Wednesday, July 15, 2009

California Dreaming

I knew when I sat down to type this blog, I wanted to talk about California, while the images, and scents, and sounds were still fresh in my head. But there were just so many experiences, I feel like I am still processing it all myself. I saw the Pacific, and stepped in its waves; I trekked up the Sierra Nevadas, and hugged giant Sequoia trees, that were possibly the largest things I have ever seen; I visited a vineyard, that was absolutely gorgeous with the mountains in the background; I ate at a great restaurant in Little Italy, San Diego, and I saw the San Diego Zoo. I feel like I saw a sampling of all California has to offer, but didn't get the chance to really delve into its flavors. Don't get me wrong, the trip was fantastic and magical and wonderful. I could just have stayed longer, much longer. Chrissy and I said all we needed were our pets sent to us, and the four of us could have stayed forever.

The restaurant in Little Italy was one of my favorite stops- as a confirmed foodie, albeit a veggie foodie, I love to dine out in different cities. Billy and I always try to eke out the local neighborhood pizza places in a city, and try their pizza on every trip. This time we went to Fillipi's Pizza Grotto, and it was awesome! From the storefront, you almost could not tell that there was a restaurant, it was a small Italian grocery and deli with a line out the door. (a very deserved line I might add) We waited in this line about 15 minutes, exclaiming over all the various products for sale around us, and finally we were led to our table, in the back of the store. It felt like we were underground, the lights were all of a sudden dim, like we were in a grotto, hence the name I suppose. Hanging from the ceiling were hundreds of Chianti bottles, the kind with the raffia basket wrapped around the bottom, with the names and dates of people who had eaten at the restaurant before us. Of course, we had to follow suit and order the large Chianti bottle to add our names to the ceiling as well. Each couple ordered a pizza, and it was possibly one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. The cheese was the right temperature, the crust was that perfect blend of crunchy and doughy- and the tomatoes were cut into bite sizes. I like my pizza with olives and tomatoes, and this was pizza perfection. On the way out, Chrissy and I each bought a bottle of the house Chianti. I am still debated whether or not I want to drink ours, or keep it for posterity.

Another little place I really enjoyed was Ocean Beach. It had this laid back, hippie kind of feel to it, and it is very dog friendly! Everywhere you looked there was a dog hanging out somewhere, enjoying the sun and the beach and the salt air. We walked along the beach, soaking up the atmosphere, just relaxing and enjoying the sights. We went into the cutest store there too, called Bone Appetit. They had rescue cats within the store, so of course I had to patronize them. I bought a watercolor of a cat sailing away in a pea pod boat, I am going to hang it on my wall of cat art. Another tradition Billy and I have is to buy local artwork when on vacation- it is usually inexpensive, beautiful, and reminds us of the places we have visited together. The proceeds of our purchase went directly to the rescue that works with the store. I wanted to bring a cat home with me too, but Billy told me no. Maybe next time. If I lived in San Diego, I think this is the neighborhood I would want to live in. Either here, or Little Italy.

As much fun as we all had on vacation, it was nice to be home. Penny and Maggie were very glad to see us, especially Penny it seemed. I missed them too, so it was nice to come home and cuddle with my Penny and Maggie again. Maggie spent the week at Chrissy and Devin's house, hanging out with their cat Maila. I think she misses Maila now though, sometimes she walks through the house with an inquisitive meow, like she is trying to find her. Penny spent the week at a boarding facility. I hated her being in one, but I had no other option. She seems to be ok, although our first day back she did not want to get in her crate when I left the house. I guess this makes sense, but I had to do it. Today she was much better.

We also had great rescue news while I was gone!! Riley, a black lab mix, had been one of our rescue dogs. At a recent event, she was adopted, and as her new owners were putting her in their car, she escaped! We have been looking for her for three weeks, hoping against hope that she would be spotted. She is a very shy dog, so we were scared she would not surface around people. But persistence paid off, especially the persistence of one of our volunteers. She plastered the area with flyers, gave them to all local businesses and mailman, and one day, she received a call that Riley had been spotted. The volunteer set a live trap for her, and the next day we had Riley! She is now safe at home with another volunteer, no worse for the wear except a little skinnier. It turns out she had been living in a cemetary all that time. We are all very relieved and thankful to have this girl back- she has had a rough life, and hopefully it can only get better. She was brought into the pound after being fished out of the Detroit River in the winter, and after a few weeks of being terrified, started to come around with the volunteers at the pound. Shortly after that, a volunteer took her home to see how she would do, and Riley got so freaked out she jumped the fence and took off. She was missing about a week that time, before she got picked up by Animal Control again. But hopefully Riley's story has a happy ending, I know that we will try everything to make that happen, most especially the volunteer she is now living with.

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