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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oso Flaco Lake

Yesterday was another nice day, partly cloudy but mostly very nice.  We took a drive to Guadalupe which is about 25 miles south of here. 

First thing we did on the way down was to stop by the local state ranger station and buy a “limited Golden Bear” Pass.  This pass costs $10 and allows your vehicle into any state recreation area.  So as long as there are no individual fees, you can get in free.  The pass is for a calendar year and you must be 62 years old to get one.  Interestingly enough, you do not need to be a resident of California to qualify.

On the way to Guadalupe, we stopped at Oso Flaco Lake and state park.  (For you NFL fans, the lake is not named after the Baltimore Ravens QB!)

At the park, there is a one mile trail out to the beach across the lake and out to the sand dunes.


The trail is on a boardwalk most of the way and is an easy walk.


Above is a view of the lake.  It is not large and does not allow any human use other than fishing.  There are plenty of birds in this area as I guess they are drawn to the lake.


When you come to the end of the trail you can either go down to the beach or go to a viewing point overlooking the beach.

360 degree view from beach at Oso Flaco

The above video shows the view overlooking the beach at the park.

We then went to the library in Guadalupe and then came home.

For dinner last night, we again visited Splash Café, our favorite haunt in town.

Today I played another 9 holes of golf at the local course.  While I  was walking out to the first hole, the wind really came up suddenly.  It was blowing about 35 mph and almost blew my visor off.  I played very consistently for a change and shot bogey golf on all holes.  The wind only lasted for the first 4 holes and it went down about as suddenly as it came up.  I had fun allowing for the wind on my tee shots and for the most part, did pretty well with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great weather = Good exercise & Acrobats

We have had some really great weather of late.  On Friday, it was clear & sunny, though a bit breezy.  From what I can tell, Southern California was enduring the Santa Ana winds.  Here the winds were nowhere that strong but still a steady breeze from the east.  I decided to go play golf late Friday morning.

I ended up paired with a guy named Owen.  He lives at Shell Beach now, but previously lived in Alaska, Los Angeles, and Sacramento before coming here to retire.  We had a good time with each other as we were playing at the same level.  I actually played really poorly compared to my normal game.  Only had 1 really good shot – a chip to 2 inches from the hole from a distance of about 30 yards.  Some shots were really sad including a shot that had great contact and distance, but hooked sharply left out of bounds and deep into the sand dunes in the state park.  Yuk.  But there is always next week!

Saturday we started out on an 8 mile bile ride around Arroyo Grande  & Grover Beach.  We parked at the Soto Sports Complex and rode around the neighborhoods.  Some of the streets in Grover Beach were very rough and really need to be resurfaced.  Guess their budget must be tight.

After that we went to lunch at Jack In The Box and then to the Farmer’s Fair in Arroyo Grande. Carol bought some strawberries, oranges and tangerines.  Then we came back and sat outside in the sun reading for a couple of hours.  Really enjoyed the relaxation.

Today we did a 14 mile bike ride – that’s the most we have done in quite some time.  We rode down to the golf course and through the camp grounds at two state parks.  Went as far as Oceano Beach, and then rode through a mobile home park and all around our RV park to get the mileage in.  It was another great day and the ride was very enjoyable.

After lunch, we sat outside again reading and soaking up rays.

*************************************************I I mentioned in an earlier post that we had gone to see the Peking Acrobats.  We first saw them at SeaWorld in San Diego during a program they called “Summer Nights.”  This was various outdoor entertainment acts on different nights in their outdoor pavilion, now remodeled into something else.  Anyway, I believe this was the inaugural year for the Peking Acrobats (1986) and we really enjoyed the program.

Fast forward 26 years and we get a chance to see them again.  And they were every bit as good as they were in 1986!  They are a troupe of about 40 or so acrobats and I’m sure a large support staff.  They do all kinds of acrobatic tricks using swings, poles, chairs, umbrellas, etc.  Even some tricky juggling and balancing acts on stacks of chairs and bicycles.  If you ever get  a chance to see a performance, I think you will find that it is well worth the money!

You can see a preview of their act on three vertical poles by clicking here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

“Sealed” with a ???????

Yesterday we went for a short walk around the park and last night we went to see the Peking Acrobats.  I’m going to make a special post about that soon, so stay tuned for it.

Meanwhile, today dawned nice and clear and there wasn’t all that much wind.  We decided to go up Highway 1 about 60 miles to view the Elephant Seals.  These seals have picked this 10 mile or so span of the California coast to live year around.  The females get up to about 1,600 pounds while the males can exceed 5,000!  (I’m guessing they drink a lot of beer!)  Anyway, as you can see below, they are huge!


They just come out of the water and lounge about the beach. 


There is a nice viewing area with good parking and a boardwalk where you can go along the top of the cliff and look down at them.


Mostly they just lay about on the beach and use their flippers to flip sand up on their back.  This keeps the sun off of them.


They make lots of noise and often you see two or three of them getting in each other’s face.  During mating season, the males will do it to secure females for breeding but the females apparently do it to guard their territory and offspring.


The males are not only large, but they have this huge “Jimmy Durante” Schnozolla while the females look more normal (see picture above this one to compare).


This gives you some idea how heavily the beach is populated with the seals!


Off shore there is this huge rock and when the waves hit it just right (about every 4-5 minutes today) there is quite a bit of spray thrown up.  From another angle, we could see that the face of this rock that faces the ocean is vertical and flat.

After the seals we backtracked 3 miles to a state park to have lunch.  Then we headed up Hwy 1 towards Big Sur.  You can’t go all the way because the road is totally closed about 34 miles up from the seals.  After about 12 miles, you get to where the road is full of tight turns and your speed is about 20 mph tops.  It would not be fun to take our RV there, though I hear many have done so.  After about 10 miles of twists and turns, we go to a spot where the road was under construction and limited to 1 lane. We turned back at that point and went back past Hearst Castle.


This is a picture from Hwy 1, about 2.5 miles away of the castle.  It was actually built to be his house. 


We also saw some kite surfers but they had just landed when we arrived.


After leaving the San Simeon area, we headed south to Cambria.  As you enter the area from the north, there are some state beaches you can visit along the way.  The one above has picnic tables on the grassy point overlooking the ocean.


Then we went to Main Street and decided to walk up and down both sides to check the town out.  On the west side we came across many empty stores, but hardly any on the east side.  Not sure why that is.  The walk was short, maybe a mile altogether.  We did see a few interesting signs….


The actual plaque reads “Nitt Witt Ridge, one of California's remarkable twentieth-century folk-art environments, is the creation of Arthur Harold Beal (Der Tinkerpaw, or Capt. Nitt Witt), a Cambria Pines pioneer who sculpted the land using hand tools and indigenous materials, remarkable inventiveness and self-taught skills. A blend of native materials and contemporary elements, impressive in its sheer mass and meticulous placement, it is a revealing memorial to Art's unique cosmic humor and zest for life.”

Came across this sign on a building in town.  I would add that the same could be said for  1/26/2012.

We also managed to quickly spot some Zebras as we were driving down the road near Cambria.  We didn’t get a chance to stop for pictures, so you will just have to take our word for it that they were there!  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Yellow Press Strikes Again!

This morning, our friend Sandy called from Vancouver, WA to let us know that there was an article in the paper that my friend Kevin was in a serious traffic accident.  The paper indicated that his car slid on the ice and knocked down a telephone pole.  They didn’t have is condition at press time even though they called the local hospitals.

Since Kevin is a fellow football official, I sent out a web item to our members so they could keep him in their thoughts and prayers.

About an hour after posting the item, Kevin called me and said the article was way overblown.  Yes he did have an accident and yes, he did knock down a telephone pole, but his truck was drivable and the reason they newspaper couldn’t locate his hospital is because he went to work!  So he was fine and other than some damage to his truck, all is well.   So much for the accuracy of the press!

We went for a nice long walk today into town.  We went for about 70 minutes and it included some hills too.  So it was good exercise on a nice sunny day!

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On the walk, we came to this 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house for sale.  I was amazed at the price of $545,000.  I wonder what it went for before the recession.

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Also came across this interesting sign.

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Above is a picture from the north side of town showing the cliffs along the water’s edge toward Shell Beach.

After the walk, Carol made up some lunches and we went over to Shell Beach and parked alongside the cliff overlooking the water.  We listened to a sermon on Nehemiah by Art Azurdia, the pastor of Trinity Church in Portland.  Carol can get these from the online podcasts.

Here are some charts from my friend Doug that show some simple life truths…….





And last but not least, a cartoon that is really a sign of the times…..


Monday, January 23, 2012

When the Sky Opened Up

Yesterday we went for a 10 mile bike ride in the morning.  It felt good to get back on the bike and we really enjoyed the warming of the sunshine.  In fact, when we rode into shade it really became cold.  Fortunately, there was plenty of sun.

Then we watched the two NFL games which I totally called backwards.  Baltimore missed a rushed field goal and that ended their season.  And San Francisco had two key turnovers that sent them home.  So the super bowl where the two head coaches are brothers will have to wait for another year.

Only one (real) football game left.  Meanwhile, I will start getting ready for the semi-pro season to officiate.  It will start late March and run into July.  I was notified today that I have been selected to be on a state-wide committee (9 of us) to write the officials mechanics manual for Washington.  (Mechanics has to do with what we do on field and how we cover plays).  It will be a fun challenge.

During the night last night it really poured!  I think it was around 3am or so, but the heavy rain seemed to last for over 30 minutes.  Some good wind gusts of 30mph or so too.

This morning we woke up to a gentle rain shower.  The showers continued on and off again all morning but it has been dry since about noon and now the sky is clearing.  The days ahead include clear skies and temps going into the 70s. 

We really didn’t do much today other than go to the store and to In & Out Burger for lunch.  We don’t have In & Out up where we live so we have to visit it once while we are here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Catching up on things

This post is a bit overdue as the last one was posted on Wednesday and I am trying to do them at least every 2 days.  On Thursday, I went ahead and got new batteries for my Hilltopper.  I did Carol’s right after we arrived here and decided to go ahead and replace mine too. 

It is a fairly easy process.  You have to take the batteries out of their custom sewn wrapper, disconnect the power switch and the rectifier, then disconnect the batteries.  The originals were soldered in so I had to clip those connections.  Instead of soldering the new ones in, I used spade connectors so that future replacements will be even easier.  Then you just hook up the 4 connections, use duct tape to secure the two batteries to each other and the rectifier and replace it all in the wrapper.  All in all, it took about 45 minutes.  Next time I would bet I will only need 20 minutes to do it as I won’t need to solder/de-solder anything.

A quick test showed that the new battery has about twice the initial power of the old one and that it holds it much longer.  The new batteries have about 20% more amp-hours than the old so that should be good too.

After lunch I played 9 holes of golf at the nearby course.  This round was a model of inconsistency.  The shots were either very poor (two shanks, one in the water, one lost left) or very good (one a foot from the pin, another 4 inches from the pin – made both birds, three long 10 foot or more putts).  On average, an OK round, but shots spread all over the place.  Oh well.  Got 6 more weeks till Pebble Beach, so I had better practice more.

Thursday night it was supposed to rain, but really didn’t.  It got cloudy and that was about it.

Friday we took a nice walk into town and then along the beach.  Really had a fairly quiet day.

Last night the rain finally came.  It was very gentle all evening until about 3 in the morning when we had a heavy shower that really dumped some water on us.  But by morning, the rain showers had stopped and we were back to just cloudy weather with a hint of the sun. 

We took our lunch to shell beach to sit on the cliff overlooking the rocks and beach.  It was too cold to just sit outside so we stayed and ate in the car.

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Looking out over the rocks at Shell Beach

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Looking along the cliffs at Shell Beach

While we waited and read books, a truck pulled up in front of us and three guys and two girls got out.  From the back of the truck, the guys grabbed their golf clubs and took the stairs down the cliff to the beach.  After they went down, I walked over to the overhang to see what they were really up to.  They were teeing up balls and hitting them into the ocean.

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They weren’t very good golfers as the miss-hit several of the shots I watched from above.

We’ve been here a little over two weeks of our planned 9 week stay.  Things are going very well and we are really enjoying it.

Things still to do….

  • get on Skype to see granddaughter and her parents
  • Try the Pilot Edge flying simulation from here on my laptop
  • Drive up Hwy 1 and visit the seals
  • Play more golf!!!

There are really no items on my RV repair list at the moment which is really great!  Everything appears to be working well and we feel really at home here.

I’m picking the 49ers and Ravens tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Golf or Not to Golf, that was the Question

Last night was fairly cold here though the day is very sunny.  Highs into the mid 60’s but last night’s low was 36.  Rain coming this weekend with warmer temps too.  Much better that what is happening at home up in Vancouver, WA.  (snow & cold)

I went to the golf course today but couldn’t get on because they had a men’s club tournament that had to start late due to the cold temps.  So I came home and Carol and I went for an 8 mile bike ride.

We rode around our RV park and the adjacent state park.  It was cool in the shade but very pleasant in the sun.  While on the ride, we came across an interesting little car……

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I guess that is a new type of hybrid.  What kind of mileage do you think it gets?  Also wonder how often the crankshaft needs replacing???

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Santa Maria or Bust!

OK, we choose bust.  I’ll explain in a minute.

Yesterday, MLK Day, is interesting….I can’t remember what we did!  I remember some things….we had leftovers for dinner, I worked on cleaning my tow bar (more about that later), but why can’t I remember what we did for exercise???  I think retirement must be getting to me.

Let’s see…I know I didn’t play golf, I know we didn’t ride bikes.  And I know whatever it was, I did it with Carol.  I give up, and I will ask Carol….

Oh, good.  It took her a minute to remember too.  Maybe I’m off the hook.  Anyway, what we did was to play 30 minutes or so of Pickle Ball.  Pickle Ball is played with large wooden paddles, about 2.5 times the size of a ping pong paddle and plastic balls about the size of a softball.  You use a net like a tennis court and hit the ball back and forth across the net.  The official pickle ball courts are about half the size of a tennis court in each direction.  We used a tennis court at a local park and just rallied back and forth, not keeping score.  There are actually official pickle ball courts in some places like St. George, UT, but not around here.  So we made do with what was available.

After lunch, I went to work on cleaning our towing equipment.  Some of the metal parts had gathered rust and the locking pins were getting stuck.  I bought some black Rustoleum paint, some Corrosion X lubricant to clean the metal, some Brillo pads to clean rust and a wire brush to get the majority of it.  It took about an hour all told and then I spray painted the black parts to look really good. Hopefully it will hold up over time.

Today we drove to Santa Maria again.  Carol wanted to go to Wal-Mart to get some thread, then to the library there to get the next few books in the series she is reading.  After that we went to Costco to get some of their hot dogs for a quick lunch and then to go on a bike ride.

Carol had scouted out a loop trail for us to ride, but it was along some fairly major roads and significant parts of the ride would not have been in bike lanes.  So we tried to find a local park and just use it as a base to explore neighborhoods.  We checked out three parks but none of the areas looked real appealing, so Santa Maria was a bust and we came back to Pismo Beach.

Here we rode around the RV park and the adjacent state park next door for a 6 mile ride.  During the ride, Carol’s Hilltopper became stuck in the on position and would not shutoff.  So that limited our ride plus the wind stared getting fairly strong.  During the ride, I heard a loud airplane noise like a biplane would make and noticed several park residents looking up into the sky.  I stopped and looked up and saw this blimp cruising by.  It was about 25% of the size of a Goodyear blimp.  No idea where it came from or where it was going.

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It got away before I could get my phone ready to take a picture so it appears farther away than it really was.

When we returned, I went to work trying to figure out the problem with Carol’s bike.  It seemed that the dead man on-off switch was stuck.  But when I put my meter on it, it worked fine.  So the short had to be somewhere else.  I finally found some corrosion in the cable connector and used to contact cleaner to clear that out.  Then took it for a test ride and didn’t have any more problem with it.  Hopefully that is fixed.

Tomorrow, I hope to play golf if the wind dies down.  Our temps have been in the low to mid 60s the past couple of days and last night and tonight the low is in the mid 30s.  But tomorrow it should warm up again and our lows will be in the mid 40s.  However the weekend our forecast is for some rain.  We will see if that develops.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Walk Not in the Park

Yesterday and today I planned to watch the NFL playoff games which I did do.  But first, we took a trip up to Santa Maria.  The first destination on that trip was to a quilt shop that we never found.  It was supposed to be a few miles out of town.  The GPS said to get off at exit 264 but right after exit 265, there was no exit 264.  Instead we had to go to 260 to get turned around!  We were already way out of our way out in the country and just decided to skip that destination all together.

Then we went to the Santa Maria Library which Carol wrote about in her blog today.  Check it out at

We also visited the library in Nipomo.  At both libraries, Carol had located different books in a series she was reading.

After returning, we got our exercise by walking all the streets here at Pismo Coast Village (PCV to us locals).  That took almost an hour but was really enjoyable in the short sleeve and shorts weather.

Then I got into watching the games that I had recorded on the DVR.  My 49ers did a great job and now get to host the Giants next week.

Today, I woke up early and went to the PCV store to get two fresh cinnamon rolls.  Each day they bring in a few rolls from a local bakery and resell them.  Last year we made it a tradition to have them every Sunday and we have continued that this year. So I got up at 7am when the store opens to get ours.  I’m glad I did….after I bought our two, there were only two left --- and the store had only been open 5 minutes.

The park is pretty full for the three day weekend, so I thought there might be a run on the rolls.

After watching the first game, we went for a beach walk of just under an hour.  I did manage to get some pictures to share.

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The above picture is from the beach looking towards the town of Shell Beach.

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This picture shows the wide beach along the water’s edge.

Today was another warm day with some clouds moving in late in the day.  We may get some stormy weather late in the coming weak.  At home in Vancouver, WA, it was supposed to be snowing with a snow/ice mixture for the next few days.  All in all, much nicer here!

Since the Giants won, it makes 3-1 as a football predictor.  I don’t mind the 1 I got wrong because that means the 49ers get another home game.  And even with the stormy weather prediction they have in San Francisco late in the week, I’d rather be in SF than Green Bay.  Go Niners!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Day, Another Bike Ride

Last night I was supposed to be on a conference call to a referee’s board meeting.  But there was no phone where they met so that didn’t happen.  So I had the night off and watched TV with Carol.

This morning, I spoke with our president and got brought up to date on what happened.  For the next meeting, they are going to meet where there is a speakerphone and we will see how that goes.

Today we went for a bike ride on the Bob Jones trail from the 101 highway to Avila Beach.  The round trip distance is a bit over 6 miles but even though the net altitude gain/loss isn’t much, the ride is grueling because there are some small but steep hills and an upward grade the whole way back.

After that we drove down to Avila Beach and had lunch at the Custom House Restaurant.  It is right on the beach and we sat outside and enjoyed the great weather.

Tomorrow the NFL playoffs resume.  I am predicting that SF, New England, Green Bay and Baltimore will win.

Here is a cute cartoon…..(double click to enlarge it)


Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Animal, you!

Yesterday Carol wasn’t feeling so good, so we took the morning off.  I worked on getting our second DVR connected to the Jack antenna system so that I could record this week’s NFL playoffs on it.  That went really well.  All I needed was a splitter and short cable and it worked right away.  It is an older DVR so the actual setup was a bit screwy, but now I know what to do, we should be good to go wherever.

In the afternoon we did a local 8 mile bike ride.  Wanted to stay close to the RV in case Carol started feeling worse, but she came through the ride just fine.  For dinner, we went over to Arroyo Grande and visited the Applebee’s there.

Today we had the RV washed, waxed, and detailed.  It needs it every year and I had seen a crew working in the park on other rigs.  So after talking with their owners, I decided to have ours done today.  The crew started at 10:15 and finished at 4:30, so it was pretty much an all day job.

We could not stay in the RV while the work was going on, so we decided to go check out Paso Robles and Atascadero. 

Paso Robles is about 40 miles north of Pismo on highway 101.  We went into the downtown area to see what it was like.  Both of us though just didn’t care for the town.  It is OK I suppose, but for whatever reason, we didn’t get a good vibe from it.  We even visited a quilt store, but that didn’t help and the second one we wen to apparently was out of business.  I just can’t figure out why the town was even built.  Maybe it was a farming town.

In the afternoon, we went to Atascadero.  This area seemed to be more to our liking.  We visited the Charles Paddock zoo and lake Atascadero.

The zoo is a small zoo, maybe only 25 major exhibits and another 20 or so of reptiles, bugs, and small critters.  It would be a great zoo though for little kids because it doesn’t take too long and they wouldn’t get too tired.  Was great for us for the same reason!  When we went to go in, the cashier was at lunch so we went in figuring we’d catch her on the way out.  Well, on the way out, she wasn’t there either so we went over to the lake and checked it out.

I think you can walk around the lake but we didn’t have time today.  Looks like about a mile and a half walk so we will save that for another day.

Here are some of the zoo animals. 


OK, so on the last picture above, there are actually 2 animals, but only one is in the zoo’s collection!

We got back to a nice and shiny RV.  I will probably plan to have the washing & waxing done every year.  They also check the roof and caulking to make sure all is well, and that should be done once a year for sure!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bad Jack now Good Jack!

My Digital TV (DTV) signal meter arrived today – it was a day earlier than expected.   So I was able to use it to help me get my over the air TV signals.  I can use the meter not only to align the Jack antenna, but also as the connection point for the cables.  Once I got my splitter out of the system and the meter in to replace it, nice things started happening.  For starters, we now get all network stations including 2 from Santa Barbara which is 120 miles away.  That’s impressive!

On the down side, I can’t seem to get any PBS station.  Carol has a program she wanted to record and there is no PBS station in the area.  I found that hard to believe, so I looked up PBS stations on line.  There is one in San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, San Bernardo, and Watsonville!  Nothing else near here.   That really amazes me.  I thought PBS was all over the place.

Anyway, the Jack Antenna when properly connected and aimed really can pull in some distant stations and get them very clear.  It is well worth the cost!

After lunch, I went and played golf at a local course.  Shot a 9 over par which isn’t too bad at all.  Have to get my game in shape for Pebble Beach in March. 

Then Carol and I went to the local library in Grover Beach to see about getting library cards.  It is a very small library as you can see in the picture below.

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The library is totally run by volunteers and all books are donated!  Checkouts are done the old fashioned way with a pocket card in the book and a date stamp telling you when to return them.  Nothing electronic here and no way to do holds.  Given that all books are donated, I was surprised to see that they had many of the books that I like!  We had no problem getting a card and the librarian was very talkative.

Our weather is changing slightly with some high thin clouds moving in tonight.  Temps will be cooler, but no rain in the forecast.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today to Morro

We went to Morro Bay today.  But before we left, my new Jack Antenna came and so I installed it up on the roof.  It was an extremely simple install – took maybe 15 minutes at most and only needed a screw driver and needle nose pliers.  That’s the good news---the bad news is that it really didn’t get us any more stations.  We get NBC really clear and some other odd-ball CW channel, but nothing else.  We must be in some kind of a dead zone.

So after that, we headed out to Morro Bay stopping first at the battery store so I could explore the Lithium-Ion battery option mentioned previously.  Well good news is that it will work for twice the length of time and half the weight.  Bad news is that it is about 4 times the cost.  So there is really no compelling reason to make the switch until prices come down someday.

We had lunch at Harbor Hut’s little outside location called Lil’ Hut.  From there you have a decent view of the bay.  We went for a nice walk after lunch up and down the shops along the beach and I got some good pictures.


Surfboard rental shop


A guy “paddling” a surfboard – or a paddleboard.

This is actually really something to see.  You can take a normal surfboard, stand up on it (OK, you can, I can’t) and use an oar to paddle it around.  You see this all over the area including out in the surf!  To see a demo of this “sport,” click here.


Just a fraction of the boats moored in the marina.


A boat on its way out of the harbor.


Good view of the marina and power plant


Eucalyptus trees – over 100’ tall and drop lots of leaves all year!

After our walk, we drove over to the Morro Rock area.  Last year we could actually drive around the rock, but now it is closed.  So we parked by the water and took some pics.


Looking back at Morro Beach from the rock area


Famous Morro Rock


A very lonely Pelican up near the road at Morro Rock.

Lastly, you can watch a really good surfer ride the wave, go out over the top, keep his balance and paddle back for more by clicking here.