Cambria is wonderful and love Big Sur too!
The South Bay Professional Connection and the Holocaust memorial

Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn, Cambria, Hearst Castle, ya da ya da

By Joy A. Kennelly

Remind me not to drink a 24oz iced coffee from McDonald's again without asking for decaf. OY! Although I'm very tired, I can't sleep because of the caffeine coursing through my veins. Hopefully by writing, my brain will calm down and I can get some sleep. Busy week ahead.

If you've never been to Cambria, or Big Sur, you must put those locations on your must see places in California before you die. I was referred to the Bridge Street Inn Youth Hostel there years back by a good friend and always thought I'd make it up there one of these years.

Well, 2008 was the year. I was planning to hit a fam trip to Mexico, but certain things prevented me from taking full advantage of the week long escape. As a result, I opted for a shorter, yet just as satisfying, quick getaway which I so desperately needed.

Only four hours away from Los Angeles in time, but light years away in style and tempo I fell in love with the quaint small town of Cambria upon arriving. My youth hostel was a former church parsonage complete with bunkbeds, international guests, and children.

I wasn't expecting children for some reason and normally wouldn't have minded except for the fact the little boy who was only a room away woke up frequently throughout the night, first from a nightmare and then with a coughing fit which went on for quite a bit. Needless to say, I didn't get much rest.

My German bunk mate however, was smart and used ear plugs. I haven't traveled in so long that I forgot I even had them, or that I should consider using them. She, on the other hand, had been traveling for the past few weeks in much noisier places than this and was quite prepared. She is very cool and is going to hook me up with some art galleries in Munich. Thanks Jessica if you're reading this!

I also enjoyed meeting a very entertaining English chap and spontaneously had asked to go to dinner with him upon returning from touring Hearst Castle because I was so excited to share my day with someone after being alone within a group for so long.

I never invite men I don't know to dinner and didn't really know what to expect, but we had a very nice meal together. I'm very clueless on picking up clues that a man might be interested in me unless they hit me over the head with a shovel (actually a kiss normally is my first realization that there's even an attraction!), and didn't realize that might be the case when he invited me back to the hostel for a glass of wine which I should have accepted.

My loss. All because I really wanted to find a coffee house to see what the nightlife was like in Cambria. I should have just gone back with him because there 'aint no nightlife in Cambria. This small town's streets roll up about 9, 9:30pm! And I thought the South Bay was dead at night! Totally cracked me up.

What I loved about Cambria is that on my way home I popped into one of the quaint, naughty gift stores called "Dirty Laundry" run by two gay business partners and had a very entertaining chat with one of the gays, I mean guys. (Joseph, if you're reading this you know I love you man.:)

In any case, Joseph explained that similar to Hermosa Beach, there really wasn't a lot of stuff going on so people were very political up there too. Apparently there's a very strong conservative Christian contingency and at the other end of the spectrum, a very strong lesbian contingency. Needless to say, I'm not moving up there any time soon. LOL!

He explained too that SLO - (pronounced SLOW and the abbreviation of San Luis Obispo over 1/2 hour away) had a great entertaining Farmer's Market complete with live music and lots of socializing every Thursday evening which was basically the only "nightlife" apart from college bars in the area.

Again, not moving up there any time soon. It really is quaint and beautiful though. I think next time I might upgrade my lodging to the local B & B because although I really enjoyed meeting everyone who stayed there and it's very reasonable, I think I've outgrown the hostel environment.

Plus, this particular place was a little too eco-conscious for me - no paper towels, no paper napkins, bathroom sinks using recycled water from the clean water in the back of the toilet tank, and lots of recycling (it boggles the mind how many ways trash can be sorted!)

Plus, I just want to be able to sleep at night in the privacy of my own space while enjoying the company of others at breakfast or in the evenings. However, it's very popular and I recommend it if you're on a tight budget and can sleep well anywhere.

I just didn't know what to expect and it came so highly recommended I thought it might be a little more plush than it was. A youth hostel though - what did I really expect? Great for the serious traveler! Not the weekend wannabe traveler like I was this past weekend.

I've become spoiled and need basic creature comforts like heat in my room, peace and quiet, and no children waking me up in the middle of the night (unless they are mine and right now I don't have one-- at least not living with me.)

What cracked me up is the hours all the stores and galleries kept too up there. 10:30am open and 4:00pm or 5:00pm closing, or in the case of one place, whenever she felt like it! I caught the West end of the village the first day before racing off to take two tours of Hearst Castle and see the 45 minute movie.

I was really glad I saw both tours with the movie because it really put all the pieces together nicely. If you have the time and have never gone, I highly recommend Tour 1 and 3 together with time in between to sit and catch the film. That way you are introduced to the basic overview, get a deeper insight and then see more of the castle in perspective.

I was so disappointed my dinner companion, Roger, didn't want to see my pix, but hey, English bluntness being as it may, I appreciated his honesty. Once I have them downloaded, I'll share them with you. What cracked me up is that he had offered to give me his extra memory card for my camera, but when I didn't return for a glass of wine, the offer was withdrawn. I am so clueless sometimes. OY!

The last day I drove up to Big Sur to re-visit all the places I had stayed nine years ago while pregnant with my son. It was up there that I had made my decision to pursue having an open adoption and as a result, this place has special memories and feelings for me.

I wasn't sure it would be like what I remembered or not and drove the winding road up not knowing what to expect. I felt like I was on a pilgrimage of sorts because I had fallen in love with the magic of the redwoods and beautiful locations and wondered what might have changed in nine years time.

Although there had been threats of rain, instead I drove up the winding single lane highway for most of the way in a deep fog. It was so thick you couldn't see over the cliffs to the gorgeous scenery below. I wondered if I had imagined it being as gorgeous because I couldn't see anything.

Soon I burst into bright sunshine and there ahead of me was a beautiful, breathtaking expanse of the greenest blue water I'd ever seen with ragged rocks jutting out all over the ocean and coastline. It was absolutely stunning. My little camera can't capture half the beauty, but hopefully you'll see it in person one day.

There was the coolest old timey bridge too in the far distance around one of the windy curves and I really wished I could have taken a picture to show you. However, since my memory card was full, it was either delete more, or just commit it to my personal memory which I chose instead.

As I got closer and closer to Big Sur it all came flooding back. I had made this same trip nine years ago for a long Thanksgiving weekend getaway with my good friend and fellow birthmother, Emily. She had inherited some money and opted to treat me to a weekend I will never forget as a special treat for being pregnant.

She is/was one of the main reasons I chose adoption because she shared her very personal and oftentimes, painful story of her own open adoption. She helped me to see it could be done and really was the best choice for me and my child at the time painful though it was.

She had booked two different locations for us to experience. I'm really glad because the first was very basic and not really to our liking at all. It was the State Park accommodations and when I visited this trip, it was still going strong. Nice gift store and cafe too.

We then had moved over to Post Ranch Inn and to this day that is my favorite of all places I have stayed  before or since. I was dying to go back and see if my memories were true. We had the best time there. Everyone got to know us since we stayed so long. Plus, I was 5 months pregnant and Emily was a real character which made us stand out from other guests.

It also helped that we were the youngest ones staying there since it was, if I remember correctly, about $400 a night back then and up towards $1500 a night for certain rooms now. Pure, pure, pure luxury. If you are looking for the ultimate place to run away and hide for rest and relaxation away from everything, then look no further.

Post Ranch Inn is small, intimate, eco-friendly and very well-suited to the quality of life that is Big Sur. It's easy to miss if you're not looking because it's set far away from the road with a sign that isn't easily visible in certain directions. The long, winding road up to the main area is open and inviting with a small pond and beautiful meadows. We saw deer one morning grazing.

When we were staying there a Los Angeles Magazine writer was covering the Post Ranch Inn for the first time and often looked at us like what the hell are they doing here since we were so out of place among all the rich and famous.

If I remember properly we were there while Jon Favreau was there. We didn't want to bug him, but it was fun to see that we were enjoying the type of life that a celebrity would too.

I kind of secretly hoped some of the same staff would still be there and remember me, but that was a dream. However, everything else was just as I remembered. You can't just enter the property to look, but you can go to dine in their well-appointed restaurant with amazing cliff views of the entire ocean through the floor to ceiling glass enclosed dining area. STUNNING! And the food is delicious too.

I chose to enjoy my lunch there and everything came rushing back while I was sitting eating. I almost remembered what I had been wearing the memories were so strong. I distinctly remembered wavering on what to do with my unborn child because I wasn't ready to parent, but also wasn't prepared to never see him again.

It was at Post Ranch Inn that I had the time to sort out all my thoughts and feelings once and for all to make the decision I felt was best for my son at the time. He may never visit Big Sur, but I hope one day he does if only to appreciate the tremendous beauty and peace this area gives to those who visit.

I remembered going to the infinity pool and meeting some fun couple we promised to stay in touch with, but never did. I remembered the gorgeous slate covered bathrooms and comfortable, yet stylish room with beautiful furnishings. Hearing satellite radio for the first time. Having the best massages by their trained staff.

Eating the best meals there and all over Big Sur. We had visited Ventana Inn for dinner one night and bumped into one of my old classmates, Judy Holstein. She used to beat me up and I blurted that out when she introduced herself because she recognized me. We both laughed and she apologized for years past. She of course is totally different and we really enjoyed seeing each other again.

She was up visiting on her honeymoon with her new husband. We caught up and spent a great time reminiscing old times. For all I know, she still lives here in the South Bay, but we never stayed in touch after that random visit.

When I visited the Ventana Inn this time the reception staff were extremely gracious and gave me all kinds of materials and information. Turns out if you're a CA resident you get a special discount during the off-season and it's only $275 a night. Apparently April is generally quite booked as a result since it's the last month before high-season.

I love this place too because it's so pretty, but in a totally different way. Whereas Post is small, spread out and extremely private; Ventana is more like a standard luxury hotel that is more compact, but with only 20 more rooms.

They have a wonderful day spa on site called The Spa whichy was very popular as I was walking in to reception. Everyone, men and women were walking by just wearing robes like this was normal attire while on vacation. I guess it is!

I enjoyed visiting one of the art galleries on my way in to town too. It's called Coast Galleries and is one of four this owner owns throughout the country. However, he's ready to retire and all 27 acres are currently on the market. Know anyone with money to burn, but a true eco heart? Send them his way.

I hope whoever buys it keeps the gallery going at least because this owner has the best art collection. Many interesting pieces and it would be so sad to lose it. However, may the best bid win. I would love to see my artists represented in there!

Back in Cambria there is another wonderful gallery that has very wonderful art on display with the most helpful, informative, kind woman manning the upstairs gallery named Lili. If you go, tell her I sent you and say hello. She knows everything there is to know about the artists and their fascinating backgrounds and work. Sorry, I don't know where her card is right now and will have to tell you later.

I can't wait to share all the details with my artists! If you want to know too, either call her, or hire me!:)
I think the caffeine is finely out of my blood and I'm tired, or else my brain has stopped wanting to write any more, so I think I will bid you adieu and write more later.

Have a great Monday morning and seriously consider making a trip to Big Sur and Cambria. Trust me, you'll be so happy you did! I am a new woman after this brief respite.

Ready for my next trip! Where to go, where to go? It's in my blood now. Gotta start hitting more places from my travel Bucket List.:)

Have a good one. TTFN.


LA Blogger Gal - Katy

Hiya Joy!! It was really great to meet with you and chat the other night. We most definitely need to do a bloggie get-together. And if you're seriously considering BlogHer, just let me know.

As for this wonderfully relaxing, sounding trip, I can wait to see some photos. I've only driven through that part of CA.

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