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.

A Rainy Day in Morro Bay

When you have been living in the desert like I have for the past couple of years, heading up to Morro Bay and spending the day in the rain is a welcoming thought. California is still reeling from a 10 year or more drought, so all of us Californians are doing the happy dance and welcoming the moisture.

It started to sprinkle last night and Michael actually grilled BBQ tofu and I made a spinach and rice dish. We are out of propane from our Death Valley trip and didn’t feel like stopping to fill up on the road yesterday. We are staying at Cypress RV Park and it is our favorite spot at the bay. It has a view of the rock and the smokestacks and we have partial hook-ups. The bathrooms are right next door and the place is immaculate. Fred is over by the office and has a short walk to the showers and bathrooms but he also has full hookups.

In the early afternoon, we took a walk in the drizzle and headed over to the Embarcadero and Morro Rock. Last night I didn’t take my camera along and we spotted an Osprey, an otter pounding a clam open with an abalone shell, a Night Heron, and a gigantic sea lion. I was so aghast that I didn’t have my phone with me and I missed so many good shots. This afternoon I made sure I had my camera and while the day was not as eventful, I still saw a lot of wildlife. That is what I love about Morro Bay.

Great Blue Herons frequent the shoreline in search of fish and the otters are really comfortable around people. Did you know that an otter has skin folds underneath both arms that pocket their favorite tool and dinner? I didn’t know that! The mother otter also blows air onto her pups fur so that it stays buoyant and it won’t drown. The 3,000 or so otters left are from a colony of about 50 that came down from the Big Sur area. They were hunted for their dense fur and were almost wiped out. They are making a comeback but are still considered endangered.

We will be staying here for a few days and then head up to Half Moon Bay so that our daughter can attend a game seminar in San Fransisco. She has finished with school and is now actively seeking employment. She would like to be a producer for a top-notch game company and we are totally supportive of her decision.

Callie hasn’t moved all day and enjoys sleeping in the RV on a rainy day and listening to the rain drops fall on the roof. She also loves traveling in the RV and sleeps up in the loft where she can peek out the tiny window and survey the world below her while feeling safe and protected. She also climbs up on the dash and can look out the windshield and see Morro rock and the smokestacks. The fog horns are sending out their protective warning to all boats out at sea and I love the mournful call they make in the dense cloud layer.

The photograph of the two otters is from an informative plaque by the marina.

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

The Crows in the Oak Trees

While camping at the Monterey Fairgrounds this summer, we would take Callie out for walks on her leash so that she could explore her surroundings. The oak trees were protected and couldn’t be cut down and had grown quite massive in size. The crows would fly in as a flock of 50 or more to feed on the trees in the late afternoon.

Dusk was just starting to fall and the light was fading. You could hear them long before you saw them. We would look up at the sky at the sound of caws in the distance and see specks of black dots moving toward us like a darkening cloud of locusts. Soon they would descend on the oak trees as a mob and peck at the bare branches and the plump acorns in a frenzy of feeding. The acorns would crash down noisily onto the aluminum roof of the livestock showing pens, and plop with a crunch on the dried up leaves at the base of the tree.

The sound was deafening and the birds would be screaming and shouting at one another the whole time they fed. It sounded like a version of happy hour for these birds, and it was really quite the sight to behold. The clicks and caws and screams could be heard all over the campground and there was a special alarm call when they spotted Callie! Three crows, in particular, stayed put and kept looking at us from up above in astonishment that a cat was down below. When we got too close, rather than fly away in alarm, they shouted obscenities at us and hurled insults like a gang of misbehaving children. As Callie passed underneath their particular tree, I swear they made an effort to bomb her with debris. Callie would have liked nothing better than to climb the oak tree and give them a piece of her mind.

At the end of the day, not having packed toys for Callie, she had to make do with a paper bag in which to work out her pent-up aggression!

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Biking 20 Miles a Day

Early this morning, Callie and I woke up to the sound of quail clucking to each other while eating olives that had fallen on the ground under her beloved olive trees. It was windy the night before and the ripened olives were the perfect food for all that came scavenging. I have seen mountain bluebirds, roadrunners and ground squirrels relishing them too! The nights are once again crisp and cool and the mornings are clear, with a sky that is a deep and beautiful, powder blue.

Now that the weather has cooled off in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, Michael and I are averaging 20 miles a day on our road bikes. When it gets even cooler, we will go biking- off road to Coyote Canyon. It is paradise for us once again, but for the Bighorn Sheep, they must risk their lives to climb down the mountain to get to the desert floor so that they can graze on the newly seeded golf course at De Anza Country Club. They have run out of the native foliage and are forced to graze on the newly seeded grass. It doesn’t hold much nutrition for them, but something is better than nothing. They don’t come down to graze once the rain returns.

The 20-mile bike ride takes us out to Henderson Canyon, Coyote Canyon, Seley Ranch, Borrego Springs Road and back to De Anza. Our last couple of miles puts us in direct contact with the Bighorns at De Anza Villas. The sheep have to cross a road that has little traffic on it to get to the course, but even then, they are very skittish and fly across the street at the least hint of danger.

It is usually the collared ewe that steps out first and surveys her surroundings before the rest of the sheep follow. Once the main part of the herd is settled down and are grazing, a few of the younger male stragglers, continue their descent. They have to keep an eye out for “Bob” the dominant ram to make sure it is alright for them to feed. Bob has a broken horn that distinguishes him from the other males and looks much older. I have been watching him rule his harem for at least 3 years now. Some of the other rams look like they are going to challenge him this year though. They seem almost as big as him now, and their horns curl around too!

Once I am finished watching the bighorns, we turn around and continue our ride by doing a figure 8 back to the house. The entire bike ride takes us about 2 hours because I stop and take photographs. Yesterday we watched a bobcat chasing a cottontail near Seely Ranch. As soon as the bobcat saw us, he abandoned the chase and ran back into the dense tamarisk underbrush. We see all kinds of wildlife now that the weather has cooled off and we can once again enjoy a bike ride without getting cooked from the sun.

The Sky is Falling- The Crows are Calling

Callie has become quite the darling wherever and whenever she goes out for a walk with me and Lara! People are always fascinated that a cat can and will walk on a leash. She takes it all in stride though and tries to keep her cool in most situations.

Everyone walking a dog marvels at her calm disposition and the dogs cannot believe their eyes, ears, and nose. The smaller ones always want to touch noses with her, and if they go about it in a smooth and controlled manner, she will allow it. Otherwise, she lies in wait at the end of her leash, and I have to warn the owners that she will get the better of the dog if they get too close. Callie is wickedly fast with her claws and before she rakes the poor dog swiftly over the nose, she will let out a warning shriek that sends most dogs running in a blind panic!

But today we saw a different beast altogether! This afternoon we had several crows following us high up above in the oak trees and they would cackle and crow and make all kinds of clicking noises as they jumped from branch to branch. It was almost like they too could not believe that there was a cat walking on a leash below them. They both peered down at us intently and with keen curiosity, tried dropped acorns on our heads to see just how we would react to the taunting. I looked up at them in return and mimicked their sounds right back at them and that set them off even more. They flapped their wings and cawed even louder and flew off muttering to themselves about the impossibility of a cat walking around on a leash. This caused Callie to drop down into a fake crouch position, but because they were so much bigger than her, there was very little threat in her posture. I think the tables would have been turned if the Crows called her bluff and it would have sent her running in a blind panic.

We are having a lovely time staying at the Monterey Campgrounds again, and Callie has her favorite oak trees that she loves to rub up against. I wonder if every dog that has ever been walked on a leash in the area, has lifted its leg and peed on the trunks of these trees. She gets this weird look on her face and then drops and rolls at the base of the tree in total ecstasy and rubs her back and face along the base of the tree. And if owners neglect to pick up after their dog? Why she goes about burying all the exposed poop with dirt and dried leaves and you can tell that it bothers her that dogs are so sloppy and thoughtless. She is the most fastidious cat I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and can’t stand it when others are dirty and leave a mess!

So Callie and I will ignore the crows that hop from branch to branch and taunt us high up in the oak tree. And I will let them wonder just how it was that I taught a cat to walk on a leash in the first place. It must be a first for these ravens to observe and for most people to witness too, but I believe that Callie has opened the eyes of everyone that sees her out walking to the distinct possibility that their cat too, could walk on a leash!

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Black Crowned Sparrow

Callie and I are sitting outside on the picnic table and our neighbor, the little black crowned sparrow is absolutely outraged that Callie is visiting. He is sitting on top of the right side upper branch of a Sitka Spruce tree and is going to be hoarse at the end of the day if he keeps it up! When we walk, a murder of crows follow us and make sure to escort us out of the area. Callie trots along with pride regardless, and tries not to let the insults bother her. Every where we go, people run up to her and pet her and admire her for walking so well on the leash….

Big Lagoon

When we woke up this morning, we decided to head north up the coast to check out Clam Beach and Big Lagoon at the suggestion of our friend, Fred.

When we managed to drive back over the pot hole filled road to Highway 101 and the Avenue of the Giants, we were dismayed to discover all the damage that was done to the RV by taking it over the horrible road to Albee Creek. Our windshield has separated in the far right corner, the cabinets have come loose from their anchor in the kitchen and the drawers are opening up whenever we turn a corner. We are beginning to think we made a mistake by taking the RV over such a rough road. The hubcap was never found and now we have a few more problems to contend with. It was beautiful in Albee Creek, but putting so much stress on the RV was not worth it. Carrying your house around is a whole different story than driving an off road vehicle across crappy roads.

Clam Beach was an absolute dive and it didn't take long for us to decide to head further north up the coast. We took a chance with Big Lagoon and got the last site available and it is a beautiful location. We walked along the spit in the afternoon and have a private spot #15 in the interior side. The beach front camp sites are more for tent camping.

Callie had another fine walk with birds chasing us down as we went along our merry way. 2 ravens cawed and watched our every move and some kind of tiny wren clicked and chirped and announced to all within hearing distance that their was a cat below walking among the trees.

We may try and stay through the weekend because it gets more stressful trying to find a campground over the weekend, and then again we may not.

The Crow and the Mockingbird

When Michael and I were staying here at Cypress RV Park in April, I watched a man across the street feeding a crow and a seagull. The crow would land on the telephone wire and the seagull chose the post. They would compete for the bread scraps that the man would either throw up in the air or place on top of the fence. They would patiently wait for the man to show up and then would spring into action when he came out of his front door.

We are in a slightly different spot this time, but I looked out and watched the raven being harassed by a pair of mockingbirds. They swooped up and down on the raven’s head, barely missing him as they hissed and screeched loudly. While I was taking photographs of the scene unfolding, the man came out and we talked about the crow. He no longer fed the pair because neighbors complained about all the bird shit piling up on the street and on the cars below. The seagull had given up weeks ago, but the crow held out hope. As I watched, the mockingbirds made the wait a miserable one for him, so he eventually had to fly away in despair.

The latest scientific study, only recently published, confirms that crows are very intelligent and can think and plan ahead for the future. This crow still believes there is a possibility that in the future, the man will change his mind and offer up a slice of bread. He hadn’t foreseen that the mockingbirds would complicate his plans though….

Napili Point-Maui

It will be two weeks tomorrow since we dropped Callie off at Holiday Pet Hotel. It is never easy for me to have her boarded, but there comes a time when I have to go to Maui and Callie would not fit in well here. There is a fairly busy road in front of the condo and the birds that hang out in the front lanai would drive her crazy. So, I get a well deserved break from her and Callie from me. Holiday Pet Hotel is a fabulous facility though, and I recommend it highly to anyone living in the San Diego area that needs to board their pet. 

Napili Point is on the north side of Maui and the complex looks out at Molokai and to the west. Napili is much like Encinitas, California in that it is a sleepy little town that boarders on funky. Napili Point is magical and our condo sits a little away from the ocean but has privacy and a feeling that you are separate from the tourists. This morning we watched the moon set over the water before the sun rose and it was a beautiful sight to behold. 

The flowers in the tropics are like no other and the Red Crested Cardinal, a cheeky little bird, would fly over to beg for tidbits. Maui is renowned for it’s rainbows and I have seen several on this trip alone. We had record rainfall and Maui needs rain just like California. I haven’t minded the rain at all because of living in the desert. How fortunate I am to have two such extreme locations to visit and live in.

We return to Anza Borrego on Friday and I am very excited to see Callie again. Holiday Pet Hotel says she is doing fine and they enjoy her visits with them. I am sure that Callie is making the best of her situation, developing friendships and being a happy, cheerful cat. That is just who Callie is…