June 4, 2020

Living At The Beach Part 1

Off to the beach in Monterey California for a month! Part 1 of 2.

Living At The Beach Part 1

We've been trying to decide for a few months what to do this summer.

It's been complicated by the virus response with travel being limited or shut down, businesses closed, and restrictions all around.

A week ago we listed out all the ideas we could think of, and what came to the top of the list was spending a month at Pajaro Dunes in California. This is the beach Mitzi went to as a child with her mom, aunt, and sisters. And the beach I went to as a child with my family many times.

I recently started baking bread from scratch, learning by doing. We decided to bring all our bread making supplies with us. In preparation I ordered some bread bowl coverings. When they came I was upstairs programming so Mitzi modeled it and Maddy photographed it and sent it to me to let me know they had arrived.

The morning we left to start our drive from St. George to Pajaro Dunes, we had a nice conversation with Lizzie about life choices. She is very wise for her age and we are glad she is making wise life choices.

We drove through the hot and arid Mojave Desert and while the car was charging, had a bite to eat at Mojave Thai Cuisine. Fresh basil roll where the basil was super flavorful. Mango sticky rice where the mango was perfectly ripe, deliciously soft, and powerfully flavorful.

Mizti was bummed when she realized halfway through the day that she had forgotten her iPad and pillows. This is very rare. She got talking to Lizzie and was so focused on the conversation that she forgot to go back in our room to pick up the few last things she had gathered for the trip.

I wanted to get her a new iPad using the money that our new product Lifestyles Podium has brought in. She contributed significantly to the product in many ways: supporting me spending countless hours during the day and night for 7 months designing and programming, consulting with me on design questions and how best to solve them, encouraging me when I was discouraged and overwhelmed, learning to use the app, helping coordinate with Sydney on training and creating tutorials.

It's been a shared project and a big success, so using some of the money it's created to get her a new iPad is a fun way to celebrate our accomplishment.

We stopped in Bakersfield California after about 6 hours of travel and headed over to Costco to purchase the iPad. Costco is currently requiring face masks so we donned them and entered the store for the birth of our new iPad.

We stayed at Homewood Suites where they offer a light dinner. On our trip to Missouri we stayed at one and they had these delicious pulled pork sandwiches. This one had pulled pork sliders. Not quite as good but they hit the spot.

The next day we continued our drive to the coast.

We made a charging stop at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. What a fun place! We got some pastries and old fashioned gum.

As we were driving over Pacheco Pass I remembered there was a fruit stand shopping place there but wasn't sure exactly where. Memory served me well. A minute later we came across Casa de Fruta. I haven't seen this place for 35 years!

We made a stop and picked up some wonderful fruits. Santa Clara County is requiring face masks so ... we donned them again.

After another 45 minutes of driving, we arrived at Pajaro Dunes, checked into our condo, and we are so so so happy to be at the beach!

Around 4:30p we went out to charge the Tesla. It was in a Target parking lot. We found it strange that all the stores along the shopping center were boarded up. They were closed. There were police around, and lots of cars zipping through the parking lot.

We thought, "This world has gone mad! We went from playing virus for a few months to now, a few days ago, suddenly everyone is playing violence and the virus seems forgotten. Is there no sanity left?"

We walked around the stores. It was an eery feeling, just really odd. We went back to the car and stayed there until it was done charging.

At 5:03p Mitzi called a sushi restaurant and placed an order for pickup. While we were waiting for the food another lady in line got talking to Mitzi.

She said that earlier in the day a threat was going around social media that there was going to be a violent demonstration in Watsonville against the police around the Target area. So the stores there protected their windows with plywood and closed down.

Oh, that's making more sense. Kind of. Later in the evening I found this article:

Police taking ‘barbaric protest’ threats seriously | The Pajaronian
Watsonville Police say they are taking seriously threats made on social media of a “barbaric protest” that is set to begin at the Overlook Shopping Center on Main Street at 5pm.

Sydney pointed out this from the article, “Police are asking everyone to stay out of the area 😂😂😂”.

And then she said, "They’re like these Tesla owners are their own breed of people 😂".

And then she said, "Don’t mind us, just living our best lives haha".

We had a really good laugh at all of this! Sometimes we can be so so clueless!

We got our sushi, took it back to the condo, and had a really nice dinner on the balcony overlooking the ocean. Peace and tranquility are back.

(Mitzi here:  This is probably a good time to comment on all the grey hair!  It's time!  I'm ready to grow it out and enjoy my silver threads :). So here's to weird hair stripes and shorter hairstyles over the next 18 months!)

Mitzi makes me a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit every morning. When we have a ripe mango she goes to all the work of cutting it for me. It's divine!

The next morning Mitzi went for a walk along the beach. Wow she looks great! 1960's sophistication and beach fun coolness all wrapped up together! She collected some beautiful shells and captured a wonderfully composed picture of the rocks and the beach just outside our condo.

For lunch Mitzi boiled up an artichoke. We talked about how amazing that plant is. How does a leaf on the outside grow large and rugged while on the inside they are small and delicate? This pattern is repeated over and over again. Then there's the beautiful purple tint on the inside leaves that start green at the base and fade into purple. Over and over again the design is replicated in each artichoke.

I got right to bread making this morning. The leaven I started last night was perfect. This weather and temperature seem perfect for the yeast. The starter and leaven are very active and bubbly.

This is definitely the most successful loaf yet! I have another batch of dough rising in the fridge that we'll bake tomorrow morning. In the mean-time, we fully fully enjoyed this one!

Mitzi loves toasting the bread, adding honey and blueberries. Yum yum yum.

While the bread was baking we took a walk along the beach. Our condo is in the group of buildings behind us.

The windows had a layer of salt so Mitzi cleaned them, improving the clarity of the view. We are loving it here.

June 6, our second full day here. Another bread baking. This was prepared yesterday with the other loaf, with a different recipe and process. It sat in the fridge for about 18 hours for the second bulk rise. It turned out even better than yesterday's loaf!

This is the recipe we used:

We are super happy with the results.

Mitzi set up her sewing station facing the view out the window. And the fireplace mantle for her patterns. She's making a new quilt with fish.

We took a 3.28 mile walk along the condos and beach today. The weather was calm and beautiful. It was 64 degrees and pleasant.

Mitzi made açai bowls for lunch. She accidentally grabbed the açai package that had protein powder included, so it wasn't the best flavor and we had a good laugh. And I forgot to mention yesterday that she shared a long time favorite treat with me – strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar. Truly delicious.

As Mitzi mentioned, she it letting her hair grow out with it's natural color. She got it cut a few weeks ago and it was already needing to be trimmed again. So she called a salon and they had a cancellation and could take her right away.

So we hopped in the car and she got it done.


This evening Mitzi took a walk around the Pelican Point, the area in Pajaro Dunes where we are staying. She loves how undeveloped this area is, how it doesn't feel like a vacation place, and so few people are around.

She recorded a couple videos too.

On June 7 we drove 2.5 hours over to Modesto. We had a wonderful dinner and visit with Tiffany's parents John and Susan, and Tiffany's sister Shelby and her family Jeff, Brian, and Tommy.

It was fun to recount memories and spend time together. The Scott's are family, I've known them since I was 16. They treat me like a son and brother. They are warm and loving to Mitzi, the kindest most genuine people I know.

On June 8 we had a 3.4 mile walk and Mitzi found a lot of perfect sand dollars. She lined them up on the table on the balcony. What a perfect picture! Nature is truly amazing when you take time to appreciate and notice the details.

For dinner Mitzi made veggie tacos. We started making these after I got back from Pritikin in 2018 and they are one of our favorite meals. Flavorful, healthy, and satisfying.

As we were walking along the beach on June 9, I found a whole clam. It triggered a memory from when I was 8 and my parents had a condo here at Pajaro Dunes.

There was an old used tire on the beach, nestled halfway into the sand. Inside the rim there were about 10 clams that had climbed inside. My brothers and I gathered the clams and took them back to the condo.

My mom said, "Would you boys like to eat these?" "Yes!" we replied enthusiastically. I remember she put on a pot of water. Added the clams. And after they boiled a few minutes they opened up, ready to eat. And mmmm they were good!

So I tried the same thing with this clam. And 45 years later, it's still mmmmmm good! So fresh and tender and tasty.

As we were walking along the path these flowers brought back another memory. California Poppies and Agapanthus!

Mitzi's been working on her fish quilt. It's got 25 fish on it. As I was reading on the couch I caught a picture of her sewing workstation. I may or may not have taken a little nap too :)

On June 10th we took another walk. Real beautiful views greet us each day. There is evaporation coming off the tide pools on the beach.

Mitzi found 21 sand dollars on our walk today. She's gathering quite a collection.

My hair is getting Einstein wild. Wish my brain was Einstein smart. After our walk we do core-stretch, a routine from Pritikin. Mitzi captured the special moment haha. She also captured how I'm getting some work done.

For dinner we went into Watsonville to Imura Japanese Restaurant. They are take-out only right now. It was quite good and we enjoyed eating it in the car. For some unknown reason I made a pirate face when she snapped the sushi picture.

When we got home Mitzi made us a Diet Dr. Pepper with cream soda, and fruit bowl. The fruit here is amazing. Mango, peach, raspberries, and blueberries.

June 11 and while I was getting my hair cut, Mitzi was off exploring Bagel Café & Bakery. When I came out and called her to see where she was, I was the happiest man alive when she said, "Hi! I've got some lunch for us. Drive over to the bagel shop, I'm just outside at the outdoor tables."

Being given food surprises may be my strongest love language. Love love love it!

She purchased some fresh clams at the grocery store (way easier than digging for them on the beach!) and we enjoyed them together. She also finished sewing her new fish quilt, and her white hair is growing in and looking good!

On June 12 we embarked on another attempt at the Tartine Country Bread. This is the very complicated and lengthy recipe we tried 4 times in St. George before coming to the beach. It just didn't work out that well.

The starter and leaven here is so alive and bubbly that we thought it's a good time to give it another try.

I got up at 6a and started working. I couldn't find the tie for my bathrobe so I used my Pritikin apron to keep my bathrobe secured :)

Mitzi is LOVING the mangos here. She says it's an addiction. Certainly a good one.

Sequence shots of working, folding, and tightening the beautiful dough. It's an intense moment for me as I'm just learning to get confident with it.

Mitzi and I work as a team to get the bread out of the brotform (bread bowl) into the hot cast iron, scored, and back in the oven ready for the initial bake. Even though you only see my hands (Mitzi was snapping the pictures) we are in this together!

Mitzi takes the lid off the bread after the initial 20 minute bake. There were definitely oooohs and ahhhhhs uttered in this moment. It was risen perfectly and fully. SUCCESS.

After another 22 minutes baking without the lid, Mitzi pulls the finished loaf out of the oven. SUCCESS AGAIN.

To quote Tartine baker Chad Robertson, "As each baked loaf cools, the crust contracts slightly. Listen for a faint crackling sound – the song of bread."

I feel literal joy creating this and seeing the product of our creation.

Mitzi cut the bread. Perfect!

For dinner Mitzi made THE BEST grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had. It was warm, soft, crunchy, flavorful. The ham was Bourbon BBQ. The bread thick and perfect. I just don't have adequate vocabulary to describe the experience. It didn't need butter or any flavor enhancements. The only ingredients are made from scratch bread (just flour, water, and salt), ham, and cheese.

We created a little table with the sand dollars Mitzi's been collecting and added a watermelon, mint, feta, and balsamic vinegar salad.

And ate on the balcony overlooking the beach, waves, and Pacific ocean. A meal that will be long remembered.

The next day we stayed home all day and at night made veggie tacos again. Such beautiful colors.

The next day we decided to venture out into the world. We went to Left Bank Brasserie in San Jose on a somewhat meandering journey to Morgan Hill where I lived when I was a teen.

Except for about 30% of the people wearing masks, it felt pretty casual. Yay! What a relief to go out, to enjoy the weather and a nice meal together. We waited for about 20 minutes to get seated. They were only serving on the patio which suited us fine since the weather was so nice, but a bit windy as you can see from Mitzi's hair ;)

The meal was the best yet on this trip. The french onion soup was the best Mitzi has ever had. Mitzi got french onion as already mentioned, along with Moules Frites – steamed mussels. I got a petite bouillabaisse – seafood soup – and salmon.

We had a nice time relaxing, sharing the food, and enjoying being together.

As we entered Morgan Hill we stopped at my high school, Live Oak. Our mascot was the Acorns. Corny, right? They had these bushes with colorful flowers in front. It was fun telling Mitzi about my experience there.

Then we drove over to 14658 Stonebridge Dr where we lived. The neighborhood is well kept and beautiful. It's a beautiful house, I can't believe it's 40 years old! We moved there in 1980.

See those rocks in the front yard? I literally shoveled those from a huge pile to where they are now. I hated the sound of the flat shovel on the asphalt, then the sound of the rocks scraping the metal shovel blade, and hated the weight of the rocks that prevented me from a large load – hence the job took longer because less volume per shovel full. But it looks nice :) My dad designed this yard and it's nice to see it still about the same.

Here's a close up of those rocks. They've been sitting there for 39 years!

As we were driving back to Pajaro Dunes, I remembered there was a campground at Mt. Madonna Country Park at the peak of Hecker Pass. It's a beautiful place with lots of huge redwoods. As we passed the summit the valley opened up and we stopped for a moment to take it in.

Back at the condo there was a sloping cloud bank across the ocean at the bottom of Monterey Bay. That's the view off our balcony at this wonderful place.

Mitzi is a wonderful wife, traveling companion, supporter, and lover. She was excited to see and visit my old stomping grounds. She genuinely cares about me and shows me every day in so many ways. It was a great day and so fun to share this past part of my life with her!