Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carmen's Chronicles Meets Enchanted Oak

For well over ten years now, I've made a spring trek to the Cliffs Resort at Shell Beach to attend our annual CA Sexual Assault Investigators conference.  The drive is pretty routine, through a lovely part of California.  Sometimes, I vary it and head down the coast route of Highway 1 from Pacifica, past Santa Cruz and pick up 101 in the Monterey area.  Before long, the fertile farmland of the central California coast lies ahead, with acres of crops, fruit trees and vineyards, with the blue Pacific off in the distance.

I had never even noticed the Templeton exits, some thirty miles from Shell Beach.  Had I not become a blogger, I might have driven to and from my conference without ever veering off Highway 101 in Templeton.  To miss this charming, old Western  town, unofficial population of about 5000 in 2000, would have been a shame, indeed.  When Chris Alba of Enchanted Oak suggested we meet for lunch there at McPhee's, it seemed like a perfect spot.  I'm always up for seeing a new locale and dining out at a new restaurant, especially one that came with such a great recommendation from Chris. 

When I took that Templeton exit, it was almost like entering California's past.  The town was founded in 1886 as the final stop for railroad passengers from the north.  It is in a rural setting with a Mediterranean climate and its products - grapes, wines and olive oil are much like you would find in a Tuscan setting. 

Central California coast vineyards, near Templeton

Rolling hills, farmland

Leaving Templeton

Templeton, California

Two four-legged welcomers

McPhee's Grill

Decorations at McPhee's

Mr. Pig

McPhee's Bar

Yummy sweet potato fries

Our sweet waitress, Lindsay

Macadamia encrusted salmon

Jambalaya with shrimp and chicken

Our delicious shared creme brulee!

Carmen, Carmen's Chronicles and Chris, Enchanted Oak

Chris and I had a wonderful lunch and visit together.  Aside from brief comments and interactions over our blogs and a few emails, we had never met before but we talked like old friends.  I hope it will be the first of many stops I make in Templeton to see her.  Now that we've met, I certainly won't go to the San Luis Obispo area without meeting up with my fellow poet and blogger!


  1. it's always good to meet fellow bloggers ...especially when you never met them before...."putting faces to names".... as you described it last time....... :)

    pics suggest Templeton is nice place...i mean where else you see so much of open everywhere you'll find some's not easy to find an alone moment.....


  2. that sure seemed wonderful!
    lovely place, great company,delicious food and wonderful service... perfect!

  3. What a lovely set of photos.
    Great that you got on so well with Chris too.
    Everything going for you on that outing.

    Nuts in May

  4. You always have THE BEST eyeshadow!!!!! What is that? What brand do you use????

    That place looks very a dessert...perhaps I am just very used to the colorful, tropical Philippines?? :)

    You know, when we meet people on the internet, we really do get to know them very fast, just as the way that they are in person. Because I think people are more comfortable being open with their hearts on the internet, so when you meet someone you've been a friend with on the internet for a long time, it really DOES feel like you've known each other and been with each other in person for that long, too! :)

  5. I love finding great places you never new existed.
    How wonderful you got to meet a blog friend, I have not had such pleasure yet. I hope your meeting creates an even stronger bond.

  6. So fun to see the two of you together, Carmen! Mmm...I'd love to nibble on a few of those sweet potato fries.

  7. hitesh rawat -
    There are many wide open spaces in CA but, of course, some of the cities, such as L.A., San Jose, and San Francisco, are very congested.

    I do hope to meet some other bloggers soon. Kary of My Little Farmhouse was supposed to join us but could not this time.

    msgiceye -
    It was, indeed, a lovely day as I am sure it will be if/when I get to meet you in Mumbai. I am praying nothing goes wrong and I will be there in Sept or Oct this year.

    Maggie May -
    It was a perfect day. The CA spring day was gorgeous and I was so delighted with the little town. There was no awkwardness at all when Chris and I met.

    C -
    I do LOVE eyeshadow. My favorite of all is
    Shu Uemura which I discovered at Narita Airport as I was leaving Tokyo. They have so many shades, in regular, metallics and pearls. Too expensive, though ( especially since I lost my 21 year nursing job with San Francisco over a year ago! ) at $20 US each!

    Actually, this area of CA is not dry but very green with rolling hills and it is the agricultural area of the state and, indeed, provides produce for much of the United States. Next to Napa and Sonoma, it is the largest wine growing region for CA. I just didn't shoot many pictures so you could see all the green hills,
    especially so after our CA rains. Much of the
    state is dry, however, and desert-like, not at
    all lush and tropical.

    You are right, I think we often share more of ourselves on the internet than we do with people we met otherwise, where we tend to be more guarded!

    Liss -
    I do so much travel abroad and, now that my budget is so restricted with my job loss, I'll need to do more exploring at home.

    willow -
    Those sweet potato fries were some of the best I've ever had..though there is a place in GA that has the best baked sweet potatoes. Gosh, I wish I could go there for lunch today!

  8. these are beautiful pictures!!

  9. I have visited the Napa valley of California in the past.
    This scenery resembles it.
    It is very peaceful scenery.

    Food looks delicious.

    Thank you for displaying my photograph.

    From the Far East.
    Best regards.

  10. wonderful photos. I have always wanted to see the wine country in california.

  11. Wonderful post, Carmen! Your photos are gorgeous too. It's wonderful that you meet a new blogger friend in real life and got along so well!

  12. This looks like a charming place. So happy you had such a good time in such gorgeous surroundings.

  13. This was a really fun post! Of course I like the pictures of the countryside. It sure does look Mediterranean. How cool to meet a fellow blogger. I'm only a couple of hours from Chuck of Secondary Roads. I suspect we will meet before long. Nice to see you looking so happy!

  14. It is so joyous to see blogger friends meet. This post is a complete pleasure Carmen. And oh yes, I have tagged you. See it on Bhavesh and Friends

  15. Iva -
    So glad you liked my photos. I was just checking out your blog and laughed at your collection of eyeshadows...I, by the way, have worn hot pink!

    Isn't Napa wonderful but all of our CA wine regions are nice - the central coast - Paso Robles area in these pictures, the Russian River, Mendocino, etc. I love wine!

    And it is me who must be thanking you for the privilege of using your beautiful photography as the header for my blog. Every time I look at it, it gives me such joy!

    Garnetrose -
    No matter how often I visit wine country and no matter the season, it always gives me such joy. I kind of like it off season when there are not so many visitors and you can chat with the folks at the wineries and enjoy the tastings without the crowds.

    Icy BC -
    I hope to catch up with a few more bloggers! When I was in GA, I'd planned on seeing "Nana Trish is Living the Dream" but, with my mother's illness, it was just too much of a problem logistically.

    Jenny -
    Templeton was very charming and so enjoyable. I am glad to have visited there and, especially, to have met Chris.

    Sharkbytes -
    I was certainly in a great frame of mind after seeing my nursing buddies and friends of so many years at my conference, then getting to meet Chris. It was one of the nicest few days since my job ended!

  16. How lovely, to read of blogging buddies meeting up. Glad you had fun.

  17. Templeton is so picturesque! It looked like a lovely place to have lunch, Carmen, and I know how much fun it is to meet a fellow blogger.

  18. yummy foods and great place... what a fun experience for you