When you come to California, there’s always a chance you’ll see some celebrities. An abundance of stars live here, and catching a glimpse of them out to lunch or doing some shopping is a real thrill. But when one of those personalities responds to your email and suggests getting together … well, that will simply take your breath away. And when it happens twice in one week … it’s almost too good to be true. “Almost,” because that’s exactly what happened to me last week!
Minnie and Max have graced The Tonight Show, Ellen, Regis & Kelly, Good Morning America, Animal Planet’s America’s Cutest Dog, Puppies vs. Babies, and Disney.com with their head-tilting antics. They have more than 700,000 Facebook fans and hordes of people fawning over them on Twitter and YouTube, too. We’ve chatted online some, but it was really too much to hope that they’d be able to squeeze me into their lively social calendar. Still, I asked anyway … and they happened to be available for lunch!
We met at one of their all-time favorite outdoor patios at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in Half Moon Bay, and their friend, Louis, was kind enough to join us. The conversation and the food were both drool-lightful, and I was impressed by how down-to-Earth they are, despite their fame. After lunch they wanted to give the GoPetFriendly.com-mobile a sniff, though they prefer to travel more incognito.
And then we went down to the beach to burn off lunch! Just over the hill from the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay is a dog friendly beach with plenty of space to romp. There is a parking area just before you reach the hotel, or the hotel offers some covered parking (free of charge) in their parking structure. We were there on a weekday, so the puparazzi didn’t bother us – but you’ll likely find it more crowded on weekends.
We ran around and around …
… chased the ball …
… and finally caught our breath.
And then ran around some more!
Minnie and Max had a pumpkin photo shoot scheduled, and they didn’t mind me tagging along.
It was a lovely afternoon, and Minnie, Max, and Louis couldn’t have been more gracious with their time. I’m completely star-struck and still have the bruises from pinching myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming!
Before the glow of my day with Minnie and Max could even wear off, things got even better – Sadie the Wonder Pup and her little sister, Charlie P., invited me to go for a hike! Sadie and I have been friends on Facebook for a few years, since before she nominated the winning city in the 2013 Best City for Pet Travelers tournament. Sadie’s super-special on all kinds of levels: she’s a beautiful blue nose pit bull, a service dog, an ambassador for her breed, a therapy dog, and a canine good citizen. She has a gentle, loving heart, and I’ve been looking forward to smooching her little forehead since I first saw her picture!
Sadie and Charlie P. suggested we meet at the Land of the Medicine Buddha for our hike, a meditation and retreat center on 108 acres in the coastal foothills just outside Santa Cruz. It’s a gorgeous, tranquil spot where the trail winds though massive redwoods and the only sounds you hear are the birds chirping and the breeze blowing though the trees.
Charlie P. is just eight months old, and has all the energy you’d expect for a puppy her age. There’s no question she’s the clown of the family, and she entertained us all by hopping on anything and everything … and then checking to see if we were duly impressed.
Along the trail we came across several grottos and memorials, which only added to the peaceful atmosphere. There is even a statue of St. Francis with paw prayer flags and remembrances of pets who’ve passed on.
The end of the trail brings you to the giant bell, the prayer wheel, and the image of Ksitigarbha under a gazebo Just beyond that is the retreat’s guest suites and classrooms. Be aware as you come into their community that they have designated quiet days here, so be respectful of their practices and grateful that they share their beautiful part of the world with us.
After the hike, Sadie and Charlie P. met me at Whale City Bakery, Bar & Grill for a late lunch on the patio overlooking the ocean. It was the perfect way to end the day!
From the intensity of the beach to the serenity of the redwoods, I had an amazing time with the celebrities I met in Northern California. We’ve gone from online acquaintances to friends, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them all again the next time!
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