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.

Mount Illuminous

Since my dear friend Dolly has fondly named my beautiful foothill behind the house Mount Illuminous, so shall I with fondness. It is an apt name for such an unremarkable pile of purplish rock and stone, that is sprinkled sparingly with sage, some creosote, and the occasional barrel cactus. This insignificant hillside lights up with illuminated rays from the rising sun, and when the sun is parallel to the foothills, glorious color unfolds every morning that puts on quite a display for anyone wishing to watch.

Today there is another storm blowing through with 20 mph winds and big, puffy, ominous clouds that have not produced any rain. A lot of rain has fallen on Los Angeles, and because California so desperately needs rain, I am happy about that. The sunrise was spectacular though and lit up the hillside like a golden torch. I was even able to spot a tiny diffused rainbow nestled in the canyon, and if you look closely at the last few photographs that I have displayed, you will see it too!

It is not a day for biking or even hiking because the winds are blowing so hard, but it is a day for staying indoors and reading and writing and tucking oneself in under a quilt made by my late mother. A cup of hot chai tea sounds wonderful too! Callie was able to get in one quick roll in the sand before the wind drove her back inside too.

Death Valley National Park

I am not sure what I expected when we decided to visit Death Valley because the campsites at Valley of Fire were all full, but I can honestly tell you, it was better than my wildest imagination.

Death Valley has the honor of being the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America. It is an endorheic basin, which means that the rivers that flow in the valley do not head out to sea. It is part of the Mojave Desert and is famous for its unusual geographical features. There are sand dunes, salt flats, craters, and hardy stalk-like plants called Devil’s Corn Stacks.

This arid desert valley was once covered by a very large lake named Lake Manly that has since dried up. When the water evaporated, it left behind large deposits of minerals and salts that were once harvested by mules. Harmony Borax and the 20 mule team rigs that hauled the salts out of the valley that is used for washing clothes, was a well-known product when I was growing up in the 50’s.

We camped at the Furnace Creek Campground and had site number 66 and 70 which had a lot of privacy and a good view of the Panamint Mountains with white snow dusting the largest peak in the distance. It was dry camping and our auxiliary battery kept dying and our propane was low, so note to self, always fill up with propane before dry camping. I ended up having to get up at 4 am the last morning we were there because the refrigerator needed at least a charged battery or propane to continue cooling our food, and an alarm went off warning us that we were about to run out of both propane and the use of our battery. I turned the motor on and sent out a silent prayer that we weren’t causing our neighbors to lose sleep over the noise; the generator wouldn’t even turn over. I was able to get enough juice stored in the auxiliary battery after about 20 minutes of idling, and turned everything back off until 7 am when generators could be turned on once again.

The four of us spent 5 days and 4 nights at Furnace Creek and went exploring every day with our daughter’s car. My only complaint with RVing is that once we set up camp, we either have to walk or bike to wherever we want to explore. We had so much more freedom with a car. Towing a small car may have to be a necessity in the future.

On our first day, we went to Badwater and walked around the salt flats. It consists of mostly plain, white table salt, and was such a trip to look at. From a distance, it appears like snow, but up close, you can see the sodium crystals forming on the surface. On the return drive, we drove through Artist’s Palette Canyon but the lighting was too poor for a decent photograph. The colors were so spectacular with turquoise and rose and yellow ochre tints, that were layered inside golden sandstone. My photographs did not do it justice.

The Harmony Borax site was unsettling to look at because I just know the mules were worked to death and the Chinese workers that mined the salts were only paid a pittance and their wages were deducted for the cost of board and food. The Ubehebe Crater was extraordinary though, and looked like something on the moon and is only 2,000 years old. We hiked up to the crater’s first lookout and it was breathtaking! You pass the sign for the Race Track on your way to the Crater that is famous for the heavy rocks that slide along the ground of their own accord, but it was not reachable because we didn’t have 4 wheel drive. Multiple flat tires are common and there is no cell phone service available. The cost of being towed out can exceed $2,000! We tried to off-road to Darwin’s Falls, but that too became problematic because the car is so low to the ground and Lara and myself were sure that we were going to break down. A guy coming back from the falls convinced us to turn around and Michael reluctantly did so. The falls weren’t flowing strong anyway, so we didn’t miss out on too much!

We visited the Mesquite Sand Dunes, rode bikes and the last day I took photographs of Zabriskie’s Point at sunset. That was incredible and this time the lighting was perfect and I took multiple shots of the magnificent geological rocks that take your breath away.

Camping at Furnace Creek and exploring the Visitor Center was so much fun. Callie loved it too and started to feel better once she unthawed from her stay at Zion. She had the sniffles and kept sneezing the whole time we were in Utah. I wasn’t sure if it was allergies or a cold. Her respiratory system has been so compromised ever since she had that terrible bout of coughing that went on for over 4 months last winter.

I drove the RV all the way back from Death Valley to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park myself, and it handled so well. I am rather proud of doing such a good job. Michael has accidentally gone over railroad tracks in the very beginning just a little too fast, and we have had multiple flat tires and one time it separated the kitchen cabinets from the wall. The RV is a house on wheels and needs to be driven ever so gingerly. I had no mishaps on the way home. We did spot a very tame and curious coyote on the drive back and it came right up to the RV and checked Callie out. She actually growled at it so I am relieved to see that she knows the difference between a dog and a coyote. She loves dogs!

It feels good to be back in a house after 2 weeks on the road, and Callie is relishing having more room to run around in. She climbed up all three of her olive trees this morning and took a shot at the CD cabinet in the living room. All is well and another trip will be planned soon.

Agua Caliente Regional Park

In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza was the first European to pass through what is now called-Agua Caliente. Kumeyaay Indians had known of the thermal springs and abundant water source long before the explorers, and in more recent times, prospectors, soldiers, and pioneers benefited from this unique desert oasis.

The water source supports plant and animal both and as you hike the numerous trails, you will see mesquite, willow, Washington Palms, catclaw and acacia. Bighorn sheep, mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes make this area their home along with a variety of birds that depend on the life-giving water.

Agua Caliente spans 910 acres and has over 140 campsites with full or partial hookups along with tent camping. There is a caravan area that can accommodate large parties and multiple picnic areas for day use. At this time, there is no phone or internet service and this adds to the overall sense that you are out in nature and away from the trials and tribulations of politics and world news.

There are 3 naturally fed pools and the indoor pool does not allow children so that you can soak your weary bones without worrying about being splashed and the noise level is kept to a low whisper. It is not unusual to see people soaking in the hot water and periodically dozing off. It is very relaxing and soothing to the joints.

The campground is located in the Anza- Borrego Desert, about 100 miles east of San Diego, California. The seismic activity shaped the Tierra Blanca Mountains and created the spur of the Elsinore Fault that runs underneath the park. While hiking the Moonlight Canyon Trail, you will notice vertical layering of decomposed granite that use to rest horizontally. It is a little unnerving seeing what vertical thrust can do to a flat service.

Michael and I biked both the Marsh Trail and Moonlight Canyon Trail. Neither hike was strenuous and well worth it. Both trails take you to the natural springs where you see the Washington Palms and acacia and desert willow flourish.

We are parked on site 100 which looks west and has a spectacular view. Sites- 64, 68, and 67 are coveted view sites and it is ironic that our first time we visited Agua Caliente, we were able to nab 64. When we asked this time whether we could have it and didn’t have a reservation, the ranger laughed. I think 99, 98 and 97 are great locations too. We are farthest away from the pool, and some campers may want to be closer, but I cherish the peace and quiet and a view of the sunrise and sunset.

Bike Riding in Morro Bay

Bike riding in Morro Bay is one of my favorite things to do. Even Lara joined us on a ride to Caucus to look out over the RV Park that we stayed in at the beginning of our road trip a month ago. It is rather fitting that we end our trip precisely where we began. The trail starts out at Morro Bay Rock and extends all the way to Caucus by going through the local high school and along the neighborhood above Morro Strand State Beach. You then follow the west side of Highway 101 and through an upscale row of about 14 houses to get to another look-out where benches are waiting for you to sit on and admire the view.

When we headed back to Morro Rock, I watched an osprey eating a fish on a lamppost and listened to its piercing cry as it looked down over all of us below. He was a magnificent raptor and seemed totally relaxed around urban sprawl. When I lived in Encinitas, I watched a pair of osprey’s raise young successfully and they too had learned to eat their fish on telephone poles. That will be the future for some of these birds if they are going to succeed and raise young. Humans have made it their desired destination to live by the water and fish hunting birds will have to adapt if they are going to survive as a species.

We also watched the otters nursing their pups in the bay and I marvel at what good mother’s they are. As soon as a pup falls asleep and let’s go, the mother jostles it awake and demands that it held on tighter. Last summer while I watched the otters, one pup floated away and when the mother realized how far her pup had separated from her, she swam over and angrily shook it and bit it gently. The pup woke up startled and disoriented because it was half asleep and the poor thing wasn’t sure what was going on. She dragged it back to the safety of the group and then nursed it lovingly while making soft reassuring purrs. Fortunately, otters too seem to be making a comeback.

I love Morro Bay for the balance it seems to have achieved and for the cooperation, it maintains for both wildlife and for people so that they can live together, side by side, and for the most part, harmoniously. Because of this, Morro Bay is one of my favorite places to hang out in, and I hope to come back again soon.

We are staying here until tomorrow so that Callie can recover from her bronchitis and we are convinced that recovery is on the way. Her cough was terrible last night but seems much better today. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I also bought Callie a pair of biking sunglasses at the humane society thrift store and am going to laugh if she accepts wearing them the next time I put her in the bike basket for a bike ride!

A Rest Stop in Morro Bay

It feels wonderful to be parked at Cypress RV Park in Morro Bay after a month of being on the road with our grown up daughter and darling cat- Callie. We can look west to the rock and smoke stakes and can see a peak of the sunset if you dodge the buildings across the street. I saw the gentleman who fed the seagull and raven over the summer and we stopped by at Coast Veterinary to pick up an antibiotic and steroid for Callie.

Callie developed bronchitis last summer and it took 4 months for her to be properly diagnosed and treated and Dr. Stephens in Morro Bay was the one to finally get her well. Callie made it up to BC Canada and sailed on my brother’s catamaran called: El Fresca while enjoying a 7-week trip featuring one fantastic adventure after another. She has managed to stay well up until the fires in Santa Rosa, and the smoke became too much for her and she relapsed. We started her on the meds this evening, so I am hoping she will feel better by tomorrow. She is coughing and wheezing and feeling quite crummy, poor little thing.

We will stay here until we see that her health is improving and feel that it is safe to continue south to Anza Borrego Desert State Park where we live. If she doesn’t show improvement, we will take her back in to see the doctor.

But for now, it will be so nice to relax and bike, walk and rest in this idyllic beach town near San Luis Obispo, California.

*Callie is showing signs of improvement this morning.

Callie’s Awesome Catwalks!

When I first started Callie out on the leash and halter, she would always stop, drop and refuse to go forward. It took a little getting use to, but once she realized she would be able to explore new places and have me around to protect her, she picked it up with ease. Callie now goes on a minimum of 2 walks a day, at 30 minutes per walk. My daughter is helping me out too and taking her for a walk every once in awhile. When Michael walks her, she pulls out of the harness and makes a run for it.*She treats Michael with just a touch of disrespect. When he is resting on the sofa, she runs right over him. We are working on that little habit of hers. She also shouts at Michael as if he is hard of hearing. Such a funny little cat she is.

*Cats can pull out of the harness by going backward and tucking their elbows and shoulders in. If they start to pull backward, let go of the leash and don’t create resistance. Speak calmly and try to relax your cat enough to continue moving forward.

Fisherman’s Wharf

My daughter and I walked to Fisherman’s Wharf this afternoon from the fairgrounds- which is around 2.5 miles one way and meandered around the silly, touristy, trinket shops before deciding that we were in need of sustenance and decided that The Old Fisherman’s Grotto fit the bill.

We have seated right away, on a Sunday afternoon, and had a window seat overlooking the west side of the bay. We watched kayakers taking lessons on how to roll completely under water and back up again, with pelicans, seals, and jellyfish bobbing in the calm, blue, water. It was a lovely, cloudless day, and the temperature was only 67 degrees. I am still appreciative of the cooler days after having lived in the desert this past year and a half. Green is now my favorite color and I prefer anything to 110 degrees.

After we sat down, the waiter brought us delicious sourdough bread and water and we ordered lemon, chicken piccata, a poached pear salad and we shared a bowl of clam chowder. The food and ambiance were delightful and we had a fabulous time.

I decided to take home more clam chowder soup for Michael, my husband because it was so delicious. They stuffed half a loaf of bread in a bag for me too and I lugged it all the back to the RV and to the fairgrounds. I was pretty tired when I finally made it home! Nothing like working off a good lunch with a long, walk afterward.

When we headed out this early afternoon, one of the F-14 Fighter Jets took off and 3 car alarms on the street started wailing simultaneously and on the return trip, a jet roared past us and then headed straight up vertically into the sky while twisting round and round like a rocket ship! What a show of technology and power! They are also really, really loud. It has scared Callie every time they have taken off. I won’t miss all of the noise!

Callie spent a lovely day resting in the RV after watching the sunrise from the sofa and taking a nice, long walk with me. Her walks on the leash have improved daily and the fairgrounds have been a perfect place for her to explore all the horse stables and climb the oak trees. We are leaving tomorrow for Mariposa and will head to Mammoth Lakes next. Monterey has been a great place to park for one whole week.

Willapa Bay

Willapa Bay is fairly shallow and the second largest estuary in the United States. It has 260 square miles of the water surface in the intertidal range. In fact, half of the water enters and leaves the bay every day. Michael and I walked along the shoreline several times and two days ago we watched the tide creep back in at a very slow pace. The water glitters with reflective light and gently fills the bay back in, like molten mercury, one small puddle at a time.

We are staying at the Bay Center KOA until tomorrow morning and then we are going to drive to Port Angeles and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island. Callie is going to Canada! We have her paperwork in order and her health has returned and her cough is gone. My brother and sister in law live on a houseboat, so I am not sure what the living arrangements will be when we get to their place outside Duncan Bay. It will certainly be an adventure though! Maybe Callie will even go sailing on my brother’s catamaran. We shall see!

Callie had a lovely day of practicing her hunting skills chasing after bugs. The temperature is a fabulous 75 and the sun is out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky…

Tillamook, OR

Yesterday was a rather long and tiresome day trying to find a campsite. Our luck held out until Friday. Friday's are not a good day for searching for a campsite at the state parks. There are too many people enjoying the awesome Oregon weather and the road weary must either go inland or find a private RV Park.

We finally found one in Tillamook, OR and I won't name the place because of an interesting thing that happened when checking in. Our host burst into tears when she saw Callie happily sitting on the dash and came up to the RV, and while stroking Callie's ear, confided in us that she had just come back from visiting her sick and aging cat at a sanctuary. She couldn't afford the vet bills that had piled up because of a diagnosis of glaucoma and was forced to give her up in order for her cat to receive medical care. It reminds me of the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT or as the Republican Party would like to disparagingly call it- OBAMA CARE! I believe that health care is a right and society would benefit with people staying well and thriving with good health. It should not be a profit motivating system!

Well, Callie helped her feel better because she loves to be petted and we shared stories and photographs and told her that she was doing the right thing. The host has two other cats, one of which greeted Michael and that surprised the host because the cat is usually super shy.

So, here we are in Tillamook and will leave this morning. Callie received one more dose of antibiotic with dignity and has two more days to go. The chicken flavored compound is the way to go. I have also learned to keep her wrapped up really tight, with her head back, and I tickle her chin and open her mouth up for about 10 minutes afterwards so she doesn't froth and drool on everything. It has been traumatic to say the least to be administering antibiotics for 4 months. She is definitely on the mend though! We had a nice long walk and she managed to walk out to a boat launching dock as if she owned the place!

Excited about today and can't wait to get on the road. I am also going to track down some ice cream while I am here!