After leaving our rural camp (in the morning we woken by wild turkeys) near San Francisco we’ve taken a couple of days to reach what is known as slo country - the main city here is St Luiz Obispo. It’s a low key city near a range of volcanic hills that run down to the coast at Morro Bay. We are in need of some exercise so walk up the highest of the hills, though only 1500ft high it’s a steepish walk and feels like a proper hike.
We’ve driven the highway 1 south down the coast from San Fran. This is THE famous Californian coast drive but a landslide last year has closed the coast road south of Big Sur so we are forced to detour inland to the Highway 101 and find ourselves driving through a big wine growing region around Paso Robles. It is also the weekend of the Carmel marathon so HW1 is closed for runners on Sunday so it is a good decision to avoid this area. As a reminder that we are now in an area with a strong Mexican heritage on the way we pass a rodeo which looks as if it could
be in Mexico.
The drive from Carmel to Big Sur is scenic but as expected for a Saturday pretty busy. If I had a choice it would be better to drive this in a convertible rather than an RV - as many others have obviously realised. In about a 20 miles stretch we pass 15 Ford Mustangs driving the other way.
The coast north of Carmel between Monterey and San Francisco isn’t as dramatic or famous, but in it'd own way is just as scenic. We arrive at the lighthouse at Pigeon Point in time for a lunch stop before checking out the lighthouse area. The old lighthouse keeper cottages are now a hostel and there is a small museum, but the lighthouse itself is falling into disrepair so is not open to visitors. With luck you can spot grey whales in the bay here, yesterday there were a couple but unfortunately they’re not around today, but there are a few seals and the flowers on the cliff tops here are beautiful.
For me though, the best thing about slo country are the sea otters in Morro Bay. The ground squirrels are cute and they seem to
Flowers near Pigeon Pt
be almost in plague numbers at our campground, but they don’t come close to the sea otters in the cuteness stakes. For some reason the otters don’t get more than a brief mention in the tourist literature but we enquire at the tourist office and are directed to the north end of the harbour near the Morro Rock. I’m sceptical of seeing them but shouldn’t have been. There are maybe 40 otters dozing in the calm water only about 20m from the shore. From a distance I think there’s just driftwood in the bay, but as we get closer I see that that these are actually all otters lying on their backs in the water. So they don’t drift away while resting they stay in groups and use the kelp as ropes which they wrap around themselves. Sometimes 2 otters will even hold hands. Sea Otters have been described as the cute-ist animals on earth and it‘s not hard to see why.
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