Whether a weekend is truly relaxing hinges on Sunday morning. If three particular elements come together then, I consider myself relaxed.
Sleeping in. Indulgent food. Dark coffee. With four kids at home, these things rarely align for me. But sitting down in the dining room at Shaver Lake's Elliott House Bed and Breakfast on a weekend away with April, I found it all.
Especially when owner and breakfast chef Greg Elliott slid a plate in front of me containing one his signature dishes: baked pancakes with Fuji and gala apples and a side of pineapple sausage. This came after I had already enjoyed rich banana bread and sliced fresh fruit with my cup of hot, dark coffee.
And what about sleeping in? Thankfully, breakfast isn't served too early, so there was no need to vacate our cozy queen size bed in the Dogwood Suite upstairs for fear of missing the splendid breakfast.
That consideration is what gives Elliott House its charm. A converted vacation home originally built in 1950, the seven-room B&B is a cozy mountain retreat. It's a picture of craftsmanship, with the original wood floors, wall paneling and ceiling all intact. Each room features a private bath and stocked mini-fridge, and many have gas-log fireplaces.
"It's a picture of CRAFTSMANSHIP, with the original wood floors, wall paneling, and ceiling all intact. Each room features a private bath and stocked mini-fridge, and many have gas-log fireplaces."
The Elliotts are welcoming hosts who know how to spoil guests. "We enjoy cooking, obviously," Greg said after breakfast.
The restful morning was welcome after our previous day's hike. Mystery Lake in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness was our intended destination. But the Forest Service had not yet unlocked the winter road closure gates.
We parked and followed Rock Creek Road on foot. After crossing Rock Creek, it climbed upward, offering views into the steep canyon and rolling hills marching into the distance. The 6,000-foot elevation reminded us that we are flat-landers.
We turned right and followed a side road descending sharply toward a creek. A faint trail picked up where the road ended. It zig-zagged around pine trees and dropped us on the rocks beside a pool deep enough for jumping in. It was tempting, but the cool breeze made me think better of it.
Instead, we took a short nap on the sun-warmed rocks, then headed back the way we came for an almost-five-mile round-trip.
There was some urgency to our steps. We didn't want to miss happy hour at the B&B. Greg was pouring four kinds of wine. Fresh strawberries and Joanne's homemade lemon bars were also available, along with chocolate chip cookies that were so tasty I lost count of how many I ate.
All of our eating clearly influenced our Sunday morning post-breakfast plans. We needed more exercise. After stopping at Shaver Lake Sports for some hiking suggestions, we headed toward Rancheria Falls, just up Highway 168 near Huntington Lake.
Given the lack of snowfall last winter, we didn't expect much. But it was only a 4.5-mile roundtrip, so we decided to explore. Our efforts were rewarded. A steady spray cascaded down the rippled rock face.
Oddly enough, we were hungry again. Good thing, too, because there was one more spot we wanted to try. Blue Sky Cafe is known for its crepes. We made it back just before they closed, ordering a croissant breakfast sandwich, date smoothie, banana nutella crepe and two large americanos.
Everything was delicious, and made for the perfect ending to a relaxing weekend.
But I'm hopeful this relaxing weekend will inspire others. Greg shared his baked pancake recipe. If I can get my kids to cook it, and make a decent cup of coffee, I'll be able to sleep in and enjoy more indulgent Sunday mornings.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic.
Make the Trip
Elliott House B&B
Blue Sky Cafe