Morro Bay

Michael, Callie and I had a lovely drive up Hwy 1 and 101 North to Morro Bay this morning. We were able to check into the Cypress Morro Bay RV & Mobilehome Park at Main and Beach St. It is the best located park in town and we are thrilled. Morro Bay State Park and the Strand were all filled up for the weekend but we decided to just take a chance nevertheless and hope for the best. Wow, did we score big! We have clean showers and bathrooms right next door and have finally escaped the wind and sand. It has been brutal the past 4 days. We have sand in everything and the RV is filthy, but in spite of it all, we were still very happy with Jalama State Beach.

After we checked in and cleaned up, we biked over to the State Beach and to Morro Rock and spent a couple of hours biking around. We use to visit here frequently when our daughter, Lara was a young girl. It hasn’t changed all that much except now we have an awesome RV to reside in and don’t have to depend on a motel. Many years ago we became discouraged from visitng because the room rates had gone up so high.

I am settled in for the night after having biked to the Great American Food Company for clam chowder and salad with Michael. We watched the sun set behind Morro Rock and enjoyed the otters, most of them are mothers with their young, of varying ages by their sides, calmly sleeping in the harbor. This is a fairly new turn of events. They were almost all wiped out from the Russian Fur Trade and their numbers have been declining. They aren’t sure why but do know that the mothers are very stressed while raising the young and need protection and a safe place to rest. If they are out in the ocean, they have to wrap themselves up in kelp to keep the young close by and in the harbor, it is quiet and the tidal changes and ocean currents are minimalized. It was nice to see them sleeping comfortably while bobbing in the coastal waters and not afraid of humans anymore.

We may stay for at least 3 nights. We have to take Callie to the vet on Monday if she doesn’t show a complete recovery. She is still coughing and wheezing at night. Maybe it is a foreign body lodged in her throat, asthma, or the tail end of another respiratory infection. There are a few possibilities that I don’t want to consider. I will keep my readers informed.

Jalama State Beach 

We left Tuesday afternoon for Jalama State Beach in Lompoc, California and arrived at 7:30 pm. The flowers along the roadside were spectacular. I think the yellow blossoms are mustard grass, which is an invasive species, never the less, it was extraordinary to see all the green and yellow! We were able to obtain a lovely beach front camp site right on the water. The winds have picked up throughout the week and yesterday was somewhat miserable. Today we decided to BBQ first thing this morning so that we could avoid the strong winds that are predicted again today. 

Jalama State Beach is renowned for high surf and windsurfing. Last evening we watched 4 windsurfers jump through the air and fly over the water and ride 8 ft waves. It was like watching a surfing movie. They were obviously pros. The humpback whales are also doing their spring migration back to Alaska from Mexico, and are breaching right out front of the camp site.

Callie has made all kinds of new friends, and loves to watch Michael work on the BBQ. There are starlings here who mob her when we are out walking, but I shoo them away with my arms. They are quite brazen and pick on her mercilessly. Her cough has returned, so we are medicating her with antibiotics again and can only hope for the best. It doesn’t seem to get her down though.

This morning we went for a walk to the far southern point, and tomorrow we head to Morro Bay. We are having quite the adventure and I am looking forward to hooking up with my sister Elizabeth in Los Osos….

Alongside the 101 going north near Ventura


Sitting Tall and Pretty

Today is Callie’s 3rd day riding in the front loading bike basket. She is sitting tall and pretty and seems to be having a good time. Oleander and sage fill the air with a beautiful, desert scent, and birds are all that you hear besides the wind and occasional golf course worker. The insects are not yet dominant and the temperature is still mild enough for a bike ride as long as you do it before 10:00 in the morning. By the time we head out in the RV, she should be comfortable enough to bike out on some of the nature trails. I am very happy for her and for myself. Hauling her around in the backpack, on the bike, was not easy. She was gentle with her claws, but I could tell she would get hot, and her line of vision was obscured by my back. Happy trails for all!

Diets Don’t Work

I have never been successful at dieting. I love to eat too much! If I attempt to restrict my caloric intake, I may loose weight for awhile but inevitably, I break down and pig out and gain back the weight I lost and then some. But there is no way I will stay the weight I am now if I continue down the path of off road biking. It is seriously difficult but fun work. I have been road biking for years now and nothing compares to off road biking. You have to concentrate so that you don’t fall down and it is tricky navigating deep sand. Michael and I had a terrific bike ride this morning to the Vern Whitaker Horse Camp in Borrego Springs. We also took Callie on a ride around the golf course. When I dropped her off again because she indicated she had had enough, she again bawled when I left her behind. I think she still prefers limited exposure with the new front loading bike basket, but she also doesn’t want me to leave again and have fun without her… after we dropped her off, we biked behind the house. The trail behind the house had sand that was so deep and loose, we had to walk the bikes at least half the way. I will be able to eat whatever the hell I want to today, and I much prefer this approach to loosing weight.👍

Off Road Biking in Coyote Canyon

It doesn’t get any better than this. After dropping Callie off to continue biking, we headed to Coyote Canyon which is something we have only done with a 4 wheel drive car. Riding the sandy trail with bikes was as close as it gets to riding a horse; which is my all time favorite thing to do with my sister Gayle. The day was gorgeous and still cool enough to enjoy exerting oneself under the sun.

When we got about half way to our finish line, I noticed one Hawk-moth pollinating a lovely scented Desert Willow tree. We had just passed through the second wash of deep sand, and I was getting use to biking off road. The tree was covered with bees buzzing all around it and I just happened to see the one moth. I raced over and was able to get a couple shots of it before it headed out into the vast desert. I was just writing about this moth yesterday when I posted about the Sacred Datura and how it depends on this type of moth to help pollinate it. They look just like hummingbirds in flight and their size is somewhat off putting because they are so large. 

The bike ride was fabulous and I love off road biking. There is a trick to driving over soft sand but I got the hang of it right away and feel like a natural. I can’t wait to take the bikes to Mount Laguna. When we hiked there in early March, the trails were perfect for biking. Not too steep and rocky and wide enough to guide yourself around obstacles. What a fun day so far. Callie is resting and I was able to do the photography that I so much wanted to do. A Hawk-moth in flight in the middle of the desert. You cannot ask for more!

Biker Babes

Today, I introduced Callie to my new hybrid, mountain trail bike, with a basket that is placed over the front handlebars. Michael bought the bike for me so that when we camp, we will have mountain bikes to use on the trails instead of only hiking.  I use to bike with her in a backpack, but it would get too hot for her, and she couldn’t really look around very easily. The basket is perfect and we biked around the De Anza Golf Course. She is able to sit sideways, but face forward and tuck herself down into her old front loading backpack if she gets nervous. She was already use to the pack and loves going on hikes with it, so it wasn’t that big of a stretch to get her to jump in and settle down on the bike. We both had a fabulous time, and she enjoyed being in front and looking back at me occasionally, instead of the other way around. When I dropped her back at the house so that Michael and I could continue with an off road ride to Coyote Canyon, I could hear her bawling inside before we biked away.  The best way to introduce a cat to something new, is to keep it short and sweet. Get them to beg for more! She wasn’t ready to call it quits and was waiting at the door when we returned. When we head out on our road trip, we will have our mountain bikes with us, and Michael and I will take her out on trail. Callie and I will be two biker babes… Fred and Michael will make it a foursome!

Last year we used a backpack. The front loading basket is an upgrade!

The Sacred Datura

The Sacred Datura, (Jimson Weed), Purple Sand Verbena and the occasional pale, yellow, Desert Dandelions, are all that is left of the Anza Borrego Desert super bloom this past spring. The sacred datura holds out until the very end to bloom because it depends on the Hawkmoths to pollinate it. The Hawk-moths don’t become moths until they survive the caterpillar stage. The caterpillar stage is fraught with many dangers. The flower is a large and striking trumpet shape that opens up in the early evening to attract the moths. They are a brilliant white that glow in the dark and have a lovely, sweet fragrance that is irresistible to this specific pollinator. The moths look like hummingbirds in flight because they are so large and hover over the flower to lick up the nectar much like hummingbirds. These caterpillars and other kinds, were all over our backyard during the spring bloom and because they didn’t understand the dangers of a swimming pool, many of them met an untimely death that way. It was traumatic to watch them fall into the pool and drown. The ones that did manage to cross the yard unharmed, were able to mow down every wildflower in its path. The cycle of life is a journey and a trip to observe. After the caterpillars come the Swainson’s Hawks to finish off the job.

The entire plant is highly poisonous and if ingested by humans, can cause a high fever, delirium and possibly death. In spite of this horrible reputation, every part of the plant is almost universally used as a hallucinogenic and medicinal plant among the native Indians of the southwest. The Seri brewed tea to relieve sore throats, Cahuilla shamans ingested it to transcend reality in order to contact specific guardian spirits, and the Hopi medicine men chewed the roots to induce visions when making a diagnosis on someone who was ill. 

The desert is returning to a hot and arid environment. Because of the cool inland breezes colliding with the hotter temperatures of the desert, the winds have returned making life miserable for most of its inhabitants. We still see the occasional jackrabbit and cottontail, quail, and coyote but the roadrunners seem to be in their glory. Everywhere you look, you might see a roadrunner with a snake or lizard in its long and lethal beak, careening down the street. They always look right to left and side to side when they run and are very comical to watch. They must be pretty street savvy though, because you never see one hit by a car and dead by the side of the road. 

As the summer makes itself known, I am constantly sweeping sand out of the house and trying to be appreciative that it isn’t a snow drift. The sand is everywhere and the dust and pollen are making Callie and me sneeze and Callie has become asthmatic. Soon we will be packing up to head out on our road trip and will leave the desert to its desert inhabitants. We don’t belong here during the summer, and I will tip my hat off to those that have to stay. We stayed last summer with temperatures reaching 124 degrees Fahrenheit, and I refuse to do it again this summer. This summer will be all about travels with Callie….

One of the many varieties of caterpillars that made it to become a moth

If Looks could Kill

Callie was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection with the added insult of having an ear infection a little over a month ago. She would give me the most pathetic look and would start wheezing and gagging and trying to cough and catch her breath. If looks could kill, she was telling me how miserable she was. Her tiny little pink nose was congested and you could hear it in her lungs too. It was pitiful to watch her suffer; to say the least. I was so grateful for the diagnosis though when we took her to the vet and after a 7 day supply of antibiotics and decongestant, she is almost back to normal. Now you may ask how does one give meds to cats? Very carefully I might say, and it isn’t easy and usually done by syringe in liquid form. Callie was so astute concerning the timing of a dose every 12 hours, that she figured out how to hide right about the time I would get the syringe ready. Once I had her in my grasp though, I would wrap her body and front legs up tightly with a towel, then swiftly give her the medicine before she had time to rake me with her claws. The look on her face after she swallowed the decongestant was especially comical. She would do everything she could not to swallow it and one time she even frothed at the mouth in disgust. Couldn’t they flavor it a little bit? What a princess… She does have allergies now and we think a touch of asthma to boot, but to see her once again climb her beloved olive trees, is a joy to watch. The Anza Borrrego Desert State Park super bloom may well be in the past, but what lingers is a lot of pollen and dust. Allergy season for me and for her! We will be heading out soon on another road trip!