October 30: After our morning run, I have a craving for fish and chips which I haven’t eaten in years. We head to the Bayside Café, at the Morro Bay State Park Marina. Here, you sit outside under an umbrella and enjoy the view of the pleasure craft docked in the marina. The fish and chips were wonderful but we passed on their signature homemade carrot cake. Last time we ordered that, it took three sittings to polish it off.
(Left, the Morro Bay Tidal Estuary is a bird watcher’s paradise.)
After lunch we walked on the boardwalk trails which goes around the marina and follows the edge of the Morro Bay Tidal Estuary for about a mile. This is a bird watcher’s paradise but you need binoculars (or a telephoto lens) as the birds are generally well away from the shoreline. We can see a large cluster of white egrets in the distance, perhaps as many as fifty. The mountain backdrop adds to the beauty of the scene.
October 31: Another day, another farmers market. We are stocking up today, as tomorrow we head back to Arizona. However now we head back to the campground and prepare a real feast for brunch. The main course will be a “country scramble”, eggs with a variety of sautéed veggies, plus ham. Along with that, we have a salad bowl full of farmers market treats and a fresh fruit bowl likewise full of local goodies, such as apples, persimmons, and strawberries.
After our feast we head down to Port San Luis and the 19th century Harford Pier. (Photo, right) This is one of the loveliest settings on the coast. Mountains ring the semicircular bay which is dotted by the many pleasure craft at anchor. Pelicans and sea lions often frequent the pier. There was a sensation a couple of years ago when humpback whales fed and surfaced right next to the pier. At the end of the pier, you can buy extremely fresh local fish at the Olde Port Market, or dine on fresh fish at the Olde Port Inn.
From there, we head inland to the Edna Valley wine country to visit our friends at Wolf Vineyards. Besides the fine wines, they feature a breathtaking estate set on a small hill overlooking a valley cultivated in wine grapes. The mountains rise just beyond the valley. You can go in the tasting room which has picture windows looking out at the view or sit on their outdoor patio. It is a family winery, and the atmosphere is very casual. Like the farmers markets, customers and vendor get to know each other over time.
Another lovely day in a beautiful place.
(Left, the beautiful countryside at Wolf Vineyards)
November 1: Sadly, today is the day we drive home and must once again encounter the horrors of the L.A. Basin. Our goal is to reach Joshua Tree National Park, about thirty miles east of Palm Springs, and theoretically about a seven hour drive, leaving about four hours for the following day. Of course, things rarely go as planned on L.A. freeways. Just west of Pasadena, we encounter our first-ever “sig-alert” – major accident, all lanes blocked – and had the pleasure of being at a standstill for about 90 minutes. After that, plenty of brutal traffic through Pasadena. We finally stop nearby and indulge in a local Habit Burger. It was a huge relief to be off the road, and the meal sure hit the spot.
We finally pulled into Joshua Tree’s Cottonwood Campground close to sunset – more like a ten hour drive. After our late lunch, we simply skip dinner and get ready to enjoy the evening. Joshua Tree is a beautiful desert park which offers plentiful stars and being far from the highway, dead silence at night. Unfortunately there is a party of bicyclists in the group campground, and it takes them a long time to settle down. In today’s noisy world, most people can’t comprehend the beauty of silence.
November 2: An easy and uncomplicated drive home.
(Below, a look at Hearst Castle from last year’s trip. The pool area was used in the movie, Spartacus.)