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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
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26 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 1
fter traipsing around
the globe for many
years, I have come
to treasure visiting
places that are truly
unique. The anticipation of not
knowing what to expect and the
surprises of finding caches of
richness upon arrival is half the
fun. My husband and I picked
out four destinations that we felt
would fit into the "unusual des-
tination" category.
You won't find marble floors,
chandeliers, valet parking, big
screen televisions, or make-up
mirrors with 100X magnification
in any of these places. What you
will find is one-hundred percent
genuine, authentic and delight-
Thoreau once wrote "Most
of the luxuries and many of the
so-called comforts of life are not
only indispensable, but a posi-
tive hindrance to the elevation of
mankind." We kept these words
in our mind while we were pon-
dering over our choices regard-
ing unusual places to visit.
Following is a brief descrip-
tion of each of the places we
el Capitan Canyon Nature
Lodging on the California
Coast, near Santa barbara, CA
Safari tents and cedar cabins
may not sound luxurious, but
when we first walked into our
cabin suite and discovered the
down-style duvets, the partial
kitchen and a deep soaking bath
tub with view windows, I knew
we wouldn't be "roughing it."
The view of El Capitan Canyon
from our front porch was filled
with the natural beauty of ex-
pansive stands of sycamore and
oak trees, tall ridge-tops and a
huge blue sky. We felt the ocean
breeze and could hear intermit-
tent waves of the Pacific Ocean
in the background.
Simplicity took center stage
while we were staying in our
nature retreat. Our car stayed in
a parked position. We walked
down the path to the ocean, we
gazed at the stars, and we lis-
tened to the frogs as we drifted
off to sleep and we woke up to
the sound of chirping birds. We
left the curtains open at night so
we could see the first glimmer
of sunlight bouncing off the tree
tops when we opened our eyes
in the morning.
We didn't want to leave with-
out cooking dinner over the fire
pit in our backyard. After picking
up a BBQ kit and other dinner
preparations at the local camp
store, the Canyon Market, we
made a fabulous dinner. My
husband was delighted when
he achieved what he referred
to as his "one-match dinner."
I have a feeling that may have
been his proudest outdoor ac-
complishment since his days in
the Boy Scouts about thirty five
years ago.
Our stay at el Capitan was
peaceful and quiet. The bro-
chure sums up the vision of el
Capitan beautifully. "The camp
is designed to be an antidote
to all that is excessive, formal,
artificial or contrived. By focus-
ing on the essence of things, we
hope to offer you a welcomed
retreat in tune with the spirit of
the Canyon."
Aliso Creek Inn and Golf
Course in Laguna beach, CA
We stumbled across Aliso
Creek Inn purely by accident.
My husband and I wanted to
stay in Laguna Beach in a place
with a kitchen and not spend a
fortune. After a quick search,
David found an inn with a com-
plete kitchen, tucked away in a
spectacular eighty-acre canyon
on a golf course.
After arriving, we soon real-
ized that one delightful surprise
after another awaited us. The
inn was only a ten-minute walk
to the beach. The views from
the beach were incredible. We
could see Catalina Island and
the Palos Verdes peninsula in the
We woke up in the morn-
ing, made a fabulous breakfast,
played a round of golf and then
went back to the beach. We
read about the warning signs
to watch out for mountain lions
and rattle snakes, but didn't let
that bother us. At night, after tak-
ing in a Jacuzzi, we sat outside
in the open air drinking wine
and gazing up at the walls of
the canyon. After we discovered
this little gem, we found it ex-
ceptionally hard to leave. Aliso
Creek Inn is an unpretentious,
tranquil resort and definitely a
place we want to return to.
Dockside bed & boat in Long
beach, CA
If you have ever wanted to
spend the night on a 54-foot
classic motor yacht, this may be
the place to do it. We stayed in
The Crown Jewel, an all wood-
en boat, built in the mid-fifties
and filled with character, charm
and lots of room. There are two
bathrooms, and a full kitchen
stocked with everything you'd
need to cook a gourmet dinner.
There are a number of boats to
choose from, including a sleek
modern yacht. We picked The
Crown Jewel because it is situ-
ated at the end of the dock, had
a huge deck with comfortable
patio furniture and a view of The
Queen Mary.
After dinner at Gladstone's.
located directly across from our
boat, we retired to our master
suite and were lulled to sleep by
the gentle lapping of the sea
water on the hull of the boat and
the smell of salt air. Dockside
Bed & Boat is located in Rain-
bow Harbor in downtown Long
Beach at dock #5.
Prince of Peace Abbey in
Oceanside, CA
Some people go to the Prince
of Peace Abbey for religious
reasons. The Prince of Peace
Abbey is a place of cultural di-
versity. One of the monks was
born in India, three were born
Unusual Trips
That Enhance
the Soul
by Ann Nelson
Camping at el Capitan Nature Lodge.
Photo by Steven Lam.