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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   GET OUT OF TOWN
Get Out of Town!
November, 2014 - Issue #121
If you've ever been lucky enough to live in a beach town, or at least visit one in the fall, it's likely you discovered a well-kept secret. Fall is absolutely the best time to visit.

The kids are back in school, the crowds have shrunk and the weather is postcard perfect. No fog - and temperatures warm enough to send you into the water. We managed to squeeze in a two-day get-away to Pismo Beach a few weeks back and it was everything you could hope for in a fall beach weekend.

Every time I visit Pismo, I discover something new. This trip was no different. After lunch we drove into See Canyon, north of town. Fall means apples and what you buy from the orchards in the canyon depends on whatever is ripe when you visit. On the way to Gopher Glen, our favorite orchard, we noticed several signs pointing to Ariaglass, a studio devoted to the creation of kiln-formed art glass.

Intrigued, we followed the signs like a trail of bread crumbs and found ourselves standing in the garage-turned-gallery of artist Jamie Stehula. We had left the kids in the car (four kids + glass artwork = potential disaster), but she insisted that we bring them in.

"The kids were happy and so was Mom. April enjoyed a nap on the patio chaise lounge while swaying palms provided shade from the SETTING SUN."
They were so engaged by Jamie's enthusiastic explanation of the craft that there was little danger of them running around and breaking anything. She demonstrated how she made different pieces by cutting shapes from sheets of glass, fusing them together for 15 hours in an electric kiln at 1,480 degrees, and then returning them to the kiln again in molds to create curves and other shapes.

The results range from apple-tini Christmas ornaments to sea stars and sushi dishes, to striking bowls that seem to be painted with fall-color leaves, but are made entirely from different colors and sizes of glass.

"Light makes all the difference," she said. She stood in the driveway holding up a brilliant orange poppy made of multiple layers of glass to let the late afternoon sun bring out the variation in colors.

One kiln had just finished cooling. She opened it to reveal a flat, shiny blue blob. It had been a shattered plate, but the kiln melts the fragments together in a new form.

"I never throw anything out," Jamie explained. She then held the piece over a mold to demonstrate what it would become after another session in the kiln - a brilliant decorative bowl.

We decided to check into the hotel before dinner and let the kids run around. We were staying at The Cliffs Resort at the north end of Pismo. The kids wanted to hit the pool, but we never made it that far.

We opened the sliding glass doors on our ocean view king room and all four kids ran outside onto the wide lawn that stretches across the bluff-top property. While they ran in the grass, I marveled in the view. The panorama spanned from Port San Luis on the north all the way down to the Oceano Dunes on the south.

"I love this place!" Amber, 6, exclaimed. "We get our own backyard." Following the nearby path down to the beach, we discovered The Cliffs' backyard includes a sizable collection of tide pools waiting to be explored.

The kids scrambled from rock to rock, chasing hermit crabs that skittered across the pools and sticking their fingers in sea anemones. The oldest three soon had the crabs crawling across their hands and had forgotten all about the pool.

I smiled as Amber tried to match her siblings' crab wrangling. "I got a big one on me, but it's not coming out," she announced while holding up a crab who preferred to stay hidden its shell.

The kids were happy and so was Mom. April enjoyed a nap on the patio chaise lounge while swaying palms provided shade from the setting sun.

Another perfect fall weekend at the beach indeed.

Fall Into Pismo
The Cliffs Resort www.cliffsresort.com

Ariaglass www.aria-glass.com

Gopher Glen Apple Farm www.gopherglen.com

Eric Harnish lives in Castaic in a lovely home with a backyard that, sadly, lacks tidepool access.
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