Monday, February 22, 2016

California's Central Coast - February 2016 - Part Three

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version 

Monday morning, Spooner Cove where Islay Creek slides into the Pacific, was again, where we greeted the day.

This incredible coast line of surf, bluffs, arches, and birdlife - Montana de Oro - is highly recommended. The campground is small , 40 sites, and the campsites are pretty well spaced from one another. Generally our neighbors were quiet and respectful, but a couple of incidents reinforced our overall desire for solitude away from campgrounds. 

Monday was a travel day but first we'd follow Slim's recommendation to visit the Hazard Canyon tide pools. The historic Hazard family's farm was just to the north of the Spooner family's place. The place names reflect the family names and not a danger level.

Turkey Vultures were roosting on the bluff overlooking the ocean.

The area was sublime and a joy to explore and wander about on this quiet morning.

From the tide pools the sandy beach stretches north to Morro Bay. We were alone except for our feathered friends. Our plan was to walk north and enjoy the solitude until other people appeared.

We finally spotted a couple of specks, people, far in the distance. It was time to turn around. Ours were the only tracks on the beach.

We traveled north on highway 1, greatly enjoying the drive and the day.  The elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas was crowded and alive with activity.

It was breeding season. Bulls were active in demonstrations of dominance, belligerence, and battles.

Mothers were feeding and caring for their pups amid all the sexually driven mayhem.

We continued our journey up the coast. The weather was remarkably clear and warm. Mid afternoon found us in the small cove at Limekiln State Park.

The beach and area was busy, most were content with just being here and quietly watched the ocean. A young couple in wet suits were our overachievers. Strong swimmers, they entered the surf and swam far out into the ocean. It looked like a lot of fun and I think we both were a bit envious.

The above is not my best photo of their swim, but the only one that caught a whale spout, in the upper left corner.

Prior to our trip, with the weather forecast exceptional, the Lady added an extra day to her long weekend. We had a campsite reserved for this night in the tiny ocean portion of the campground at Limekiln State Park. There is a rest room with flush toilets and running water along with a coin operated hot shower. The campsites are small and tightly packed together; shoehorned is a good description. The campground had open, non reserved sites when we arrived but very quickly filled.

The setting was a bit odd with the highway 1 bridge directly overhead, but overall this is a nice place. All the trails up canyon were closed due to a construction project. The rocky cove and tiny beach are great.

We walked down to the beach after dinner and took in yet another spectacular sunset.

We walked up the steep entrance road after dark and crossed highway 1. We found a trail that led out to an overlook. We sat and gazed out over the Pacific and watched the stars above grow in brilliance. The sound of the waves below moved up to us on the wind.

We then wandered back down to the beach with the camera and tripod. A couple beside their tent in the closest campsite were enjoying an evening smoke. We are rarely around marijuana and the fragrant smoke damn near knocked us over. Wow. We were dizzy. I was overcome with a profound revelation. A voice in my head said, "Look up, look up!" I saw the headlights from the occasional car crossing the bridge above paint the bridge and surrounding landscape with light. It came to me I had the camera along. Far out!

I took several photos. The Lady would alert me when she saw a car approaching so I could time the shutter release. We were having fun.

"Want to stay out a while longer and take some more pictures?" the Lady asked.

"I'd like to but suddenly I'm really hungry. Do we have some of your homemade chocolate chip cookies left?"

"Yes we do!" the Lady cried. "It's our last night. Let's go back to the camper and eat them all!"

Highway 1 was even quieter Tuesday morning making it a delightful drive as we headed home.

We again followed Slim's excellent suggestion and took the Old Coast Road inland just north of Big Sur. This is a single lane dirt road and an eye opening step back into the past. Prior to the construction of the Bixby Bridge in 1932, the Old Coast Road was the only route between Carmel and Big Sur. It is not an easy landscape, it is a spectacular landscape of high ridges and deep canyons shaded with redwoods.

The Old Coast Road rejoins highway 1 at the north end of the famous Bixby Bridge.

We turned away from the coast and headed home. Our adventure was coming to an end. It was good to get our ocean fix and revisit California's Central Coast, another wonderful adventure for us.


  1. Great long-exposure shots of the stars over the ocean! Another wonderful trip -- thanks for posting.

  2. So many wonderful stories and AMAZING photos. One of your best trip reports! Well done, sir! SherpaDave is inspired.

  3. Professor Dan & Sherpa Dave, thanks so much for your nice comments. We live in such an amazing world. We appreciate that our effects at sharing our view of what's out there is appreciated and enjoyed. Thanks guys!

  4. Enjoyed the photos and the commentary. You have so many already - have you thought about putting them all down on paper and publishing your own book of collections? There are several self-publishing sites that you could use without spending a lot .