Morro Bay is very Bike Friendly

Morro Bay is a fabulous place to cycle and hike in. The community is very bike friendly and a coastal trail for walking and biking extends for many miles. We have taken the trail to Cayucos on Highway 1 which had some traffic on it but the shoulder is spacious and I didn’t feel too uncomfortable. I do not like to share the road with cars and that is why biking in the desert is so appealing to me.

The nature sanctuary trail is also wonderful and there are viewing benches to observe birds such as the endangered Snowy Plover. The sand dunes have nesting areas cordoned off and these adorable little shorebirds are treated with respect and courtesy and given prime site sanctuary locations in which to raise their young without being stepped on and trampled. I love this about Morro Bay; they are very pro-wildlife and try to give local and migratory animals a place to thrive in alongside us humans.

If you are staying in Morro Bay and wish to bike north, head down to Morro Rock and follow the boardwalk north of town until you pass the water treatment plant. Right before you bike underneath the Highway 1 bridge, turn left into the high school and follow the paved path on the west side of the highway. This trail will take you to Morro Strand State Beach and from there you can hook up to the 1 and follow that North to Cayucos. If you wish to bike south, Morro Bay State Park is another great place to bike around in. I don’t recommend going to Montana de Oro by bike because of the narrow roadway, but it is an incredible place in which to hike along the sand dunes. Biking through town is also fun because the cars go slowly and there is a bike path.

I have a front loading handlebar basket that I use for Callie and she loves biking but it has been too rainy and she has had to be left behind in the RV. I don’t think she minds all that much though. When we return, I find her in the same position as when we left. She seems to really enjoy all the activity of RVing and there is never a dull moment. She can rest on the dash and watch people walking their dogs or she can jump up into the loft for privacy and take an uninterrupted nap.

Morro Bay has a fabulous bike repair and rental shop called – The Bike Shop that is on Main Street in town and my husband bought an off-road Raleigh bike for me last time we stayed here. I love this bike and use it off-roading in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park. We have been coming to Morro Bay for 40 years now and this sleepy fishing community hasn’t changed all that much. It is a great place for walking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and windsurfing.

Callie’s Troubles are Behind Her

Michael, Lara, Fred, Callie and I all pulled out of Borrego Springs this morning at 7:30 am and made it to Morro Bay by 4:30 pm. I drove ”Pipsqueak” and Fred drove his Minnie Winnie. Michael hung out with his best friend Fred and the girls all traveled together separately. As soon as we made it up Montezuma Grade, I had two truck drivers motion me over. I assumed it was because I was going too slow up the pass, but it was actually the bike rack that had slipped down with the extension arm, and Lara’s bike was actually dangling and the only thing holding her bike on, was a bungee cord.

I pulled over to the side of the road and Lara and I were able to secure the bar back up into place and get her bike back on the bike rack. It could have turned out really bad and we were so fortunate that kind and attentive truckers alerted us to the problem. Michael and Fred were ahead of us and because of bad phone service, they didn’t even know we were having difficulties.

The two of them finally came back to us and Michael helped me attach the bike even better and with more security. Apparently, the extension arm wasn’t locked into place. I am not placing blame on anyone, but it wasn’t me that loaded up the bikes!:) When we were finished, I looked up and over at a pasture full of cows in the heavy mist, and I happened to see a beautiful and very unusual white rainbow or a sun halo, so I quickly took a photograph and away we went. If we hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t have seen this strange phenomenon!

Callie hopped up on the dash right away and she takes her job of Dash Queen Cat quite seriously. Once I start the engine, she leaps up and settles into her spot. She gets all in a huff if we start without her. Callie was obviously exhausted because she slept the whole way up the coast. I don’t think she will be spending too much time worrying about whether Romeo is making an appearance anytime soon. She has much better things to do now and places to see!

Lower Coyote Canyon

The weather has been perfect for outdoor activity and Michael and I impulsively decided to off-road cycle to Lower Coyote Canyon. I have a somewhat new Raleigh bike that I had yet to try out in deep sand and wanted to check it out. It performed beautifully and we were able to bike all the way to the first spring where coyotes and Bighorn Sheep drink and Brittle Bush bloom in the middle of February. The Ocotillo were starting to green up too and some even had the beautiful bright orange blossoms at the end of their thorny stalks. Purple, fragrant desert verbena is only blooming along the banks of the water source, nothing like last spring when the super bloom blanketed the entire desert.

Swainson’s Hawks are migrating overhead from Argentina and Mexico on the return trip to Canada and they only eat insects on the wing as they travel home. Birders come from all over the world to count how many hawks pass over Anza- Borrego Desert State Park and there is a bench at the entrance to Coyote Canyon for the counters to sit on and watch with binoculars.

There has been very little rainfall this winter, but the natural spring is still flowing and the sky a deep, powder blue with wispy cereus clouds and contrails streaking high up overhead. Wild bees were buzzing and we were the only bikers out there this morning. Five 4 wheel drive jeeps caravanned past us slowly as they continued up the road to the upper spring, but otherwise, it was only us and nature.

It felt good to bike off-road and I actually prefer it to street biking. I love horseback riding, and this type of biking reminds me of being on a horse. We did pass two riders that board their horses at Vern Whittaker Stables and I was just a tad bit jealous. I love horseback riding and miss doing that with my sister.

A beautiful day unfolded and it was a perfect bike ride. Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is at its best in late winter and early spring. Callie has enjoyed several servings of the new, homemade cat food and I hope she will continue to eat it. All is good in the middle of nowhere!

Beware of Automobiles

What with the dangers of cycling in the city, Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is an awesome and safe alternative. California’s largest state park, it has miles and miles of paved roads and off-road trails that are scenic and you rarely come into contact with a car. It is only about a 2-hour drive east of San Diego and is a fabulous destination if you want to get away from it all.

This morning, Michael, Lara and I biked to Indian Head Ranch, Coyote Canyon, Seley Ranch and the start of Henderson Canyon. The weather was perfect and we met Ed from Oregon and Tom from Colorado. Michael was delighted to have some male companionship and the three guys talked nonstop as they biked along behind Lara and me. All three men are in their 70’s and in great shape. We did 19 miles today and my daughter, Lara was able to keep up with all of them.

There is something so wonderful about cycling and then coming back to a quiet house in the desert in order to relax and read and write and look at photography. I would go a little crazy living out here in the middle of nowhere if I didn’t at least wear myself out for the day! So three cheers to biking in the desert. You are more apt to see a coyote, roadrunner or quail than you are a car!

A Winter Storm in the Desert

When a winter storm makes it’s way past the barrier of the San Ysidro Mountains, it does so by way of wind. You can usually hear the storm advancing long before there is much in the way of clouds. If the storm is powerful enough and the clouds heavy with water, rain will be dropped on the dry side of the mountain. If not, the desert will just embrace the wind and the wind will send the sand flying in all directions, making it difficult for birds to fly, road runners to run and coyotes to hunt. Anza- Borrego Desert State Park has had a very dry winter so far, so I am hoping for a little rain.

First thing this morning, I awoke to the roar of wind through the olive trees and watched as the tall Mexican Palm trees danced and twirled while being anchored in one place. Cloud shadows raced along the sides of the mountains and the foothills at the base, which then glowed with molten light as the sun rose in the east. Callie loves to climb the olive trees when there is a storm developing, and gets a kick out of being tossed around while surveying her view of the desert.

This storm has produced dramatic light and shadow, but very little rainfall so far. Another storm was predicted in a couple of days, but I can already see that that storm too has given up its punch and fizzled out. It takes a really strong and powerful storm to push its way past the mountains, that is why it is called a desert. Rainfall has trouble getting over to the other side!

The wind also makes it next to impossible to cycle in. At the very least, you have to work so hard to push forward with any momentum, and I always worry about getting sand in my eyes. As a high schooler, I use to bike to school, and one day during a particularly strong Santa Ana wind, I actually scratched the inside of my eyelid and it took months for me to recover from the pain and discomfort.

Today will be a day of writing and I will be reading indoors, so I am appreciative that I was able to capture the photographs that I did at sunrise. Now I can write and share with my viewers, the beautiful cloud shadows and Callie climbing her beloved olive trees. Every morning she attempts a dash up at least one of the trees before going back to sleep for a nice long nap.

Cycling in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

What with mild temperatures, few cars and very little hill work, Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is an ideal spot for cycling. Street bikes have numerous locations in which to explore and if you are so inclined, the many nature trails also allow for off-road bikes. One of my favorite trails is Coyote Canyon, and if the weather stays mild, Michael and I might take an off-road ride in the near future.

Yesterday, Michael, Lara and I rode to Henderson Canyon and Lara is capable of doing 15 miles now! She has a beginner, low end priced, Alight that weighs much more than my Cannondale and Michael’s Trek, and she has managed to keep up with us. I am very proud of her.

Henderson Canyon is a beautiful stretch of flat road that has a north view of Coyote Canyon that during the springtime, and if conditions are right, explodes with wildflowers. For now, it is mostly sand with creosote bushes sprinkled sparingly among the low lying dunes. We also biked to Seley Ranch, an organic citrus fruit grove that offers free chilled water and sweet, ruby-red grapefruits for visitors to sample. An entire 10lb bag of grapefruits only costs $3.50. A table and benches are set up under a palm frond roof and a cutting board with a knife is provided. We usually bike along Di Giorgio and pass the scorpion and locust sculpture that sculptor, Richardo Breceda created and erected maybe 10 years ago, and then finally to the De Anza Golf Course on our final leg of the journey.

It is a delightful way to pass the time and you are left feeling relaxed and stress-free for the rest of the day. There is also Borrego Bikes which rents bikes out for the day if you don’t own one, or simply don’t want to haul a bike into the desert.

Callie is climbing her beloved olive trees, and this morning, she climbed quite high in order to survey her domain in the crisp chilled early morning light. She is feeling wonderful and there is no residual sneezing on her part. Her appetite is ravenous so I am going to have to be careful not to indulge her too much. She is getting a little pot belly, and as cute as she is, too much weight gain will be hard on her asthma. She sure is persuasive and charming though when it comes to begging for food!

A Bike Ride to 17 Mile Drive

You can’t go wrong biking along the pristine Pacific Coastline through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California. It is free to cyclists and a perfect way to spend an entire afternoon.

There is a long history to this area starting in 1602 where it was mapped by Spanish explorers. Pebble Beach was left to a widow by the name of Carmen Garcia Barreto Maria. It has changed ownership several times and was eventually purchased at auction for 12 cents an acre by David Jacks. Fast forward to the future, this beautiful coastline was acquired by the Cypress investor group in 1999, which was led by Clint Eastwood, Arnold Palmer, and Peter Ueberroth.

Biking along the coast you come across such attractions as Cypress Point, Bird Rock, Point Joe, and Lone Cypress, an image that has been trademarked and cannot be photographed and the photographs used commercially. That bothers me to no end! You bike along both the coast and the golf course and meander through neighborhoods that are obscenely wealthy. I try to look the other way and focus on the natural beauty of the place and not dwell on the disparity of the working class and the rich.

Michael, Fred and I headed out from the Monterey County Fairgrounds and took the bike trail all along the coast to the 17 Mile Drive. When we biked past the wharf, we turned out to the Coastguard pier to check on the sea lions that make so much noise with their barking and arguing for a prime spot in which to rest. The quiet harbor seals have claimed the sandy beach next to the Stanford Research Center, and they can be seen rolling along the shoreline as small waves toss them back and forth across the sand. These seals look so well fed that when they bask on rocks with their webbed feet up in the air for balance, they look blown up to capacity and can hardly move.

We stopped frequently at Pacific Grove and Asilomar to enjoy and appreciate the view. The coastline is rugged and there are jagged rocks with white sandy beaches. The wildlife is abundant and somewhat tame because of the wildlife reserve status. Who wouldn’t want to live there? We saw harbor seals basking, sea lions barking, a red-tailed hawk sitting on a rock. And when it took to the sky, it was harassed by crows, (at least I think it was a red-tailed hawk) even if it didn’t have the distinctive red tail, it may be going through a dark phase, correct me if I am wrong, lots of pelicans, cormorants, seagulls, whale plumes, and the list goes on.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a moderate temperature of only 63, and this at the end of December, and with no wind. We hung out all day and ended up eating a late lunch at The Fishwife which is close to the entranceway to 17 Mile Drive. The food was delicious enough but not as good as The Sand Bar and Grill, but it did have the benefit of being less expensive too.

After 26 miles of biking for 6 hours on and off, we trudged back up the hill to the fairgrounds pretty wiped out and windblown, exhausted but happy. Our cheeks were rosy and glowed with health from a day in sunshine and out in the elements. My eyes are fried though! I promised myself I would limit texting and photography today. So much for that promise!

And since I share this blog equally with the subject of travel and our princess cat- Callie, her life as a traveling cat couldn’t be finer. She sleeps a lot during the day, goes on several walks with her leash and harness, and rides on the dash when we hit the road. Her litter box fits neatly in the bathroom all the way in the back of the RV, and her food and water are placed on the shower bench for her enjoyment. This is really a perfect life for her and she adds so much to the overall enjoyment of our trip.

The coastguard pier provides a place for sea lions to rest.

The harbor seals are smaller and have found sanctuary at the Stanford Research Center

Stages of a Sunset

On Christmas evening, and after a lovely meal served by the City of Monterey Food Bank, Michael, Fred and I biked over to Monterey State Beach to watch the sunset tuck itself in for the night. It took some negotiating to find a spot where we could all sit and not have a building in the way, but once we did, we settled down and enjoyed a quiet moment.

There were not that many people at the beach, but the few that were, had plump little dogs panting after them and enjoying some free time out on the sand. The waves rolled in on a direct trajectory and would crash all at once in a long line that covered the entire stretch of the beach. A large flock of what looked like plovers wheeled and spun right over the water and reminded me of a swarm of flies. They flew in unison and would all land at once for just a second before flying off again.

The sunset was not colorful, but rather filled with silver and gray and unfolded softly. Heading back on our bikes in the fading light, and with me, all dressed in black, was a little unnerving, but we managed to get back to the fairgrounds in one piece.

Our Stay in Morro Bay

We have been in Morro Bay for almost a week already, but I haven’t been able to post because I ran out of storage space and needed to register again. I love blogging but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I spoke with my daughter who said I should upload my videos to YouTube because they are taking up too much space, and the support guy from WordPress named Kevin Jones, recommended I create a website with unlimited storage but would cost more money. My daughter had the more sensible solution, for now, I am only blogging for pleasure and it isn’t a business, so keeping it fun and simple wins out.

Morro Bay has been beautiful and it actually rained today which will hopefully help with the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara. It has been raging for over 2 weeks now and is the largest wildfire in the history of California. It breaks my heart to see so many homes lost and forests scorched and burned to the ground.

Michael, Fred and I have been biking every day and biking in Morro Bay is just so fabulous. The trails are well marked and when you are forced to be on the road, the drivers are very respectful. Yesterday, we biked all the way to Cayucos from our campsite at Cypress Morro Bay RV Park and walked out onto the pier. We also biked to the Rock, to the high school, and then over to the Preserve and The Strand. It was a fabulous bike ride and all three of us enjoyed it very much.

Earlier in the week, my brother in law joined us and the four of us stayed out most of the morning, and well past the early afternoon. There are so many places to eat along the Embarcadero, and you can watch the otters as they groom themselves and the pelicans while they dive for fish. Just park your bike right alongside you as you enjoy a meal of delicious fish and chips outdoors in the golden sunshine.

I recommend Bike Shop Morro Bay for any of your biking needs. Dave is very helpful and considerate, and Michael ended up buying me a Raleigh mountain bike because my Marin was too large for me. Fred has a Stump-jumper and we are all equally matched now. Michael will try out the Marin for awhile to see if it suits him and I just love the Raleigh. It is fun for me to bike with Fred and Michael. Who would have ever thought I would be biking with 2 guys?

Tomorrow we are leaving for Pinnacles National Park and it is supposed to be gorgeous there too. Fred is our official guide and Callie adores him. It is working out wonderfully and caravanning is perfect. If any of us gets into trouble- we have each other’s back.

Rutting Season for the Big Horns

A couple of mornings ago, while finishing up the last leg of our 24-mile bike ride, Michael and I paused to allow 2 bighorn rams cross the road and onto the De Anza Golf Course. At the end of the summer, and because the sheep have run out of foliage and water, they are forced to come into contact with humans and graze on the green in the morning hours. There is a herd of at least 30 now and the rams that are not part of the main group, head down separately and are much more aggressive. Instead of crossing the road, this particular ram marched over to Michael with a glare in his eyes, and if I hadn’t intervened with a hiss to startle him, he would have charged. Michael wanted to know why it took me so long? He was clipped in and had nowhere to turn. They were less than 7 ft apart and the ram wasn’t showing any signs of being shy. I was debating on what to do and thought that a noise was better than a visual. So I hissed like I would with a horse, and he flinched and took off at a trot while butting the other ram in frustration. It is rutting season and hormones are raging. We continued home with Michael telling me he could hear him breathing! They deserve our respect.

When I am posting on my blog in the wee hours of dawn, Callie is by my side and her attempts to distract me from my writing- WORK!