The Happiest of Trails

Happy trails to you…until we meet again.
Happy trails to you…keep smiling until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you…’til we meet again.

                         -Dale Evans and Roy Rogers

Certain occasions need to be celebrated in a memorable way.   As 2019 marks fifteen years of marriage for my husband and me, it was therefore worthy of an unforgettable experience.  To honor this momentous adventure together we decided to visit our happy place, Morro Bay, California; and since the hubs hadn’t seen the western U.S., a road trip was in order.  There is nothing quite like the expansive vistas that the west offers, and they are completely missed by plane.  You have to be a part of it to really understand the mind blowing beauty of it all.  Our course took us through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and finally California.  Not to play favorites, but I have to say that driving down the 70 highway through Utah is like being inside an oil painting of a western landscape.  It is simply indescribable, the magnitude of its beauty. Every turn of the head, angle of the sun, mile down the road is breathtaking. Needless to say…our fifteenth anniversary will be remembered. 

The downside of road trips is weariness at the end of the day.  Mostly you’re stiff and tired and want to hit the sack, and this was true for a lot of our stops along the way to our landing spot. (I intend on circling back another time to investigate mocktails further in the future in Colorado as well as a few other places we passed through.  I understand the NA craft beer scene is pretty next level there, and a whole other trip should probably be planned to do it justice.  Stay tuned friends…I’ll see what I can do about that.)  The M casino and spa in Las Vegas was the first place we had the opportunity to dress up a bit and have a night cap. We had taken our time driving through the aforementioned splendor of Utah and were trying to push through to California, but Nevada was as far as we could go. Road weary and desperate for a place to stay outside of the neon jungle that is Las Vegas, we soldiered on until the skyline got darker. 

Night Cap at M Casino & Spa

The M was the last hotel we saw before the desert began again.  As we drove to the entrance I volunteered to go in and see if there was a vacancy. I didn’t care how much it cost; it was time to stop. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t’ sure at the time where we were exactly – Henderson? Las Vegas?  The lovely woman at the front desk set me straight on our location, and during the check-in process found out we were celebrating our anniversary.  Not long after we were in our room chocolate covered strawberries were delivered compliments of the front desk.  Nice, huh?  And the room was sexaaay! Sexy!  Not a clichéd mirrors on the ceiling kind of thing, but a low light twinkling skyline, bathtub with a window to the twinkling skyline sort of sexy.  I’m not gonna lie, it was a great stop.  We filled our bellies with a fantastic meal and set off to the bar to wrap-up the day with a mocktail.  Continuing this theme of fabulous hospitality, there was no problem ordering alcohol free drinks.  The bartender offered a mojito and suggested a Heineken zero for my husband.  We sat and blissfully enjoyed our beverages while congratulating ourselves on our good fortune.

Welcome Home

The next day was a long haul to The Inn at Morro Bay, our celebration destination. We arrived just at sunset (a perfect time to be in Morrow Bay) and soaked it all in over a cocktail.  We sat at the bar a little worse for wear, and were treated by our bartender Tracy like family.  No sooner had I asked “do you serve alcohol free…” she finished the sentence, “Mocktails?” All I could do was nod and smile.  She made a perfectly refreshing fruit and cucumber mocktail that blended into the colors of the setting sun while the hubs opted for a full octane Blue Hawaii.  It felt like coming home. 

Sunset in Morro Bay

After a restful night sleeping to the sound of the distant fog horn sighing its monotone song it was the big day. Fifteen years of a committed relationship is quite something if you think about it; but it’s just a chorus compared to the complete love ballad of twenty-five years our dear friends that we had come to visit were celebrating.  Our anniversaries are one day apart from each other, and occasionally we get to celebrate together.  Because this was quite a milestone for us all we made the pilgrimage out west to share in the festivities.  The day was spent touring around the exceptional central coast of California just soaking in with every pore the charm and glorious nature that part of the country displays.  The vast ocean and all its creatures entertained us by just going about their day.  Otters twirled in the kelp or slept in their prayer poses, seagulls squawked begging for food, land squirrels practically sat in our laps eager for nibbles of whatever snack we had, and sea lions barked at each other for the best sunning spots all while the pulse of the ocean rolled on.  Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but my hear lives at Morro rock. 

Anniversary Mocktails at Ventana

That night we were treated to another Technicolor sunset as we dined at the Ventana Grill in Pismo beach.  Did they have mocktails on the menu? Yes, yes they did!  I ordered the AF version of their coconut mojito, a blend of coconut milk, lime, and mint. The hubs had a zesty muddled berry, lime, and orange AF Ventana View.  I loved both drinks equally.  Both were light on the taste buds yet full of flavor.  We all ended the evening at the fiery 1865 Craft House and Kitchen where we had wild and wonderful Unicorn Palomas which they graciously deleted alcohol for me. 

Unicorn Palomas at 1865 Craft House

A treat for the eyes as much as it is to drink.  It starts with a charcoal black salted rim and inside is where the magic happens… a huge blue ice cube floats in the middle of the drink changing the color as it melts. Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo! Unicorn alchemy in a glass.   The night was getting late, and it was time to call it a wrap on the day’s revelry and tuck ourselves into bed.

We bid farewell to our beloved Morro Bay and headed back east with a side trip to visit more friends in Palm Springs and another opportunity to sample a new mocktail.  Dinner was at the Tropicale, a restaurant that maintains an absolutely perfect balance of homage to the mid-century beginning of the area and fully modern cuisine.

Tropicale Palm Springs
Cheers from Palm Springs

The hubs went neck deep into the vibe and had a dirty martini.  I was given an excellent lemongrass and basil mojito. Wow is all I can say about that.  It was completely delicious.  I had never had lemongrass in a drink before – I can’t recommend it enough.  It was so tasty with the other herbaceous ingredients, and made the drink beautiful to look at along with the flower decorating the rim.  It was a very memorable drink to end a very memorable anniversary road trip. 

We hot-footed it home replete with soul redeeming re-connections with old friends, great food, nature, and the Pacific.  A very memorable anniversary journey indeed.

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