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Mar. 9, 10:30a. Join three outstanding authors for lunch and learning. The authors are: John L. Smith, “Of Rats and Men”; Joanne...
Mar. 12, 9:30p. The buoyant, sharp and charming Caruso guides the entire affair like a bubbly cruise director, musical genius Stritch holds...
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Remember water? Dive into our writers’ favorite beachy retreats
Living and playing in the desert is great. But there’s nothing like a little contrast to liven things up. And to our left just happens to be hundreds of miles of gorgeous coastline, rich in history, culture and wild beauty. Here are our picks for some West Coast getaways to rinse the dust out.
Natural high: Mendocino
Mendocino is a sleepy town, no surprise given that the largest cash crop in the environs is marijuana. Yet, Mendocino and its denizens belie the stoner stereotype with genuinely friendly people, great food, quaint, non-commoditized art and a paucity of cell phone towers (drive to nearby Ft. Bragg if your smartphone jones cannot be sated). Geographically and philosophically, it’s a far cry from the madding crowd, making it the perfect antidote to the desert. Visitors can hike through 130 miles of verdant coastal trails, go fishing for Dungeness crab or salmon, ride llamas on the beach or through redwood groves, and play Frisbee golf while enjoying an Anderson Valley craft beer. The town plays host to many excellent restaurants, including the sustainably conscious MacCallum House, whose award-winning wine list has been partnered with a piquant collection of local cheeses. In 2011, summer events include the Pinot Noir Festival and art events as well as a county fair and Frontier Days. For a change of pace over the 4th of July, indulge at “The World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue,” which takes place this year on July 2. (www.mendocino.com) — Monera Mason
Aching beauty: Point Reyes
There are places that are beautiful, and then there are places whose beauty eludes photographic depiction. Point Reyes falls into the latter. I distinctly remember a moment when some friends and I pulled over to the edge of a cliff to photograph a sea of clouds that hovered over the ocean for miles. We all realized around the same time that our pocket-sized digital cameras were sad and ineffectual in light of such a vast diorama. Not a shutter was clicked.
Birds and bells: Mission San Juan Capistrano
Less than an hour south of L.A., past the South Bay cafés, ranches balanced on cliffs and Miss America beaches, huddles a clutch of white Spanish buildings, hushed courtyards and stone ruins — the remains of Mission San Juan Capistrano. People know it because of the legend of the swallows, said to return to the mission in large flocks each March 19. That is a lie told by a Catholic priest, a traffic-generating genius before the time of search engines. March 19 might actually have been his birthday.
Solvang: My own private Denmark
While Las Vegas is many things to many people, few would characterize its vibe as transcendental. For that, California — in particular, a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway and beyond — beckons as a wending journey that leaves smoggy L.A. for coastal splendors to be found not in well-worn destinations like Santa Barbara and San Francisco, but in a few singular small towns: places where the beauty of the Coast and the mien of the locals become experiences, not just observations.
Cambria: Best of the Hearst
Just 100 miles North of Solvang, our very own Denmark, is Cambria, featuring a spectacular seaside and San Simeon, the Hearst Castle. Not to miss in between is Harmony, literally a one-street town that could be swallowed whole by the Hearst’s Grand Ballroom, but where you can indulge your inner bohemian with glass-blowing, pottery and other classes. Cambria features miles of beachfront and is home to a burgeoning population of elephant seals, as well as to uber-art galleries, farm-fresh dining and myriad B&Bs. These range from Her Castle (with woodland orchards that make you forget about the catcall-inspiring pun), to the Blue Whale Inn, which sits atop a precariously perched bluff, to the romance of Victoria’s Last Resort where, undoubtedly, the Queen would not approve.
Middle earth: Olympic Peninsula
In most places, summertime is heralded by typical warm weather preparations, like washing that chlorine smell out of your old swimsuit, or rinsing off the old slip-n-slide. But in Southern Nevada, summer means that we’ll be dreaming for months of a kinder sun — one that does not wish us dead. For those of you who turn into heliophobes during the month of June, consider the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, a place whose stormy gloom welcomes over-baked Nevadans, and also vampires, who chose the area for its fortress of cloud cover. In the last five years, the area has been besieged by adolescent Twihard girls who make pilgrimages to eat at the same diner as Bella and Edward. Despite this setback (or asset), the place brims with haunted charm.
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