I forgot to hula-hoop.

I embraced my inner hippie this weekend.

John and I spent a few days with our close friends who live on an organic farm in the hills of California’s Central Coast. They have a growing business called Elemental Herbs that makes amazing herb-based skincare products (using farm-grown ingredients). John is involved with the company and this weekend, board members and their families gathered in a sleepy beach town called Cayucos for a good mix of business and pleasure. Saturday was also the 2nd annual plant sale up at the farm, an event that has turned into a fun festival with vendors, food, activities, and live music. I got my beach fix, put on my boogie shoes to some reggae, ate delish organic food, and made some great new friends.

We arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, relieved to have made it at all. The journey was less than smooth- our 9pm departure from SLC was late, which led to us sprinting through LAX and convincing the woman at the gate to let us board the tiny prop plane that would take us to San Luis Obispo. Once we touched down (around 12:30am), we still had to find our borrowed car and drive 40 minutes to the rental house. But we arrived to fresh flowers, a lovely welcome note, and a bottle of wine, plus the house was just a block from the Cayucos beach.  We slept well and woke up to a glorious sunny day.

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On Friday, John spent the day in meetings while I got to know the wife of another board member. We clicked immediately and had a mellow day together, walking her 4-month old son along the beach and chatting away in the sunny garden at the house. I also finally visited Taco Temple, which was legendary in the descriptions from our friends but is always closed when we’re there (they call it Black Tuesday). The carnitas taco did not disappoint. One taco was big enough to fill me up and leave me with leftovers- and was $4.50. I’m a believer.

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That evening, the crew returned from their day of business and we all trekked down to the beach with cocktails to enjoy the sunset. Afterward, we had a big family dinner with pizza, salad with greens from the farm, lots of wine, and lots of laughs.

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Saturday morning, Allison, baby Fisher and I took another gorgeous walk while the team wrapped up meetings. Then we hit Ruddell’s Smokehouse, a spot near the pier that John and I never miss when we visit Cayucos. The smoked fish tacos are unique and absolutely scrumptious. Then off to the farm we went.

At the top of a winding dirt road in the mountains between Atascadero and Morro Bay, 4 Elements Farm is not all that easy to get to. I wasn’t sure how many people we’d see, though they had mentioned expecting 100-200 people. As we got closer to the farm, we passed groups of young folks walking up to the farm- bearded, feathers in hair, dogs in tow.  We came over a rise and caught a glimpse of the full makeshift parking lot, and suddenly it felt like we were late for the big event. We walked around back toward the greenhouses and crops, and the party was in full swing. Kids were swinging from silk fabric hanging from a tree, twisting and flipping like acrobatic monkeys. A group of people were being led through something called Laughter Yoga, bent over in stitches like they just heard the best joke ever told. A sound crew with varying lengths of dreadlocks were performing a sound check at the stage that was set up between farm buildings. A keg was flowing, vendor booths were filled with colorful organic wares, and miscellaneous dogs were threading their way through what was becoming a sizeable crowd of people of all ages. This was going to be fun.

John and I sat back with our cocktails on a wooden bench, perfectly situated for people-watching. We soaked in the scene for awhile, shouting cheers of support for the opening band (it was their first gig). We checked out the vendor booths, which included everything from free massages from local therapists to samples of delicious herb-infused oils and balsalmic vinegars to the local Surfrider Foundation chapter. We took a little tour of the gardens, just planted for the season. We tried some tasty tempeh and quinoa tacos and danced with the crowd for the headlining band, a fun reggae group that had us all getting down. Fireworks and a poi dancer (fire-spinner) lit up the night.

We made our way up to the house where a few of us enjoyed a sit-down meal, toasting to the success of the event. We said our goodbyes and headed down the hill to the Cayucos house, leaving behind groups of people setting up tents for the night. Another deep sleep awaited us.

On Sunday, our housemates left before we awoke, a 4-5 hour drive back up to the Bay Area ahead of them. Our friends came down from the farm, full of stories from the night and pleased with the turnout. We spent the afternoon at a restaurant called Hoppe’s in Cayucos, enjoying a leisurely meal in a charming garden with delectable food and wine.

The resident dog (a Corgi mix named Oboe with a sign around his neck that said, “Please don’t feed me”) kept us company. Maybe it was because the food was really good, or maybe it was just the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend, but it was one of the best meals in my recent memory. We stayed for too long, the lunch an excuse to soak up our last bit of California sunshine and time with good people before heading home.

My thoughts exactly. Until next time.

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