Thursday, February 18, 2016

California's Central Coast - February 2016 - Part One

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We wanted an ocean fix - crashing waves, rugged coast line, and the smell of salt in the air. But this required planning. The coast is a busy place. We'd need to stay in campgrounds, not something we do often. We went to our friend Ted for help. I asked in an email several weeks before President's Weekend, "Ted, you ever stay in the campground at Morro Bay State Park? I think there are a couple open sites."

Ted was quick. "I just checked and the only sites open are ADA," his response read.

I had seen that but didn't have a clue what that ADA symbol meant. Reserving a stay in a campground is a rare occurrence for us. A quick check online and I was educated, but Ted was already at work for us. He's that kind of a guy.

"I'd recommend staying at Montana de Oro State Park," Ted's next email read. "One site is available and it's the one we have used there. It's nice."

I was on it and a few minutes later we had Friday through Sunday nights reserved.

The Lady had a four day weekend break from teaching school for President's Day. It had been many years since we had been to the Central Coast, kind of old stomping grounds for the Lady. She earned both her bachelor and masters degrees at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, graduating in 1979.

After a very long drive..............................we arrived mid afternoon and settled in. The late afternoon light was wonderful as we began exploring the coast we had come to see.

The predominate rock here is Miguelito Shale, 6 million year old ancient sea floor now buckled and tilted by the tectonic forces of the Pacific Plate and North America Plate grinding together.

Bird life was abundant. A Long Billed Curlew appeared as content as we were to just quietly watch the ocean.

Other visitors were wandering and exploring.

As the daylight ebbed, we returned to camp for a simple dinner.

We returned to the bluff after dark. We were alone. We smelled the salt on the wind and felt the ground resonate with the pounding surf. We thought of nothing else, utterly content.

Early Saturday we were down in Spooner Cove for the coming dawn.

We spent all day Saturday walking, hiking, taking in the rugged coast, tide pools, and arches. We started on the Bluff Trail but were also seduced by interesting detours.

South of Montana de Oro is property owned by Pacific Gas & Electric and home of their Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. We found the Point Buchon trail open to the public today.

Our first stop was Coon Creek Beach, a small beautiful cove.

We studied the simple map provided at the PG&E check-in booth.

We laid out a small space blanket on the wet sand and snacked and watched the Pacific move and sway.

We were joined by a Peregrine Falcon, hunting birds in the riparian corridor along small Coon Creek.

The wind was building and bringing in a fog bank from the north.

We resumed our journey down the coast line and enjoyed the abundant bird life - cormorants, brown pelicans, and egrets.

But the cliffs and arches and pounding Pacific remained the star attraction.

The trail moved away from the water as we neared Windy Point.

The wind was howling at Windy Point as the nuclear facility came into view.

This was our turn around point. We faced into the wind on our hike back. We added layers, gloves, and our fleece hats but so enjoyed this new view of such seductive surroundings.

We again walked the bluff, alone, in the night after dinner. The wind had abated and the fog cleared. We walked hand in hand, the half moon overhead. We could not understand, with the full campground, why no one else was out here enjoying such a wonderful night, but we did not complain.

Sunday we would attempt to travel back in time.

Our adventure continues in Part Two - Please Click Here


  1. Monte,even though it's a "campground" I thought you would like it.
    We stayed there in April,2010, and had a great time. Lots of animals,a bobcat right in the campground,at the picnic table at the beginning of the camp.
    We did some nice trails,but always saw the "warning" signs about what to do if the siren goes off. We knew about the nukie plane south of there,but it just seemed strange.
    It's a good think there were no spots left at the Morro SP,if you didn't drive by to check it out it's just full of "motor homes and such".The only nice thing there would be the hike to one of the "morros"in the park.
    Glad you had a nice time.

  2. Frank, thanks for the info on the campground at Morro Bay State Par. Yes, we checked it out and our impression was the same as yours, a nice settling but not much to do from camp. Montana de Oro is smaller and a bit more primitive but much to do with just walking away from camp. As we approached the nuclear plant we were convincing ourselves the poppies were getting larger and larger - a Godzilla affect!