This story is FULL of characters and one of them is “Uncle Ricky”…
As I drove up the West Coast my Mother informed me over the phone that my Aunt had said “we have so much family all over this country you can stay anywhere for free!”…while this was a bit of an exaggeration, much of it was true for the state of California. Although “Uncle Ricky” was not my blood, he was an extended member of family via my step-uncle. Uncle Ricky lives in Grover Beach in a small 2-bedroom house with his sister. Both were extremely sweet and beautifully cast in my movie of quirky characters.
Uncle Ricky was tickled to have me and I had a room to myself in the stale shag-carpeted home. He and his sister greeted me late in the evening. Shortly after I arrived she took off for the weekend to her “boyfriends” leaving Uncle Ricky and I to ourselves in the little beach house. I stayed for about 2 nights to catch up on rest and in the morning Uncle Ricky served as an excellent tour guide with a multitude of stops and insightful backstories about prohibition times in Pismo Beach.
We stopped the car once at Shell Beach and descended down what was named “A Thousand Steps” I told Uncle Ricky it looked more like fifty steps and he responded “Whelp, we had to call it sumpin’, probably named by us old farts!”
We were up high on the cliffs looking down at the black waters and pelican-infested rocks. “My friend lives way across over there, he exclaimed while pointing into the foggy abyss. “It was his grandparents house and they had this tunnel that runs all the way underground to that restaurant over there on the other side of the highway”, he zoomed around 180 degrees still pointing.
“This is a little part of heaven right here,” he beamed. “I’ve been here since 1962. I moved to Portland once but, them’s snobs up there, so I just came back home.” Uncle Ricky’s Oklahoma-boy southern drawl and silly jokes kept me laughing throughout the day, making our 4-town tour an enjoyable experience. We then cruised through shell beach, stopping at 7-eleven for gas, a big gulp and scratch off tickets. I won $5.00.
Then we continued on to Avila, a lovely beach town with all new housing and then on to the farmers market.
Pismo Beach was a shanty beach town with a main “drag” filled with crappy tourist shops. The fog was heavy that day which put a bit of a damper on our excursion but, it cleared up by the time we arrived at the farmers market and then had an outdoor BBQ with neighbors in the sunshine. Uncle Ricky was intrigued by my “veganism” but went along with it and grilled me a Portobello mushroom steak.
Later that evening got more interesting as his ex-girlfriends grown son came over and they both proceeded to get wasted and blast hair-metal music while I tried to sleep as I was leaving the next day. Much appreciation though to Uncle Ricky and his hospitality.