Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #12

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

 

Sunday, February 23 through Friday, February 28, 2014-Del Mar Beach, Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA:  This is the second year in a row that we have stayed at this RV Park.  It is smack dab on the beach and provides daily displays of military might as the young Marines head out on training maneuvers.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #2

This year we have additional family that has returned to the old home state following a number of years as Texans.  Kit’s sister Charlotte and her husband Donald have purchased a condo in North San Diego County.

Don and Char

Their new place is in a beautiful senior development that contains many amenities and activities.

Crowe's Nest, Photo #3

There are a couple of swimming pools and hot tubs, a golf course, and various craft rooms…..all on nicely landscaped grounds.

Crowe's Nest, Photo #1

The trees and bushes were vibrant green and the flowers were in full bloom.

Crowe's Nest, Photo #2

Kit was so impressed she took some time from the visit with her sister to add a little something to the flower beds.  Don and Char still have their home in Texas Hill Country and we hope to see them for a more extensive visit during our return trip toward the right coast next month.

The large sparsely populated beach of our campground coupled with the nice steady onshore sea breezes made for perfect kite flying, an activity I enjoyed pretty much every day during our stay.  My new kite (geez, not ANOTHER one, kt), which is a midsized, light wind, high performance, delta stunt kite was used more than others in the quiver.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #4

I’m attempting to learn some low elevation tricks.  This kite is mostly indestructible, which is a good thing as I end up playing lawn darts with the thing many times each day as it rockets nose first into the sand.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #3

The high velocity impact is so severe that the impact shock can be felt in the control handles!  My much larger, but significantly lighter delta kite would have been a crumbled pile of expensive carbon fiber the first day so this new kite is actually saving me money…..honest, Kit!

I never get tired of taking photos of California sunsets and hope you all don’t get tired of viewing them.  I read somewhere in a photography book that it is virtually impossible to take a bad sunset photo, and I truly believe that.

Del Mar Beach Sunset, Pix #4

If you look carefully at the above photo you can barely make out my bent over shape as I struggle once again to dig my new kite out of the sand……Charlie Brown would be proud!

Another person we wanted to visit while in the area was to a former high school classmate of ours who lives in Huntington Beach, about 60 miles up the coast.

Susan and Kit

Susan lost her husband late last year, and recently suffered a fall that injured her shoulder.  However, with everything going on in her life she was very gracious in allowing time for us.  We had a great visit at her home and later went to a local restaurant for dinner.  I know you read these journals Susan…..please remember we are thinking of you and call if you need anything at all.

About mid-week we started seeing reports of a major winter storm heading in from the west.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #14

I was having trouble deciding if I should hook up the truck to the trailer in order to make a quick getaway or place the truck on the windward side of the trailer to help protect it…..as you can see I decided on the latter.

As the wind velocity increased, the seas became choppy and the surf grew in size.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #17

Checking the NOAA Radar App, I came to this rather alarming image.

Storm, Image #2

In these color coded radar videos, anything in yellow is bad ju-ju and the areas in red are even worse ju-ju…..and um, notice where Oceanside lies!  These radar returns showing severe weather were lined up one after another out to sea for many miles.  It was going to be an interesting couple of days.

The storm actually lasted for the better part of three days with intervals of relative calm until the next front came ashore.  That sensation was very similar to the hurricanes we lived through while living in Key West, Florida during the mid-1960’s.  As the eye of the hurricane passed over the island all would become calm and sometimes the sun would actually shine through.  It was common practice for the folks sequestered in the hurricane shelters to pour outside and get some fresh air.  Well, reliving my dumber younger years, during the lulls in this storm I bundled up in rain gear and walked along the shoreline to see what the storms effect may have been.

The erosion produced by the pounding surf was pretty dramatic.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #16

And in the photo below, notice that the sand had been scarred by the relentless winds to the point of creating interesting geometric shapes.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #10

While I was slowly walking along that cool morning, I kept my face down to shield my eyes from being sandblasted by the strong wind.  Then, in the distance, I faintly heard someone calling cadence.  Turning my back to the onslaught with all my heavy weather clothing flapping violently in the wind I gazed upon a platoon of Marines running up the beach dressed only in OD T-shirts and fatigues!

Del Mar Beach, Pix #11

OK…..I’m convinced US Marines are pretty damn tough!

Soon the wind speed increased dramatically.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #12

And the seas, pushed by a predicted astronomical high tide began to grow once again.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #18

Having a modicum of intelligence, I decided to retreat to the relative safety of the camper.

We endured two full days and part of a third of this onslaught and nights were spent being rocked in our little trailer by the relentless winds.  However, at no time did we feel in any real peril.  Our camper is pretty stout and quite heavy for its size.  In addition, it sits lower to the ground than most trailers due to the absence of any slide out mechanisms.

During late afternoon of the final day of the storm the setting sun peaked under the clouds and provided us this spectacular horizon to horizon rainbow, as if Mother Nature was saying, “sorry about all that, folks”.

Del Mar Beach, Pix #13

And as the sun lowered into a clearing and calming ocean we were treated to another in a series of spectacular sunsets.

Del Mar Beach Sunset, Pix #3

All was well in Retiree Ville once again!

Before we head out tomorrow, we just want to give a shout out to an old (pun intended) friend from back home that celebrated his 80th birthday on February 28th.

Chet and Jeannie-80th Party

Chet, shown above with his much younger wife Jeanne, is the honorary Patriarch of a ragtag group of Lockheed pensioner’s that get together on a regular basis to eat, drink and complain about stuff.  Happy Birthday Chet…..sorry we missed your party.

 

Saturday, March 1, 2014:  Well we were supposed to depart this morning but the California Highway Patrol has not lifted the high profile vehicle advisory due to continuing high winds.  Since we want to head south, and since the winds are coming from the west, and since we aren’t in any big hurry anyway, we thought it advisable to heed the warning and just stay put.

The bonus day was spent trying to clean the salt and sand out of the nooks and crannies of our truck and trailer…..a job that will likely take a few weeks to accomplish thoroughly.

The delay also gave us the opportunity to enjoy more of the Marine Corps in action….

Del Mar Beach, Pix #7

…..as well as another spectacular sunset!

Del Mar Beach, Sunset, Pix #A2

Sunday, March 2, 2014:  Woke to mild winds and rising temperatures.  Taking my morning walk along the beach I noticed that the tide had been particularly high over the evening and had flowed into a normally dry area of the beach.  The rising salt water had stopped about 35 feet from our campsite.

Del Mar Beach, After the Storm

The wind had moderated substantially but the surf has remained quite high.

Del Mar Beach, After the Storm, Pix #2

We broke camp and headed out at 1125 for the long trek south to Coronado, 44 miles to the south.  On our way out, we noticed a lot of debris from the recent storm and many branches and palm fronds scattered about.

The normal and most direct route to our destination is I-5 (The5) through San Diego, cross the bridge over the bay to Coronado.  However, having plenty of time and not wanting to drag the trailer through downtown traffic, we opted to pick up I-15 (The15) in Escondido and stay more inland.  This led us to Imperial Beach were we took CA-25 up the Silver Strand to our home for the next two weeks…..Fiddlers Cove RV Park.

Pulling in we received a rather unusual and extravagant reception.  First we were hailed by a rather dapper dressed gentleman in a straw hat who told us where the office was.  Then we came upon this sight.

Fiddeler's Cove RV Park, Pix #1

There were folks dressed formally and a small US Navy band performing nautical music including Anchors Aweigh!  Soon we realized this show of pomp and circumstance had nothing to do with us but was a celebration of the seasonal opening of the boating season and was put on by the San Diego Navy Yacht Club which inhabits the large marina adjacent to the RV Park.

Settling into our nice campsite overlooking the yacht basin, we made a list of things to do while in the area.

Fiddler's Cove, Photo #4

This year’s trip to our hometown we have decided to essentially play tourist and enjoy what others do in this great American city.

Stay tuned!

Kit’s Bits:  We had a lovely time at Del Mar Beach this year.  Even the big storm was exciting!  Having spent a fair amount of time at the beach when we were teenagers, it’s always nice to return to SoCal and stay on the water.  Not quite as comfy as a fancy hotel, but just as nice in my opinion.  Since Bill carries all his “toys” along, he can always find something to do and we both enjoy watching the Marines training.  Some of the campers actually complain about it but we love it.  Often, they will walk or run right through the camping area and are always so polite and friendly.

Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #11

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.

Isabelle Eberhardt

Sunday, February 16, 2014:  Up to a beautiful California morning in San Luis Obispo.  Sadly, it is time for us to leave…..but happily, we are to continue our adventure along the California coast.

Exploring this portion of California has been a real treat as it reminds us how our hometown area in San Diego County was in the 1950’s…..small towns along a relatively undeveloped coast with great weather and a quirky vibe.  If we were to live in California again, (which we’re not!) then this is the area we would choose…..the natural environment is beautiful, the weather near perfect, and nearly everyone we came into contact with was pleasant, considerate and unhurried.

Saying goodbye to our new campground friends, Kit and I hit the road at 1145 and made tracks toward Oxnard, California…..a mere 130 miles to the south.  We hopped on CA-1 which took us through SLO Town before it merged with US-101.

US-1, Pix #2

A bit further south, we passed through the town of Pismo Beach where CA-1 once again separated and meandered on down the coast as US-101 headed more easterly.

US Highway-101 and State Highway-1 parallel and intertwine along the coast of California and provide the most scenic way to travel north and south…..the alternative being the Interstate Highway System.  CA-1 generally follows the coastline and offers incredible views of the blue Pacific whereas US-101 meanders more inland through the coastal mountains and an amazing variety of agricultural fields and vineyards.  We were tempted to stop at many of the farm stands and wineries, but we had an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables onboard and drinking wine in the middle of the day certainly made sense, but not while driving, so on we motored.

Stayed on CA-1 where possible and as mentioned, this scenic coastal highway provides a very picturesque route with near constant views of the Pacific Ocean.

US-1, Pix #5

Being prime Grey Whale watching season, Kit kept constant vigil for the telltale spout…..unfortunately the whales were being shy today.  California Grey Whales migrate during the colder months from their summer waters off Alaska to warmer climes along the coast of Baja California.  As our brothers in the constant search for warm weather, the California Grey Whales are the Snowbirds of the aquatic world!

There are many areas provided along CA-1 that you can pull over and better appreciate the view.  I stopped at a few of these pull-offs and at one, while staring out to sea, The Pacific Surfliner came zooming by.

US-1, Pix #4

This Amtrak train services coastal communities and connects to a number of commuter rail lines.  Not a bad way to explore the coast of California as The Surfliner generally follows the shoreline.

At 1600 we pulled into Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center and was surprised that the campground was near full.  Well, it is a three day weekend…..what else did we expect?  Retirees have a real problem differentiating between weekday and weekend activity, and then throw in a Monday holiday we tend to get even more flummoxed.  However, with the kind assistance of a couple of neighborly spotters I was able to jack knife our little rig into one of the only remaining open sites.

I walked over to thank the group of good Samaritans, including a Hispanic fellow that looked and talked very much like Cheech Marin, and immediately got pulled into the middle of a 70th birthday celebration.  There was lots of food and drink and a piñata full of airline sized liquor bottles…..it was going to be a long night!

Monday, February 17, through Friday, February 21, 2014, Point Mugu NAWC:  Woke to a subdued sunrise as Ol’ Sol was having difficulty penetrating the coastal fog, which this morning I could relate to.

Point Mugu Sunrise

Something seemed odd about our first sunrise while camping at Point Mugu.  Shouldn’t the sun set over the ocean?  Looking at our relative location on a map I noticed we were camped on a part of the coast that actually lay more East to West…..so that explains that!

Soon a lot of clattering ensued as people were breaking camp from their long three day weekend.  Whenever a number of folks drive off with their campers in tow, Kit and I smile at each other and say:  “Well, there goes the neighborhood”.  OK, it’s a dumb joke but never fails to elicit a chuckle or two.

Following breakfast, I went out on “Scout and Patrol”.  At the far end of the beach I came to a National Wildlife Refuge and Sea Lion Rookery.

Point Mugu, Pix #2

Nearby, on a prominent point overlooking the Pacific Ocean I noticed this granite memorial.

Alaska Air 261

On January 20, 2000 Alaska Air Flight 261 was on a routine flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Seattle, Washington when it developed a catastrophic failure.  Eighty-eight souls lost their lives as the airliner plunged into the Pacific…..but not before an experienced flight-deck crew tried everything they could to bring the crippled airliner into an emergency landing; including attempting to fly the aircraft upside down to compensate for the malfunctioning controls.

Remembering that our new friend Mike from CSLO had flown for Alaska Air following his retirement from the Navy, I sent him the above photo.  Mike remembered the day vividly as he was piloting a similar aircraft full of passengers an hour behind and heard the horrific events unfold over the radio.  A very sad day for Alaska Airlines and the families that lost loved ones.

Our campsite is on the beach and the weather is perfect, of course.  However, the water is a little bit chilly for swimming but the air is warm by day and dips to a pleasant 50 degrees overnight.

Point Mugu, Pix #A1

This stop is all about exploring this area of California…..so one day we drove up the coast to the town of Carpentaria just to poke around.

Along the way we passed many California State Campgrounds that were located on the beach.  Just a little past Oxnard, we pulled in and checked one of them out and discovered it might be a neat place to stay for a few days.

US-1 Campground, 2

There are no hookups and the price was a bit steep but the views were incredible.  Having direct access to the beach would be worth the inconvenience and the cost.

In less than an hour, we pulled into the town of Carpentaria, the self-proclaimed “World’s Safest Beach”.

Carpinteria, Phot #1

So how does a town justify such a claim?  Well, the slogan has very little to do with the lack of crime; although I bet this sleepy little town does indeed have a low crime rate, but more to do with marketing.  Back in the 1920’s, when tourism was a growing industry, few folks knew how to swim and therefore were fearful of large waves and the resulting undertow they spawned.  Carpentaria is somewhat protected by the offshore Channel Islands so the commercial advertising on billboards leading to the coast of California all touted this “safety feature”.

The beaches of Carpentaria may not be any safer than other California beaches but they sure are just as pretty.

Carpinteria, Photo #2

Again, still too cold to swim but with a consistent breeze and the beach lightly populated on this weekday morning it made for an excellent kite flying venue!  A win-win, as Kit wanted some quiet shopping time and I wanted some quiet kite flying time!

After a few hours, I folded the kites and decided to walk the village streets to see what else was about.  Near the center of town, I came upon this sign identifying a major historic site.

Carpinteria, Photo #5

Cities and towns in California have not been in existence nearly as long as those in the east…..so, I guess out here even native vegetation counts as an historic landmark.

Kit texted me it was time to eat so we decided on this uniquely named place.  Not being sure if it was a Mexican place or if they specialized in French cuisine we walked in to find out.

Carpinteria, Photo #7

Turns out it was Mexican and pretty good at that!  Deciding to hold desert till later we joined the late afternoon walkers and got in some exercise.   That all ended when we happened upon a place called Crushcakes Café and had some great coffee and a few (one each) of these!

Crushcakes Cafe

Kit is all smiles after a handful of Crushcakes!  (again, only ONE, kt)

Carpinteria, Photo #3

On the drive south back to the campground we paused at the Bluffs of Carpentaria and watched the sun set into the western sky.

Carpinteria, Photo #8

Another great day on the road!

Our campsite was pretty isolated once all the weekenders had left.  We could have moved a lot closer to the water but with no one in front of us we had a nice view as it was.

Point Mugu Campsite

The beach was pretty much abandoned and was just a short jaunt down the camp road.

Point Mugu, Pix #8

Those footprints in the sand are mine.  The nice warm steady breeze made for excellent kite flying, which I did a fair amount of!  Got to try out my new Kite…..A Prism Delta…..yea another one…..I’m a bit out of control!  Why another kite?  Well, once you get into the sport you discover that just like fishing or golf, different pieces of equipment are “needed” for different conditions.  And, so far, Kit has bought that explanation.

I also walked the beach every morning.  Since I have been wearing shorts for the past few months my legs have gained some color…..however I have also been wearing tennis shoes so my feet are pearly white.

Point Mugu, Pix #10

As I was standing at the surf line trying to snap a photo of my weird looking feet a rogue wave came ashore and almost knocked me on my bum.

Point Mugu, Pix #11

Now, that would have looked pretty silly, if there had been anyone around to witness it, which there wasn’t.  Well, down the beach a bit was this guy just sitting on a rock.

Point Mugu, Pix #1

But he wasn’t paying any attention to me anyhow…..otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get to within a few feet of him as I was.

On our exploration trips about the area we were constantly amazed at the large amount of terrain that was in farm production, mostly growing strawberries.

Point Mugu, Pix #3

Interspersed with the many fruit fields were these sod farms.

Point Mugu, Pix #4

Some poor shmuck actually has to mow this grass frequently before it is mature enough to market.  Harvesting is accomplished using huge machines that slice the soil just under the roots then roll the strips up for transportation to the garden centers.

Since we explored as far as we cared to up north, we decided to see what was down south of us.  For one thing, I wanted to get up close to the Mugu Rock which I had been seeing out the window of the camper for the past few days.

Point Mugu, Pix #12

Turns out it was not formed by any geological forces but by modern man as he laid out the roadbed for CA-1, The Pacific Coast Highway.  Rather than go to the trouble and expense of tunneling through the mountain, a highway cut was blasted.

Years of erosion has given the remaining part of the mountain a distinctive “volcano” shape.  Mugu Rock and the surrounding coastline have been featured in many movies, TV shows and commercials…..especially if high performance cars are involved.

Next Kit wanted to see how Malibu had changed since last we drove through in 1975.  The city of Malibu is long and narrow stretching twenty-seven miles along some of the most expensive real estate in the US.  As far as the eye can see, there are multimillion dollar estates bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Malibu Hill (slide) area to the east.  As far as the eye can see, there are expensive homes down the coast…..

Malibu, Pix #1

…..as well as up the coast.

Malibu, Pix #2

Driving through Malibu I spotted a number of interesting cars.  Among the everyday (for Malibu) cars such as Corvettes, Jaguar’s, Porsche’s and Maserati’s, there were a number of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and this two million dollar, 430 mile per hour, Bugatti Veyron!

Bugatti Veryon

Nearing lunch, we decided to stop at the local grocery store and get something from the deli.  Then next we were on a search for a nice beachside picnic spot.  Oh-oh…..the afternoon fog bank is moving in early!

Coastal Fog

Deciding to head inland to a warmer and drier location, we made tracks for the Santa Monica Mountains.  Soon we found ourselves on Mulholland Highway, a locally famous road that Los Angeles sports car and motorcycle folks like to challenge.

Santa Monica Mountains, Pix #2

Being a weekday, there was little traffic but it was pretty evident this road would test the skill and courage of any driver that blasted through here!  The following photo was grabbed from the internet and shows a portion of Mulholland Highway known as “The Snake”.

The Snake

Even at our subdued speed it was a real challenge.  Very few guardrails and hairpin turns punctuated by white crosses festooned with plastic flowers caused me to be extra vigilant.  And yes, we did find a place to pull over and enjoy lunch.

Well, Kit and I leave Point Mugu in the morning.  As I was sitting with my evening cocktail enjoying the end of the day, I attempted to decide which is more brilliant.  A California sunset over the ocean…..

Cali Sunset

…..or a California Sunrise over that same ocean?

Point Mugu, Pix #7

Tough to decide isn’t it?

Saturday, February 22, 2014:  Up to sunny skies and a temperature of 67 degrees.  Breaking camp, Kit and I were on the road by 1000 heading south.  We found or way to US-101 and headed into Los Angeles County.  The traffic almost immediately became heavy and aggressive.

LA Traffic

Yep, that’s a ten lane super highway in the photo above…..and it is not even an Interstate!  Cruising with our truck and trailer in the middle lane at 60 MPH we were passed as if standing still…..on both sides!  Wonder where everyone is going in such a hurry on a Saturday morning?

Pulling off onto the Ventura Freeway through Burbank we came across four separate traffic accidents in a few short miles!  Nearing Pasadena we jumped on I-210 heading east and an hour later moved over to US-57 heading south until we came to US-60 which took us toward Riverside.  Shortly after noon we pulled into Riverside National Cemetery, the final resting place of Kit’s mom and dad.

Riverside National Cemetary, Photo #1

After paying our respects we decided to stay right there and enjoy lunch in the camper, surrounded by all the patriots and heroes lying in eternal repose.

Riverside National Cemetary, Photo #2

On the move at 1415 we pieced together a number of back roads as we made our way to Oceanside and our next camping opportunity.  At 1630, we pulled into Del Mar Beach and RV Resort on the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton and picked a nice beachside campsite.

Del Mar Beach Campsite

Following an excellent trailer cooked meal and some vintage box wine we settled into our beach chairs and watched the day end in spectacular color.

Del Mar Beach Sunset, Pix #2

Stay tuned for more fun in the sun!

Kit’s Bits:  It’s been a real treat to finally have the time to explore the California coast.  During the time we lived in San Diego as adults, we were so pre-occupied with our daily routines; Bill still in the Navy (sea and shore duty), and me with 3 young kids to care for.  We never had more than a couple of free hours a week to scout around and discover things.  Another place we checked out during our stay at Point Mugu was Port Hueneme.  It’s been on my bucket list for years and is a nice little town.  Something else I noticed in the central part of CA is the vast farm lands and orchards.  While I couldn’t identify anything beyond lettuce, it was a big surprise to see so many productive farms, sometimes, right down to the ocean!  All the small towns have Farmer’s Markets, some with entertainment, crafts and prepared food for lunch or dinner!  Being able to obtain locally produced vegetables and fruit, meet up with friends and neighbors reminds me of home!

Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #10

 Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind

Seneca

 

 

Sunday, February 9 through Tuesday, February 11, 2014-San Luis Obispo, California:  Woke early at our new home on Camp San Luis Obispo (CSLO) and noticed these rather disturbing posters while out walking about.

Mountain Lion!

Soon the base commander, a full bird Colonel along with his deputy who was an Army Major, came cruising in their staff car through the campground.  They wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the lion sightings and to reassure all that there was little concern…..unless you owned a small dog and did not follow the leash rules. 

Since we had been on the go so much over the past week we decided to take the first full day at CSLO as a down day…..reading, walking about the premises, meeting the neighbors, doing laundry, etc.

On one of my walks about this base I noticed a static display of a WWII tank that was positioned to replicate a famous battle in the Philippines that the CSLO unit was involved in.

CSLO Pix #A2

It’s nice to see a military display of historic equipment in settings other than the traditional cement platform with white painted chain barriers and a bronze plaque.

Since the prime reason for stopping in the area was to explore the town of San Luis Obispo (SLO), by the second day we were off exploring once again.

SLO, the self-described “Happiest Place in America” is a nice quirky college town of 45,000 folks about 11 miles inland from the coast.  It is a very walkable town with light traffic, tree shaded streets, eclectic shops and numerous restaurants.

SLO Town, Pix #3

The town grew up around a Spanish Catholic Mission that was built by Father Junípero Serra in 1772 to bring the heathen native peoples to Christianity.  Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, is located in the heart of SLO and is an active church today.

SLO Mission, Photo #10

Open to the public, there are volunteer docents on hand to give informal tours and explain the mission’s importance in history.   The original structure was built of adobe bricks cemented together with mud…..expertly preserved and reinforced this portion of the mission is still in use.

SLO Mission, Photo #2

The ornate painted decorations that grace the walls of the mission have been recently restored by a parishioner…..this painstaking art work took the better part of a year to complete and the results are dazzling!

SLO Mission, Photo #3

John, the docent that adopted us, was a retired Naval Officer and he also adopted a young family that lived nearby, but where originally from Scarborough, Maine.  So with common ground, we all had a lot to talk about.

After guiding us around the property, John noticed it was nearing time for the 1210 mass.  He quietly informed us that we may be able to accompany the church bell ringer into the tower and witness the peeling of the Mission Bells as he rang out The Call to Worship.  John did warn us that Chris, the bell ringer, was a bit irascible and may deny entry so to ask politely.

Well, we caught Chris on a good day and he led us up a narrow, dark and dank stairway to the belfry…..

SLO Mission, Photo #4

…where Chris proceeded to explain the origin and history of the many bells before fitting us all with hearing protection.

SLO Mission, Photo #7

He then gathered the ropes which were attached to the clappers and prepared for the pealing of the bells which had to occur at precisely 1200 hours.

SLO Mission, Photo #6

I was able to capture a short video of our unique perspective from this historic California Mission.  If you would care to view it just click on the following link, and notice the young boy sitting on the floor…..he was a hoot!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c94Rvw21_FM

There have been many out buildings and structures that have been built onto the original mission and now surround a nice peaceful courtyard.

SLO Mission, Photo #9

We particularly liked all the blooming roses that were scattered about the gardens.  Especially the yellow variety that reminded us of our daughter Kim, as yellow is her favorite color.

Yellow Rose

Kit has decided to put “Visit all California Missions” on her bucket list…..there are 20 left to go and she is on a mission (pun intended) to see them all!

For the remainder of the day Kit and I went our separate ways…..she to enjoy some peaceful shopping and I to enjoy some peaceful walking about and people watching.  In addition, I was on a mission (no pun intended) to locate a major tourist attraction and historic landmark…..Bubble Gum Alley.

SLO, Bubble Gum Alley

Yep, just as you feared, it is a narrow downtown alley covered with millions of wads of bubblegum, some formed into initials, some into names and others into artful shapes.  A bit gross, a bit weird, but like a bad auto accident, you can’t help staring in disbelief.

On the other extreme of “narrow ally repurposing” there was this interesting plant nursery that occupied a formerly drab alley between two large buildings.

Non Profit Shop-SLO

Sales from the nursery benefitted a local nonprofit and was staffed by volunteers.  There were many native plants and flowers for sale as well as garden crafts and accessories.

Nearing late afternoon Kit and I reconnected via text and decided to meet for an early dinner at a downtown place that had come highly recommended.

Novo Restaurant, on the banks of SLO Creek features outdoor dining in a picturesque setting.

Novo, SLO Pix 2

Being midafternoon, we were able to pick a prime creekside table and pretty much had our own dedicated waitress.  I chose a Flat-iron Steak and Kit enjoyed a grilled Salmon salad.

Novo, SLO Pix 1

Both were incredible…..we complimented the meal with Novo’s signature desert, Carrot Cheese Cake which was equally as delicious.

Novo, SLO Pix 5

Fully satiated we lingered over coffee and watched the ducks frolic about in the stream below.

Novo, SLO Pix 4

Spilling out onto the streets and slowly finding our way back to the camper we both decided this had been a great day with beautiful weather in a classic California town!

On yet another gorgeous day, Kit and I spent time exploring the village of Morro Bay.

Morro Bay 2, Photo #1

She wanted to shop and I wanted to see the famed Morro Rock up close.

Moro Bay, Photo #10

It looks so much bigger in postcards!  Nice rock, but I don’t see what the fuss is all about…..this thing pales in comparison to Plymouth Rock!  Oh, wait a minute, this is just a chip off the old rock…..here is the rest of Morro Rock.

Moro Bay, Photo #8

Pretty impressive for a Volcanic Plug!  Yep, 581 foot high Morro Rock was formed when magma solidified within a volcano’s vent.  Many years of weather have eroded the surrounding material leaving a large granite rock protruding above the terrain.

Morro Rock was quarried for a number of years which explains the more rugged appearance on the right side.  The resulting granite stones were used to construct a breakwater that protects Morro Bay from Pacific storms.

While Kit perused the many gift shops on the waterfront, I went about to try and capture some of the character of the place.  First resident I bumped into was this guy.

Moro Bay, Photo #1

Now, this sea lion has the right idea…..taking a nap in the warm California sunshine.  How do I know it’s a guy?  Well, for one thing, he’s napping in the warm California sunshine!

Next I found my way to the municipal docks and Coast Guard Station.  

Moro Bay, Photo #4

I noticed a lot of folks are full timing it on their boats, similar to how folks live full time in RV’s.  Except on a boat you have to be extra vigilant if you are prone to sleepwalking!

The US Coast Guard keeps two forty-seven foot Motor Life Boats at the ready.

Moro Bay, Photo #5

What are these rescue craft capable of?  Check out this shot of a MLB heading out of Morro Bay on a heavy weather rescue mission!

USCG 47' MLB

(Image from USCG, Morro Bay, California Website)

As I was leaving the pier area, I bumped into this historic piece of US Navy equipment.

DSRV-2, Photo #1

The Avalon, a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) is one of only two such craft built for the Navy by Lockheed, my former employer.  The DSRV’s prime mission was to rescue crews from bottomed submarines and was prompted by the tragic loss of the USS Thresher in 1965.  My Bruzzin Dewey, a former submariner and a friend, Gary a former Navy diver and DSRV crew member have interesting stories about the deployment and operation of the DSRV.

Further down the waterfront I came upon a skateboard shop and museum so I wandered in.

Morro Bay 2, Photo #2

Turns out Jack, the owner, is a former competitive skateboarder and about my age.  We had a blast swapping stories about the early history of skateboarding.  In those days, skateboards were primarily homemade out of 2X6 lumber which was crudely shaped like a surfboard.  Then salvaged roller rink skate trucks with clay wheels were bolted on.  Primitive but effective, these early skateboards kept us occupied on the streets of San Diego whenever the surf was down.  Kit has some funny stories about her father’s displeasure when I would show up for a “date” on my skateboard wearing only surf baggies and a brightly painted Pith Helmet.

Here in Morro Bay, as in Maine, the windjammer fleet takes paying customers on daily or weeklong trips into the open ocean to relive the days of sail.

Moro Bay, Photo #6

Not many paying customers on this weekday however, as both tall ships sat idle at their berth.

Toward midafternoon, Kit and I met for an early dinner at The Galley, a locally favorite watering hole right on the docks.

Moro Bay, Photo #9

The seafood dinner we both enjoyed was incredible as were the views of Morro Bay and “The Rock”!

 

Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13, 2014-San Luis Obispo (SLO), California…..yep, still here:

We like this nice quiet campground and we still have things to explore, so we extended our stay through Thursday…..now plan on pulling out on Friday, Valentines Day.

We used one of these bonus days to explore Montaña de Oro State Park which is located on the ocean a few miles south of Morro Bay.

This state park features campgrounds, day use areas and many coastal access opportunities…..even the park road was an attraction as it parallels the Pacific Ocean.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #20

We stopped at a few areas to beachcomb and walk the shoreline amongst the rocks and crashing waves.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #1

At the end of the park road, we stopped for a snack.  Afterwards, since Kit had brought along her Kindle and was content to sit with a view of the ocean and read, I decided to hike The Coastal Bluff Trail.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #8

Due to the wildfires last summer, many trees were burned…..however the power of nature to regenerate was evident as fresh green vegetation has taken root.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #9

Soon, the Pacific Ocean came into view.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #12

And awe inspiring views to the north like the following.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #17

And, not to be outdone, here is the view to the south.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #14

Those inaccessible beaches have likely changed very little over the past few hundred years…..a rarity in California.

The term “Montaña de Oro” is Spanish for Mountain of Gold, and the state park came to that name due to the many yellow wildflowers that carpet the coastal hills.

Montaña de Oro SP, Photo #15

Following my two hour hike, Kit expressed an interest in returning to Morro Bay to browse the shops she missed earlier.  So, after a short drive out of the park, we were back in the village and being a bit hungry we stopped at Rose’s Grill on the waterfront.  Having an urge for fresh fish tacos with tasty garlic fries, that’s what I ordered!

Rose's Grill

The meal was excellent and as Kit made her way down the street, I decided to sit on the dock of the bay and watch the sun set into the western horizon across Morro Bay…..another great day in Retiree Ville!

Morro Bay Sunset, Pix #2

On our second bonus day we returned to downtown SLO in order to attend the weekly Farmers Market and Street Fair.  The city closes the main street of town and turns it into a pedestrian mall where local farmers and merchants can set up their carts and tables.

SLO Town, Pix #11

As street musicians perform, customers peruse the incredible selection of farm fresh produce…..

SLO Town, Pix #10

…..and fruits.

SLO Town, Pix #9

While the prepared food venders bring in their huge wood fired barbeques and offer a variety of items from chicken to steak to pork.

SLO Town, Pix #5

There were even cake, pie, cookie and cupcake bakers in the mix.

Kit and I enjoyed some excellent pulled pork sandwiches topped off by huge cupcakes and brought home bags of fresh fruit and vegetables…..what a nice way to spend the afternoon and evening!

 

Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15, 2014-San Luis Obispo (SLO), California…..yep, we are still….”still here”.  Deciding that we would rather combat Los Angeles traffic on a weekend rather than a Friday, we signed up to stay at CSLO for another couple of days…..not a disappointment as we truly like this little campground.  In addition, due to the “Target Hack SNAFU”, one of our credit cards had thoughtfully been replaced by the credit union and it was sitting in an envelope on our kitchen counter up in Maine.  So, after a phone call they deactivated that card and will send us another via FedEx…..just have to wait for it.

After four days of exploring we decided to take the next two days and just veg.  First, however, we had to vacate our full hookup site as the park was full for the weekend.  So we moved to overflow at $5.00 per night and selected a nice treed area away from the main part of the campground.

CSLO Campsite # 2-Over Flow

Our new neighbor, Mike was an old friend from our stay last year at Davis Monthan Air Force Base down in Tucson.

Mike

You may remember, Mike a retired Navy and Alaska Air pilot was full timing in his 20 foot airstream pulled by his VW with a Turbo Diesel engine…..a compact, comfortable and efficient rig.  We had a great time telling sea (air) stories and comparing places to camp on the cheap.  Mike almost exclusively dry camps and his trailer is set up with LED lights, extra batteries and a powerful solar panel that, on a sunny day, fully recharges his bank of batteries.

In addition, we spent these two bonus days taking care of correspondence, catching up on reading, accomplishing truck and trailer maintenance and generally just goofing off.  Or, as Kit calls it: stopping to smell the roses.

Hearst Castle, Photo #10

On Sunday we depart and continue our trek south…..hop along for the ride!

 

Kit’s Bits:  I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in SLO, which has been on my bucket list for 9 years, since I was there for my nephew Chris’ graduation from Cal Poly.  The Central Coast of California is so different from SoCal.  There are many wineries, lots and lots of open space, huge fields of vegetables, many orchards, etc.  Plus, the pace of life in the area seems a lot slower, more akin to the Mid Coast region of Maine.  My favorite part of our time there was going to The Farmer’s Market.  I wanted to buy lots of fruits and vege’s but, of course couldn’t due to space limitations.  We stopped to listen to a small band, The Crustacea Jazz Band.  It’s a local group and they’ve been together for a while, playing for local events, parties, etc.

Crustacea Jazz Band

We really enjoyed the music and their toe tapping style had everyone smiling and swaying to the beat.  As good as they were, they paled in comparison to JimmyJo & the Jumbol’Ayuhs !