Monday, March 4, 2013

And day 2 of vacation goes like this...

I slept, but not great.  Oh well.  I haven't been able to shake the nasal congestion from the head cold I had at the beginning of the week.  I've been using afrin spray a few times a day and snore strips at night, and it helps, but hasn't resolved it all.  So not being able to breathe through my nose wakes me up.

At 7 a.m. I gave up on sleeping and went back out to the pool.  I had woken up with a persistent but low-grade cramp in my right calf (probably a combo of a hard run and driving so long), so I was hoping this would help unlock it.  This time I had it to myself.  I sat in the hot tub for awhile, did a few laps in the pool and then back to the hot tub for awhile.

I showered off, at breakfast out of the bag of food I had packed, and then decided to go for a walk.  I hadn't brought any running stuff because I hadn't anticipated wanting to run that soon after the race.  So I just walked down Vine Street and then back up for probably half an hour.  It's very rare for me to go out and walk anywhere.  I'm trying to practice keeping my head up for better posture and for appreciating scenery.  I habitually look down when I'm running for two reasons: 1) I want to quickly identify anything that might trip me, and 2) I give up and walk if I see how far I still have to go, so I keep my eyes low so that I can only seen 10-20 feet in front of me and keep telling myself I only have to make it that far.  So I need to psychologically get past #2, and start appreciating the beauty around me.  I'm a work in progress.

Normally when I go out of town on a weekend, I like to find a church to visit.  However, being unscheduled was so critical to me that I didn't do any research in advance, even down to not asking the desk clerk about any church info.  Usually I find attempts to do so very stressful and frustrating because churches are typically terrible about making location and service times readily available to out-of-towners (pamphlets at hotels, website, and answering machines).

When I got back to the hotel, I decided to give it a try.  I requested a late checkout and got 1 p.m., so that should give me time to get back from anywhere and pack up afterward.  The front desk had a packet giving service times and directions to four churches.  The last two had already passed.  My remaining choices were Assemblies of God (10a) and a non-denominational church (10:30a).  I decided to try to get to the AG church first.

That attempt could be a whole blog in itself.  It was supposed to be 1 mile away from the hotel.  I followed the very simple directions and found myself at a residential neighborhood intersection.  No church, no significant volume of cars, no people walking anywhere, nothing.  I tried mapping the address on my phone, and it said I was already there.  I tried searching for "Assemblies of God, Paso Robles, CA," and the result was the non-existent address where I was.  The hotel packet had a number, so I decided to call it.  To my surprise, someone answered (church was scheduled to start in 5 minutes).  To summarize, the woman on the other end of the call confirmed that I was calling an AG church, but she wasn't sure of the address, but she thought it was on 13th St (where I was).  She seemed very confused by the fact that anyone would have trouble finding her church.  I asked how long the church had been in its mystery spot, and she responded "forever."  She proceeded to describe various features of the building.  I gave up, thanked her and said good-bye.  It was one of those, "You! Off the planet!" phone calls.  I even tried driving down 13th, wondering if I might find it.  No luck.

So onto the non-denominational church.  It wasn't easy to find, because the directions were vague, but I made it!  It was "get to know you" Sunday for them, so they had a table out with sticker name tags and markers.  It was a very casual church, so I fit in perfectly with jeans, a dress shirt and tennis shoes.  The building felt small, mainly because of how many chairs were packed in the the sanctuary.  While I think it's great to get every seated in the service, it made it very hard to get across the sanctuary to the restroom, and would be a fire hazard for a "say hi to five people you haven't met yet."  I did introduce myself and speak to the couple sitting next to me, Jordan and Marin.  She's pregnant with their second child and they just moved back to the area a month ago after living in L.A. for a few years.

The pastor had a very pun-ny sense of humor, and goofy demeanor.  Halfway through the sermon I started writing down his jokes because they were SO awful they were hilarious.  He announced we'd be reading out of the ESV, the Extra Spiritual Version.  At the beginning, he had said that this was going to be a "fun outline" because of the alliteration.  Three bullet points, one starting with "I" and the other two with "A."  I let that one go.  We were going through the last part of Philippians 3, and midway through the sermon he said, "Remember that joke I told a few weeks ago, that really bad one?"  He referenced it in succession a couple more times before finally releasing it:  Philippi was a province of Rome.  So Philippi was Paul's Rome away from Rome.  I died laughing.  Thankfully a few others in the congregation were chuckling, because I was having trouble regaining composure, and I was sitting directly in the middle, only about four rows back.

I didn't linger afterward because 1) I was hungry, 2) it was so crowded it wasn't comfortable to mingle and meet people, and 3) my checkout time was fast-approaching.  I dashed back to the hotel and had all my stuff out of the room at 12:58.  I asked Obed at the front desk for a good but cheap local place to grab lunch and he gave me some suggestions.  I ended up at a pub where I ordered an ABC burger (avocado, bacon and cheddar).  It came with garlic fries.  The whole meal was so delicious and way more than I should have eaten, but I couldn't stop.  I was so full leaving that place.

I had originally wanted to get in a hike or a trip to the beach, but it was 2 p.m., and either one would have been at least an hour or two of a time commitment, so I decided I was good with the R&R I had enjoyed, and turned Harry (my 99 RAV4) homeward bound.

I stopped in again at San Antonio Winery and Elise was there again.  She served me another few tastings and we chatted for a bit more.  I decided to buy a bottle of Asti while I was there, and she gave me the three-bottle discount because I had purchased yesterday as well, even though this only made two bottles purchased.  For as cheap as I am, I like to deliberately spend and make an effort to support local businesses, especially ones with this welcoming of an atmosphere and where they don't charge for their tastings.  I want to prove to them that their business model works.

Lupe had recommended a couple of other wineries last night while we were talking out at the pool: Broken Earth and Tobin James.  I was watching for them and ended up pulling off a little early.  I walked into Vina Robles.  I asked the greeter specifically if their wines were more sweet or more dry, stating that I enjoyed the sweeter wines.  She got so excited and gushed about their sweet wines, and ushered me to the back.  The tasting servers told me they mainly make drier wines.  I did a sampling of the whites (not complimentary), which except for the Savignon Blanc, were very good, but I left disappointed at either the greeter's idiocy or her deception.  I'm not sure which it was, but suspected the former.  There was another winery on the other side of the driveway, Robert Hall, and so I decided to stop in and see what they had before I committed to a tasting.  They were very upfront about what they had, and after hearing my mini-sob story, poured me a tasting of their moscato free of the normal charge.

I continued on, stopped at Broken Earth, mildly impressed with their selection, but more with their patio and view.  I just sat for a while on the deck enjoying it all before getting in my car.  I ended up skipping Tobin James because my sister Joy called and we were talking about plans for her upcoming graduation.

I arrived home around 6:30, just in time for a game night with my small group.  I decided not to even go home first because I knew I'd get busy with unpacking and checking out the water issue.  I did do something pretty drastic and purchase a car wash on the way to Katie's.  My windshield was so bug-ridden that I decided it was worth the $5.

After the game night, I went home and found the water had receded.  I still was having the plumber come out to snake the drain so it wouldn't reoccur, but I was glad not to have to sleep with the stench of the backed up water.

Hands down an excellent time away from home.  I was simultaneously exhausted and rested.  Now back to real life.  I have a lot to get done before my trip to Orange County next weekend.  Work, one more seminary paper, a LOT of seminary reading, and various other obligations.

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