Sometimes a footloose agenda can be the makings of an unforgettable escape. Such was the case when a weekend getaway introduced our cousins, Gloria and Mario, to wine country in California’s Central Coast -- and the four of us -- to the nostalgia of a motel. “Motel” is a portmanteau, that is, a blending of the words motor and hotel coined after World War II when motorists on long road trips did brief overnights at lodgings resembling a cross between a campground and a proper hotel. In fact, the country’s first motel was born in San Luis Obispo here in the Central Coast.
In this wide open pastoral land of more than two hundred wineries, we imbibed the luscious, fermented grape juices at three of them: Lone Madrone’s new tasting room in Templeton, and in Paso Robles, Tablas Creek and Dilecta. Then spontaneity turned the rest of our stay into an unforgettable throwback adventure starting with western-themed Stables Inn, a modern-day motel and the rustic sister of nearby Hotel Cheval (where a sophisticated English riding motif reigns). Simple rooms have first class amenities, cowhide rugs, tin mugs in each room, and in the middle of the parking lot is the coolest lounge called The Island. Beneath a leafy magnolia tree, it became our meeting spot where we woke slowly with fresh morning coffee and met the friendliest “neighbors” we could ever wish for -- John and Raquel from Houston. By day’s end, we fell under the spell of the flickering fire.
All this plus breaking bread at a 1940s diner and feeding Cousin Mario’s penchant for antique stores delivered in spades what we just can’t seem to get enough of: unrushed quality time together.