A Needed Getaway….

I have been out of work for nearly seven months now. I have applied for nearly 500 jobs in various ways and gotten little traction. I’ve gotten advice, redone my resume three times, talked to headhunters, got my LinkedIn redone twice. I created an online portfolio. 

Nothing.

I look at the same walls all day. I try not to go anywhere or spend money. My moods fluctuate wildly between depressed, frantic, and restless.

I am running low on savings and entertaining applying at Starbucks.  

Is this my new reality?

Thankfully, my husband squirreled away some vacation money and insisted we “get out of here” for a few days.  It helped a ton with my attitude and outlook.

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My husband and I do suffer from analysis paralysis when planning a vacation. After all, we are spending our hard-earned money. We want to try to ensure (haha) we will have the best time possible.  (Well, at least stack the odds in our favor.) So yes we research and research and research.  Then we narrow things down.  And choosing a B&B in Paso Robles (wine country!) was no different.  All the locations had pluses and minuses. We knew what was a deal breaker: The place had to have a private bath (with a big tub since we don’t have one at home); it had to have a full breakfast: Not a “muffin and coffee grab and go”; and it had to be reasonably close enough to wineries, but not noisy and in town.

We narrowed it down to two: Seven Quails and The Winemaker’s Porch.   I read on the latter’s website “Your stay includes beautiful accommodations, a complimentary bottle of wine… and a gourmet breakfast each morning.”  But the deciding factor, the one that threw us over the edge, was the last name of the owners: Evenson.  Why? My mom’s maiden name is Evansen. I was pretty sure, looking  on ancestry.com at all my cousins in North Dakota, that these people were somehow relatives.  That last name has so many different spellings (my mom told me that those fickle Norwegians changed it on a whim and then sometimes even changed it back): there were seven Evensons in my family tree. I couldn’t wait to talk about possible people in common when I met the folks.

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Getting there:  Oil fields of CA. Tiny Towns.
The drive was supposed to take 4-5 hours and thanks to LA traffic was seven. We did take a “OMYGODDWHERETHEHELLAREWE” two lane road that was a blast navigate. Coming down the hill we were behind a dump truck with a trailer and that driver knew the limits of his truck and was right at them.  I recorded us rounding corners at 58MPH behind him.  For entertainment value alone, this route was a riot. Add in the diverse scenery (caution: take a reliable car full of gas because there are NO TOWNS on Route 33 and no cell service) and you had a winner when you’re in a car that loves corners!

We thought we would be there by four and I called to tell the B&B owners it would more likely be six.  Waze (our trusty traffic app) told us about traffic, but there wasn’t much we could do about it: half the population of CA was obviously going the same way we were.

Are We There Yet?!
The last stretch: a sign “Pavement Ends”.

What? Indeed. It was an unpaved road that crossed over a paved one.

Next right and we were at the gate to the place.  It was 6:10PM.

WinemakersPorchDriveway
Photo from the website

The estate house is stunning and there’s one B&B bedroom located on the first floor in it. But we had reserved the largest room with its own huge bath (soaking tub! Yay!) in the unattached large “barn”.  Don’t let that word fool you: hidden inside is a charming oasis.

I got out of the car and stretched a bit, and noticed the evening wind had picked up: I’d find out over the next four days that this happened every night about 5 or 6 and the temperature dropped from 103 to 50 pretty quickly as well.

Who Are You?
I rang the estate doorbell and was greeted by a couple in their sixties who didn’t look anything like the Evensons/owners on the web site.  They introduced themselves as Denise and Jim and offered us cold water and a chat. It turned out that Marlowe and Corrine Evenson (the owners) were on vacation that week.  My husband and I tried to hide our disappointment.  The owner’s name had been the deciding factor, after all.  There’d be no “how are we related” discussion.  If we had known they were going to be gone, I can’t say we would have still picked this place. But we were tired and ready to shake off the drive and get acquainted with our home for the next four nights.  Denise and Jim offered to have the included wine tasting ready that night: Frances James Vineyards only sells their labeled wines to people who stay at the B&B. We agreed that it was a good night for it. The last thing we wanted was to get back in the car!

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In The “Barn”

The downstairs Barrel Room was charming: a full-sized kitchen with a small living area off it (Jim said we should feel free to store any items needing refrigeration here as the fridge in our room was small).  This kitchen had just been done as the owners were thinking about opening up the barn to AIRBnB type leases: renting the entire place to a larger group.  The stairs up to our room were steep and narrow but well-lit.

image (2)At the top of the stairs we opened a door on the right and entered peace, quiet, and a spa- like scented large room with a canopy bed, an electric fireplace with a remote (it was forecast to be 102 the next day, but nice touch), a kitchenette (small fridge, sink with disposal, and a microwave), a round table with four chairs, two sitting chairs, and a bathroom with a large soaking tub, shower, and a sink.  Oh yes. This would work.   Our hosts left us to get settled and said they’d meet us on the back patio at 7:30.

The little touches in this place were classy: a container in the kitchenette with three different teas and cups, wine glasses, chilled water in the fridge, tons of pillows, very soft sheets, enough towels for eight people,  Gilchrest and Soames soaps and shampoos, a container with cotton, cotton swabs, bath salts and fizzy tabs, and two logo’d soft robes.  Just lovely.  My favorite touch was the choice of books on the nightstand: all “feel good” titles to help with the transition from “normal life” to “relax awhile and think about how lucky you are.”  There were at least two “guestbooks” with reviews/comments people had written about our room and their stay in general. The owners have been doing this for a few years and you can really tell.

Taste and Talk
At 7:30 we headed out to the estate patio, connected to the barn by a paved walkway. Even in the dim-but-adequate-light, I could see planters full of flowers everywhere and the wind had really picked up.  We sat down at a large glass table where there was already a plate of crackers, cheese and salami, bread, two small bowls of olive oil, and four wine glasses.  The seats were padded and overlooked the expansive, green lawn. There was a fountain with a giant ball in it next to us, its water sounds soothing.  Jim explained the wines we’d be tasting and we settled in to relax and get to know them.  They were great people and our disappointment at not meeting the Evensons abated slightly  By 9:30 we were passing a yawn around and realized that after some wonderful wine (try the Petit Verdot!) and a filling snack, we didn’t need or want dinner that night.  Denise told us we were the only ones staying there that night so we could have our morning coffee (delivered to the table outside our room door) anytime we liked.  We settled on 8AM and breakfast at 9:30 and headed up to our suite.

image (3)Amazing (and a lot of) Food
The next morning, (the AC unit turning on kept waking me, but we figured out how to fix that the next night), my husband fetched the coffee and we enjoyed it as we got ready for breakfast.  It was more like brunch: fresh fruit and yogurt and then a large egg dish. Denise is an amazing cook!  We decided that we wouldn’t need lunch that day as we perused the map with our hosts and they helped us figure out where to go and what to do that day. We explored the grounds just a bit, noticing lots of fragrant lavender, flowers of every color, and woodpeckers, finches and hummingbirds who were quite busy.

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Crazy, gorgeous sunsets featuring my new favorite tree.

The next few nights we enjoyed: Peaceful digs and great sleeping (we recommend you open the windows after 7PM and turn the AC on fan only. You get the white noise if you need it and the fresh cool night air), three soakings in the tub, interaction with the four cats on the property (Molly is very friendly), amazing food (enough so we skipped lunch entirely those days!), great hosts/conversations, wandering around the grounds (they have a swing), watching the birds and bees drink from the fountain, drinking wine on the front patio in the dark, seeing owls and bats, and feeling grounded, refreshed and relaxed.

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Pluses:

  • No ambient light makes for great stargazing out front
  • Night winds and coolness
  • Location- by Sculpterra Winery
  • Large room with private attached bath.
  • Amazing large breakfasts (they can accommodate any dietary restrictions)
  • Lovely location
  • Great wine tasting
  • Great substitute hosts
  • Great recommendations for where to go and what to see

Minuses

  • Didn’t get to meet the Evensons
  • No balcony
  • Hot tub would be a serious bonus

We would love to go back and meet the owners next time! (Budget permitting)

I judge a getaway by the “reentry”.  Can I conjure up the feeling of being there after I have left?

Yes. 

(I will get to the wineries and olive oil on a later post!)