Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taking it SLO

Does Friday count as part of the weekend or the work week? I think it could go either way: officially the weekend starts after you leave work on Friday, but you still go to work for at least 8 hours on Friday. I guess since more time is spent getting ready for work and actually going to work it really should be part of the work week. What do you think?

Anyway, I got the day before Labor Day weekend, Friday (see where I was going with my discussion in the first paragraph? I was torn between saying “Labor Day weekend” and “the day before Labor Day weekend” – the latter won out ) off from work, so Rene and I decided to visit California Mission #5, San Luis Obispo (S.L.O. or SLO for short). We had plans to visit Yosemite during Labor Day weekend and decided to visit SLO on the way up and make a day out of it. This is the fourth mission we have visited so far; our goal is to visit all 21 California Missions within the next year.

On Friday morning we headed out at 9 a.m. (that is pretty early on a non-work day) to North Hills to drop off Chuy. Chuy-man was sad to see us go as always. He always finds a way to escape my mother-in-law’s backyard after we drop him off, so Rene and I made sure to check all gates and doors before we left. During his last visit he escaped and went for a walk around the block, then came home and waited for someone to let him back into the house. We think he comes back because he’s so used to having food and water at his disposal and he’d rather have that around than have to find food and water by himself. Besides, he’s living the dream, why leave the dream behind?

After saying goodbye to Chuy, we hopped on the freeway and took 101 N to get to SLO. On the way over, we stopped by Gaviota State Beach for an hour. Gaviota State Beach is known for a railroad bridge (no longer in use I think) perched above its beach. There is also a pier next to the beach where people were casting fishing lines. When Rene and I got to the beach we took our shoes off and dipped our feet in the water (it was freezing cold! Brrr!), then walked over to the rocks to sit and eat our lunch. On the way over to the rocks, I saw black sand and got excited, only to realize that the black sand was not a natural occurrence like in Hawaii. The black sand is from washed-up crude oil and it dirtied my feet. There are several oil rigs you can see from the beach; sometimes the oil pumped from the ocean floor leaks into the water and ends up at the surf. Which made me wonder if the fish caught from the water had one head or three? And did it taste… greasy?

After eating our lunch we walked over to the pier and peered into the water. Interestingly enough the water was clear and you could see maybe 10 feet into the water, which made me feel a little better about the fish… although, why can’t you see them in the water? Perhaps they are in “invisible” mode? Or perhaps the light reflects off their scales in a way that makes them seem invisible? There is really no way to tell unless you get in the water and suddenly you see schools of silver fish swimming around. That’s what happened to us when we went diving in Channel Islands – at first it seems like there is nothing in the water, then bam! There were little silver fish all over the place.

We took some pictures at the pier and looked in the water some more before making our way back to the car. On the way back to the car, I felt packed sand stuck under my foot, so I decided to check it out after I got in the car. It was not just packed sand, my friends: it was grease, yup GREASE from the beach mixed with packed sand. Five more minutes and that stuff would’ve turned into concrete – it took me a good 20 minutes, plus half a box of tissues, to get the entire mass out. The stain was another story – I didn’t get that sucker out until later that night at our hotel in Fresno. Please wear flip-flops when you visit Gaviota State Beach, even in the sand!

An hour later we were cruising into the little town of SLO. It is such a cute little town, exactly like the ones you see in older TV shows and movies. There are stores and restaurants around the city center, along with the municipal buildings and the mission. The sidewalks were clean and the local folks were friendly. There were a lot of people walking around town that day, and they were setting up for a concert in front of the mission. It was only 2 pm and people were already lining up their chairs, jockeying for the best positions.

The mission itself was a little bigger than San Gabriel and San Juan Capistrano, and was arranged in an L-shape. The altar was the mid-point of the church, where two sides of the L meet. It must be strange attending mass there because the altar looks out into a corner, not into the sides where the congregation sits. Somehow they make it work, but I imagine attending mass must be a bit strange since you can’t see who else is attending mass on the other side of the church. Half the fun of mass is watching the people in front of you, and you are missing out on an entire side! Also, I wonder which side the priest enters and if he alternates sides. Usually everyone sees the priest come in, and if he only comes from one side of the church, how does that make the other side of the church feel? All these logistical questions! I wish they just stuck with convention and just built the church in the shape of a cross instead; that way you can watch both the people and the procession. I don’t know why these questions even matter since I don’t attend mass here – but STILL!

Church altar

The mission garden, on the other hand, was a less complicated affair. It’s small, about the size of a large back yard, and very well-maintained. It had a nice wooden trellis in the middle, with grapes growing on the top and side of the trellis. We explored the garden in 10 minutes, which was stretching it because there wasn’t a lot to see. The only other things worth nothing were the three church bells displayed in the back. I don’t know if these are the bells rang for mass or if they are the original church bells but they looked pretty lined up in a row. I love symmetry, and having things lined up in a row always makes me happy.

Rene in front of the bells

Rene sitting in front of the fountain

My size doors

After our visit to the mission, Rene and I checked out one of our favorite stores in the world: Ross. Until recently, I have not been a fan of stores like Ross because there is too much stuff to dig through, too much stuff to process. I’ve only started liking Ross because of their random household items, and this is the only section that I like to visit. I don’t even make an attempt to scope out the clothes or shoes because it pisses me off when I find something I like and it’s not in my size – then I have to sort though 8 million other racks to see if what I’m looking for is even in the store. Anyway, their household stuff was so-so and we came out empty handed.

We ate a late lunch/early dinner (Linner?) at this local barbeque place with good tri-tip, then went over to Barnes & Noble for to browse the magazine section and check our e-mail (what, you don’t carry your laptop with you at all times?). Afterwards it was on to Fresno for the night and Yosemite the next day. Fresno, as you can imagine, was pretty uneventful. The highlight of our stay there was when Rene and I went to Ross (again!) and bought this really cool pot for one of his plants and really cool Daisy Fuentes sunglasses for me for $6.99. I call those shades my Daisy Funtesssss sunglasses for added pizzazz, but they are really just oversized brown sunglasses (from Daisy Fuentesssss).

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