After yesterday's fun with service, today it seemed like a good idea to go more self-seve. Not that I was about to make my own food, of course. Today I stopped by the Hofbrau, where you stand in line with a tray to order your sandwich. 

I got pastrami and fries. 

It's dang crowded for 3 in the afternoon, but I still got an outside table with a view of the rock. The clouds from yesterday were only brief visitors. 

There's horseradish and real mustard for fixings. I wish I could have had onions, but I guess I could have ordered a salad if I needed them. 

The pastrami sandwich was excellent.  The fries were good. I like this place, though it doesn't quite have the ambience of the pub from yesterday. 

Well, there are these lights. 

Bathroom Quiz

So you walk into a restroom. It has two commodes. One is in a stall with a door. The other is in the open. 

Are you supposed to lock the restroom door? It's obviously for more than one person, but one can't have privacy. 

The Libertine Pub

Ok, second try. 

They're playing Jack Johnson as I walk in. This might be more my speed anyway. This is a seat-yourself kinda place. I wonder if I have to order at the bar. I'll give it a minute. 

Meanwhile, the view is nearly identical to the Hook place. 

Wait staff interaction at two minutes. Good. 

There aren't as many choices here, but more than enough for a lunch. I consider the chicken quesadilla but go with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. There are four cheeses coming, my friends. 

More important, a second member of the waitstaff just checked in to see if I need anything. And this place is twice as crowded as the other place. 

Folks, service makes up for a lot when you're just eating lunch. The grilled cheese was good, but the fries were terrible. Will I be back? Almost certainly, and it's because the food was acceptable, but the service was great. In the end, I was helped by three separate staff members. 

Oh, and they have Cayucos Hot Sauce on the tables. 

Sadly, they've stopped playing Jack Johnson. 

Off the Hook

I know what you're thinking: "Abbot, you don't like seafood."

Or maybe you were thinking, "I hate that noise the phone makes when it's left off the hook!"

If you're thinking the latter, then I expect you are getting up in years. 

If it was the former, then I have to say, "Yes, but I have to give all the restaurants on Embarcadero a try."

It's been a few minutes since I sat down. So I might have to walk out of here without ordering. The hostess was nice, but if I don't get to give a drink order at least, I've got better things to do. 

It's sad, too. I was looking forward to a cucumber roll and French fries, surely a marriage made in heaven. Add a bit of gyoza for a complete meal. Also, look at the view:

Quite a grumpy looking day, huh?

Nope, 11 minutes is a long enough wait, I think, don't you?  Sorry, Off the Hook. I tried. 

[NB: I wrote all of the above while sitting at the table waiting to be, well, interacted with in any way whatsoever. The hostess seated me, but after that nobody asked if I wanted a drink or to order, nobody said they'd be with me in just a moment. In retrospect, 11 minutes seems fairly short, but I guess I was hungry and I didn't fancy waiting around for half an hour to get a meal. Consider: It wasn't terribly busy. There were two tables seated when I arrived and two new tables were seated after I arrived. The two after I arrived were both served drinks and had entree orders taken while I sat alone and unnoticed. So I left and tried a different restaurant.]

Otter Rock Cafe

I've been coming to Morro Bay restaurants for a year now. Last December, I stayed in a vacation house and then in January stayed a week at a motel while I waited for my house to settle. You'd think I'd have had a chance to suss out the Morro Bay eateries.  But the truth is: a) I don't like seafood and b) I fall into ruts pretty easily. 

I early on found a restaurant that had friendly staff who remembered me. it had a pretty good view of the rock, so I tended to return to it on my weekly meal on the Embarcadero. 

But the owners have changed and last week my favorite waitress left to start her own restaurant. Now, I'm certainly going to check that out, but it seemed like a good week to try out other places especially since I have the week off. I tend to give up on diet until my birthday. 

I'm looking for a casual place to sit and watch the water and read. The food doesn't have to be great, but the environment and cost are important. 

Otter Rock Cafe has a nice enough view. Some windows actually show the big rock. 

The staff was friendly and efficient. They checked whether I wanted a soda refill twice, which is a big plus. On the other hand the burger I ordered medium rare came out burnt and the bun was dry. 

Verdict: a maybe 

I Didn't Know I Was Lost At The Time

Back in Nevada City, I tried to make a Thanksgiving tradition of driving out to some small town with a name from "Back East." Down here, I never got around to doing anything on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd try something different for Christmas. I decided to pick a town with a presidential name. I figure there must be a bunch, so this could be a good series. Today, I drove to Taft, California.

Sadly, driving on Christmas leaves you in towns with even less going on than on Thanksgiving. And Taft didn't really jump out at me as picturesque, so I wound up not taking a lot of pictures. There's the cool theater:

And the town is surrounded by oil fields, with many of the major names represented. So I suppose this was inevitable (click on the pictures to get a slide show):

On the way, I had a nice couple of hikes in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I was excited to learn that there's a mountain in my county that's over 5000 feet high. That might not sound like much to you mountain folk, but if you consider that my house is at 60 feet, then you see the jump you get. I didn't make it down to see Caliente Peak, but I figure it's worth a return. Today, I mostly walked around the lake and the salt flat for Soda Lake:

The San Andreas Fault runs through here. It's not very exciting. Apparently, it's responsible for the bend in this creek bed:

The tumbleweeds are everywhere, and the wind was high today. If you're driving into the wind, it's a little like there are all of these spherical dogs running at you. I found a pack of them all cuddled up in the corner of this gully:

The neatest thing was outside the park just to the north.

Back in the 60s, some developers tried to divide up the land and sell parcels in a to-be-built subdivision under speculation that the California Aqueduct would come through here. It wound up going elsewhere, but there are a bunch of street signs left, even without streets. I assume it was some sort of attempt to say, "Look, we're serious here. Trust us. There'll be a real town some day." Anyway, here's one for the Gin Blossoms:

Greening of Cayucos

All this rain (which seems to have ended for real yesterday) has brought back the green.

That's the dam at the end of my street. Even with all this rain, I don't think the lake is more than a quarter of the way up that dam.

Proud Day

Pretty proud to say that it didn't take me an entire year to replace the plastic bin of tools in my living room with a proper table.

Rain is Done

We had rain yesterday, but it's clear today, so I can set the "hasn't rained since" clock. 

The best part of this time of year is that I can actually get seated at the marina restaurant. (It's always too crowded in the summer.) And today I'm right up front. 

Rainy Days and Butternut Squash

For the record, it's been raining again these last few days. We can certainly use it.

This weekend, I stayed in the house and cooked.

I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver for a pasta casserole with ricotta and butternut squash.

I've got to believe that English butternut squashes are smaller because I had enough for a big casserole dish and a smaller single serving one, and I wasn't careful to use every part of the thing

It was delicious.