Visiting Friends in the Beautiful Hills of Central California

Our roving retirement takes us back to the Bay Area every few months to visit family and friends. But over the last few years, many of our friends have moved to the Southern/Central part of California. Since our friends are very important to us, we wanted to do a short road trip to Central California. Our plan was to visit as many people as possible in about a week and a half. We managed to see lots of friends, drink lots of wine, and enjoy their incredible hospitality.

Wine and Nature in Santa Ynez

A long-time friend, colleague, and writing collaborator built a house on a hill in the beautiful rolling Santa Rita Hills near Los Olivos. Her husband had owned the land for many years but only recently decided to build on it. Along with the gorgeous house and impressive wine cellar, they have a farm with at least four burros and a pig. They are planning to add some chickens to the mix soon.

It turns out that from their hilltop you can see rocket launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base and a launch of a SpaceX rocket was happening during our visit. On our first day there, we got up at 6 am to see the launch but it was scrubbed due to weather. The next day we got up at 6 am and we were able to hear and feel the launch but we didn’t see anything because of the cloud cover. Bummer. I really wanted to see the first stage of the rocket return to the launch pad. About 10 minutes after the launch, we heard the 1st stage return, but again we didn’t see anything – so close and yet so far.

We decided to go for a walk around their neighborhood in the magnificent spring hills. Lots of “the neighbors” were out also including deer, horses, and longhorns. That afternoon we went into the cute town of Los Olivos to go wine tasting at their favorite winery Brewer-Clifton. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the weather and the wine. Our friends also cooked us a couple of delicious dinners. It was so good to finally see them and their lovely new home. Hopefully, it won’t be another four years until we see them again.

More Wine in Nipomo

A place I had never been to, but I did know there is a reasonably new Trilogy home development on a golf course there. It just so happens that some friends retired there. We were curious about the development anyway because we have been looking at Trilogy communities in California and Arizona for the last five years. Our friends have a lovely new home where more great wine was consumed.

Our friends are in the wine club at Justin winery so we went there to have brunch but mostly to taste wine. We happily whiled away the afternoon on another beautiful patio in the vineyards. There seems to be a theme here. We also managed to fit in a round of golf while we were there.

Jocko’s in Nipomo

Mike was told by multiple people that if we were ever in Nipomo we had to go to Jocko’s restaurant. None of us had been to Jocko’s so dinner was in order. The service was a little slow but the freshly grilled steaks were delicious and worth the wait. This is an old-style place, not fancy, with a dark interior and good food. Fortunately, it wasn’t quite as expensive as some of the other restaurants we had been visiting.

A Visit to Arroyo Grande

The last stop on our little tour was at Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obispo (SLO). The friends we stayed with had recently gotten married and bought a seven-bedroom Tuscan Villa in one of the most exclusive developments around San Luis Obispo. The house had a fore-court to park in between the garage and the main house. Since the house was on a hill in a 32000-acre free-range ranch, there were 360-degree views from the house. Our friends are working from home so they are really enjoying their lifestyle in an incredible home.

While we were in SLO we had the opportunity to have a nice dinner at Buono Tavola and to see some live music. In this case, Keb’ Mo’, who we had seen before. However, as I’m sure everyone knows, since Covid live music has been hard to find. It was a great concert, at a beautifully restored theatre. A good time was had by all. We were even able to have coffee with yet another friend on our way out of town.

We are very happy that all of our friends are enjoying their lives outside Silicon Valley. Those that are retired are enjoying their retirement as much as we are. We are also so grateful for the wonderful hospitality everyone gave us. Hopefully, we will see everyone soon, if not in California, then somewhere in the world. Everyone is always invited to join us on our adventures.

What view do you long for each day?

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  1. I grew up in Santa Maria. When my parents divorced dad lived there on the border of Arroyo/Grover. We launched our boat out of Port San Luis and out of high school I lived in Oceano and my mom and brother moved to Santa Barbara… the areas you are visiting are where I grew up ! Jockos has been there as long as I can remember and has always been tasty but slow! Nipomo was tiny when I was there until the late 80s but I still have family there. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

  2. Thanks so much for reaching out. We were able to see the ocean from the golf course so the Monarch Dunes community was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. Especially since I’d never really heard of Nipomo before. 🙂

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