After our tour de Santa Barbara, we headed north to San Luis Obispo on Friday afternoon to meet up with Amanda and Josh, who were also getting into town that evening.  While we waited for them to get in, Shane and I took a quick spin through the Cal Poly campus for a stroll down memory lane.  Wandering through the architecture building was a total blast from the past – I poked my head into the studio where I spent what felt like every waking hour of my last year at school, and when I saw the desks strewn with cool models and crazy sketches, I felt a little pang of longing for old times.  Then I stood on the same little balcony from which I remember making hundreds of stressed-out late-night calls to Shane, and saw the grungy old couch which I napped on when I was working in the studio until 4 a.m. and couldn’t trust myself to head home and make it back for my 8 a.m. class, and I was thankful that those days are behind me.

Amanda and Josh arrived that evening, and once we were all checked into our hotel room, we headed toward downtown to hit up Firestone’s for dinner – their tri-tip sandwich was a protein staple in my college diet, and I’ve been craving this meaty goodness ever since I left.  Deeeee-lish.  When we left the bar, it was pouring rain, so we decided to just head back to the hotel to hang out and veg.  Even though Amanda and I hadn’t seen each other since June, it never takes us more than 15 minutes to feel like we’ve never been apart, and it felt good to have a low-key night together, just talking and laughing.  I’ve missed her.

Saturday morning, I had only one mission: coffee at my favorite cafe in downtown SLO.  Shane and I were up bright and early-ish to hit up Linnea’s Cafe.  I was happy to find that the place was relatively unchanged – still cozy, still serving good coffee, and still inhabited by the same intriguing man that has sat at the same table every day for years now, hunched over his journal, in which he writes/draws symbols unlike any language I’ve ever seen before (I’m betting all of my old Cal Poly peeps know exactly who I’m talking about).

After coffee and a short stroll through downtown, the skies cleared and the sun came out, and we were all beach-bound, intent on grabbing lunch at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach.  Their clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl was another staple in my college diet (the term ‘Freshman Fifteen’ exists for a reason), and again, I was not disappointed.  However, I was slightly disappointed when we left the restaurant to walk on the beach, only to find that all beach access was closed for the day, due to the coast-wide tsunami warnings.  Bummer.  But we got over it quickly enough, ’cause we had a wedding to get to.

The wedding was fabulous.  The bride was my old friend Jenny, whom I’ve known since high school, when we used to type messages to each other on our calculators in high school math class.  We were roommates during our freshman year at Cal Poly, and though we haven’t seen each other since Shane I got married almost four years ago, I was thrilled to be a part of her special day, which was so wonderfully ‘Jenny-ish’.  Francine, another one of my best friends from high school, was also there, and our little reunion was so much fun.  When I say, ‘We all go waaaay back together’, I really mean it, and it was fun to reminisce.

Sunday was our last day in Cali, and we took advantage of it by heading up the coast to see the elephant seals near San Simeon.  There is this stretch of beach that is home to hundreds of elephant seals, and driving up highway 1 to go see them is a favorite Central Coast pastime.  They were out in full force on Sunday, even closer to shore because of high tide.  The four of us spent nearly an hour just watching them lounge around in the sun, then occasionally flop across the beach to get in the water or play with one of their mates.  They are amazing animals – the males can get up to 20 feet long and can weigh as much as 8,000 pounds, and they have these horribly-ugly-but-still-kind-of-cute hooked snouts that wave around a little bit when they raise their heads in the air to bark.

After our seal-gazing, it was time to say good-bye to Amanda and Josh and head back down to Santa Barbara to catch our flight home.  One last walk on the beach when we got to SB, and then I was officially bummed to be leaving California.  What a weekend…