I'll take it!
Yesterday, I returned on the bus around 3:00 and cleaned up enough for a parent-party at 6:00. Not a parent-party like I am a parent. No, no, these are the parents of the students whom I teach. I really hesitated to RSVP yes because I thought that I'd be too tired and grumpy. However, I rallied and, like the trip, ended up enjoying the experience. I have finally realized that all I have to do is ask the parents about their children, and they will happily chat away. I did exit early, and Michael and I left the suburb bubble and headed to Echo Park in Los Angeles.
Total decadence - ANOTHER night eating out! We went to Masa, a pizza place on Sunset that serves deep-dish pizza and good beer on tap. I think the last time we ate at Masa was well over a year ago. In the past, we've been some of the few customers, but it was hopping last night! We ate our fill in pizza, brought lots home with us to eat for the rest of the weekend, and then we crashed around 9:30 pm. Total bliss!
It was a bit of a random week - going out three times felt decadent, and we just stocked up on all sorts of fruits and vegetables at the farmers' market, committing ourselves to a week of good eats at home!
In the meantime, I need to tweak a final exam, grade my students' FINAL ESSAY OF THE YEAR and try to stay motivated for the next 4 days. I can seriously *taste* summer - it is almost here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A lucky Friday

Hello spring and happy Friday 13th!
A rather ominous date, but in the Spanish- speaking world, Friday 13 isn't the unlucky day but TUESDAY the 13th. I reminded my students of that fact as they prepared for their AP Exam - the very last one of the year. For most of the students, it was the very last AP exam of their illustrious high school career. It's a long year and a bit of a slog at the end, but the students whom I saw after the exam felt confident about the experience which is always a good sign.
This marks the end of the class, and yesterday was the last day of senior classes, so I am officially down a class for the next two weeks. No complaints on my end! It is bittersweet to see the seniors go and to end the year with them, especially with these kids, but right now, I confess, I am enjoying a bit more peace and free time.
The end of senior classes and the blissfully spring-like weather serve as auspicious signs of summer, and I am more than ready to enjoy the laid-back summer months.
In anticipation, a package arrived in the mail, and I now have my new favorite 'gear':

No, not the dog - although Milo was looking pretty cute! No, my awesome wetsuit! Ocean and lake swims - here I come!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A rest day!

Happy Sunday to everyone - and Mother's Day to all who are reproductively inclined.
I would like to brag about all the gifts that our dogs lavished upon me today, but no such luck. They were more interested in their own walk(s) than bringing me breakfast in bed. Typical!
I know that I mentioned that the euphoria from the tri eventually wore off - sad but true. Then, I had to face the harsh reality of May. First of all, it is/was May, not June, so while summer is right around the corner, as a teacher, my students and I have many hoops through which we must jump before we can celebrate. It was unusually warm - in the 90's (!), so that made it even harder to concentrate during the many hours of meetings that I endured last week. To top it all off, I felt that I was on the verge of being fired. Slight hyperbole there, but I did have to deal with an "issue" that kept my mind from being completely at peace. Fortunately, that came to a resolution on Friday, a fact for which I was quite grateful. Friday did not, however, mean "weekend" for me. I ended up spending 6 hours or so at school yesterday - about 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. 'Tis the season for APs and other fun activities!
So, when I woke up today at 6:00 am, I happily wiggled my toes and stayed and bed. There was nothing that I just *HAD* to do! Michael and I eventually woke up at the early-ish hour of 7:00 am and stopped by our favorite coffee place on the way to the Farmer's Market. We hadn't been to the Sunday market in AGES! It felt great to seriously stock up on fresh fruit and veggies - lots of kale, fresh garlic, two bags of oranges (the last week!), tons of strawberries, tomatoes and asparagus - those were/are the highlights. This past week was fairly pitiful in terms of cooking 'real' food, so this will be a welcome change.
Finally, I've spent most of the day on the couch grading, watching some "Law and Order" episodes, considering a nap, grading some more. I did go for a relaxing swim and it felt great to be in the pool. Now, I may go back to considering a nap. Or a dog walk.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
It's nice to have a seriously unplanned, unstructured Sunday. I may toast to that concept as I cook dinner tonight!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Olympic Tri!

Shew! It's been a busy week - welcome to May! Welcoming in the month with my first triathlon was a momentous way to mark it. By now, of course, the euphoria has worn off, but it did last for a good 36 hours.
Back to race day - Sunday. We woke up pretty early (5:30) and set out around 6:15 or so, without coffee! When we arrived in Paso Robles, around 7:00, we searched for a Starbucks. It wasn't my first preference for a coffee stop, but we decided that it was better than nothing. So, coffee in hand, we pushed on and arrived at Lake San Antonio around 8:00. We were far from being the first people there! Lines of parked cars had already formed, and we joined up. Before dealing with my gear, we (or I) cooked our breakfast - a fail-proof meal of oatmeal. At least we could say that we used some of our camping gear.
Around 8:00 am, I lined up all of my gear and made sure that I had everything to take to the transition area. It was a long-ish walk down the hill - about a mile. Most people were biking it, but since my cycling skills still suck (in my opinion), we walked the bike and all of my other gear down. I had images dancing through my mind of crashing on the way down to the transition area, and I wanted to avoid that situation if at all possible. Once we arrived at the transition area, I was on my own - Michael couldn't enter and help me out in any way, shape or form.
I felt SO intimidated when I walked through the aisles and aisles of bike racks. Once I found my number and reserved spot, I realized that someone had put all of her stuff where mine rightfully belonged. Oh well! I managed as best I could - racked the bike (the wrong way first, and then I corrected it), put my gear out. Then, a volunteer 'marked me' - wrote #7148 all over my arms and legs, in addition to a nice big 39 on my right calf. Am I really that old?! At that point, it was 9:30 and the race had begun! For the more competitive athletes, that was.
I watched some of the race starts with Michael - here is a fun photo of the starting line:

My start wasn't until 10:30, so I had plenty of time to stretch and relax, and I even had my leg taped for free! I felt kind of cool and almost like a bad-ass with the kinesio tape in place! By 10:00, I decided that I needed to head back to the transition area and get serious about gearing up. I put on my wetsuit and headed out to wait for my start. I found Michael before the start, and he gave me some of his sports drink.

I don't look as nervous as I feel here! Actually, I think that I was just ready to start!

Around 10:25, the group ahead of me started (Women, 34-39, Group A - I was in Group B), and we got to dive into the lake to practice a quick swim before our 10:30 start time. I swam out and the water felt cold but good! I stuck my face in the water and swam around 25-50 yards before turning back. I was ready! When they counted us down, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, I didn't make a power move into the lake, but I did not hang back and linger either. Before I knew it, I was in the water, jostling around with other people for about the first 100 yards until we spread out. Although it was a bit of a rough beginning, bodies hitting bodies, no one kicked me in the face, and I soon felt comfortable in the water, breathing pretty easily. I even passed a few people! After 3 right turns, I turned left and headed to land, knowing that 1500 meters was coming up soon. Once my feet hit the surface, I stood up and kind of ran/waddled out of the water and up the hill to the transition area.

After a VERY slow transition, I ran my bike to the "Mount Line" and rather ungracefully hopped on it, ready to begin the long climb up "Lynch Hill", ascending 400 feet or so within the first mile. I was nervous about the hills on the course, and they basically were relentless - one after another. For the first time EVER, I found myself thankful for all of the hills around where I live because they definitely prepared me for the sometimes rolling, sometimes steep hills of the Wildflower course. There were tons of climbs - and descents! Despite the difficulty at times, it was a beautiful area, and once we turned onto the main road, I actually decided that I was going to enjoy the ride. So, it wasn't the fastest ride, but I wasn't the slowest one out there.

It was a straight out-and-back, nice and easy, in terms of the course lay-out. Michael caught me on the final downhill, headed back to the transition zone and I gave him the hand:

Here is a lay-out of the course - see, wicked hills:

Once I dismounted and walked/ran the bike to my area, I racked the bike, changed socks and shoes, put on more sunscreen (I think that took two minutes) and soon I was literally off and running. Again, more hills, almost a constant uphill grade until the final mile. Ironically, because I hadn't run much AT ALL for my training, that was my best leg. I felt fan-fing-tastic for the run, which was a loop through mixed trails and roads, and I hauled on it. In fact, when I hit the 5 mile mark, I decided to push my pace up a notch more, and a spectator cautioned me "Leave some for the finish line!". Not to worry, there was plenty there!
Michael, again, strategically placed himself and managed to take a picture of me with a huge grin. At that point, I was on the downhill and had less than a mile to go - why not smile?!

I was probably half a mile to the finish line, maybe less, when I rounded a bend and had a full view of the lake. I've never had this experience in a race, but I started to cry. Knowing that I had done it, despite all of the frustrations and the really DOWN moments that I experienced in training, it suddenly hit me, and I became so emotional that I couldn't help crying. It totally took me by surprise because I am not an overly emotional person by nature, but I can't even describe how HUGE it felt to me to finish the race.
I had a strong run across the finish line, and I honestly can't remember the last time I was so euphoric. Maybe my wedding?!
I was so excited and, as I said, pretty emotional after the race. Michael supported me in such an amazing way over the past few months and on race day. I do feel like giving an Oscar speech and saying, "I couldn't have done it without you". Same for my friend Katie who gave me gear, packing lists and tons of advice.
Once the race was over, I felt exhausted and deliriously happy, and I was also suddenly sad that it was all over. So strange, I know! I also had a total pang, knowing that even if I sign up for the Wildflower next year, it won't be new to me. I didn't feel a huge sense of loss, but a small one, knowing that the rawness of the experience was/is so fleeting.
Obviously there is no regret - just a twinge of something that isn't sadness but something else. It's hard to describe.

Finally something more concrete, my splits:
Swim - 33:58
Bike - 1:51:29 (super slow, but I did stop and probably lost 2 minutes!)
Run - 54:56 (not too terribly bad for a hilly course after a swim and a bike, in the heat of the day!)

My transition times - TOTALLY sucked! I do blame the fact that I lathered up with sunscreen after the swim and the bike. The bonus to that was that I did not suffer from a sunburn anywhere! I suppose that I can sacrifice a slower transition time for that.

One final note - I really loved the experience of the tri. I am not sure if it was this tri in particular that made it such a magical, wonderful experience - a fun getaway for Michael and me, lots of great energy and major support from friends and even people I didn't know (the spectators were amazing!). I don't want to make triathlons a "hobby" because it is a very, very, very expensive one, but I *have* already signed up for my next race! Santa Barbara, here I come!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Central Coast Highlights

So, before discussing Saturday's excursion, I must add a few pictures from Friday.
Here I am, about to leave our lovely little corner of the world, headed off with the bike strapped in and ready to roll!

We failed to document the pathetic-looking tent, but check out my big grin in the Motel 6, showing off my water bottles! It was so nice to not have to schlep to and from a bathroom or water faucet! Cheers to that! And there's a bed in the room?! Total luxury!

After a restless night's sleep on my end but still better than being cold in a tent, we woke up at a decent hour and headed out for coffee and adventure. We enjoyed our coffee while taking a walk on the beach, and then we returned to the motel where we got ready for the day. I ended up changing into biking gear and gave Michael a "go-bag" for me with clothes into which I could change. Then, I set off for a nice bike ride from San Luis Obispo to the coast. I hadn't been on my bike since my flat tire and a tune-up following that, and it felt great! Shifting was so much easier, and it just seemed to be a cleaner and tighter ride. I did not push myself very hard, but I enjoyed moving around my legs. Plus, the CA Central Coast offers a great landscape for cycling - nice rolling hills, farm land, light traffic. It was great!

After a 40-minute ride or so, I met up with Michael who was waiting for me. At/In the car, I changed out of my cycling clothes, and we were ready for our day's adventure! We first stopped at Morro Bay, just north of where we were. We took a nice walk along the bay, saw some people kayaking and enjoyed the scenery.
That was pretty much the rest of our day too!

Michael likes to taunt and torment seagulls. This one willingly posed for a picture or two:

The major surprise upon which we stumbled was just north of the Hearst Castle at Piedras Blancas Beach. There was a sign posted that read "Elephant Seals". So, we decided - why not stop?! What else do we have to do today? And we thought that it might be cool to see an elephant seal or two. So, we parked and walked to the elephant seal viewing area, and what a surprise! There were TONS of them all along the beach, sunning themselves, napping, getting in and out of the water. Some even talked to each other, seemingly. I felt that I could watch them all day.!
Obviously I was pretty psyched about them.

Someone told us that all of the seals there were juvenile males, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The bulls - or adult males - generally weigh around 4,000 pounds. The two guys below are practicing their 'battles' to establish dominance. Just like men everywhere...

After a considerable amount of oohing and aahing on our part, we begrudgingly left the area, heading east to Lake San Antonio. The drive took over an hour, but it wasn't a bad jaunt, lots of rolling hills that are still green! When we finally arrived at the park, it was show time! Sort of. I had some business to attend to - pick up my race packet and also attend a pre-race clinic. We didn't take photos of the park, and I fear that my words cannot fully describe how many people there were - coming in, leaving, some cyclists finishing up their leg of the Long Course which was Saturday, tons of people still running their final leg, and plenty of spectators just hanging out and cheering for the athletes.
We parked the car and walked down the hill to the "Exposition" area - that was where all the fun happens: food and drink vendors, lots of outdoor gear, live music, people hanging out after their race, wandering around with medals and gear and family and friends hugging them. I bought a cap/hat (see below!) which I officially love, picked up my race packet with all of my different numbers and bibs and swim cap, and then I attended the pre-race clinic. That was a HUGE help because not only did the guy running it talk about rules and regulations, he also gave us tips for the race, telling us what time to arrive, more or less, and then he walked us through the course, describing each leg.
Some of his information was basic but a good reminder. For instance - the bicycling helmet MUST be strapped on before leaving the transition area. Or, for the swim, put the goggles on first and then the swim cap so that you don't lose the goggles if someone hits you. All good stuff for me to hear.

(Here I am with my new spangled hat; the transition area is behind me - rows and rows of equipment!)

After the clinic, I actually felt really confident that I would be able to finish Sunday's race, despite his comment about first time-tri people who were doing Wildflower as their FIRST ever tri. "Brave souls" he said, which I decided to shrug off and focus on dinner, which we ate back in San Luis Obispo. At that point, it was fairly late, we were tired and ready for bed! Before crashing for the evening, we packed up everything and I also prepped my gear bag for Sunday, checking and double checking socks, shoes, energy stuff (is it food?), water bottles, camel back, and more. Then, I popped a Tylenol PM and managed to get some shut-eye before the big day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

When things fortuitously don't go as planned...

First things first: I finished my first-ever tri!
Race and weekend recap to come.

Second thing: I open up my web browser today and see that Bin Laden is dead. Crazy!

But to pick up where I left off, the whole camping and competing thing. Thanks to a friend who did the Wildflower a few years ago (twice - she's a beast!), I had several packing lists and kept checking them and crossing off items that we had and were ready to go. One significant item, of course, is a tent, and we possess not one, not even two but THREE tents. Mind you, we really only make good use of one, our backpacking/hiking tent.
For this trip, however, we took our car camping tent which is a Coleman, not great but works fine. The last time we used it, I confess, was two summers ago when we road tripped with our dogs and they slept in the tent with us (they were usually drugged on Benadryl while we stuck to beer as our drug of choice).
We left Friday afternoon, as soon as I could possibly walk from school to home, change and finish the final packing stuff. The trip up was easy - except for the many bathroom stops because I was trying to stay really hydrated, so that meant a lot of peeing! We arrived at Lake San Antonio, a state park, around 7:00. It was a ZOO! I have never seen camping like this. As we drove around the camping area, I realized why this was called the "Woodstock of Triathlons". Cars were parked in wherever they could go and then tents were set up all over the place. Michael said that it looked like a triathlete refugee camp. I realize that may be a somewhat offensive comment, but it seemed very apt. It was so crazy!
We finally found a place and started to unpack. First things first: the tent! We got it out and started to set it up, and then scratched our heads' many times. We seemed to be short at least one set of significant poles, maybe even two. We decided "What the hell", we'd just make do with a lopsided structured. And then we looked for the top of the tent, a VERY important component because the temperatures were already dropping and it was chilly. We looked in the car, around the tent stuff, UNDER the tent that we had tried to set up. Nope, nothing.
Apparently, we left the top of the tent, along with the other sets of poles, at home. The first sentiment that hit was embarrassment - I couldn't *believe* that we had made such a ROOKIE error!
We looked at each other, each of us contemplating our options, and then we seemed to both agree - head back into town and look for a motel. Once we arrived in Paso Robles and had cellphone service, I started calling around. I knew that there would be nothing available in Paso, but finally called further south, in San Luis Obispo, and a luxurious Motel 6 had a room for both nights - Friday and Saturday.
We immediately made a reservation, and then we headed to Artisan, the restaurant where we ate with my parents at the end of March. There, we ended up having a glass of wine and sharing a cheese plate before we headed to SLO (as it's known) and crashing for the night.
Even though we were at a dumpy little Motel 6, we both agreed that we were SO happy that we had forgotten half the tent. So much for being hard-core!