While attending the Central Coast Writer’s Conference in September, I spent a lovely week visiting my friend Beth, whom I met over 30 years ago when we worked with the same Christian missionary organization.

We had lost touch over the years but reconnected two years ago when we both attended the 30th Anniversary celebration weekend at the Youth With A Mission base in Turner Valley, Alberta.  We had been stationed there together for a period of time. 

It was then that she told me she lived down the hill from Mt. Herman’s Christian Writer’s Conference and Retreat Centre and she offered me the option of saving money by staying with her if I ever attended.

When a planned trip to California last Spring was cancelled by an illness, I had a long phone chat with Beth instead of spending the weekend with her that was to be part of that trip. During the phone chat, I found out that over the years Beth too had been writing, and had a passion for telling stories. She had not pursued her writing passion, as her career has taken her full attention during recent years. She told me about another writer’s conference she had attended in the past, which was coming up in the fall. I checked it out online and decided to sign up. A post about that conference will be published on a Saturday in the coming months. 

I spent a wonderful week with Beth, it was busy with sightseeing and the conference.  The top of this post is a picture of a covered bridge in Fenton, California, near my friend’s house.

After the opening keynote discussion the first night of the writer’s conference, we decided to escape a bit early so we could get a bite to eat and also check out the night market. It was a fun market that took over several blocks of central San Luis Obispo. We didn’t buy anything, as the food trucks didn’t appeal to us, and we didn’t need to buy fruits and vegetables. Instead of the food trucks, we opted for a nearby restaurant, Mother’s Tavern, where I enjoyed a marvellous juicy steak.

Here is a photo of me at the restaurant.

It was such a good meal, we went back on Saturday after the conference. The San Luis Obispo Mission was nearby, which allowed us to cross another mission off of my list before supper and the long drive back to Santa Cruz that night.

Bubblegum Alley

If you have ever been to Seattle and seen the gum wall in Post Alley you will be happy to know, or maybe grossed out to know, there is a similar gum wall in San Luis Obispo, California. Now, I always thought a gum wall was a bit weird, and an isolated phenomenon in Seattle. But no, San Luis Obispo has one and I happened to run across it one night when we were exploring the weekly Thursday night Farmer’s Market.

I don’t seem to have any digital pictures of the Seattle gum wall for comparison, but you can see a couple here.

It was upon leaving this Mother’s Tavern, that we passed the alley with the gum wall, which is called Bubblegum Alley. I had to stop and take a picture or two. 


Fan Tan Alley at Home

Here in Victoria, we have a similar narrow alley, Fan Tan Alley, which is the oldest commercial street in the heart of Victoria’s Chinatown. It is a beautiful alley and I am so glad no one has decided to discard their desiccated wads on its old brick walls.

Here is a picture of me in Fan Tan Alley a couple of years ago with my trusty bike and typewriter. 

The gum wall might be a good prompt for a short story at some point….hmmmm, let me think.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Clint Eastwood’s Restaurant

On my final day in California, we drove down to Carmel-by-the-Sea to visit the Spanish Mission there (another separate post to come) then went for supper at the Clint Eastwood owned restaurant, Hogg’s Breath Inn.

On the left me in 2007, on the right, just the sign from this year.


I had fond memories of the restaurant and wanted to return. I had a steak and it was the best steak I have had in years. OMG, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Sadly, I had to leave California that night, but the memory lives on.

I will be returning to the San Francisco/Oakland area in February for another writer’s conference, The West Coast Christian Writer’s Conference. There was a flash sale and I couldn’t pass it up. I will also be entering a first timer’s contest to win a free visit to the Mt Herman’s Writer’s Conference in April. I entered last year but didn’t win. It is quite expensive, and with the US/Canadian dollar exchange rate, it is just out of my reach financially at present. 

Is there a weird or gross tourist spot, similar to the gum wall, you have encountered on your travels? What about a favourite restaurant? Or, a wonderful old street in your town. Leave me a comment or even post a picture below and tell me about it.


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