The Coast News Group
Machel's Ranch

San Clemente a great spot to escape from the day-to-day

Recent circumstances with my health and personal life left me thinking, “I need a vacation!” Do you ever feel like that? When I do, I realize it’s important for me to take a retreat. Instead of going out with all of my friends on Halloween, I drove north only 45 minutes to another beach community: San Clemente.
You may be thinking that this is just a town with retired veterans, or just a stop on the freeway on your way to Los Angeles. For me, it happens to be that one place I retreat to when I need to go away and analyze things. San Clemente rejuvenates my soul. Maybe it’s the fact my parents lived there before I was born. Whenever they visit, I take them there. We all must have our little places that can heal our hearts when monotony takes its toll.
Here is the perfect one-night getaway for all of you lovely Rancho Santa Fe residents that need to explore another downtown just up I-5.
First book a room at one of their many fun bed and breakfasts or simple hotels that line the beach. Either take the Amtrak or drive. Book a reservation under the stars at Fisherman’s Restaurant. Located directly on the pier, you can literally walk from the train stop and be there in less than five minutes. Ask for a table outside. If it’s chilly, don’t worry; they have lots of heat lamps to keep you warm. Start out with the fish chowder, then order a hot bucket full of simmering steamed clams with a glass of light chardonnay.
As the waves lap below the pier break, the sea air opens your intellect and your mind. Whatever might have been weighing on your spirit will vanish. After dinner is over, take a romantic walk on the pier. The night air is quiet there and the moon sparkles across the waves. If you are still looking for something to do, go to Old Town San Clemente. This is only a few minutes up the main street in a cab ride. There you can choose from a few restaurants and bars to hang out at with locals while you enjoy a one-night reprieve from your hectic schedule.
The next morning, if you are a fitness fanatic, or just love a good brisk walk, follow the beach line for a few miles. Then eat breakfast in old town. Enjoy window-shopping afterward at antique stores and fun beach boutiques. My favorite discovery on this wonderful little getaway was stumbling across a tea house! Have you ever been to one of those? It’s like stepping back in time during the Great Gatsby era. Chandeliers dangle from the ceiling and gorgeous Victorian plates line the walls. The Posh Peasant teahouse opens at 11 a.m. They have tea parties, birthday parties and fun luncheons for you and all of your friends. I am going to drive all of my friends in a limo on my birthday next year for one of those girlie luncheons that might make a man’s stomach turn over. Think playing dress-up just for fun with your favorite people. If you don’t have enough time to stay an extra day, don’t worry. Take the train back or drive only 45 minutes back to life under the eucalyptus trees. Trust me — spend a little time investigating online for an affordable quick one-night holiday away from the normal Friday night on Paseo Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe.
Around Town
On Nov. 1, I discovered a wonderful world inside The Posh Peasant teahouse in San Clemente. I haven’t been to a tea house since Los Angeles. Inside there was a party of 12 women celebrating with pink feather boas and fun hats while being served tea by the Ching Ching Wong, the waitress. I sat down in awe of this wonderful establishment, which lifted my wayward spirits. Ching Ching came to greet us soon, too. She suggested the homemade scones with fresh fruit and a pot of black tea. Her wonderfully vivacious spirit made this experience even more delightful. Owner Kim Bennett was on hand to make sure all was going well for the tea party and other guests enjoying lunch. Ms. Bennett informed me that she is celebrating her one-year anniversary as owner. This tea house has been around since 1997 and is just the right touch for a perfect luncheon for you and girlfriends. However, men, this may not be your “cup of tea.” For more information, call (949) 498-7813.
Later that evening I ran into Debi Holder, Mary Murray, Dr. Tim Lueker, Pam MacLaird and Jill King. They had just been at the Artero, A Fine Art Auction held at The Inn. An early report had said the event was at a country club, which was not true. Debi wanted me to make sure I got it right for the column. Their fun group enjoyed Randy Beecher singing at the piano bar at Mille Fleurs after the event was over and was kind enough to let me snap this photo that captured their exciting evening.
On Nov. 3, permit sticks could be seen for the first time at Lemon Twist on Del Dios Highway, just across the way from Cielo. Do you remember my previous passionate stories about dipping chocolate strawberries and reminiscing about this famous landmark in Rancho Santa Fe? Well, more than one year later after the Witch Creek Fire, little progress has been made for Lemon Twist and other residents who lost their homes that horrible weekend last fall. Supposedly the county was going to push through the fire victims and speed the process up for all of those who were devastated — not true. With one or two homes finally being rebuilt on Zumaque Street, the burned down lots remain in permits sticks, like a beacon of hope as if saying “approve please.” This is the same scenario for Lemon Twist. If anyone from the county is reading this, have a heart and remember the words that were spoken to the fire victims. “A speedy process,” a statement that has obviously been forgotten. How sad. If you’re lucky by summer, you might be able to enjoy some delicious strawberries when Lemon Twist is back in business.
Later that evening, at the Del Mar Country Club, Kiwi Audio Visual helped contribute their time and money along with other wonderful sponsors for the Face Foundation golf tournament event. A golf tournament started the day, then the evening included a buffet dinner, while guests bid on auction items. Kiwi Audio Visual supplied the Audio Visual for the evening and donated a 42-inch LG Plasma for the auction. Part of the Kiwi Team was on hand to help. Jeff Skinner, Jeff Logan and Seamus Davis all took time out of their evening to help set up and lend a hand. Some of the other sponsors, including The Del Mar Country Club were hosts T. Boone and his wife Madeleine Pickens. Ira Sini Robb and LASH Foundation were also sponsors. More than $200,000 was raised to help provide health care for pets in need. For more information on this charity, visit
On Nov. 7, I was invited to the beautiful patio at Mille Fleurs to snap a shot of a well-known men’s group in town. One of my favorite neighbors, Larry Russell (who is also a fellow Missourian!), shared his description with me: “The original Grupo Cohiba de Rancho Santa Fe was founded by Larry Russell in September of 1994 with 12 guys on a patio in the Ranch. Invitations now go out to close to 150 members who meet on a monthly basis for dinner, for world-class wines, and of course, the best cigars in the world. Average attendance is around 35 to 40 each month. We haven’t missed a month in the 14 years. In addition, trips to Los Angeles and Las Vegas are common for the grupo.” Three splinter groups have formed from the original. One of them, “The Lunch Bunch at Mille Fleurs,” (pictured) has been in existence for the past five years, meeting every Friday in the court yard come rain or shine. Politics, the stock market, world travels and of course fine wines and cigars are the topics of discussion each week. Enthusiastic members not pictured are Jim Stanko, Steve Thomas, Vatche Chorbajian, Gerry Lefebvre, Chris Gann and Robert “Chips” Young.” Thank you for inviting me. I must say I felt honored to be invited. Maybe next time I can take a seat with these fabulous men!
On Nov. 9, it rained in Rancho Santa Fe. I captured a magnificent rainbow that day on the first real rain we’ve had since the beginning of the year.
On Nov. 12, Laurel McCrink was surprised by her sister, Katie Shull, to a fabulous luncheon at The Posh Peasant teahouse. Can you believe it? At the exact moment I was writing my column, they were driving north to San Clemente. Who said coincidences never happen? They shared a gorgeous shot with me of their birthday tea party. Their mother, Dottie McCrink, was also there for the festivities. Cheers to beautiful, classy women in Rancho Santa Fe.