Heaven is a Place on Earth...and Its Name is Cambria
Before our friend Oh To Be a Muse invited us to her birthday weekend in Cambria, I had never even heard of the place. In guide books and Highway 1 road trip itineraries it's overshadowed by it's northern neighbor San Simeon, home to Hearst Castle and an Elephant Seal Rookery. It's under the radar status actually makes it more attractive to me - a hidden gem despite it's prime location along Highway 1 tucked in amongst coastal hills.
We headed out on Friday night only to catch the lovely Bay Area traffic. By the time we reached the turn off from Highway 1, it was pitch black and we had no idea where the winding road would lead us. The birthday girl had warned us that we would lose service on our way to the house they had rented, but thanks to trusty Verizon, Siri kept telling us where to go up until the driveway. We wound around dark corners and through trees that seemed to grow into the road, just waiting for someone to pull a sick joke and pop out with a mask on. When we finally arrived to the gate for the ranch (where we had to enter a gate code), I left my door open so that Kelly, my husband, would be able to react quickly if he heard me scream. However, no boogey monster appeared. Only a creaky slow gate and an iron sculpture of a man holding a gun (not creepy at all! ha!).
Thankfully once we pulled up to the house it was pure bliss from that point on. We were staying at Stepladder Ranch & Creamy, a family run business since 1871. "Grandpa" built the "Big House" where we were staying for family gatherings, but the Ranch rents it out on Airbnb and VRBO for additional income (lucky for us). Although we didn't see it the night we arrived, the rest of the weekend we enjoyed views of the Pacific Ocean from the patio, as well as rolling hills in every other direction. The "Big House" is built for entertaining and was perfect for our group of 14.
On Saturday, we tasted wines at surrounding vineyards (the Paso Robles wine region is very close) and wrapped up the day on the patio. If everyone's day ended on that patio, I'm convinced all the worlds problems would be solved.
Sunday was reserved for a tour of the creamery. Stepladder Creamery raises their goats, milks them and makes cheese with their milk. They are a full service operation and they love their animals! In addition to goats, they have avocado fed pigs, a bi-product of also being a functioning Haas avocado farm. We brought some avocado fed bacon home with us and it was hands down the best bacon we've ever had. I'm tempted to drive down every time I have a bacon craving because the store bought stuff (even from Whole Foods) doesn't live up to my foodie taste buds. Thanks Stepladder, you've ruined me!
The absolute highlight of Sunday was being able to bottle feed the "kids". The feels from that day have lasted me over a month. Seriously, adorable.
A metaphor for life? That we have to go through the scary muck to get to paradise? Or maybe I'm getting too philosophical and we simply left late and Cambria is a place like any other? Only one way to find out - go for yourself!