CARVING A PATH &
STAKING OUT THE FUTURE
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 1
More than just
ink on paper.
Design | Print | Mail | Appare| | Web | Promo
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2 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 3
RIDE THE BUS
October 7-11, 2019
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4 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 9
On the Rise
10 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Now Hear This
HIGHEST HOSPITAL SAFETY RATING.
7 YEARS IN A ROW.
Just five hospitals in the state of California have the honor of this distinction.
Thank you to our nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers for helping Sierra Vista and Twin Cities Hospitals
achieve recognition as two of the safest hospitals in America, every year since 2012.
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 11
12 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
DESIGN. BUILD. MAINTAIN.
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 13
| PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE
Recently, our daughter, Geneva, turned sixteen, and the State of California deemed her worthy of receiving
a driver’s license. Leading up to that fateful day, there was much deliberation and speculation about what we
would do for her first set of wheels.
Initially, we came up with the concept of a matching-funds program where we would match her dollar-fordollar
on the purchase of a used car. In other words, if she were to save $1,500, we would then kick in another
$1,500 for a $3,000 car. The only problem with that plan is between her jampacked schedule—school and
dance—there is very little time left over for babysitting gigs. So, I came up with an alternative.
As we settled in for dinner one night, I announced my solution: “Geneva, since you’ve only got $196 in
savings, we really don’t want you driving a $392 car. Instead, I’ve got a proposal.” She lowered her fork and
leaned in, listening intently, as her social life hanged in the balance.
Point by point, I broke it down. She was to keep her savings, and Mom and Dad would be buying the car. But, and this was a very big “but,” we would
have the ability to choose whatever vehicle we felt was best. And, as I reasoned that night, “Since you are a perfect combination of Mommy and me, we
thought it only made sense that your first car also be a perfect combination of our first cars.” I continued, “Geneva, I’ve given this a lot of thought, and
what we are going to do is find you a hybrid—and I don’t mean a Prius.”
The rosiness drained from my daughter’s face as I reminded her that my first car was a 1964 El Camino, which my grandpa used to drive around the
ranch inspecting his cotton for boll weevil infestations. As for my wife, she drove a 1988 Yugo, which she inherited second-hand from her big brother.
So, what do you get when an El Camino and a Yugo fall in love and have kids? None other than an El Yugomino.
She sunk deep into her chair, calculating how far away she could park from campus and still make it to her first-period class, while my wife and I
wandered down memory lane. I talked about the hours I spent restoring the El Camino, which had been sitting on blocks in our driveway for years.
Everything from overhauling the engine to re-upholstering the interior to an entirely new paint job. Nearly all the money I made working as the fullserve
gas jockey down at the Union 76 station went into that car. If I instead invested it in an S&P 500 Index Fund, after thirty years, I would be, well,
that’s depressing—I don’t want to talk about it.
Next, my wife, Sheryl, talked about her car, a Yugo, which she noted, was the souped-up sport model, meaning it came with racing stripes. The
aftermarket stereo system her brother had installed far exceeded the value of the car itself. Eventually, third gear wore down and did not work. As she
was shifting, she would have to get going fast enough in second gear to skip third and go straight to fourth. The gas gauge didn’t work either, so refueling
was a game of chance. Ironically, given its diminutive stature, parking was quite problematic, not just because reverse only worked properly with “driver’s
assist,” which meant opening the door and pushing down Fred Flintstone-like to start the car backward, but also because of the varsity football team.
They thought it was hilarious when the offensive line would pick up the class president’s tiny Yugoslavian car, walk it across the lot, and set it in the
planter bed framing the main entrance.
By now, Geneva had both elbows on the table, hands cradling her forehead, looking down in obvious distress. “Don’t worry, kid,” I said, “our cars never
let us down—except that time Mommy’s driveshaft snapped in half—and that’s the whole point here, to go safely from Point A to Point B. Your El
Yugomino will do just that, we promise.” My wife then concluded her story, telling our daughter that she kept her car running with duct tape and divine
intervention and Hubba Bubba until she went off to college, where she traded it to her landlord for two months of rent.
It turns out that Craigslist did not have any El Yugominos for sale, so we had to settle on the next best thing: a 2008 Volkswagen Beatle. But, there was
a catch. It had a manual transmission. Hour upon hour was spent on seldom-traveled dirt roads teaching her the art of “driving stick.” Whenever she
became frustrated by her lack of progress and grumbled something along the lines of, “Why didn’t you just get an automatic? It would have been so
much easier.” We would respond, “That’s exactly the point—we don’t care about it being easy, we want you to learn—and, at least, you’ve got third gear.”
I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who has had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, most of all,
to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you.
Live the SLO Life!
Get the story within the story by going to GrowWithTom.com and
subscribing to Tom’s Bombs to receive the next installment.
14 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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CIRCULATION, COVERAGE, AND ADVERTISING RATES
Complete details regarding circulation, coverage, and advertising
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advertisers. Please call or email for a media kit. Closing date is 30 days
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
4251 S. Higuera Street, Suite 800
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.
True Community Banking
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Jay Beck, American Riviera Bank Senior Vice President, with Scout Coffee owners Sara and Jon Peterson, at their Foothill Boulevard location
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 17
| ON THE COVER
A SNEAK PEEK
BEHIND the scenes
WITH MICHAEL BOYER
BY VANESSA PLAKIAS
I asked him about what drew him to this line of
work. He talked about how great it was to have a
place for kids and families to share an experience
together, a little moment of joy. He talked about
how ice cream always brings smiles.
This little girl walked in with her mom, she had just
gotten out of school. It was her treat day. I asked the
mom if I could take a picture of her little girl, her
name is Audrey, and she’s five. She got an ice cream
and Michael got the same one and then they sat in
a booth together. It was adorable.
While I was there, I was mesmerized by a model train that
circles around the space. I wanted to get a shot with it stopped
overhead, so they stopped it for me when it was in the perfect
spot. You’ve got to have perfect timing in photography, but
sometimes perfect timing comes with a little help.
Michael said he
had just returned
from Alaska to visit
his parents. He
took his son along
and they went
camping with no
electricity, no cell
service. He talked
about how much
he likes being off
the grid in the
wild. He said they
counted over a
18 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Because you deserve the very best.
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 19
| IN BOX
Take us with you!
Hey, SLO LIFE readers: Send us your photos the next time you’re relaxing in town or traveling
far and away with your copy of the magazine. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
TONI and CRAIG KINCAID
SARA, ARIC, BEN, and JONAH SHAFRAN
TERRI MONELL and EILEEN AMARAL
SUZANNE and GLEN
Sisters traveled to Ireland for Terri’s 60th Birthday.
20 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
NA PALI COAST, KAUAI
FOREST GROVE, OREGON
JACOB, MARVIN and JOE DISHER
SLO LIFE Magazine traveled over 2,500 miles by
motorcycle along Route 66 with three generations
from Chicago to Santa Monica.
PALENQUE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO
LOUIE and ORIETTA VASQUEZ
Celebrating our 32nd Wedding Anniversary at
Appolloni Vineyards. Cheers!
THE ARIAS MCGRATH AND LANDEROS
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 21
| IN BOX
SLO LIFE travels!
LANA’I CITY, HAWAII
ASHLEY and AMANDA SIROIS visiting over 600 rescue cats
at the Lana’i Cat Sanctuary.
PONT DU GARD, FRANCE
JESSICA DARIN AND BRADLEY KYKER took
SLO Life Magazine on the Mekong River Delta, as we led a
team of Cal Poly students on an Alternative Breaks Global
Service trip to Vietnam.
STEVE MATHIS, JENNY MATHIS,
PEGGY MYRICK, and LARRY MYRICK
GEYSIR HOT SPRING, ICELAND
JOHN and FREDENE MAULHARDT
ERIN and FRANK AVILA,
KELLI THORNTON and CHARLIE RICHARDSON
22 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
LIMEKILN BEACH, BIG SUR
LISA SCHOTT and dog PENNI
KEY WEST, FLORIDA
SARAH and BEN HAWKINS in front of the 849-year-old
gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame.
DIANE, NICK, STELLA and LENA WETTLAUFER
ANGELENA and NICHOLAS AGALOS at the
Ernest Hemingway House and Museum.
CABO SAN LUCAS
The SLO Tsunamis after completing a 12-mile swim
across Lake Tahoe in the annual Trans Tahoe Relay.
BRIAN and DIANE
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 23
You showed us!
SAINT ALBANS, VERMONT
Enjoying SLO LIFE Magazine at the 97th annual
HAWKINS FAMILY reunion.
NINA HANSEN escaping the crowds with
SLO LIFE Magazine at the Torre Pendente in Pisa.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Found this cow in our Amsterdam hotel.
Made me think of SLO!
KELTON, and KYLER
24 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Please send your photos and comments to email@example.com
Follow SLO LIFE on Facebook: Visit facebook.com/slolifemagazine
Visit us online at slolifemagazine.com
Letters may be edited for content and clarity.
To be considered for publication your letter should include your name, address, phone number, or email address (for authentication purposes).
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25
Four decades ago Gary Eberle released
his first Eberle wine, a 1979 Cabernet
Sauvignon bearing the iconic boar logo
(Eberle means “small boar” in German).
Since then, he has earned recognition
for many firsts, including the first to use
the Paso Robles appellation on his wine
label, and the first to produce a 100%
Syrah commercially. This year, Eberle
celebrated forty years in the business by
earning the esteemed Robert Mondavi
The total number of students that San
Luis Coastal Unified School District
enrolled in the current school year at the
district’s ten elementary schools, two
middle schools, three high schools, and
two adult schools.
The cost of converting the Octagon Barn,
a San Luis Obispo landmark built in 1906
and located just south of the city on Higuera
Street, into a community center. A grand
opening was held in September, with plans
to open the gates to the public daily starting
the first part of 2020. Government grants, as
well as private donations raised by the Land
Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County
paid for the renovation, which took twenty
years to complete.
of the Year
Joan Gellert-Sargen was recently was named
the SLO County Philanthropist of the Year
by the local chapter of the Association of
Fundraising Professionals for her “generous,
widespread and contagious” philanthropy.
The August selling price of RR Auction’s
Item #9517: a total of thrity original
“never-before-seen” glossy photos
that according to the auction house
“vividly document the fatal car crash
site of Hollywood actor James Dean,”
including “terrifying aftermath photos”
of Dean’s Porsche 550 and his No. 130
racing number. The crash site, a popular
pilgrimage spot for movie buffs, is near
the intersection of Highways 46 and 41
outside Paso Robles. The buyer has not
A new one-stop resource for public
information and help before, during, and
after a local emergency, brought to you by
the San Luis Obispo County Office of
Emergency Services. The cloud-hosted,
easy-to-remember website is designed to
load quickly and continue to work during
large-scale emergencies when potentially
thousands of people could be accessing the
site at the same time.
Picking Daisies, a San Luis Obispo-based
small business, was named one of the
Top 10 quilt shops in the nation by Better
Homes and Garden Quilt Sampler Magazine.
The honor earned owners (and sisters) Kay
Porczak and Dede Bruington a five-page
feature in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue.
A new American collegiate speed record
set in September at the 20th annual
World Human-Powered Speed Challenge
in Battle Mountain, Nevada. Cyclist Josh
Gieschen pedaled a human- powered,
front-wheel-drive bike named Ambition,
fabricated by a team of Cal Poly
engineering students out of carbon fiber
and Kevlar, to beat the previous men’s
record of 61.29 mph set by a team from
UC Berkeley in 1992.
back with us.”
That’s San Luis Obispo Blues general
manager Adam Stowe announcing
the return of former Blues coach Clay
Cederquist as the new head coach for
the 2020 summer season. Cederquist left
SLO in 2016 to coach with the San Jose
State Spartans. He replaces head coach
Dan “Skip” Marple.
The annual pay, including benefits,
of Cal Poly President Jeffrey D.
Armstrong, who began his tenure as
Cal Poly’s ninth permanent president
in 2011 at $333,662.25. That’s a 70%
increase in his eight years on the job.
Salaries and pension benefits of most
California public servants are available at
transparentcalifornia.com. SLO LIFE
26 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 27
Around the County
Cuesta College awards more scholarships and more money to more students than
ever before at its 30th annual scholarship reception. A record-breaking 282 students
received 510 scholarships totaling nearly $390,000. Scholarship recipients are current
students at the college, incoming transfers, and high school students attending the
fall semester. The numbers do not include the more than 900 Promise Scholarship
recipients, who, as San Luis Obispo County high school graduates, receive two years
of fee-free education at Cuesta.
The second riot in two days breaks out at the California
Men’s Colony in a medium-custody recreation yard at
the facility in San Luis Obispo. Correctional officers
immediately responded to the area where some fifty
inmates were fighting and gave multiple orders to stop.
Observation tower officers fired two warning shots, and
other emergency responders used diversionary devices
and non-lethal projectiles to quell the violence. Prison
officials believe the incident and the riot the day before
involving some forty inmates are related, and both
events are under investigation. A total of four inmates
were transported to hospitals for treatment of non-lifethreatening
injuries. No staff injuries were reported.
A new public beautification project is unveiled in downtown San Luis Obispo
designed to demonstrate the vibrancy of the community and convey a sense of
welcome, diversity, and inclusion to visitors and residents. The pedestrian light
pole banner art, installed throughout the downtown core, is the work of the City’s
Promotional Coordinating Committee (PCC) and presents bold interpretations
of iconic San Luis Obispo culture and locales, including the Fremont Theatre, Ah
Louis Store, and the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. PCC volunteers hope to
expand the project throughout the city in the coming months.
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham introduces a new plan to keep Diablo
Canyon Power Plant running and encourage bankrupt Pacific Gas and Electric
Co. to sell the facility. His proposal is in the form of a state constitutional
amendment designating nuclear power as a source of renewable energy.
Acknowledging it is a long shot, Cunningham says the amendment would open
the door for someone else to buy the plant and keep it running long past its
scheduled closure date in 2025. The plant, which could be worth as much as
$3.6 billion, currently provides about 9% of California’s electricity.
California State Parks introduces a new bilingual
safety campaign just in time for the busy Labor Day
weekend. The campaign reminds visitors to Oceano
Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area that “Safe
Dunes Start With You.” The effort encourages
people to be aware of their surroundings while they
enjoy the popular destination, and includes simple
tips distributed through social media, local radio
stations, and printed handouts. The tips include Take
It Slow, Scout Your Route, Know Your Limits, and
Tread Lightly. The campaign includes a billboard
with the “Dune Safety Starts With You” message on
southbound Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo.
28 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
The San Luis Obispo City Council joins more than fifty other California
communities currently considering ways to encourage cleaner buildings, moving
the city’s building code toward favoring all-electric structures beginning January 1,
2020. On a four-to-one vote (Erica Stewart dissenting), Council members approved
a Clean Energy Choice Program that will provide only limited options to builders
who want to develop new buildings with natural gas. New projects wishing to use
natural gas will be required to build more efficient and higher performing buildings
and offset gas use by performing retrofits on existing buildings or by paying an inlieu
fee that will be used for the same purpose.
It’s been eighteen years since terrorists hijacked four planes, killing roughly
3,000 people on American soil. Among those who died that day were 403
emergency workers who responded to the tragedy. The San Luis Obispo World
Trade Center Memorial at Fire Station 1, designed by Kathleen Caricof and
dedicated in 2015, includes a 1,500-pound steel beam from the World Trade
Center. It is the site of an annual Day of Remembrance hosted by the City,
American Legion Post 66 and SLO City Union 3523, and this year featured the
posting of colors, artwork created by San Luis Coastal Unified School District
students, bagpipes, and a bell ceremony.
More than 500 nurses working at Sierra Vista Regional
Medical Center and Twin Cities Community Hospital go
on a twenty-four-hour strike in response to negotiations
underway for several months between the California
Nurses Association and Tenet Healthcare. The nurses
are looking for less overtime and fewer on-call periods,
along with staffing coverage for meals and breaks. Tenet
Healthcare brought in replacement registered nurses
and other caregivers during the action and both sides
confirmed negotiations continue in the hope of reaching
Sheriff Ian Parkinson introduces a new state-of-the-art crime-fighting tool to help
reduce agriculture thefts in the County. SmartWater CSI makes a liquid product
that you can’t see, feel, or smell, but once a special light shines on the product, it
emits a telltale yellow glow. The liquid has its own unique fingerprint or DNA
encryption that is registered to individual farmers or ranchers who take part in the
program. It lasts for years and can’t be scrubbed off. Signs and stickers are available
to designate equipment and property as being a part of the program. In the past
four years, deputies in the Sheriff ’s Office Rural Crimes Unit have responded to 77
burglaries, 146 thefts, 28 vandalism cases, and 14 stolen vehicles.
Nearly 2,000 volunteers spread out across more than
100 miles of some fifty Central Coast beaches, parks,
and lakes for the annual SLO County Creeks to Coast
Cleanup. Organized by ECOSLO and Central Coast
Partners for Water Quality, this year’s event collected
more than 11,500 pounds of trash and about 825
pounds of recyclables in just three hours. The most
common items found were cigarette butts, glass and
plastic bottles, trash bags, and food bags, although
volunteers also found whole bags of trash, old clothes,
and even fireworks. SLO LIFE
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 29
E X P EC T B E T T ERSM
SAN LUIS OBISPO
This Spanish style Bassi Ranch home overlooks orchards, vineyards, surrounding mountains, & Avila Valley. Featuring a 2 story family-friendly floor plan, enjoy
private living, while only minutes to downtown San Luis Obispo and the Avila Beach. The large game room and appointed cook's kitchen - open to the family room,
yard & spa - make this home an entertainer's dream. Spacious master suite and adjoining terrace have views of the surrounding mountains and valley. Large
windows throughout invite coastal breezes, and showcase the breathtaking views this private Bassi estate has to offer.
KIRK GRAVES, REALTOR ® , LIC. #00890773 805.550.4835
TARRAH GRAVES, REALTOR ® , LIC. #01757338 805.748.2874
Great views of the ocean and city comes with this
upgraded 2 bed/2 bath, 1,188 sqft home.
Upstairs boasts an open floor with natural light,
fireplace and an ocean view. After a long day,
step out onto the balcony to enjoy the sun setting
over the water and enjoy the ocean breeze.
Property Website: www.619VistaPacifica.com
REALTOR®, LIC. #01931796
REALTOR®, LIC. #01018125
Classic Crasftman style architecture emanates
from this exquisite build situated in the coveted
Colony Homes development in Atascadero. The
immaculately maintained property features 3
bed/2 bath, and an abundant 2000+ sqft located
on an oversized lot backing up to a beautiful park.
Property Website: www.5452ViaViento.com
REALTOR®, LIC. #01954514
REALTOR®, LIC. #02056934
Exquisite 3 bedroom, formal office, 3 bath home
with approx. 4,000 sqft of living space located in
the gated golf community of Cypress Ridge.
Gourmet kitchen including top-of-the-line
stainless steel appliances, granite countertops
and breakfast bar accented with pendant lighting.
Property Website: www.2289Brant.com
REALTOR®, LIC. #01931796
REALTOR®, LIC. #01018125
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Haven Properties
547 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA 93442
1401 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
30 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
E X P EC T B E T T ER
COMING SOON: 3290 FLORA ST, SLO
FOR SALE: 10615 SAN MARCOS, ATASCADERO
FOR SALE: 630WESTORMONDE.com
560 W. ORMONDE ROAD
This stunning, single level home and guest house on a 20 acre parcel
exudes quality craftsmanship with grace and simplicity. Built in
2008, the 4,600 sq ft floor plan incorporates a spacious great room,
gourmet kitchen and dining areas. A beautifully appointed office
enclosed with a wall of glass is located near the entry way. The
master suite is complete with two walk-in closets, a spacious bath
with over sized shower, jetted soaking tub and several vanity areas.
A phenomenal guest wing features four additional bedrooms and
baths. Car enthusiasts will love the 4-car garage and multiple storage
rooms. The driveway meanders by the fruit orchard to the fully
contained 1-bedroom guest house and drive-thru workshop.
DENISE SILVA TOPHAM
REALTOR® • LIC #01333775
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 31
BY JOE PAYNE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK NAKAMURA
Seasoned photographers such as Mark Nakamura can do it all:
weddings, portraits, sports, you name it. But for the retired
elementary school teacher who is now devoted to his passion fulltime,
landscape photography gets him up early for sunrises and keeps
him out late for sunsets. However, it was at a recent game between
San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande high schools’ football teams
that his passion for photography, his community, and the natural world came
together in one perfect frame.
“I was photographing the football game and there was a timeout on the field and I
was on the opposite side looking towards the sunset across the field and I noticed
how beautiful the sky was,” Nakamura said. “I thought it was the juxtapose of the
rough and tumble football game versus the serene sunset that made a good balance.”
Nakamura lives for a sunset or sunrise photo-op, literally getting up as early
as 3:00 a.m. and hoofing it up a mountainside in the dark to be ready to catch
a newly-illuminated vista. There are many favored spots around the city and
throughout its surroundings, from the peaks of the Seven Sisters to the beaches
of Montaña de Oro.
The football games at San Luis Obispo High School are a regular haunt for
Nakamura, as well. “About four or five of the kids on the senior high school varsity
football team for San Luis Obispo were in my kindergarten or fifth grade class over
at Sinsheimer [Elementary School], so it was nice to see them grown up and doing
well, performing and doing their best,” Nakamura said. “And, they won the game.”
For most of his sports shots, Nakamura relies on his telephoto lens, but he almost
always has two cameras at the ready, he explained. So during the timeout, when he
noticed the pastel sunset behind the glaring green of the gridiron, he grabbed his
backup camera outfitted with a 24-70mm zoom lens.
Beside a simple “spotlight” effect done in Lightroom to
brighten up Arroyo Grande’s huddled football team in
the foreground, Nakamura said that what you see is what
he shot. It was just the right moment to catch the sunset,
something he’s used to scaling mountains and waiting
patiently to capture. “This was kind of like the calm in the
storm with the timeout and the two teams battling it out
for supremacy, so I thought it was quite a serene place to
catch that moment.”
It’s moments like that, whether on the sidelines of a SLO
High game or up on Bishop Peak, that Nakamura sees an
endless fountain of inspiration in the town he calls home.
“I do love traveling, but some of the best vistas and the
best scenery is right here in the county,” he shares, “and
especially San Luis Obispo.” SLO LIFE
JOE PAYNE is a
journalist, as well as a
lifelong musician and
music teacher, who
loves writing about
the arts on the Central
Coast, especially music,
as well as science,
history, nature, and
32 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 33
For fifteen years, CHRISTINE ROBERTSON has worked behind the scenes to bring
about positive change to the Central Coast, first, as Senator Sam Blakeslee’s chief of
staff and then as the Associate Director at the Institute for Advanced Technology &
Public Policy at Cal Poly. Today, she is on the front lines in the race to innovate the
way our children learn in school as the Executive Director of the newly formed San
Luis Coastal Education Foundation. She stopped by the office for a visit recently.
Here is some of what she had to say…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Christine. Where
are you from? Sure. So, I was born and raised in a
small town called Antioch in the San Francisco east
bay. I had what I consider to be something of an
idyllic childhood. I’ve always joked that I was raised
by Ward and June Cleaver. We were a very close
Italian family, a lot of communication, long dinner
conversations. My dad owned his own business,
he was a landscape contractor, and my mom ran
the business with him; it was very much a family
operation. After school, we’d go pull weeds. I got to
know this area because my grandparents had a ranch
in Templeton and a home in Morro Bay that we
used to visit. I always saw Morro Bay as just kind of
this dreamy paradise when I was a kid. I could not
imagine who got to live in a place like this.
And, what were you like as a kid? I had a really
strong sense of right and wrong; I felt issues
very deeply. At ten years old, I was writing my
congressman about the things that I was seeing in
society. I was always very interested in issues and
wanting to make the world better, and found lots
of causes to get involved in, and felt a deep sense
in my bones that I needed to find ways to drive
change. And so, I would be researching and arguing
for certain social causes and trying to get involved
with groups. So, my high school was not spent
doing social things or partying. I was looking for a
demonstration I could go to, or some organization I
could volunteer with, or some research library where
I could find court cases that would help me frame
up arguments. I was not the coolest kid in high
school. My older brother and I both went to Cal
Poly, and we both ended up marrying people who
graduated from Morro Bay High.
What came next for you? I did my graduate
degree at the London School of Economics. I’m
very interested in big social movements, and I was
particularly fascinated by the rise of the religious
right in the ‘80s. I wanted to study these big
social, political, religious movements. And living
in London was life-changing. I had a real sense of
right and wrong, black and white. But, after living
there, the world became ridiculously complicated.
To interact with people from different countries,
different cultures that had a totally different
interpretation of international historical events, and
the role of the United States in those events, it just
softened me, because I saw that there were so many
different perspectives, and made me much quicker
to ask questions rather than assert my own
opinions or positions.
Can you give us the “why” behind the
Foundation? With the Diablo closure, it
created a kind of moment of... What would
be the word I would use? Because I don’t
want to say “urgency,” but you know, I would
say “opportunity.” I think it was a catalyzing
moment for people to realize that we cannot
just assume business as usual. If we care about
the future of our schools, then we have to lean in
and be part of this next phase of investment and
stewardship of our kids’ education. So, the closure
of Diablo created that moment where everybody
said, “We need new capacities, we need partnerships,
we need to think about innovations in the model
to draw in a larger collection of stakeholders and
partners to drive outcomes for kids.” And the
educators, boots on the ground, have this deep
expert knowledge for how to deploy money for
maximum impact. And so, that partnership is
right there at the heart of our structure, and not
even a full year into this enterprise, and we’re
already seeing the fruits of that model.
Before we wrap up, one last question just for
fun: If you had to live somewhere other than the
Central Coast, where would you go? I would go
live on a homestead; maybe Montana or Alaska.
I love the outdoors, backpacking. And, when
the season is ripe, as a good stress reliever, I love
to chop firewood. I do. On the weekend, you can
often find me with a weed-whacker and a shovel.
The smell of dirt is like nostalgic childhood for
me. I feel on the inside that my spirit was made
for manual labor, but my body was not. [laughter]
I love the idea of simplicity and reconnection with
nature. It puts so many of the dramas of this world
in perspective, because you realize the world is a
beautiful place. We get so focused on what we feel
are problems, and then you step out into a beautiful
world, and you remember how blessed we are, how
enduring these places are, and how fleeting our
dramas are. And, so, yeah, if I could do more of that,
and get back to a lifestyle that stayed in that head
space and freed up my mind to focus on the things
that are more permanent and beautiful, I would
certainly love to do that. But, in the meantime, it’s
politics, problem-solving, and kiddos. SLO LIFE
34 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 35
| NOW HEAR THIS
“Are you the police?” “No, ma’am. We’re Musicians.” —The Blues Brothers, 1980
BY SHAWN STRONG
36 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Brothers Mark Crisp and Robin Crisp
are making noise—beautiful noise, it
should be noted—through their musical
collaboration under the name, The
Crisptones. Their extensive musical catalog contains brilliant
covers of well-known songs, as well as original pieces that cross
genre boundaries and exalt proof of unparalleled artistic vision.
Considering how long both brothers have pursued the craft, it’s
impossible to consider them as anything but virtuosos in their
own rights. Mark commands an effortless control over his guitar
and provides crucial insight as a co-songwriter for the Crisptones.
Robin also helps write the band’s music and contributes lap
steel, dobro, piano, as well as additional guitar work. While the
brothers originally hail from Visalia, they have quickly established
themselves on the Central Coast as a reliable and talented group.
The Crisptones can always be counted on to bring vigor and
endless enthusiasm to their shows, and in this manner, they have
made a name for themselves. Although both musicians are known
to perform individually, when they come together under The
Crisptones banner, they truly shine.
brother’s inability to pronounce the name “Tom Dooley,” from the
popular Kingston Trio song, as a young child. Since the inauspicious
beginning, Mark has gone on to make several notable achievements
in music. He was named Singer/Songwriter of 2007 by the Dallas
Songwriters Association and scored a spot as a finalist in the
Durango Songwriting Contest, as well as the 11th Annual Unisong
International Songwriting Competition in this same year. Mark
credits his big brother’s tutelage for breaking through with those
accomplishments. But, it’s when the two combine their talents that the
sounds they produce in tandem are worthy of any venue, and become
uniquely their own. This phenomenon was made apparent when,
together, The Crisptones were named Adult Contemporary Band of
2007 at the 17th annual Los Angeles Music Awards.
Siblings are notorious for being less-than, well, cooperative. And even
those siblings who do get along do not necessarily have the desire or the
chance to build something together. It’s no surprise, however, that these
two brothers, who are so accomplished on their own, have managed to
come together and create something special; something where one plus one
The duo cites many marquee acts as their inspiration: Paul
McCartney, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills and
Nash, Alison Krauss, and Dwight Yokum top the list. You can
hear bits and pieces of all of these artists in their music, yet they
are careful to avoid being too derivative of any one artist. The
group describes their work as both familiar and contemporary,
maintaining a comfortable, easy-going sound while staying
relevant and exciting. Many of their original songs are imbued
with Mark’s indelible sense of humor. That isn’t to say that the
band is incapable of more intimate songs. From the bawdy, “I’m
Just Here to Make You Look Good,” to the more plaintive ballad,
“Mama’s Stew,” written about and dedicated to the bandmates’
Mark names his older brother Robin as his primary influence.
Mark’s nickname, “Dugie,” is a direct result of his older
As for future plans, The Crisptones do not
appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The
duo plans to record an album. Additionally,
both brothers were recently signed to Nashvillebased
label Sharp Objects as songwriters. In
the meantime, Rob and Mark continue to play
locally on a seemingly non-stop schedule. In the
coming weeks, the band is slated to play Pismo
Beach, Grover Beach, Oceano, and Arroyo
Grande, including a gig at the Arroyo Grande
Beer Festival. The Crisp Brothers are equally
entertaining off the stage as they are on. So, if
you have the chance to see them play, don’t think
twice about saying, “Hello.” They’re sure to make
the exchange as memorable as their music.
Los Angeles born, SLO County
raised, SHAWN STRONG’s
passion for the local music
scene and artists that have
created it, fuels his writing and
drives his commitment to living
the SLO Life.
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 37
Kicking off the Holiday Season with a Pumpkin Patch
Experience for the Entire Family
BY PADEN HUGHES
It’s that time of year. That magical
two weeks when we locals finally
get to experience “fall weather.” We
can’t help ourselves. In response to
the crisp air and the desire to milk
the experience for all it’s worth, we
grab that calorie-rich Pumpkin Spice
Latte, don our pristine rain boots and that
snuggly hat and scarf combo we got at the
white elephant gift exchange last Christmas
and we head to the most autumn experience we
can think of... the pumpkin patch.
That’s right. Where all things are harvest
themed, orange and yellow, and we kick off the
holiday season once and for all.
For years, Avila Valley Barn was the sole place
we went during the annual pilgrimage to pick
our pumpkins, but this year we tried somewhere
new: Brookshire Farms. It was everything you
could want in a pumpkin patch experience
tailored for the entire family.
For me, it had a farm stand with freshly picked
seasonal fruits and vegetables (all naturally
grown without sprays). It also had mountains of
pumpkins organized by size, shape, and color.
And it had more than one obvious backdrop for
the obligatory family picture for which we had
For my husband, it had games like whacka-mole,
corn hole, and a huge, incredibly
challenging corn maze towering over our heads.
He loved the challenge of trying to navigate
the intricate maze that grew in the shape of a
scarecrow’s face. He loves puzzles and while I
may have been more willing to bail out and walk
around the edge back to the entrance, he was
committed. They also offered corn cannons for
shooting corn at random targets.
Our daughter did go a little crazy for the
inflatable jungle designed to enchant high-
energy kids who need some adventure. From
inflatable obstacle courses to a huge jumping pad,
her love of bounce houses was born and going
nowhere. Her dad and I may have also unleashed
our inner kids and gotten just as much joy out of
While the price of admission may seem high at first,
once inside, the activities are free. You still have to
pay for produce and pumpkins, which you’re happy to
do after maximizing all things fall in a couple hours.
It’s well worth your time and rumor has it for your
high school-aged kids, the maze re-opens at night for
a spooky Halloween themed corn maze challenge.
If you are like me and love this, join me in exploring
Brookshire Farm’s take on Christmas with their post-
Thanksgiving Christmas Tree “harvest.”
Location & Price
Located on La Familia Ranch at 4747 Los Osos
Valley Road on the left-hand side of the road as
you drive from San Luis Obispo to Los Osos, the
farmstand sits across the bridge from their parking
lot adjacent to the ticket booths. Fresh-picked
seasonal produce is available for sale there, and the
price of admission, which does not include the maze,
varies between $8 and $15.
If you can, go during a
weekday as the ticket
prices are a bit lower and
the crowds smaller. Even
better yet, families can
stretch a buck by buying
a weekday pass for $48.
It’s good for up to six
admissions and can be
shared with others. Also,
the little ones, as long
as they are two years old
and younger, get in for
free. SLO LIFE
PADEN HUGHES is
co-owner of Gymnazo
and enjoys exploring
the Central Coast.
38 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 39
| ON THE RISE
This seventeen-year-old San Luis Obispo High
School senior has a heart for helping others,
particularly children—something she hopes to
continue to do throughout her life.
What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in? I’m the region
president of Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). It’s
a national student leadership organization that is family and consumer sciences
oriented. I have also danced hula since I was two years old.
What sort of recognition have you received? I won first place at the FCCLA
regional level three years in a row at various competitions. I also have won first
place at the state level for early childhood development. I have also earned my
FCCLA chapter degree and received a Golden Tiger award for developmental
psychology of children.
What career do you see yourself in someday? I want to be a teacher. All my
life, I’ve loved helping and teaching people. I’ve worked in the Tiny Tigers
preschool lab and am finishing the career pathway in child development. Right
now, I am enrolled in teaching careers where I shadow Ms. Washmuth and help
her teach her classes.
What do you want people to know about you? I have to stay busy—I can’t sit
around without doing anything for too long. If I have a lot of downtime, I’ll find
something to do, like reading or sewing or designing a font or making numerous
versions of the same list. I’m very much a list maker; I have so many Post-it
Notes and pens—I just love office supplies!
What is important to you outside of high school? Outside of high school, I
value my friends, my family, I’m involved in church, and hula is a big part of my
life and my Hawaiian culture.
What is it that you look forward to most? I’m looking forward to being more
independent when I’ll finally have time to pursue all of my hobbies. One of my
goals is to eventually make a Hawaiian quilt.
What do you dislike? I dislike it when there is toxicity between people. I can’t
stand it when people do things just to harm others. I want everyone to be happy
and nice to each other.
If you could go back in history and meet anyone, who would it be? I’d love
to meet Sojourner Truth. She endured so much in her life and never gave up
fighting for the rights of herself and so many people. Her speech “Ain’t I a
Woman?” is probably one of my favorites.
What schools are you considering for college? I would love to go to BYU Hawaii,
that’s sort of been my dream, but besides that probably some UCs or CSUs.
What else should we know? I absolutely love meeting new people. In elementary
school, my teachers always characterized me as a little chatty. Speaking of
elementary school, I attended Pacheco Elementary, where I learned Spanish,
which is a skill I’m so grateful to have. SLO LIFE
Know a student On the Rise?
Introduce us at slolifemagazine.com/share
40 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
www.GardensbyGabriel.com 805-215-0511 lic.# 887028
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 41
| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY VANESSA PLAKIAS
Last summer—the first week of July—an email landed in one of the millions of inboxes registered
to users of the genealogy website known as Ancestry.com. For MICHAEL BOYER, it was the
first time he had ever exchanged words with anyone from his biological family—a long-lost aunt.
As a young boy growing up, a misfit in a foreign land, he could not help but wonder about the
man and woman who handed him over for adoption. Now, for the first time in more than forty
years, he had a link, albeit a small one; a tiny window into a different life, a different path. He had
tried and tried over the years to track them down, but they did not want to be found. His mother,
as it turns out, lied on the birth certificate, providing false identification to the hospital. One
dead end led to another. And, while a reunion may never happen, if his biological parents could
see him now, they would undoubtedly marvel at how far he has come. Today, the Arroyo Grande
resident, who beat long odds to go on to become the Chief Executive Officer of Doc Burnstein’s
Ice Cream Lab, is guiding the company along an uncharted path toward a massive expansion—
one that puts the community ahead of its shareholders. Here is his story...
42 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 43
44 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
kay, Michael, let’s take it from the top.
Where are you from? I was born and
raised in Alaska. The elevation where
we were was about 4,000 feet above sea
level; a place called Sheep Mountain.
I grew up in a house without running
water or electricity until I was twelve
or thirteen years old. We hunted and
Ofished and farmed. We were 150 miles northeast of Anchorage on the
Alcan Highway, near milepost 114. I’m the only adopted child of a large
family. I have five older brothers and sisters. My parents thought they
were done having kids, but then they decided that they wanted one more.
Growing up in a big, white, Irish family on a small farm in the mountains
was interesting. Not only was I the only African American around, I
was the only minority around. Period. I went to a tiny school—a bush
school—fifty kids in all, K-12.
What was that like? My parents had to be really upfront about my
adoption from the beginning because I just didn’t look like my brothers
and sisters. They spent a lot of time trying to keep me safe from prejudice,
from violent situations outside of our family. But there’s a lot more
awareness today that that type of behavior isn’t acceptable. Back then,
that wasn’t the case. All those things were acceptable behaviors. I mean,
your buddy wouldn’t get on you if you were calling somebody who looks
like me bad names. Your buddy wouldn’t hold you back. Today, typically,
you’re a pretty rogue person, a uniquely rogue person to do something
like that without somebody stepping in to say, “Hey, what are you doing?”
There was a lot of racism growing up, but it took me a while to realize
it. I didn’t know what it was back then. I mean, I just thought that’s how
people treated people. It wasn’t until I started junior high that I began to
understand it. That’s when I met Todd Palin—he had just graduated from
You mean, as is in Sarah Palin’s husband? Yep, that’s the one. We moved
to a little town in Alaska called Wasilla. It was life-changing because it
was the first time I got to watch television and all that stuff. We had water
and electricity. Compared to where we were, it was a much larger place,
maybe about 4,000 people at the time. Wasilla, as you mentioned, was
made famous by one of my classmate’s big sisters, whose name is Sarah
Palin. When I knew her, she was Sarah Heath. Her dad, Chuck Heath,
was my US History teacher in junior high. And, I knew her boyfriend,
Todd, and his group of friends very well because they used to bully me. I
really stuck out because I was a big kid—about six-two in seventh grade—
and, of course, I’m black.
What did he do? I don’t want to get into it; we could write a whole
book on that part of my life. Actually, there was a book written by Joe
McGinniss, he won a Pulitzer Prize, called The Rouge about Sarah
Palin. He interviewed me for it and, although my name does not appear
in the book, when the stories about Todd came up, the Palins could
pick me out of a lineup pretty easily. It was during those years when
I began to understand the difference between macroaggressions and
microaggressions. An example of a microaggression, which were more
frequent, would be when someone would say something to me like, “Wow,
you’re very articulate for a black person.” Whereas, a macroaggression
would be when they would punch you in the face.
How did you navigate this part of your life? The thing that my parents
hammered into me was this idea that I had to be beyond reproach. It
becomes easy for people to make an example out of you when you stick
out like a sore thumb. So, I had to excel in everything I did. They taught
me how to play the game, how to fit in, how to be successful rather
than just be a kid. So, I was involved in all the clubs, all the athletics. I
got great grades. I played basketball. I ran track. I played football. I ran
cross country. I mean, I did everything. I was on the school board as the
student advisor to the school board. I did all of the student government
stuff. I was in the academic decathlon, all of those things. Looking back
on it now, it was an interesting scenario. I represented all of the students
in Alaska on the state board of education when I was a junior, and I was
chosen to spend a summer in Russia back when it was still the Soviet
Union for a student ambassadorship.
What came next? I went off to college, to the University of Oregon. Up to
that point, I had only encountered a few other black people in my entire
life. Now, all of a sudden, there are thousands of them. It was a completely
different world. I went there for track, the 400, but also played a little
football, defensive end. It was good, and it helped me get through college.
After I graduated, I started doing IT for a trust company before eventually
finding my way to a small software company in Portland, about twentyfive
employees. I became their chief operating officer and was doing a
lot of business travel. In 2000, I went to my brother’s wedding down in
Newport and hit it off with his wife’s best friend, who, as it turns out, was
from Pismo Beach. We spent the next six months flying back and forth
to see one another, and we got engaged a few months after that. Around
the same time, I started getting recruited by a company here called Web
Associates, which has since gone by Rosetta and several other names.
Did you stay here? Yes, we settled in Arroyo Grande, and I worked for
a few different tech companies before starting one of my own called
AdSmart, which did mobile advertising. In 2015, Digital West here in
San Luis Obispo bought my company, and I went to work for them as
their chief operating officer for the next three years, until I joined Doc
Burnstein’s as their CEO, because I was fascinated by their business
model—their community-based business model. I’m really interested in
the value that we bring to the communities and to our guests. It’s not
just about ice cream. I mean, we make really good ice cream, for sure, but
it’s also about giving back to our communities. Our whole idea is to say,
“Yes, we have a profitable business, but we have identified the endpoint
of that business as being able to provide community enrichment over
How do you do that? So, we’ve been a B-corp since 2012, the year that
the designation first became available, and our founder Greg [Steinberger]
asked the question, “How do we create a community-owned, communityoperated,
community-based business?” And he was basing it off his
experience from when he lived in Wisconsin where he is a shareholder of
the Green Bay Packers. So he was, in his mind, trying to think, “Well, how
can we do that here with ice cream?” In 2013, we did our first public stock
offering and essentially said, “If you want to buy into Doc Burnstein’s, then
buy into this idea of community engagement, community enrichment.”
And, at $50 a share, we raised $400,000 with about 450 people. So, that’s
kind of how it turned out. That was the first offering. Now we have around
600 shareholders. In 2017, we raised a million dollars with more community
investors. Right now, we’re doing another stock offering, and we’re raising
eight million dollars, all from community investors.
What do you plan to do with all that money? We’re opening 100 parlors
here in California over the next five years. We have a plan to do it; now
we’re executing on it. We had three stores, but we’ll have six by the end of
this year. Basically, our count will double each year. It may seem like a lot, >>
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 45
ut, remember, Starbucks had 137 in its first five years [of expansion].
But we don’t want to go into malls, and we don’t want to do this as a
franchise. We want to go into Main Street USA, like the store we are
opening in Chico next month. It’s on 2nd and Broadway, probably the
best corner in town. And, it’s made possible by community investors
there; people who will go to the shareholder meetings and have real
input and make real decisions and make a real impact. And, it’s not just
talk. One of our big tenants when it comes to community enrichment
is training kids who work at the stores how to have excellent customer
service skills. We have very specific programs to do that and, in addition,
we offer them college scholarships so they can grow along with the
company. Every year, we take one day of that year and allocate 100%
of the sales to our scholarship fund, so pretty much every one of our
employees who applies gets some money toward school.
Wow. We also want to make sure that we’re taking care of not just
our team, not just our shareholders, but also to the best of our ability,
our environment. That’s why we keep taking steps in that direction,
such as the reintroduction of glassware in our parlors. When you
order our ice cream, we serve you in glassware rather than plastic
and paper. Real metal spoons. Real glass. Because the environment is
important to us, and every little bit we can do helps. It’s those little
things, like switching our cream vendor because they are closer to us,
and it doesn’t have to be trucked so far. With a B-corp, shareholder
value doesn’t have to be your number one concern. Of course, it is a
concern with us, and it goes without saying; but, really, it’s about our
team, our environment, and our community. We see all of those things
as equal parts. We believe that if you offer health insurance, for example,
which we started doing last February for the first time in fifteen years,
then by focusing on taking care of our team we are also taking care of our
Let’s talk about that idea some more... The reason community is a huge
value for us, and such a focus, is because we believe if we authentically
engage our community, we will enrich the community. When we
authentically engage, what that means is asking the question: “How can
we help?” Our arms are open to helping our community. If we do that
in an authentic manner, we will enrich the community. If we are able to
enrich the community, we build brand loyalty. It’s very simple. We can
track those things with data like a net promoter score, and a community
impact index, and counting the number of hours we volunteer, and
totaling the number of dollars we give to all of these organizations. I
mean, we’ve given thousands to various organizations over the years
and tracking that information in every market gives us the capability
to understand how that affects our business over time. That’s a big deal
to us. A lot of companies, they make all this profit, and they give a
few pennies to charities, and they call that their giveback program, or
whatever. We lead with giving back. >>
46 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
1019 Morro Street . San Luis Obispo
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Graham was introduced to us by a local real estate lender. Following Graham’s advice, we successfully closed the sale of our
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through some difficult challenges including repairs, changing lenders mid-stream, and documentation from multiple
locations. We give Graham our highest recommendation.
– Michael & Irene Mullen, Paso Robles, CA
graham @ ccreslo.com
805.459.1865 | CalBRE #01873454
3196 South Higuera Suite D, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 47
Can you give me an example of what you mean by giving back? Sure,
let’s take our Thursday night fundraisers, for example. A youth-based
organization comes in and says, “We want to do a fundraiser.” And we say,
“Okay, you got it—Thursday night, three hours. You bring your ‘celebrity
scoopers,’ and we’re going to give you 15% of the sales, not just 15%
of the profit.” And it’s not only the people who show us a coupon, or a
flier—it’s anybody who comes in during those three hours and makes a
purchase. We tell them, “Go promote it, bring in as many people as you
can. Bring in your celebrity scoopers, and we’ll give you 15% right off the
top.” It’s really straight-forward. And, also, you don’t have to be an official
nonprofit. You don’t have to be organized as a 501(c)(3), because we know
there are many worthy groups and causes that can’t get the designation
because they may be too small, or they don’t have the start-up funds to do
it, or whatever the case.
Okay, but, what about the ice cream itself? What makes it different?
Well, first of all, we’re a premium grade ice cream. We’re a 16% butterfat
ice cream. Whereas, most of the others are in the 10 to 12% range. So,
they are a much lower grade product. The mouthfeel of ice cream is
critically important, and you’ve got to have an outstanding product for
customers to return; otherwise, it’s just a kid thing. By that, “a kid thing,”
I mean, take 31 Flavors, for example, they choose to go with a massproduced,
low butterfat, really high sugar content offering to appeal to
kids. Doc Burnstein’s, on the other hand, is small-batch, artisanal ice
cream. We have a product that appeals to the most discerning adults, as
well as to kids. We care about quality. Quality is a huge component of our
success. If somebody comes in and the ice cream isn’t of the quality that
they expect, they won’t come back. They just won’t. And, so, we have a high
standard when it comes to the quality of the product.
What do you do when you’re not working? We like to travel. We’re
going to Honduras next month. We’re also a very service-oriented family.
My wife is the chairman of the board for the Clarke Center in Arroyo
Grande. She’s also a San Luis Obispo housing authority commissioner.
I’m on the board of the YMCA and Stand Strong and the AG Hospital
48 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Sustainable Materials | General Contracting Services | Custom Cabinet Shop | Interior Designers
111 South Street, San Luis Obispo
All under one roof.
CA Contractor License #940512
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 49
Foundation, as well as Big Brothers, Big Sisters. We try to stay involved in
the community. We try to show our son that it’s a good thing to do also.
This year was probably the first year that he got to do something like that.
He was a junior leader at YMCA camp. So, he’s a seventh-grader helping
out the first, second, and third graders.
Before we wrap up, can you tell us about your two pierced ears and
your thumb ring? [laughter] That’s funny. I don’t think anyone has ever
asked me that. Yeah, I got my ears pierced when I was seventeen. My
mom did it. Took an ice cube and a needle and poked it right through.
I was definitely kind of an outlier. I mean, having both my ears pierced,
that was very unusual back then. I think, just over the years, especially in
high school, I was always thinking about the idea of just fitting in and being
beyond reproach. This was the summer before my junior year, and I wanted
something to be a little bit different. The earrings were that for me. And, for
my first job in IT when I got out of college, we were required to wear a suit
and tie—and no jewelry for men, except for rings. So, I figured out that I
could have my own style by wearing a thumb ring. They couldn’t say anything
about that, right. So, it just stuck. I still do it. It wasn’t inappropriate, but it
was a little different; my own thing. That’s how it started. So, is it my own
small little way of rebelling? Yeah. Maybe a little bit. SLO LIFE
50 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
SUSTAINABILITY ISN’T A CHECKBOX
It is a way of thinking and acting. We advocate
for solutions that maximize our planets resources
in order to preserve our natural spaces for future
generations to explore.
Hank and Georgia explore the super bloom at Carrizo Plain.
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 51
Presenting Sponsor BMW of San Luis Obispo
Sabrina Pratt & Adam Lesmeister
SLO Movement Arts Center
Foundation for the Performing Arts Center
Heart of the Arts Gala
& Sidecar Loading Dock After Party
Presented by BMW of San Luis Obispo
Hundreds of San Luis Obispo citizens gathered at the
Performing Arts Center on Saturday September 7 to support the
Foundation for the Performing Arts Center. Guests were treated
to an evening of delight and madness all in support of the local
performing arts. Proceeds from the event will help make the
performing arts accessible in San Luis Obispo County.
For more information, please visit fpacslo.org
Photo Credit: Heraldo Family Photo
52 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Courtney Meznarich & Kristin Hoover
Skye Christakos & Leann Standish
Heidi Harmon & Billy Breed
Trudie & Ty Safreno
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 53
THE SUPES MUST SAVE
BY KARA WOODRUFF AND SAM BLAKESLEE
Some people like it, others do not. But the truth remains the same: Pacific Gas & Electric is
closing its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant by 2025. And, yes, this will significantly impact our
community. It also presents an unprecedented opportunity to conserve and make available for
public enjoyment the Diablo Canyon Lands, some 12,000 acres of unspoiled and scenic coastal
bluffs and rugged mountains surrounding the plant which are no longer needed by PG&E. And that
great opportunity lies in the hands of our very own San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors:
John Peschong, Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill, Lynn Compton, and Debbie Arnold.
At its August 20, 2019
meeting, the Supervisors
unanimously agreed to act
as the lead agency for the
Quality Act (CEQA)
process to decommission
Diablo Canyon. And, since
no other state or local
agency seems to want the
job, it’s likely a done deal. This means that the county
will do three things: prepare the Environmental
Impact Report (EIR) for all decommissioning
activities (including the removal of equipment,
structures, and facilities); issue permits to undertake
those activities; and, identify necessary mitigation
to offset the substantial impacts to the environment
and local communities that are the unavoidable
consequences of decommissioning.
It is the third item listed above—mitigation—where
history will ultimately judge whether our Supervisors
faced or failed an opportunity of a lifetime. If they face the opportunity, a world-class outdoor
public recreational area can be created, bringing tourism dollars to the region while protecting
scenic views, natural habitat, and wildlife. If the Supervisors fail to seize this opportunity,
however, they will fail their constituents, and these precious lands may go the way of Southern
California-style suburban development.
Diablo Canyon’s decommissioning will be the largest, most complex EIR ever undertaken by the
county. Likewise, the impacts created by the dismantling of all equipment, structure, and facilities
will be the largest, most complex and mitigation-worthy event in the county’s history. The cost
of the decommissioning (as estimated by PG&E and supported by the Board of Supervisors)
is $4.8 billion—it will be a herculean endeavor. And imagine the impacts that come along with
dismantling the massive industrial complex that is Diablo Canyon, as it creates decades of air
and water quality degradation, dust, noise, and tens of thousands of trucks lumbering down
Avila Beach Drive, as they haul away countless tons of heavy construction debris. This will be our
burden to bear as residents of the Central Coast along with, of course, the existence of over 2,500
metric-tons of radioactive spent nuclear fuel (the most toxic substance known to man) that will
likely remain in our backyard for decades or more to come.
So, it’s fair to ask: What is the appropriate mitigation for this jaw-dropping decommissioning
burden? At a very minimum, it is the conservation of the Diablo Canyon Lands. All 12,000
acres. The Supervisors need to require this outcome as a meaningful offset for what our
community will endure these next several decades. >>
54 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
䰀 漀 挀 愀 氀 䔀 琀 栀 椀 挀 愀 氀 䨀 攀 眀 攀 氀 爀 礀 匀 椀 渀 挀 攀 㤀 㜀 㐀
匀 瀀 攀 挀 椀 愀 氀 椀 稀 椀 渀 最 䤀 渀
䌀 甀 猀 琀 漀 洀 䌀 爀 攀 愀 琀 椀 漀 渀 ☀ 䄀 渀 琀 椀 焀 甀 攀 刀 攀 猀 琀 漀 爀 愀 琀 椀 漀 渀
㐀 ☀ 㠀 䜀 愀 爀 搀 攀 渀 匀 琀 ⸀ 䐀 漀 眀 渀 琀 漀 眀 渀 匀 䰀 伀
㠀 㔀 ⸀ 㔀 㐀 アパート⸀ 㠀 㠀 㘀 ⴀ 眀 眀 眀 ⸀ 䜀 愀 爀 搀 攀 渀 匀 琀 爀 攀 攀 琀 䜀 漀 氀 搀 猀 洀 椀 琀 栀 猀 ⸀ 挀 漀 洀
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 55
Conserving the Diablo Canyon Lands—for hiking, biking,
horseback riding, camping, and natural resource protection—is
not a new notion. In 2000, the “Dream Initiative” was placed on
a countywide ballot and passed by 75% of the popular vote. As
an advisory measure, it urged the Board of Supervisors to enact
policies to conserve and make available for public access all of
the Diablo Canyon Lands after plant closure. The measure was
supported broadly by a unanimous vote of all five Supervisors; our
representatives in Congress, the State Senate, and the Assembly;
local governmental entities; chambers of commerce; environmental
organizations; and PG&E itself.
Additionally, in 2018, the future of the Diablo Canyon Lands was
considered by the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement
Panel, a group of local representatives tasked by PG&E and
the California Public Utilities Commission to solicit public
input concerning decommissioning. During an extensive civic
engagement process, the community provided input about what
they envisioned for the future of the lands. With near unanimity,
the public called for their conservation and public access. In
response to this input, the Panel’s recently released Strategic Vision
contains these recommendations:
• The 12,000 acres of Diablo Canyon Lands surrounding
the [Diablo Canyon Power Plant] are a precious
treasure and a spectacular natural resource that should
be preserved in perpetuity for the public and future
generations, in acknowledgement of its significant
• The public should be ensured access to the Diablo
Canyon Lands to the greatest extent possible, while
protecting and preserving sensitive habitats, cultural
sites, and other resources.
Twenty years ago, our Supervisors recognized the momentous
opportunity to save the Diablo Canyon Lands once the plant was
decommissioned. Notwithstanding deep philosophical divisions,
they transcended politics to speak with one voice. We thank then-
Supervisors Harry Ovitt, Shirley Bianchi, Peg Pinard, Katcho
Achadjian, and Mike Ryan for their action and foresight. We now
call upon our current Supervisors to implement the express will
of the voters and to create a legacy for which they will always be
remembered. SLO LIFE
Kara Woodruff is an attorney/financial planner and American
Land Conservancy project director for the successful Hearst Ranch
conservation project of 2005. She serves on the Diablo Canyon
Decommissioning Engagement Panel, but writes as an individual
rather than as a Panel representative.
Sam Blakeslee is the President of Blakeslee & Blakeslee and former State
Senator and Assemblyman representing the Central Coast. He is the
author of the 2000 Dream Initiative.
56 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Call: (805) 548-0800
Text: (805) 440-9945
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 57
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LALUSH
58 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 59
arthquake fault lines are fascinating to think about,
mostly because of how little we contemplate them. They
hold it all together diligently and silently for years and
decades and centuries; everything is fine, until one day they
snap. For Bob and Sallie Weatherford, it wasn’t a fault line
that wreaked havoc upon their San Luis Obispo tri-level
home. It was something much less nefarious: a hairline
fracture on a toilet tank.
The insurance company’s claims adjuster, who came out to
study the brittle porcelain under a magnifying glass, said
it was an accident waiting to happen. One day, it could
not hold out any longer. While the couple was away for
the afternoon, it ruptured. Although it did not register on
the Richter scale or make the six o’clock news, the fracture
opened up in such a way that the valve was left on the
“open” position for one hour after the next. By the time
the Weatherfords had returned, the floors and walls and
cabinets were ruined, all of them—total devastation.
Everything had to be gutted; a complete remodel was in
order. It would not be the first time the couple set out
to alter the face of their hillside home, which a friend
affectionately refers to as a “tree house for grown-ups.” But,
previous efforts had always been modest, and mostly around >>
60 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 61
the margins. A little bit here, a little bit there. This project
was taking it to an entirely different level. They would
have to find an architect, a general contractor, a gaggle of
subcontractors, not to mention a new place to live for the
It would be the first time The Weatherfords had settled
someplace other than in their tree house overlooking the
city since 1985. Their two daughters, who were raised in the
home, had grown up and relocated themselves on opposite
ends of the Pacific Coast—Seattle and San Diego. So, the
remodel would be an interesting project for the couple, they
decided, and an opportunity to mold it into exactly what
they always knew was possible. Plus, Bob would finally be
able to put all those architecture classes he sat through at
Cal Poly back in the day to good use. It wasn’t that he didn’t
like the subject, he did, but he found a stronger tug pulling
on him from the world of law. He went on to become an
attorney based in San Luis Obispo, where he enjoyed a long
and fulfilling career until he was able to retire. His wife,
Sallie, was a graphic designer, so between the two of them,
they felt up for the challenge presented in overhauling their
2,700 square-foot home. >>
62 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 63
Sketches and magazines and product samples came next.
The concept came together quickly as the couple shared,
one starting the sentence and the other finishing: “We like
all the same things, so it was easy.” With the vision in-hand,
they set out to secure the building permits required from
the city. For that task, they enrolled the assistance of Micah
D. Smith, who quickly shepherded the project through
the bureaucratic maze. Then, it was on to selecting the
general contractor. The couple signed up with John Hunter
of J.A. Hunter Cabinetry, who also built the cabinets and
completed the finish work. A long list of local names
rounded out the team: Keith Evans Hardwood Flooring,
TileCo., Rod and Eli Gibson of Quality Tile in Arroyo
Grande, to name a few.
With all of the walls stripped bare, the old house became
an empty canvas. But two things remained unchanged:
arguably the best view in San Luis Obispo, spanning from
Cerro San Luis on one side to Bishop Peak on the other;
and all of the original redwood siding. Since the tree house
is tucked away, mostly invisible from the street, it has a
whimsical quality to it—an enchanted perch on which
to bid the sun farewell each evening. For everything that
changed, the best things remained the same. But there was
much work to be done. >>
64 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
C O M M E R C I A L & R E S I D E N T I A L
Montecito Blend Chip Seal
- Shep Hyken
Lic# 881030 A/C12/C32
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 65
The sheetrock went in first, followed by paint and floors—
North Carolina kiln-dried white oak—and trim and
molding. Mahogany cabinets and countertops were next,
including an exotic zebrawood slab for the downstairs
media room bar top. Extra attention was paid to the master
bath where Bob took particular interest in the procurement
and design of an unusual, asymmetrical soaker tub. And
the sleeping quarters were fitted with sliding barn doors.
The kitchen, always the most-used room of the house, came
away with both stylish and sensible upgrades, including
black granite countertops sourced at San Luis Marble.
While they were at it, for good measure, they went ahead
and replaced the aging roof, as well.
In the end, the home simply became a better version of
itself; a logical evolution tracing back to the first time
Bob laid eyes on it while his
Cal Poly classmates were busy
designing and constructing it
in 1978. Seven years later, in
1985, through a twist of fate, he
became the proud owner. And
now, thirty-four years after that,
he and Sallie marvel at how
much—and how little—their
old tree house has changed
over those years. All thanks to a
hairline fracture, which waited
patiently for its moment. SLO LIFE
DAVID LALUSH is an
here in San Luis Obispo.
66 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 67
| SLO CITY
BY THE NUMBERS
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
*Comparing 01/01/18 - 09/23/18 to 01/01/19 - 09/23/19
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
68 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 69
| SLO COUNTY
Let me help
BY THE NUMBERS
Contact me today to learn more.
Paso (Inside City Limits)
Paso (North 46 - East 101)
Paso (North 46 - West 101)
Paso (South 46 - East 101)
Senior Loan Advisor
1212 Marsh St., Suite 1
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
San Luis Obispo
* Top 1% Mortgage Originator | Mortgage Executive Magazine
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Equal Housing Lender Member FDIC
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Programs subject to change without notice. Some restrictions may apply.
*Comparing 01/01/18 - 09/23/18 to 01/01/19 - 09/23/19
53 56 $696,553 $718,634
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 71
Hidden Health Hazard or Overhyped Concern?
BY ERIKA FITZGERALD
Dating back to the Roman empire,
metals have been a staple in
industrialization and everyday
life. Known for their ingenuity,
the ancient Romans constructed
an intricate system of aqueducts
to supply the city’s water.
Physicians were aware that lead
mining led to adverse health
effects and, for this reason, ceramic pipes were preferred.
Nonetheless, lead pipes prevailed in certain areas where
modern testing shows ancient Roman “tap water” contained
100 times more lead than local spring waters. Not ideal, but
not necessarily deadly.
Naturally, building and ruling an empire is hard work. To
blow off steam, Roman emperors and aristocrats frequently
indulged in the finer things—like sweet wines simmered
down using lead pots and kettles. When examined under a
72 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
modern lens, these recipes contained enough lead to
cause chronic and severe poisoning. Some researchers
even attribute the fall of Rome to lead poisoning,
pointing to the absent-minded and erratic Claudius
as an example. Whether this is true or not, one thing
we know for certain is that using lead for domestic
purposes and water distribution presents a major
Today, the dangers of lead poisoning are well-known
and documented—but the threat of lead and other
heavy metals in our environment remains far from
obsolete. In January, Consumer Reports released a study
documenting eyebrow-raising levels of inorganic
arsenic, lead, and cadmium in forty-five popular
fruit juices. In this specific case, Consumer Reports
recommends parents give kids less juice. But, the issue
extends far beyond skipping the OJ aisle. So, what’s
the real deal with heavy metals? >>
ERIKA FITZGERALD is a
writer and traveler with
a healthy addiction to
kombucha and kale.
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 73
NOT ALL HEAVY METALS
Heavy metals are naturally occurring chemical compounds that exist in
the environment. Some metals—such as zinc, iron, and magnesium—
are essential dietary nutrients. Other metals—such as mercury, arsenic,
lead, and cadmium—not so much. When these stealthy contaminants
accumulate in a person’s body, they pose health risks ranging from chronic
fatigue and digestive problems to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In
more serious cases, heavy metals—particularly mercury and lead—can
interfere with neuron function and cause long-lasting, irreversible cellular
damage linked to autoimmunity and other chronic conditions.
According to the CDC, long-term exposure to heavy metals puts
people at risk for kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, learning
impairment, and certain types of cancer. Children are among the most
susceptible to these harmful effects, making the fruit juice findings
LIVING WITH LEAD AND
From aluminum cookware to lingering lead-based paints and old water
pipes, metals permeate our modern environment—and human activity has
only increased its concentrations. Easy fix, right? Replace metal cookware,
hire a painter, and filter water. Well, not exactly. According to Anthony
William, author of the New York Times best-selling book Medical Medium:
Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal, “heavy
metal toxicity—from metals such as mercury, aluminum, copper, cadmium,
nickel, arsenic, and lead—represents one of the greatest threats to our
health and well-being.” In the United States alone, lead currently affects
more than four million households across 3,000 communities. Making
wide-spread headlines, residents of Flint, Michigan suffered serious illness
after a negligent change in infrastructure infiltrated the water supply.
Other less-reported incidents include home renovations and deterioration
where old lead-based paint comes into play.
#3 CAUSE FOR CONSUMPTION CONCERN
Lead isn’t the only culprit when it comes to heavy metals. An ever-growing demand for seafood is pushing mercury deeper into our food supply chain,
as well. It’s no news that tuna, like most fish, contains heavy metal mercury—which is toxic when consumed in excess over extended periods of time.
This means the average person would need to eat at least three cans of tuna every day for six months before suffering serious symptoms.
So, how does mercury get into our food supply? Naturally, small and benign doses of mercury exist in seawater before getting absorbed by algae. Small
fish feed on the algae and larger fish feed on those fish, passing accumulated doses of mercury up the food chain. When people eat big fish—such as
tuna, sea bass, halibut, and swordfish—they consume larger amounts of mercury.
Furthermore, as demand increases and the oceans become increasingly depleted, suppliers are turning to factory-farmed fish. Despite being a promising
solution to overfishing, farmed fish present a whole new set of health problems. To satiate the massive number of farmed fish, farmers often use lowgrade
feed consisting of corn, wheat, soy, and vegetable oils that are often rife with chemicals, antibiotics, and—you guessed it—heavy metals.
In addition to fish, factory farming, industrial agriculture, and processing practices have turned up traces of heavy metals. Contaminants enter the food
production chain through soil, water, and production equipment. For example, pressure-treated lumber used to grow grapevines leaks arsenic into wine
and rice grown outside the United States absorbs arsenic directly from the groundwater. >>
74 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
W W W. P U G L I S I D E S I G N .CO M ( 8 0 5 ) 5 9 5 - 1 9 6 2
3076 Duncane Lane . San Luis Obispo
805 549 0100
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 75
IT’S TIME TO
WITH REV SLO FITNESS
LOSE WEIGHT . BURN FAT
GET IN SHAPE
MEET NEW PEOPLE
FOR MORE INFORMATION EMAIL U S
HAZIE AGE 66
Most commonly, heavy metals enter the body through food and a host of household
items, including cookware, pesticides, plastics, and aluminum-based deodorants. While
few people will experience severe heavy metal poisoning as a result of their everyday
environment, taking steps to minimize exposure is a simple way to improve general wellbeing
and stave off long-term ailments.
To reduce exposure, look for all-natural alternatives to your favorite household products—
especially antiperspirant deodorants, which often contain aluminum. As you might guess,
rubbing microscopic particles of aluminum into a porous body surface is far from ideal.
When it comes to cooking, swap low-quality metal cookware for ceramic, glass, and cast
iron—as these materials are the least likely to add harmful toxins to the menu. Last, but
not least, buy organic produce whenever possible. Luckily, SLO County is home to well
over a dozen farmers’ markets stocked with local organic produce.
If you suspect lead or other toxins might be lingering in your home—especially if your
house was built before the ‘70s—consult with an expert to safely make necessary updates.
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76 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
#5 DETOX IT OUT
Feeling a little sluggish? Chronic low-level metal toxicity is relatively common and widely
underdiagnosed. If you suspect heavy metals are weighing you down, a functional medicine
practitioner can test your levels and recommend a safe detox process. Different tests provide
different levels of information—but the most common include blood tests, hair testing,
chelation challenge testing, and bone testing.
Once heavy metal toxicity is confirmed, the first step is to remove their sources from your
environment. The next step is to introduce detoxifying foods that bind to and flush out
heavy metals. These include cilantro, garlic, wild blueberries, spirulina, chlorella, green tea,
cruciferous vegetables, and lemon water. On the flip side, high-fat foods can attract and store
metals—so a low-fat diet serves the body well during a heavy metal detox.
While a thirty-day detox might give your body the boost it needs to reset, the best medicine
is a healthy lifestyle. Seven to eight hours of sleep every night, whole plant-based foods, lots
of water, and a daily dose of stress-free Central Coast sunshine does the trick. SLO LIFE
Family-owned and operated with two locations in SLO
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 77
Think outside the taco shop.
BY JAIME LEWIS
n this column, I’ve written about my quest for superb carnitas and juicy burritos. Of course, I’m not alone;
wherever two or more Californians are gathered, discussion about Mexican food will ensue.
The simple taco, wrapped in paper for take-out, will always have a cozy home in our hearts, but a handful
of restaurants in SLO County offer Latin cuisine for times when we have more than a few minutes to
eat—and more than a few dollars to spend. Each has its cultural roots somewhere in the Americas, and the
heartfelt pride of each proprietor shines through in every bite.
ISo, step away from the burrito wagon, if only this once. Dine deeper, both culinarily and geographically speaking. You
may find that your new favorite dish hails from somewhere between here and Cape Horn. >>
JAIME LEWIS writes about
food, drink, and the good
life from her home in San
Luis Obispo. Find her on
78 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 79
ACROSS THE AMERICAS
At La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant in Paso Robles, Latin
pop music bumps from speakers along the long brick walls.
Warm air breezes through the wide-open doors that face
onto City Park, the tall bar stools a perfect perch for a
sophisticated fall evening.
I meet owner Carole MacDonal to talk Latin cuisine,
and she brings me a long plate of three little dumplings
covered in shredded cabbage and tomato slices. They are
pastelitos catracho, traditional empanadas from Honduras,
the homeland of her husband and restaurant partner, Chef
“This is his family recipe,” she says, explaining that each of
the three little bundles before me contains beef, potatoes,
veggies, and mild spices. Diving into the pastelitos, I taste the
high note of cumin in every bite, as well as corn, peppers,
Despite the provenance of this dish, La Cosecha (which is
Spanish for “homemade”) does not subscribe to the cuisine
of any one place; other dishes hail from Peru, Brazil, and
Spain. “We’re not confined to one country,” Carole says,
reminding me that their first restaurant is Il Cortile, a
high-end Italian restaurant up the street. “We have pizza on
this menu, which has nothing to do with Latin food. Chef
Santos just makes whatever he feels he’s good at.” >>
80 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 81
IN THE MIX
When I walk into Mestiza Bar y Cocina, the new Mexican
eatery above Williams-Sonoma on Monterey Street in San Luis
Obispo, the first thing I notice are the many cacti lining a beige
wall. Further down, globe light fixtures covered in woven fibers
blend traditional notes with modern design.
Mestiza’s Executive Chef, Ricardo Ortega, is an owner along
with Compass Health, which operates other Central Coast
restaurants, including the Old Custom House in Avila Beach
and Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach. But this restaurant is
personal for him, he says, as his own family’s roots are in
Michoacán. He shares that another chef in the kitchen,
Armando Melendez, comes from Mexico City.
Ortega brings me a plate of quesadillas de flor de calabaza—pretty
blue-ish quesadillas filled with Oaxacan cheese, epazote (an
herb native to southern Mexico), and squash blossoms. A little
pot of guacamole surprises me with pomegranates mixed in,
symbolizing the red and green of the Mexican flag. The flavors
are gentle, not overly spicy, and the squash blossoms lend an
unexpected pillowy texture to each bite.
The term mestiza, Ortega explains, refers to a blend of cultures.
“In some Mexican cities, in one city block you can see an ancient
pyramid, an old Spanish cathedral, and a skyscraper,” he says.
“It’s a blend of old and new, as well as the influences that made
Mexico what it is today.” >>
82 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 83
Walking into San Luis Obispo’s Mistura, I’m struck by
the seamless combination of modern art and traditional
Incan patterns on the wall. Despite its sprawling size, the
restaurant feels intimate and warm, with bossa nova lilting
on the air.
Mistura’s Chef Nicola Allegretta is actually Italian, but
his wife Jackeline, who is Peruvian, encouraged him to
immerse in Peruvian cuisine. “She said ‘You need to be
educated in Peru, to really learn all the regions of Peru,’”
says Allegretta. “Mistura means a mix of cultures because
that’s what Peruvian food is, too.”
Allegretta became such an expert in the subject that,
today, Mistura represents the Trade Commission of Peru;
whenever Peru showcases its land, tourism, and industry in
the United States, Mistura is there to serve Peruvian food
as an example of the country’s bounty.
Allegretta seats me at the raw bar to watch the kitchen
staff prepare a dish called apasionada: meticulously sliced
scallops in a pool of spicy-citrusy leche de tigre and aji
limo. The word aji means pepper, and the Mistura menu is
riddled with it: aji verde, aji amarillo, aji huacatay.
Indeed, Allegretta tells me, Peruvian cuisine comprises
over twenty peppers. Fruity and nuanced, the flavors of
sauces made from these peppers provide the bassline of
nearly every Peruvian dish, including the apasionada before
me. It manages to be sweet, tart, savory, and luscious all at
once—a beautiful shape-shifter, much like the culture from
whence it came. SLO LIFE
84 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 85
A rustic free-form tart, apple galette is the laid-back
friend of apple pie, cooked on a baking sheet rather
than in a pie pan. Keep it local by shopping at
SLO Creek Farms or See Canyon Fruit Ranch—both
farms offer you-pick apples or sell them by the pound
and are open late August to mid October.
BY CHEF JESSIE RIVAS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOFIA RIVAS
Treat Galette dough like pie dough. Handle
it as little as possible, work quickly, and keep
the dough cool. I like to chill the galettes after
assembly for a few minutes and then put them
!straight into the preheated oven.
86 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
2 ½ cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup butter, chilled
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup fine cornmeal
6-8 medium apples, cored, peeled,
and cut into ½” wedges
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ t sp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 ½ Tbs lemon juice
1 egg beaten
2 Tbs apricot jam
1 Tbs water
2 Tbs crystallized or raw sugar
To make dough, in a mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut cold butter into cubes and add one at a
time, just until combined. Add sour cream and stir well. Cover and chill in freezer until firm.
Next, prepare the filling. Put apple slices into a medium mixing bowl. Add sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg,
a pinch of salt, and lemon juice. Mix well by folding and let sit for a few minutes.
In a separate bowl, prepare glaze by mixing egg, apricot jam, and water.
Pull dough from the freezer and flatten on cutting board or counter top. Cut in half and form two equal size disks.
Roll out to pie dough thickness. Use fine ground corn meal to keep dough from sticking to counter or rolling pin.
On a ½ sheet pan lined with parchment paper, set both rolled out sheets of dough side by side. In the center of
both add equal amounts of filling. Fold dough over the side of the filling with the center of the filling exposed.
Paint all exposed dough thoroughly with the glaze and sprinkle with the crystallized or raw sugar. Bake in a 350
degree preheated oven for approximately 1 hr and 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Let rest at least 20
minutes before serving. SLO LIFE
JESSIE RIVAS is the owner
and chef of The Pairing Knife
food truck which serves the
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 87
| WINE NOTES
HAIR OF THE DOG
Why are dogs synonymous with wine culture? Maybe the answer lies in the way both
dogs and wine can cause even the most hardened among us to open up, to drop down
our guard and live a little. In the same way that wine is a social lubricant—a magical elixir
that allows us to meet in the middle—so too are our four-legged friends. They serve as
enthusiastic, yet often sleepy, mascots in wine tasting rooms, cheerleaders in the cellar,
and faithful friends in the vineyards. So, pack the picnic basket, grab a bottle of wine,
and explore some local canine-friendly wineries.
BY ANDRIA MCGHEE
Saucelito Canyon Winery // Gladys (Knight) the pug // Zinfandel
The tasting room was Gladys’s first home. This funny-faced furball was rescued by tasting room manager Katharyn.
Since then, Gladys has greeted visitors and basked under tables, especially those with the largest charcuterie plate.
While at Saucelito, enjoy their old-world style Zinfandel. These are much lighter and fruitier than a typical warmer
climate, “jammy” tasting Zinfandel. How do they get an old-world taste? The vines came from across the seas over
a century ago before they were abandoned during prohibition. A rare find by Bill Greenough (“Greeno”), who took
a gamble on them as Phylloxera, the wretched moth that killed most of France’s vines, killed many of the other Zin
vines planted around United States. Miraculously, his were spared. Compare their 2017 Young Vine Zinfandel, which
is bright and fruity with a bit of spice, to their old vines 2016 Estate Zinfandel, which has a bigger nose and a slight
cherry cola taste. You can tell these vines have a knowledge of the world that we can only begin to understand. >>
ANDRIA MCGHEE received
her advanced degree in
wines and spirits from WSET
in London and enjoys travel,
food, wine, and exercise.
88 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 89
Kelsey See Canyon Winery // Zeus the red lab
Not only are peacocks welcome here, but as they won “SLO’s
best dog-friendly winery” this year, dogs are just as common.
Winemaker Jac Jacobs and his assistant, Joey Roedl, always have
their loyal pooches, Oden and Zeus, by their sides. Oden is a great
Pyrenees from a Paso sheepherding line. His big physique is less
intimidating because of his full body wag when he sees visitors.
Zeus is a red lab that is incredibly social, as well, but rarely leaves
Roedl’s side, except when walking himself on the beach. These two
are so endearing—I just want to hang there all day.
Dick and Dolores Kelsey, who once maintained tugboats in the
current wine barrel room, decided to retire and start a winery.
Instead of simply stomping grapes for wine, they tried their hand
with the apples that grew all around the canyon, as well. This
was the birth of Red Delicious Apple Rosé wine, which is quite
different than a cider. After nearby Sycamore Hot Springs began
selling the unique blend, it was renamed “Hot Tub Wine” by its
guests. Fermented from equal parts apple and grape juice, it offers
a taste that is difficult to describe.
It’s just something you have to try. A touch of sweetness helps
the fruit spring to life, while the grapes give it that smooth red
berry flavor. It strikes a nice balance and, more than anything else,
it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is just downright fun—like
Oden and Zeus.
Whalebone // Bentley // Cabernet Sauvignon
When walking up to Whalebone, it is not uncommon to be
greeted by Bentley, a three-year-old puppy—a lab in a bulldog’s
body. The loyal, if not obedient, sidekick to the one of the winery’s
owners, Janalyn Simpson, makes fast friends with visitors by
asking them to play fetch with a piece of limestone that he drops
at their feet. It is the same limestone that makes this area such a
coveted winegrowing region.
This winery is part of a 126-acre lot that Simpson and her
husband Bob purchased thirty-three years ago when they asked a
local winemaker for advice on growing grapes. The Simpsons loved
Cabernet Sauvignon, so that’s what they grew. After rave reviews
from friends, they decided to share this joy with everyone, and
that is how the tasting room was born. The 2016 Estate Cabernet
is delicious and features a great body. With a touch of Merlot,
the cab shines its dark berry and spice taste similar to a Bordeaux
blend. The Whalebone name is a fantastic reminder of the ancient
marine seabed soil from which the vines now grow and get their
fantastic flavor. SLO LIFE
BEFORE YOU GO
Want to bring your furry friend with you to a
winery? Take a couple steps before visiting to
ensure a great time. Call ahead to check their
policy. Wineries often have a garden or patio
space for guests with dogs. Always keep Fido on
a leash and keep some waste baggies on hand.
Bonus: be sure to bring along a bowl for water
while you are drinking wine, just in case the
winery doesn’t have one. Cheers!
90 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 91
BY BRANT MYERS
Even more derided than milkshake
IPAs with their liberal use of the
milk sugar, lactose, and revolting
glitter beers stuffed full of swirling
FDA-approved mica, are the dreaded
pumpkin beers released every Fall.
Each year, hundreds of breweries
jump on the seasonal wagon and
produce the autumnal equivalent
of the Peep. Widely hated, yet
secretly consumed. More accurately, I’m talking about pumpkin
spice beers that have been a thorn in the side of many a brew
aficionado and have seen a steady rise in popularity. Yet I have
never seen one being imbibed in the wild! So what are they, why
are they so hated and who is drinking these abominations?
My wife drinks them. I still love her, though a little less once
the cap comes off. It’s not her fault and she is far from your
basic girl, Instagramming a pile of fallen red leaves. She’s just
festive and starting to get excited about the upcoming holidays
and cooler weather. Like seeing bags of bite-sized Halloween
candy fill the store shelves that just recently held sunscreen and inflatable
pool toys, pumpkin beer signals the closing of the year and the beginning of
a new chapter in our weather.
Before we dive into the cultural rift that these seasonal brews create, let’s
distinguish that there are two types of pumpkin beer. The first is generally
better accepted due to the fact that it is more technically difficult to make—
an actual pumpkin beer. A perennial favorite has been El Gourdo, brewed
by Jim Crooks and his team at Firestone’s Barrelworks in Buellton. They
handpick and fire roast locally grown Cinderella pumpkins, adding walnuts
and bay laurel for an earthy and smoky wild wheat ale that evokes early
evenings spent cooking for family while catching whiffs of chimney smoke
from the neighborhood. Now that, is a pumpkin beer fit for Fall.
On the other hand are pumpkin spice beers. These are really what we think
of when we conjure hatred of anything malty and somehow slightly orange.
The recipe is simple: make a beer (or just use one you have already on the
brew schedule), then add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice.
Boom! Pumpkin spice beer! I want to expound on this concept, but it is so
simple that there’s not much more to say. I think this gets at the crux of why
they are so derided. On that note... >>
92 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 93
The backlash against pumpkin beer has been dying down over the years as we
begin to see some sharks being jumped, not only with the aforementioned
milkshake and glitter beers, but with the rise of flavored seltzers. Even
Anheuser-Busch’s Natural Light is now seen with pink flamingos on the can
and strawberry lemonade flavors added to make Naturdays (ideally
consumed through a plastic flamingo beer bong). After this abominable,
consumer-fueled phenomenon, how can we go back and tell brewers not to
use spice in their beer? After all, spiced beer has been around for hundreds
of years and dates back to many venerable Belgian breweries that are above
reproach. American brewers have a natural predilection for a heavier hand in
the addition of spices over the Belgians, but it still boils down to a gut feeling
we have as consumers that there is something amiss.
We have all experienced the dreaded “seasonal creep” as we’re simultaneously
shopping for Halloween costumes and listening to Christmas music over
the store speakers. This is no different in the beer world. We have one basic
problem with timing that is inevitable and twofold: How do you make a
quality pumpkin beer when the pumpkins are still growing? How do you
brew, bottle, ship, distribute, stock and sell a seasonal beer before the season
is over and before the beer loses its precious shelf life? Finding the balance is
difficult. No one wants to drink pumpkin in the Summer, and no one wants
to drink it after the turkey leftovers are gone. This is a small target to hit and
using spices instead of gourds helps alleviate the time crunch, but it sacrifices
quality. Consumers know this, even if only as a feeling.
Consumers are savvier than ever and are naturally wary of gimmicks and
heavy-handed attempts to garner sales from trends. So when
we see orange labels start to dominate the coolers, we take a
moment to lament the loss of the summer session IPA that
used to occupy the same space. What do we do about it?
Nothing. It doesn’t matter. The thing I love about beer is that
it is the most democratic purchase you can make. Vote with
your wallet and the breweries will listen. Only the strong
will survive and that’s okay too, because my next favorite
thing about beer is the sheer variety
of styles and that there truly is
something for every taste.
So, will I be drinking a pumpkin beer
this year? Of course, but it’s going
to be the best one I can find and
my wife and I will enjoy the subtle,
oak-aged nuances emanating from
the glass, wafting through the kitchen
and mingling with the natural buttery
scents of diacetyl from the pumpkin
being carved while seeds roast in the
oven. Because isn’t that what fall is
all about? So, shop wisely, consume
sparingly and remember that the best
thing about beer is sharing a moment
with those you love. SLO LIFE
BRANT MYERS is a craft
beer veteran and the
founder of BIIIG, supporting
local businesses in the
94 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
Join SLO Life food columnist
Jaime Lewis for candid
conversations about life
and flavor with area eaters,
drinkers and makers.
i T U N E S
Creators of bench
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OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 95
CAMBRIA SCARECROW FESTIVAL
Whimsy runs rampant at the 11th annual
assembly of hand-crafted folk art that draws
thousands of visitors from across the country.
Don’t miss hundreds of scarecrows bowling,
bathing, painting, pedaling, fishing, and flying
through Cambria, San Simeon and Harmony
throughout the month of October.
October 1-31 // cambriascarecrows.com
96 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
FALL AUDUBON BIRD WALK
All birding skill levels are welcome for
a walk through the San Luis Obispo
Botanical Garden and the surrounding
environs including El Chorro Regional
Park, Dairy Creek, the Bluebird Trail, and
grassy hillsides. See dozens of species in a
variety of habitats, with likely sightings of
White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk,
California Quail, Western Scrub-jay,
Western Bluebird, and possible nesting
Black-headed Grosbeaks and orioles.
October 19 // slobg.org
EVENING IN GREECE
Bring your dancing shoes (dance lessons are one of the evening’s highlights) and enjoy the true meaning
of Greek culture and hospitality. An elegant, authentic Greek dinner awaits you at the SLO Vet’s Hall
along with appetizers, a full bar, a fantastic Greek band and a silent auction to support local community
programs. Don’t forget the baklava. OPA!
October 19 // greekfestivalslo.com
Meadow Park becomes a haunted
hangout for family-friendly games and
activities, edible goodies and a costume
party for the kids, thanks to the City of
SLO Parks and Rec Department. End
the evening with a movie under the
stars for a real Halloween treat.
October 25 // slocity.org
CITY TO THE SEA
The intersection of Higuera and Court
streets in downtown San Luis Obispo is
the starting point for this half marathon
race open to runners and walkers alike.
The USA Track & Field certified course
winds through the city, taking runners
along scenic backroads and ending
alongside the Pacific Ocean in beautiful
October 13 // citytothesea.org
POP-UP ART SHOW
Help support the Monday Clubhouse Conservancy Fine Arts Awards Fund by fostering
the creativity of more than a score of Central Coast 2D and 3D artists, who “nourish the
expression of one soul talking to another.” It’s perfectly timed for holiday giving and sharing.
November 15-17 // themondayclubslo.org
Gasp-inducing thrills! Spontaneous
laughter! Both are promised in SLO
Repertory Theatre’s production of this
ingeniously constructed “roller-coaster
comic thriller” of a play written by Ira
Levin and directed by Kevin Harris. A
delightfully clever tale sure to be welltold
by SLO REP’s creative crew.
November 1-17 // slorep.org
SAN LUIS OBISPO POETRY FESTIVAL
Three separate events make up the 36th annual local
celebration of words, and you can enjoy three of
San Luis Obispo County’s recent Poet Laureates—
Marguerite Costigan, Jeanie Greensfelder, and Ivan
Brownotter—as they give voices to their written
words in three different venues.
November 2, 10 & 17 // languageofthesoul.org
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS
This festive, family-friendly, free community
event is back for a sixth grand celebration
in SLO’s downtown Mission Plaza, brought
to you by Wilshire Hospice, SLO Museum
of Art, Latino Outreach Council, and
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Enjoy
decorated altars, traditional dances, mariachi
music, poets, artists and sellers, art and
crafts activities, educational talks, costume
contests, Mexican food and beverages, sugar
skull decorating, and more.
November 1-2 // www.diadelosmuertosslo.org
The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale
celebrates two giants of classical music with
the pairing of Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony
of Psalms” with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s
“Requiem” at the Cal Poly Performing Arts
Center. Guest performers include Alba Franco-
Cancél, Susan Azaret Davies, Paul Osborne,
and Gabriel Manro.
November 24 // slomasterchorale.org
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 97
Dr. Arnie Horwitz
Are you feeling overwhelmed
and confused? I can help.
- Relationship Conflicts - Parenting & Self-Esteem
- Separation and Divorce - Personal Life Planning
- Grief and Loss - Career Uncertainty
888 MORRO ST
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Dr. Arnie Horwitz • 30 yrs. Experience
BY IRA LEVIN
“Two-thirds a thriller and one-third a
devilishly clever comedy. Scream a little.
It’s good for you.” – cue magazine
Give the gift of SLO LIFE!
98 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
g a z i n e
AN EVENING WITH DAVID SEDARIS
One of America’s pre-eminent humorists, David Sedaris is a master of satire
and one of the most observant authors addressing the human condition today.
With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, he presents an all-new evening
of irreverent musings, laugh-out-loud monologues, and readings from new and
unpublished works during this Cal Poly Arts presentation.
November 4 // morrobaytri.com
HARVEST ON THE COAST
A beachfront extravaganza of food and wine in Avila Beach kicks off on Friday
with a “Crafted on the Coast” collaborative winemaker dinner, followed on
Saturday by a beachside Grand Tasting and Live Auction featuring artisan foods,
live music and the opportunity to support local nonprofits. Then on “Surf ’s Up”
Sunday head out to SLO Coast wineries for all-day wine tasting, wine specials and
even more live music.
November 1-3 // visitavilabeach.com
SUSTAINABLE AG EXPO
For the very first time the International
Sustainable Winegrowing Summit will
be held in the United States, running
in conjunction with the Sustainable Ag
Expo at the Alex Madonna Expo Center
in San Luis Obispo. Bringing together
leading experts from around the globe,
the full-service tradeshow and equipment
showcase provides an opportunity for
farmers and ag pros to learn about the
latest in farming research, resource issues,
and business trends.
November 11-13 // vineyardteam.org
OCT/NOV 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 99
WELCOMING OUR NEWEST OFFICE
LOCATION IN DOWNTOWN PASO ROBLES
100 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | OCT/NOV 2019
SAN LUIS OBISPO • MORRO BAY • PASO ROBLES