When you wake up in the morning and the sun rises and you hear the rooster down below at the farm, close to the pond, you really wonder where you are. You are surrounded by rolling hills slowly traversed here and there by dark cows. Hawks are circling high in the sky. Everything is peaceful. Still, you must be in a civilized world: below you there are straight lines of avocado trees. And, in the middle of them is the dusty trail by which you arrived yesterday, the only access from the outside world.
The house where you stay is a modern, octagonal lodge built half way up the slope of a hill. It is open on all sides and completely surrounded by decks where you can sit in the sun or the shade as you please. All rooms have their personality. You can feel that they have been furnished by a real family ready to share its own memories and prized possessions. Now all the rooms are occupied by members of your family – or your friends. And this is how you start the day at the Cottontail Creek Ranch. In a moment, all guests will come together in the front room, which is the kitchen. Because from there, especially, one has a complete panoramic view of the ranch. The view goes all around, miles away, across the hills, to the horizon. It is yours. There are no buildings, no roads, no cars, no electric lines in this view. The only people who share this paradise with you are the tenants of the farm, far below. You would have to climb the hill above the house to realize where you are. From there, you would find the ocean to the West, and in the South, through the haze, you would see Morro Rock.
There are a lot of things for everyone to do inside the house, on the ranch and nearby. This morning, some among us (the youngest) have insisted on going to the beach. A few others prefer to bike. A third group is going to visit the Hearst castle The elders are discussing a well-planned visit to vineyards around Paso Robles for wine tasting. And then…
Then, tonight we shall gather around the antique barbecue and, later in the evening, around the campfire with marshmallows, among crickets, under a starred sky. After that, we shall surreptitiously take out the telescope we brought with us and sneak a look at planets and stars. The air is so pure and the night so dark that here we can discover celestial objects that we have never seen at home.
John and Madeleine