Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Running with Team Madonna Inn

Over 3,700 runners turned out for the 2nd annual SLO Marathon + Half and 5K, which concluded nearly two weeks ago in Madonna Inn Meadows. Participants from all over the central coast came out with their families to enjoy the race festivities and health fair. Whether crossing the finish at a run, walk, or all-out sprint, every runner was awarded a medal upon completing the race. The experience was both challenging and inspiring; and reminded me of what a wonderfully supportive community San Luis Obispo is. Even at 6:00 in the morning, local residents and family members of runners lined the course with signs, snacks and even beer (at the “Miracle” mile).

Besides hosting and sponsoring the event, the Madonna Inn sponsored a 30-person “MI Team” of runners. Coffee-shop bussers, managers, receptionists, hostesses, purchasers, servers, retail clerks and family came together in hot pink hats to train and run together. Even now that the race is over, a few of our team members have continued taking weekly hikes up San Luis Mountain. Training with and supporting each other through this experience brought our Team Madonna Inn closer as co-workers, as friends, and as family.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Springtime Splendor

Although each season on the Central Coast is uniquely charming, there is perhaps no time of year more enchanting than spring. By mid-March I find I have traded in my knitted beanie and boots for a sun bonnet and sandals. New life sprouts up even in the cracks of sidewalk concrete, and sunlight washes away the shadows of winter. On a bright beautiful day it seems even the locals are filled with a contagious, bubbly joy.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve been hiking up Cerro San Luis Mountain in about a week or so and I swear I’ve never been more astonished at the sudden appearance of wildflowers. Bushels of lupine, California poppy, morning glory, and wild sage envelop the grassy slopes and canyons… embellishing the landscape with vivid color. With every turn of the trail, a breeze would conjure up the spicy smell of fennel; mixed with the scent of sweet dewy grasses- a much appreciated luxury in the middle of my work out. When I finally reached the peak, I was thrilled to see that I’d beat the marine layer and I could literally see for miles. Far ahead of me, I spotted the vineyards of Edna Valley and the dunes of Pismo Beach, and in turning around saw out to glittering waters in Morro Bay.

After some water and a little snack, I began my descent. As I traveled I was serenaded by a menagerie of birds and crickets. A couple times, I even caught the bellow of a wobbling baby calf. (There is almost nothing cuter to me than seeing them buck and play together once they have learned to walk.) The emerald ridges looked almost velvety in the late afternoon sun, and the long shadows of trees and boulders cast a terracotta hue upon the ground. I couldn’t help but smile as I sauntered along, for I knew that the magic of springtime had only just begun.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cesar Chavez Day

In San Luis Obispo, Cinco de Mayo is not the only holiday you’re likely to find party-goers decked out in bikinis, sombreros, and fake mustaches. Every year on the last day of March- although this year the holiday was observed on the first day of April so as not to coincide with Easter- thousands of Cal Poly and Cuesta students hit the local beaches to celebrate Cesar Chavez day.

As both a college and agrarian community, the Central Coast turns out big crowds for the holiday honoring the life and work of Cesar Chavez. This annual celebration of civil rights, community, (and cocktails) has been observed in California as an official state holiday since 1995, and was made a national holiday in 2008. Chavez was a Mexican-American civil-rights activist and farm laborer who co-founded the National Farm Worker’s Association.

Whether you’re celebrating shore-side, mountain-side, or even couch side, let’s all have a toast to Cesar.