San Luis Obispo, California: The Happiest Place On Earth To Die

Getting laid off from work always sucks. It usually happens when businesses need to downsize or find ways to save money, so I don't take...

Getting laid off from work always sucks. It usually happens when businesses need to downsize or find ways to save money, so I don't take it as a reflection of my professional skills at all, but I still felt like I needed to go on a trip immediately after getting laid off from my marketing copywriter position at a marketing agency. I decided I was going on a road trip to San Luis Obispo, known to it's residents as the happiest place on Earth.

I went on the road trip alone because my girlfriend couldn't get the time off. I packed my things in a camouflage duffel bag that I probably stole from someone and took off, more excited than I had been in a long time. It might sound like I was running away from my problems, and you'd be right. Vacations, in essence, are moments of temporary retreat from our day-to-day life.

I was 4 hours into my drive to San Luis Obispo, minding my own business, when I saw red and blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror. The officer approached and asked me if I knew how fast I was driving. Obviously, not fast enough if he caught up with me. He gave me a speeding ticket. I know I was in the wrong. I shouldn't have pulled over.

Once I settled into my hotel room, I explored downtown San Luis Obispo. Without a plan and with a very small budget, I walked around aimlessly, meandering into the tiny San Luis Obispo Art Museum. After spending no more than ten minutes inside, I left and walked around the town. I found The Palm Theatre, a solar-powered alternative cinema. I bought a ticket for a matinee screening of Genius, the story of famous book editor Maxwell Perkins who worked with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, geniuses in their own right, but not better than me, of course.

I had some time to kill so I headed to the nearest brewery which was Central Coast Brewing. I had a few tasters of their tasty brews and walked back to the theatre. As I walked into The Palm Theatre, I noticed that all the people who were watching the movie were really old. I was concerned they would drop dead in the middle of the movie. That'd be quite an inconvenience for me.

After the movie, I walked around some more. I was a vagabond without a goal or a cause. There really was no rush, expectation, or worry in my mind, despite having relatively no money and no career prospects in sight. So I continued to explore all the downtown landmarks. The bubblegum wall is still one of the grossest works of art I've ever seen.

Walking around in the mid-afternoon sun really wore me out. I went back to my hotel room to make a plan for the rest of the evening and just relax. I loved the fact that I was alone but I also felt lonely. The only known cure for loneliness in my book is pizza and beer, so I ordered some pizza from Woodstock Pizza and headed back to downtown to pick up my tasty companions.

As I was walking toward the Woodstock establishment I noticed there was a large gathering of people and vendors on the street. I had come during the San Luis Obispo Farmer's market. I walked through a flurry of masses witnessing some of the most mouthwatering food I've ever seen. I left my pizza in the car to see if I could score some delectable treats, but only ended up getting a thai iced tea. I noticed there was a small sour-centric brewery nearby so I just had to go there. Libertine Brewing Company had a tiny tasting room, but I loved their selection of sour beers.

The next day I explored San Luis Obispo's great hiking trails and coast. I took a trip to Pirate's Cove, took tons of pictures, and was apparently right next to a nude beach, although nobody there was naked. I guess it was a slow day. The rocky cliffs were majestic. The foliage seemed greener than I'd ever seen it. The waves crashed into the rocks below me. It was chilly but it felt great. I loved Smuggler's Cave, a giant tunnel-like opening that lead to the edge of the cliffs where you could peer down and see the incredible waves crashing down below you.

The stillness of the scenery filled me with a longing to connect with nature. I went on a retreated hiking trail, which in retrospect was a big mistake, not because anything bad happened, but because something bad could've happened. I didn't want to end up on an Investigation Discovery show because I decided to walk alone right into a killer's hideaway.

I made my way to some sand dunes, took a seat, and began to read a book. I watched as other groups of people hung out with their friends, laughed, and tried not to fall as they raced full-speed down the sand dunes. It was getting late so I went back home after a long day of baking in the sun. That was my last day at San Luis Obispo.

It was a great experience overall. I really enjoyed connecting with the simple pleasures of life like being relatively healthy and feeling something relatively close to happiness and excitement. It truly was one of the happiest places on Earth. I guess it wouldn't have been so bad to run into that killer's hideaway after all.

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