Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 3: Morro Bay to Santa Cruz

Posted May 9, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
To listen to the podcast, click the play button
Airstreaming to Alaska

 

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are.”

Chapter 3 in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series.

We said goodbye to Morro Bay and continued our journey north toward Alaska.

Traveling along the fringes of California we tied up loose ends – stopped to admire places we neglected in our youth and skipped past some old favorites.

Highway 41, just south of Atascadero

Paso Robles

Whenever we pass through Paso Robles, we stop for coffee and a bite at the Hunter Ranch Golf Course, an ideal RV rest stop.

The Grill serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and the magnificent view of the namesake oaks (“Paso Robles” means The Way of the Oaks) smooths out towing-day anxieties. Thank you Paso.

hunter ranch golf course

Castroville

Continuing on Highway 1, we entered Castroville, The Artichoke Center Of The World.

Castroville artichokes

When I was fourteen, Jim hand fed me my first artichoke. The moment that intimidating food impersonating a medieval weapon passed my lips, I became a woman … who wanted more artichokes.

1971 – Carmen (14 years-old). Photo by James Beaubeaux (16 years-old)

Artichokes, the caviar of vegetables, have a fascinating history. This challenging mediterranean crop, cousin to the daisy (my favorite flower) nearly took down the city of New York with Tommy gun wielding mobsters and train robberies.

Castroville artichokes
Pezzini Farms artichoke fields. Most artichokes in the USA are grown in California

Bearing a tender yet armored heart the domesticated Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, is named for the secret lover (Kynara) canceled by Zeus. That tragic seduction story is often resurrected in film and literature. The meta-narrative even extends into the real-life story of the first Artichoke Queen of Castroville, Norma Jean Mortenson, famously known as Marilyn Monroe.

Castroville artichokes
1948

Generations of powerful males like Henry VIII reserved the artichoke for their exclusive consumption, forbidding them at the women’s table, until Catherine De Medici stuck a fork in that nonsense.

The taboo existed to protect women’s honor, you see. The assertion held that the delicious thistle would make the ladies frisky. Yeah, well, they make me gassy, but pity the man who would dare try to separate me from my sexy health food.

About twice a month Jim steams these sumptuous lil’ devils with lemon, herbs and black pepper corns and serves them up with a garlicky lemon aioli for dipping. Heaven.

Castroville artichokes
Jim’s amazing artichokes

All hyped up for a roadside segue of deep-fried superfood with a side of polyphenols, we pulled the rig off at The Choke Coach at Pezzini Farms where the large yard is big enough to park the rig.

Castroville artichokes

We are tough customers because Jim IS the world’s best artichoke chef.

Castroville artichokes

We tried the tacos and the grilled artichoke. They were good …

Castroville artichokes

But I’m still thinking about that dreamy artichoke bisque we slurped from a cup! I could begin every morning with that buttery nectar. It’s in the top ten Best Soups In My Life.

Castroville artichokes
This soup is on our regular meal rotation

Now, the Castroville Artichoke Festival is on our bucket list.

Santa Cruz

santa cruz

Like Morro Bay, we entered Santa Cruz with barely a week to see the area. That non-enough feeling hit us again when we saw our parking space. We squeezed into the tightest spot ever.

The RV Park at Santa Cruz Harbor is all about location.

santa cruz

It’s walking distance to town …

santa cruz

with cycling access to the most important places …

santa cruz
Cruzin’ on our wonderful Dolphin eBikes on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

like the beach …

santa cruz

parks …

santa cruz

Coffee shops

breweries …

and even the, (ugh) …

DMV

We had some serious adulting to do. Since 2019, we’ve put off getting our Real ID’s.

Artwork on the California Real ID

To make nice with Homeland Security we had to suck it up and submit to our least favorite administrative office: the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

capitola dmv

There are dozens of online California DMV survival guides, but we’re old pros: (1) Choose an office (any office in the state) with a coffee shop next door (2) any coffee shop with a bathroom. (3) Arrive after rush hour. 4) Go as a team (5) in comfortable shoes (6) with phones charged (7) and paperwork in hand. (8) Have distractions (candy, games, podcasts) so the anxiety (of our hangry, confused fellow DMV inmates fidgeting with their impatient children and stressed-out comfort dogs while straining to hear their number throb out of the echoey public address system) doesn’t get to you.

But we experienced a miracle at the Capitola DMV. A man, even older than us, in fluorescent orange athletic shoes – an energetic government employee with a runner’s physique and astounding communication skills – guided every person through their process as if we were, every one, a VIP and, by all appearances, he was having fun. I didn’t even have time to dig for my pocket candy. We were out of there in under thirty minutes.

“I want to be just like him when I grow up,” I told Jim as we exited, “I wonder what he eats to stay so healthy?”

“Crepes.” Jim said, Yelping on his iPhone for breakfast.

sweet peas cafe

Sweet Peas Cafe, was a delicious, wholesome reward for responsible management of our civic duty.

Silver Sneakers Membership

The next item on the agenda: Fitness! As a new card-carrying member of the 65+ club, we both signed up for our Medicare Silver Sneakers benefit at 24-Hour Fitness.

24 hour fitness

Now, we have FREE access to swimming pools and shower facilities throughout the United States. This national membership program will broaden our choices for campground locations in cities and towns where fitness options are otherwise limited.

With business matters settled, we indulged our senses in Santa Cruz …

where work and play are dovetailed into the architecture and lifestyle.

It’s a mature point of view …

santa cruz
Wall mural in Downtown Santa Cruz

to understand that failure is vital to progress …

santa cruz

distractions facilitate goals,

santa cruz

and living creatively is not a waste of time.

santa cruz

It’s an “everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” kind of vibe.

A place where community …

santa cruz

and a pint of wisdom go a long way.

Otters. Oaks. Artichokes. Beaches.

santa cruz

We skipped along the Central California shoreline like children without a care …

santa cruz

confident and secure that the adults are in charge, making the best of the situation.

santa cruz lighthouse
Santa Cruz Lighthouse

All will be well.

Onward to San Franciso!


Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series


If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.


38 thoughts on “Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 3: Morro Bay to Santa Cruz

  1. LOVE this blog! Every issue — but that picture of you at 14 taken by Jim at 16 is da bomb! I also met my husband the week I turned 15! We are now married 47 years. You were (and still are) gorgeous. Your photos are just fantastic, I love reading and living vicariously through your blog!

    1. Carmela! Great to hear from you again!!!

      Thanks so much for the encouragement and for sticking with us.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      DaBomb@LIB

  2. Great post!! As a student at UCSC, back in the 70s, I had the good fortune to get a job selling French fried artichoke hearts at a stand on the Boardwalk. Not only did I get to eat as much of the stuff as I wanted (great doused in Tabasco), I also got to ride free on the Giant Dipper – circa 1924 wooden roller coaster. Not saying it was the greatest job, but it sure was memorable!

    1. Oh, you UCSC kids … what a sweet deal – studying, working and living beside the sea with all the artichokes you can eat. Yes, I should think that the memories are sweet, and salty. Thanks so much for sharing this story, Abby. As a Californian there’s much to complain about but I don’t regret a moment of growing up in this fabulous state.

      Great to hear from you!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

      1. Well, not so much studying, I regret to say. I finished up at UCD. Davis had far fewer of the distractions for which Santa Cruz was so well known. 🙂

  3. I love your travelvlog! Someday I hope to hit all 50 states like this. I was going through past blogs and saw my nephew and his girlfriend in one of your photos. They were students in Vermont and were dancing at the Octoberfest you visited. Such a small world.

    1. What?!… What are the chances? I hope your nephew doesn’t mind that I published the photo. I remember watching them dance. I was learning my new camera and most of their pics turned out blurry.

      Well thanks for the small-world story Maura and for sharing your dream of traveling the states. If we have inspired you then you have returned the favor for being with us.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

      1. My nephew loved that you captured the moment. We love his girlfriend so it is a super nice picture.

  4. Safe Travels, but don’t hurry!! It’s been unseasonably cold this spring in Canada-so probably colder in Alaska!!

    1. Almost every day I say, “Who’s idea was it to drive north in winter during a La Niña year?” We’re having a great time but ever since we hit Santa Cruz the locals complain about the colder and wetter than usual conditions. We don’t plan to enter Alaska until mid-June but some climatologisits are predicting that it will be a colder than usual Alaska summer. So we’re blasting through the propane and hoping those predictions are wrong 🤞🏾But we will not be caught off-guard and we have the new merino wool long underwear to prove it.

      Great to have you with ACDC2!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  5. As always, loved this post. My three favorite parts were: (1) learning that you and Jim have been a couple since you were mere babies (talk about a soul contract!) … (2) the accompanying “historic” photo … and (3) the anecdote about the wonderful, inspiring man at the DMV.

    1. Thank you, Carol. I always enjoy hearing from you and what captured your interest. It’s a joy to have you with us.

      Yes, we’ve been together for quite a while. We shared a locker in High School and Jim’s 50th HS reunion is this year 😳 But we still feel like kids. In some ways we feel even better than when we were kids. Old age isn’t an affliction – it’s a different set of afflictions. What a challenge it is to explain the dynamics of age to young people who only see aging – which is only a small part of the phenomena.

      That old guy at the DMV was some kind of wizard I think.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Hey Leigh!

      We are happy to indulge ourselves in the generous hospitality of Planet Earth while the invitation is remains open.

      Thanks so much for being us!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Okay Nate. This is getting interesting. I kept thinking about you when we were in Eureka. I told Jim at least twice that you were in my thoughts. Then, we saw a sign and I took the photo specifically for you. (I know, it’s spelled differently but it was Another thing) and now you mention Eureka – and the architecture. Yes, we viewed the exteriors but closures were still in effect. It’s definitely worth the trip to this fascinating old logging town. We met a couple there – Frank and Nancy Riley – who go way back to church youth group days. We had a meal together the old Samoa Cook House. Frank preaches at the Church of Christ there.

      So wonderful to hear from you Nate! I guess we mind-melded. Eureka!!!

      sign

      1. I grew up in Eureka. I absolutely love where I currently live, but I miss our “every 4 years or so” road trips up highway 5, then highway 1, then highway 101, to Eureka. Scenery that makes joy-tears leak from the eyes. The redwoods! Majestic, aromatic, lush. There’s a new skywalk at Sequoia Park, the city park. Great Victorian architecture, a fun bookstore in Old Town, and folks who are forever-hippies. I’m glad you’ve visited it, dear J&C. Nate, I’m glad you know of it, too!

        1. Eureka is a charming town. Much of it was still closed up, but we saw signs of a strong community ethic – especially in the Old Town area. I think it will have a successful revival. We couldn’t help but notice how affordable it is to have a beach front home there. I wish we had spent more time. We didn’t catch the skywalk …We will definitely go back.

          Wonderful to hear from you Eva!

          xoxo,

          Carmen@LIB

  6. I so look forward to this journey with you! I’m hoping you’ll be traveling the Oregon coast as well. Perhaps I can get out to where you are!

    1. Robbi 💕 We’re in Victoria B.C. We will try to catch you on our way down. Please send me your current address via email.

      Let’s catch up!

      xoxo,

      Carmen@LIB

  7. Spent many summers on the boardwalk in SC. Also fishing off the pier with my dad. Learned to love seafood. Learned to body surf there. We had a room right across the road from the beach.

    1. Jim ♥️ All the cool kids are in Santa Cruz. Thanks for these sweet memories. We owe you a phone call. Talk soon? Maybe tomorrow?

      xoxo

      Carmen@LIB

  8. You had me at “artichoke bisque.” OMG, I love anything artichoke and I can’t believe we missed this whole area. We were RIGHT THERE. I had no idea there was so much artichoke goodness right nearby. Ugh… Missed opportunity. Thanks for taking me there, though. I’ll never tire of those perfect California coastal views!

    1. Well, I don’t feel sorry for you. I’m sure you will have some amazing artichoke dishes to tell us about in Lisbon. Congratulations on your Chapter3 graduation. Or is it Chapter4 now? Your RV travel blog is one of the best ever and I know your six-year journey will continue to inform and inspire our RV travels … but we are so excited about this Portugal adventure! We’re all eyes and ears and can’t wait till your next post.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Hugs to Thor

      Carmen@LIB

  9. If you get back to the Santa Cruz area, up the road a bit is the fun little town of Pescadero, a bit inland off 1. Very cute place. There is a great restaurant there called Duarte’s Tavern. Great seafood and home to our favorite soup – cream of green chile artichoke! So good! Plus the best olallieberry pie ever. Plus the town has a farmers market, and is close to Costanoa (KOA) RV park. Love following you around.

    1. Carol!

      This is why we blog! Tips from our followers guide us to the best places. Thank you for this great addition to for our ToGo List. We’ve pinned in these places:

      The Pescadero Farmer’s Market looks wonderful:
      https://www.facebook.com/pescaderofarmersmarket/

      We love berries and have some kind of berry smoothie almost every morning – but we’ve never heard of these olallieberries! I had to look them up. There’s even a lovely inn named after the berries in Cambria.

      https://www.olallieberry.com/contact-cambria-boutique-inn/

      I found this Pescadero blog about a You-pick farm. I’d love to go here too:

      https://hikewanderwonder.com/2013/07/03/organic-olallieberry-u-pick-swanton-berry-farm-pescadero/

      And Durarte’s Tavern is definitely on the list
      http://duartestavern.com

      Honestly I could spend a year or two just wandering around central California mountains and shorelines.

      Thanks so much!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

      1. And don’t forget to try the soup at Duarte’s! It was right down the street from the farmers market. I think we need a Cali road trip!

  10. We could not cross into Canada last year with our “real ID “. I assume you have passports as well ? Mistake : year before. We were at the Peace Garden & Sault Ste Marie

    1. Hey Lynn! Yes, we have passports along with The Global Pass. The Real ID is primarily for air-travel. We haven’t been on a plane in six years, but we needed the Real ID just in case flight becomes necessary in an emergency situation.

      What a disappointment to be turned around at the border. When the time comes I will tell the story in more detail but our border crossing into Canada did not go smoothly. It was our first time be pulled over for an inspection! Crossing is a bit tougher on everybody these days. Many Canadians are no longer crossing into the States for their monthly or bi-montly shopping trips and visits with family and friends. Tightening the borders makes crossings more time-consuming and stressful for everyone.

      Great to hear from you, Lynn!!!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Linda!

      That’s so funny. Jim is hounded by people (mostly women) who think he’s Anthony Hopkins. He’s even been asked for autographs and called a liar for denying he is Sir Hopkins. He’s also been mistaken for Kenny Rogers – several times – and Dan Fouts. In San Diego he got a box of free doughnuts because they thought he was Dan Fouts. In his clean shaven face he could play Michael Douglas’s twin brother. But mostly he’s been told looks like both General Lee and General Grant. I’ve thought of writing a Civil War comedy where he plays both parts.

      I guess you could say that Jim has “one of those faces.” He probably make mega-bucks as an extra at the studios.

      So great to hear from you!

      xoxo,

      Carmen@LIB

  11. Great read. Back in 2011, I bicycled from Carmel to Paso Robles. I named my cat Paso Robles after that town. Paso Robles traveled with me over the last 6 years in my RV until she passes away last October. Robles loved traveling in the RV.

  12. That snap shot of you at fourteen is amazing, Carmen! The photo, the cute girl, and the fact that Jim took it. And that you still had it/found it. Such a fun coastal hop with delicious food!

    I ate my first artichoke in the US, after I met Mark. It’s not a Belgian thing or I never heard/knew about it. It’s one interesting vegetable. But, pricey…

    1. Liesbet!

      Great to hear from you! Artichokes can be expensive. In SoCal the price goes down in July and stays low until about December. It’s kind of weird but we can always count on Walmart to have fresh organically grown artichokes and leeks from SoCal. More than once we’ve cooked them on site in the parking lot 😜 Guilty pleasures.

      xoxo,

      Carmen

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