Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Life in the Canyon

This neglected Airstream belongs to my dear friend, Denise, and sits on her acreage in the canyons outside Arroyo Grande. It has served them well, first as the "wagon" that took them to their new life in Montana years ago and now to California where they raise their four sons in a remote rural setting. I try to convince Denise that she should renovate this 1966 cutie into a studio or guest apartment, but she looks at me like I'm crazy--she's had enough renovation projects in her life. And where would she find the time? So it sits like a pretty piece of yard art and maybe a reminder of their strenuous migrations from Missouri, to ranch life in Montana, to rural life on the outskirts of wine country on the central California coast.

The weather is near perfect 365 days a year. Of all the places we've been so far, I could see Robert's radar turning. He really liked the area. Mark took us on a little tour that included San Luis Obispo and a stop at the Tally vineyards. San Luis, or Slow-town, is just right. Not too big, just enough culture (the home of Cal-Poly,) and again, perfect climate. I caught Robert looking online at real estate later, so that says something. Allison loved that she got to feed the horses which amounted to Mark driving the pick-up down the drive and letting the kids divide a bale of hay among them.

Besides all of that, it was especially nice to reunite with an old friend. Denise and I were college room-mates. We both married young and had a handful of kids. And from what our men say, we are still the loves of their lives. Oh, yes, and that they married up and don't deserve us. We're both still falling for it, apparently. Robert and Mark hit it off well. They did not know each other in college, but had lots of mutual friends. They're pretty good guys.

It looks like a pretty nice life to me. They remodeled an old ranch home, added a swimming pool and a top-notch outdoor kitchen. Old red oaks stand in the yard and their horses ramble freely on their acreage along with the deer and Arnold, the English bull terrier. The nearest neighboring property belongs to a Boy Scout Camp. The winding road to the village of Arroyo Grande is dotted with orchards and wineries. Denise works part time in a cute store in the village to provide her a "girly fix." I'm not sure how to categorize Mark's work except that it affords him the freedom to wear flip-flops instead of dress loafers everyday. He invests in property. I'd say he has the knack.

Our time was short. They have busy lives with four school-aged boys. Plus, with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching they had family visiting. We came in like a whirlwind and left two days later on the road to our next stop--Santa Barbara.

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