Monday, February 11, 2013

First stop: Oceanside, CA

To feed my hunger for holding Baby Bun I decided to spend my first ten days in America with Darrell and Sammi, rather than just make a pit stop at their doorstep prior to moving on across America and reserving my more lengthy visit with them for last, as I did last year. The downside of that is having to return to California anyway to fly out of LAX and back to China, with no extra time to see Darrell or Bun again, even though I'm so close. The upside is that I get to spend my first, most eager and energetic days with my son and his family.

Besides, weather being a consideration during this winter break visit I considered the storms currently afflicting my next stop: Dallas. I didn't run away from China's winter blast only to be blasted by the cold in Texas. This gave me a chance to outwit the weather. Mission successful on that count, by the way.

And to lay out my stateside travel plans, buy what tickets I needed to buy and generally get all of my ducks in a row. I already wrote about all that a couple of posts back (See 'Playing Pinball, dated January 2013).

Now, Oceanside.

Darrell and Sammi no longer live in Oceanside. They have moved to the more eclectic and affordable town of Mesa. In spite of my familiarity with Oceanside, I missed it. So, going back, I got to view it with unjaded, touristy eyes.

On the day we went, the sky over Oceanside was impossibly blue. The sidewalks were clean and the feeling is laid back in spite of its many restrictions (no smoking in public areas, curbing dogs, speed limits ect), artsy and retro. Blatting Harleys shared the road with beautifully restored classic Detroit steel and beach cruiser bicycles: heavy, colorful frames, wide tires and swooping handle bars. SUVs drove by with surf boards snugged to their roof racks or jutting out of back windows. I got a general feeling of contentment from the people.

Our goal while in Oceanside: to breakfast at the Beach Break Cafe. It has become a tradition of sorts for us to enjoy a meal there - specifically breakfast. In fact, it appears that is the goal of every Oceanside dweller and visitor. We had to endure at least a twenty minute wait, standing on the sidewalk outside this establishment with others who have made taking their weekend meal there a part of their lives. No harm done; one can help themselves to the coffee bar and sip their favorite java brew while they wait for their table.

It is well worth the wait, not just for the food but for the atmosphere. I've yet to witness a discontented or discourteous patron, let alone meet a surly staffer. Everyone is just so darn happy to be there! And with good reason: in spite of the prices - they do tend toward the steep, the quality and quantity of food served makes the splurge well worthwhile.

One of the more unusual menu items: Banana Crunch french toast. The egg-moistened bread is rolled in cereal before being fried to perfection. Omelets are generously proportioned, using 4 eggs wrapped around a variety of fillings. You can have potatoes cooked any way imaginable, or opt for some form of bread - toast, English Muffin, ect. Being ravenous (and being the one treating my family to this meal) I opted for one of the more lavish menu choices... and ate almost every bite, even the meal-concluding coffee cake. Darrell and Sam had to help polish that off.

Had to? Hah! They dug their forks in even before my insistence for them to do so! I did take some leftovers of that gargantuan meal home. In spite of my best intentions to thoroughly enjoy everything I had ordered, it proved too much for even me. That worked out perfectly because, somehow I had gained a substantial amount of weight prior to returning to the States that I was determined to lose. Even while shoveling minuscule tastes of coffee cake in I berated myself for eating most everything that had been set in front of me.              

Groaning because of my self inflicted discomfort but not letting it flag my enthusiasm for the day, I visited the restaurant's bathroom, a visual treat. I regretted not bringing my camera.

Cameras in the bathroom are a running joke between Gary and me. During our initial, get-to-know each other meet in Chengdu I wanted to take some pictures from the second floor balcony of the Starbucks where we had breakfasted (See Chengdu entries dated June 2011). Mostly, Starbucks tends to put their bathrooms in the greater seating areas, and in China, those lounging spots are usually upstairs. Further, they like to install their establishments in touristy destinations, adapting their iconic interior to a 'culturally correct' exterior, thus making such pictures well worth the ribbing one could encounter from having a camera handy when coming out of the bathroom.

It would have been a good idea to bring my camera to the Ladies' Room in the Beach Break Cafe. It is painted with a vividly colored variety of sea life frolicking against a background of aquamarine and dark blue. Fishes and seahorses bear expressions ranging from lust for prey to ecstasy of life. Or... consumption? Lots is left up to the imagination in beholding these scenes but it is definitely worth seeing and certainly worth a picture or two. Not that I think of Gary every time I visit a Ladies' Room but feeling justified in doing so this time, I rued my lack of visual recording device as I took in that scene.    

I had to limit myself to commenting to Sammi how appealing and engaging I found the washroom facilities to be. She agreed with me that they are indeed worth notice.

So, my fellow travelers: if you should find yourself in Southern California, in the vicinity of Oceanside and are craving a one of a kind dining experience I highly recommend the Beach Break Cafe, home of the Beautiful Bathrooms as well as the Banana Crunch French Toast. Be sure to get there early for quick seating or, if you enjoy lolling around and waiting for your table, get there whenever you'd like. After all the feeling is totally laid back. Don't forget your camera when visiting the washroom!

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