Santa Cruz to Morro Bay, Feb. 2 - 9, 2013

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February 9th 2013
Published: February 11th 2013
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We drove to a campground just north of Monterrey and stayed there a couple of nights - spent time in Carmel, Monterrey, on the 17 Mile Drive. Then we headed inland (I couldn't muster the courage to face Big Sur, etc.) and after a night in King City, we arrived in Morro Bay. We like this area, and visited a good museum here as well as Hearst Castle.


In Monterey, we walked a lot in town. The downtown is a mix, "under development" after they tore down old buildings with plans to revitalize, then lost steam (i.e. money). Cannery Row is very touristy, but its history of sardine canning is quite interesting. And a delicious caramel apple made Linda's day! Back at our campground, we enjoyed a walk through the dunes to the beach.

On Super Bowl Sunday, we drove to the start of the 17 Mile Drive, which requires an entrance fee which we decided was worth the $9.75. Lucky that we happened to go that day, since we encountered a sign that the drive would be closed for the next week for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament! After a foggy start (pretty much the norm on the California coast), the sun came out and we saw gorgeous rocks, beaches, and endless photo ops. We veered from the drive into Carmel, where we stopped for - you guessed it - a coffee. We sat outside in a courtyard full of flowers. Carmel is a very wealthy town, with shops full of merchandise that is beyond our budget (or desires). We finished our drive in plenty of time to return for the 3:30 PT kickoff of the Super Bowl. We didn't hear anyone talking about the outcome next day, here near San Francisco..

I had a miserable night, trying to talk myself into facing the drive to Big Sur, but a photo of a high trestle bridge was the nail on that coffin. I am soothing my conscience somewhat by recalling the glorious, dramatic stretches of coastline that we enjoyed a few months ago in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. That Monday was grim for us, but John was kind. We drove inland through vast agricultural areas, where most plantings are only small seedlings so far. We stayed that night in a very nice county park in King City.

Tuesday, on to Morro Bay, with a stop in the tiny town of San Miguel for, of course, a coffee. The young woman who served us was very nice, and we wondered about the lives of folks in these very small towns in California. (By the way, did you hear that the Hispanic population of California is about to surpass the Anglo population?)

We returned to the same campground where we stayed a couple of years ago, Morro Dunes, which indeed has only a narrow road between it and wide dunes and the Pacific. Tuesday was overcast, but fog did not cover the immense Morro Rock, the largest in the Nine Sisters chain of extinct volcanoes extending from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo. We walked through town.

Wednesday dawned clear - not all that usual out here - and bright and sunny. We climbed a nearby hill and enjoyed the 360 degree view of the area, which is full of rolling hills and of course includes the dramatic, gorgeous sea coast. It was so warm that we returned to the RV around noon and put on shorts and headed across the street to soak up some sun. That lasted about an hour, until a cold sea breeze suddenly blasted us back into the RV. Indeed, we spent much of the afternoon inside, looking out at the lovely sunny views but heeding the cold wind. We have since learned that cold afternoon breezes are the norm. So we continue to wear long pants and sweaters, and carry jackets in case, while the temperatures are in the 50's.

On Thursday, rain was threatened but failed to materialize and we had a lovely sunny visit to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, only about 26 miles north of here. En route, we drove through wide rolling hills dotted with grazing cattle. The grass is blazing green now, in the winter, and totally different from the parched brown we saw when we were in the area in late summer a couple of years ago. We stopped in the small, arty town of Cambria for, you guessed it, a coffee, accompanied by a cinnamon roll that was "to die for."

We paid the $25 each for a basic tour of the Hearst Castle, then viewed a 40-minute film about the inspiration and building of it before boarding the bus for the 5 1/2 mile ride up a windy hillside road :-(. I had avoided visiting this site previously because I was bummed by the movie Citizen Kane in which the castle seemed creepy. It was anything but, in reality! The sunny views in every direction, especially down toward the ocean, were gorgeous. Inside, I especially liked the tapestries and extensive tiling. And there was ample evidence that WR Hearst wanted his guests to have fun - putting on plays, watching movies, playing tennis, visiting the exotic animals in his zoo on the estate (even polar bears!), etc. etc.

We rounded out a fine day by going out to eat, at a restaurant in Morro Bay that we visited when we were here before. It was just as pleasant as before.

Friday was to be the rainy day of the week here. It was difficult to pry John away from the computer because he wanted to follow the heavy snowstorm back home. He was sad to miss it, but his wife was willing to. We spent a good hour at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History, largely getting informed by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable woman. This area is wonderful for birding and though John and I both have minds like sieves for retaining information about birds, we always enjoy hearing it.

From the museum we headed to San Luis Obispo, which had so impressed us on the last trip. Although it is referred to as "SLO", it is not a slow place. It is filled with Cal Poly students and the kinds of shops and restaurants that would appeal to them. We did not get to wander around that day, because it did actually rain. We heard later that we had missed hail back at the camp ground!

We are rounding out a week of staying here, and on Tuesday we will head somewhere. Probably. We are a bit reluctant to head south because of the dreadful cop-killer-cop who is still on the loose.

We hope that the storm was lots of fun for everyone and did not cause any extraordinary hardships.


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