Well, we’ve completed our second tour of Northern California looking for a place to hang our hats. After listening to the GPS lady in the box for two days say “recalculating” I’m ready for a margarita and a massage. I secretly believe that GPS actually stands for “God please stop”, but I have no facts to back this up. At one point we circled the same area three times and went to the same spot from three different directions and miraculously it was still a vacant lot with a few scruffy trees on it. Apparently I need to update the darn thing.
I am a great planner. Really, I am. I have moved thirty plus times in my life and I have traveled across this United States on more occasions than I have digits as well as Canada, which is my native country. Packing, for me, is a no brainer. I remember things like Q-tips, safety pins, scotch tape, band aids, travel games, and salt and pepper in a baggie. I’m just good. If you need it, I’ve packed it, and more.
This trip we headed towards the higher elevations. Both of us are spoiled on our lake view so wanted to see if we could recreate it on a lesser or equal level in another area. Once again in charge of trip planning, I have earned a badge in it at this point and wear it proudly, I located a motel at our destination that got rave reviews on their website from previous guests (we now believe they might have contributed these themselves) and was centrally located to the areas we were exploring. All good.
Being Canadian I associate higher elevations with cooler climate but in this case I was miles off the mark. As we were cresting the mountain the GPS lady asked for a drink of ice water. I’m not lyin’. Stepping out into the parking lot of our once again deluxe accommodations the soles of my running shoes actually stuck to the asphalt like the tar baby melting in the sun. Whoa.
It was a strip motel of some years boasting a Spanish feel, this only backed up by a bowl of paper flowers in a vase in the lobby. I must say that the proprietors were so sweet and welcoming that they made our stay really nicer than a four star hotel. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it worked. The keys we were handed were definitely old school with a circular bronze ring etched with an off-center number that I remember last seeing when I was a little kid.
We were informed that our room had the best mattress in the place by our hostess, which made us wonder if she rotated through the rooms regularly in order to be able to make this sterling recommendation. They amazed us, truly. I don’t know, but would venture a guess, that she and her husband were in their early to mid-seventies. They performed all tasks around the motel from maid service, desk, to maintenance, all done with a pleasant feel as though you were spending the night at Aunt Martha’s right down to the crocheted afghans found at the end of the beds and a book of Simplicity patterns by the nightstand in case you’d brought your machine. I loved it.
There was no WI-FI, 8 channels presented themselves on the TV, and the light in the bathroom would have made it impossible to find your feet, but there was something extraordinary comfortable about that bed she’d recommended that allowed me to pass the first uninterrupted 10 hours of sleep I’ve experienced in the past several years and a feeling that the world was moving quickly past me but I was enjoying a moment or two off the clock.
A big plus in the adverts about the motel was the pool with an impressive view of the valley below. I’m an avid swimmer so pool is a sign-on word for me, add the view and I’m all in. One thing they hesitated to mention, however, was that the pool, however lovely, was not located directly on the premises but up the hill behind the buildings where it was obvious from below there most certainly would be a magnificent view. Unfortunately, it could only be accessed by a startlingly steep winding path heading upwards in that direction. Now, it was a hundred and ninety degrees outside and although I smelled water that hill at that point looked to me like I would require oxygen, a Sherpa and several llama’s to actually get my behind up it. I’m just saying. Already looking like I’d been bobbing for French fries in the midday heat, I uncharacteristically passed on a quick swim and caught up on my reading about the latest patterns for tote bags in the A/C instead.
It was a long and unusual trip. Finding a new place to live is both exciting and exhausting at the same time. With a change of location comes all the other changes associated with it such as hairdressers, well it’s hard to find a good one, doctors, unhooking and rehooking up of utilities, and generally getting your sea legs in a new area. Aside from that I have to finish packing this house up and unpack it on the other end. Whining ends here. Ah well, life is full of changes and usually they’re for the best so I’m off to pack a few boxes.
At the front desk when we checked out of the hotel they had a barrel of beautiful homegrown tomatoes which we were invited to help ourselves to. This is a hot day in our area so I’m barbecuing and serving these tomatoes on the side. So good. Have a great Sunday!
Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup spinach, cleaned and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large white mushrooms, stemmed and chopped fine
3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. EV olive oil
In small skillet saute chopped mushrooms and garlic for about 4 mins. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes sliced side up on baking sheet. Combine ricotta cheese, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and thyme.
Top each tomato with approx. 2 Tbsp. of mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-15 mins. until light golden brown and bubbly.