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Ever since we were on a press trip in Fiji together, I’ve kept in touch with David Lansing, because he’s always full of good ideas and interesting stories. In this case, the good idea (and potential interesting story) involved him virtually introducing me to his daughter. I was going to be in her neck of the woods, and we had similar interests. We e-mailed, and then texted, and then she sent me her address and I picked her up for drinks. It was like the non-romantic version of online dating, with your own humanoid matchmaker. Paige had suggested we go wine tasting at the local vineyards, which seemed perfect given that she knew the way and had a serious member discount.

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At this point, I should probably relate a hilarious tale of some mischief we inadvertently got into, but we really just talked and sipped on wine. A few different kinds, but nothing crazy. She talked about how she’d just moved back from Tasmania and how she’d recently gotten engaged. I told a brief story about working in the vineyards of France, folding it between some Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The Shiraz, our last pour, was my favorite. Paige pronounced it meaty, to the point that it made her crave tri-tip. So we ate tri-tip for dinner, and then we had more drinks at a place with an outdoor fire. The fire was intriguing, being that it emerged from a bed of small square-cut glass pieces that sparkled but apparently did not get all that hot (Paige tested it). The wait staff was composed entirely of hipster males in their 20s, and our own waiter, his vest jaunty and his smile appropriately ironic, was followed around by what we assumed was his manager. The manager found it necessary to stare pointedly — almost broodingly — at our waiter from about a foot away, no matter what he was doing. The waiter served well anyway, judging from the price of our bill.

The rest of the time in SLO was a blur of driving and beaches and a few more hidden spots. It was California, after all.

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