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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Weather, Lousy Golf

We have been having great weather here….Clear and sunny skies and daytime temps up into the mid 70’s.  Though one day next week, we are supposed to get a day with a 40% chance of rain.  But we won’t let that rain on our parade.

On Tuesday, I went and played golf at Black Lake.  It is a 27 hole championship course and is very difficult.  You play 2 of the nine hole courses and they work on the third.  So I played the Oaks course and the Canyon Course. 

The Oaks course is a very tight course with lots of trees.  The brush under the trees is full of….you guessed it….poison oak.  So you don’t want to search for lost golf balls.  Of course, I lost 4 on that course and none on the Canyon course which is more wide open, but longer and with more sand traps.

I didn’t play well at all.  Nothing was working for me….couldn’t putt, chip, pitch, drive or make approach shots.  Maybe had 3-4 good shots all day.  But it was great exercise and the sun was out, so it felt good to be out there.


One of the holes on the Canyon Course.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we went for a local bike ride to get our exercise in.  We rode around our RV park several times and also the adjoining North Beach State Park and campground.  We rode nine miles and a bit over an hour.

After that, we drove to Port San Luis, about 2 miles up the coast from Avila Beach for lunch.  We ate outdoors at Fat Cats on their patio.

Today we went for a walk in town to soak up the rays.  With all the sun, the wildflowers have been soaking up rays too!



Later today, our blogger friends Russ and Donna Krecklow will be joining us at the RV park for a couple of days.  They are out on a three week RV trip and it will be good to see them.

As the days get longer, it also means our PISMOFEST 2013 is coming to an end.  We leave here in less than 2 weeks to start for home.  Already we are making mental notes of things we want to do during our visit here next year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Journey to Nowhere…..and Back!

Saturday we did a 4 mile walk through town over towards Shell Beach.  There are some hills on this walk which make it tiring but we were glad to do it in 90 minutes.  The weather was great and you can see how pretty the day was in the picture below.


Sunday we decided to take a drive down towards Santa Maria and then east on state highway 166 to Maricopa which is on the way to Bakersfield.  It is about 90 miles from the RV park to Maricopa.  The first20 miles or so of the route on SR166 is windy but the rest is fairly straight.  We wanted to scout this route out for taking the RV on it as it is a more direct route from Bakersfield to Pismo Beach and we may go that way next year.

Maricopa is a small town of about 1,100 people and it sits on the edge of the central valley just about 45 miles southwest of Bakersfield.  To put it simply, there isn’t much there there.  The town appears to be an oil town, but few of the surrounding wells were pumping which probably means few jobs are needed in that industry.  There really isn’t any other industry in town.  We drove down the main street which has maybe 10 shops, the great majority of which are vacant.  About all that is there is a Shell station with a Subway inside, and a Motel 8.  The streets are not in good repair and the town just does not appear to be doing well.

On the way back on SR166, we saw this field full of porta-potties.  It is out in the middle of nowhere.  All together there were probably 200 or so units in the field.  (I can’t get them all in the picture below.)


I’m guessing they must grow them out here or something!

Today we took a walk over to the beach.  We’ve done this walk before so there isn’t really much new to get pictures of.  But of course, just as soon as we think that, we see this interesting RV unit parked in an open area.  It is a station wagon with a covered wagon type top on it.  Even more interesting, right after I took this picture, the unit drove away with the top still up!  Wonder how it reacts in the side winds.


Planning on playing golf tomorrow at Black Lake GC.  Have never played there before, but we drove by it on our way back yesterday, and it looks pretty nice.  Hope the weather holds like it is today – sunny and warm!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today to Morro (Bay, that is)

We had a notice handed out here in the park yesterday that the power would be turned off this afternoon from 1:30 to 4:00 so that they could change the wiring to the 60 or so sites that they are rehabbing.  So we decided to alter our normal routine and go for our exercise in the afternoon while the power was out.

We went to Morro Bay and walked along the waterfront.  The temperature was 59 at water’s edge and there was a 10mph or so breeze which felt cold at first.  Once we got going though, we felt pretty warm.


We had a great view of Morro Rock.  The picture above was taken at the start of our walk.  We actually walked within 100 feet or so of the rock itself, so it was a pretty good distance.  Actually, according to my GPS, it was slightly over 1.5 miles each way.


A good view of the harbor to the south


This could almost be a boat crossed with an RV!


The Avalon, a deep see rescue vehicle (DSRV), has been moved here and will become part of a museum’s collection.  The submarine was acquired in response to the loss of the USS Thresher so that the Navy would have a way to rescue submarine crews trapped far beneath the ocean surface.  It can dive down 5,000 feet.


A view from over near Morro Rock back towards the town.


The PG&E Power Plant for the town that is a mark on the skyline

Tonight we are going out for dinner after our long 90 minute walk.  We have had another sunny day with the high near 60.  It is a bit cooler than normal, but I see it will be warming up soon!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Captain’s log, Star date 2013.0217

Friday we road bikes around the RV park.  The roads were crowded with cars since this was the start of a three day weekend and we didn’t want to mess with the traffic.  There was enough traffic to contend with just in our RV park!

Saturday we went up in the Arroyo Grande Hills on James Way and did a hike into the hills there.  This is actually a wild area surrounded by houses but there is a loop trail to walk and it takes about 45 minutes or so.  Not a tough challenge these days for us experienced walkers!

Today dawned sunny and clear. The park is just about 100% full.  Of the available spaces, we saw only a couple that were available.  There are about 45 spots that they are rehabbing with new hookups and regrading.  These should be open in the next few weeks and that will complete the multi-year project to redo all 400 sites with upgraded cable, 50amp power, more water pressure and new sewer lines.

We took a walk in the City of Pismo Beach hills just to the northeast of highway 101.  There are some fairly steep hills in this walk and we handled them pretty well and with no major problems.  I guess all that exercise is paying off!


View south from this hills


This gives you an idea how steep these hills are!


Cowboy statue just outside of McLintocks Restaurant

If you know your California history, you know of Father Junipero Serra and his missionary travels up and down the coast of California.  He is the one who established many of the California missions in the mid-1600s.  All along his route there are these bells marking the path every mile or so.


El Camino Real Bell in front of City Hall


Close up of bell with inscription (1769-1932) The bells were placed in 1932.

After lunch back at the RV, I did some minor maintenance on the RV including lubricating the leveling jacks which is always fun!  But at least I had great weather!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Very Tricky Shot….

Yesterday I played golf at the Avila Beach Golf Resort course.  It is an 18 hole championship course and the greens here are very fast.  Plus yesterday morning, there was a tournament so the pin placements were in the toughest locations.  (so, I now have established all the excuses I need).  I did not play all that bad, but had some real difficulty putting which is usually my strength. 

I did manage a real tricky shot late in the round on hole #16.  A picture below gives you an idea of the layout.  YOU can see in the diagram below, that the hole really makes a left turn.  If you can drive it 220 yards or better, your second shot can get to the green straight on.



Unfortunately, my drives usually only go about 180 yards (Don’t worry, I have excuses for that too!  Equipment, age, surgery, etc.  Pick one or more as needed.)  I wanted to keep my tee shot to the right of the fairway as I knew I could not hit it far enough.  But I hit it to the left side and the hill and trees totally blocked any chance of going straight at the green.

So I decided to be tricky and use my 3 wood and try to intentionally hit a long hook.  I lowered my swing plane quite a bit and made good contact with the ball aiming it straight ahead.  Sure enough, it went straight out about 70 yards and hung a left 60 degree or so turn and ended up about 2 feet off the green to the left.  I probably could not do that one again if I tried, but it sure made my round.  Impressed the guy I was golfing with too!

Today we took a drive down to Lompoc  (Lom’ poke).  It is about 50 miles away down on the coast.  We had originally planned to go to the museum on the base, but found out that it is part of the base tour which is only done once a month.  And you have to give them some ID information 10 days in advance so they can screen you.  So, we will put that on the list for next year’s visit.

We had lunch in Lompoc and then went to Ken Adam Park, which is adjacent to the Alan Hancock Community College Lompoc Campus.  It is not much of a park, but did have an astronaut memorial.  We walked out on the 150 yard trail to the memorial and there were two groves of seven trees each.  One commemorates the 7 Challenger astronauts and the other is for the  7 Columbia astronauts.  There is also a small stone monument with plaque for the Apollo 1 astronauts.  We really were surprised to find this memorial here!


On the way back up highway 1 to Pismo Beach, we stopped in the little town of Orcutt next to the highway.  We parked in their old town section and walked up and down the street for some exercise.  There was an old drilling tower that looked really interesting.


But, as we say in football, “upon further review….” it is actually a cleverly hidden cell tower!  You really have to look twice to tell that.  It really blends in with the theme of the town.

Once back at the RV, we decided to ride our bikes around the park for 30 minutes, which, when combined with our 40 minutes of walking earlier, made for a full exercise routine for today!

Since today is Valentine’s day and I understand that the symbol for this day is a heart, I wanted to be sure and include one somewhere in this post……







Monday, February 11, 2013

Nitt Witts Wonder “Where did all that town come from????”

My friend and fellow football official, Tom, reminded me that I haven’t posted for a while.  Partly that is due to the fact that we have been busy not being busy!  (I do believe that is the correct definition of retirement!)  Anyway, I will try to catch you up a bit.

We last left this exciting story on Wednesday of last week.  So Thursday, we rode our bikes on a 12 mile ride to Oceano and surrounding areas.  We’ve done that ride many times before and there really was nothing new to report.

Friday was our annual day of rain.  Actually, it did not rain all day but several times when we noticed it had stopped and decided to go out and brave the elements for a walk, it started raining again.  So we declared it a “lazy day.”  However Carol properly noted that all the days are indeed “lazy days,”  so I guess this was a lazy, lazy day!

Saturday we walked the other half of the Bob Jones trail.  Carol took some pictures and posted them on her blog.  Be sure to see the hawk picture she took!  Look for the February 9th entry by clicking here.

The two pictures below are in a field showing the crops growing.  Bet you can’t figure out what they are growing here!


Give up yet?

OK.  Actually, this is a field and in it there are about 200 or so metal pipes, each about 8 feet tall.  They appear to be randomly placed with no apparent reason for the placement.  On one small fractional area of this “crop,” there are some I-beams connecting the tops of the pipes and a small community garden underneath.  Very strange….I still think someone is growing the pipes.  You think that is weird?  Remember, this is California.

Sunday Carol was not feeling well, so I did a bike ride on my own.  I decided to ride through town over to Shell Beach.  There were a number of hills along the way but the Hill Topper took care of them.  There is a bike lane about 90% of the way so that helped a lot because there was a lot of traffic in town.  I was guessing that it was about 4 miles to Shell Beach but it turned out to be only 2.5.  So instead of getting 8 miles of riding which is a respectable amount, I only got 5 from that trip and decided to go down to North Beach State Park and ride around the campsites there and then come back and ride through our park until I got it up to 8 miles.

Today (Monday) we decided to take a drive up to Cambria but to go the long way up to Templeton and then across state highway 46 to Cambria.  On the map below, Pismo Beach is on the bottom and we drove up Highway 101 to Templeton and had lunch there at a Subway.  Then we headed west across Highway 46 which was a new road for us.  Once we hit the coast, Cambria was only 4 mile north on Highway 1.  To go home, we followed Highway 1 all the way to San Luis Obispo then on Highway 101 back to Pismo.


Cambria was a town we visited last year.  It had a quaint small downtown (or so we thought) with some nice shops and eating places.  Turns out we were wrong!


View looking South on what we thought was the main part of town.


View looking South on what we thought was the main part of town.

Well, we were surprised.  On the first trip last year, we came south from the Hearst Castle area and entered town from the north.  Once we got through the tourist area, we took a right turn and got back onto Highway 1 headed back to Pismo.

This year we entered town from the south taking the first Cambria turnoff.  Turns out, there is a whole other section of town with about twice the shops and tourist attractions as the part we thought was the whole town!  The town actually has a population of just over 6,000 (2010 census), but that’s down 200 from the prior census in 2000.  Anyway, there is a lot more town for us to experience on future trips.

We then drove over to Moonstone State beach, just to the west of town and parked there.  We took a long walk along the boardwalk path that follows above the beach.


Santa Rosa Creek empties into the Pacific at Moonstone Beach


This beach is very accessible in many places


The waves were huge, but no surfers due to the rocks.


Looking at the above two pictures, I can just imagine a great championship golf course here following the cliffs.  Really reminded me of Pebble Beach and my outing there last year.


Moonstone State Beach


As you can see in the above three pictures, the coast is very rocky here.  Makes for poor surfing, but great scenery!

After our walk, we went back into town for a few minutes.  We saw the sign below…..


We made the left turn and went 600 feet up a steep and narrow road.  Never did find anything relating to Nit Wit Ridge.  Can’t figure out why anyone would even come up this road.  Oh, wait a minute, now I get it…….

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Catching up!

On Sunday, we went for a nice walk from the Dinosaur Park along Shell Beach Road.  We’ve never walked that area before so we saw new sights we had not been by.  Afterwards, we watched the Super Bowl and saw the 49ers lose a close one.  At first, the game was shaping up to be a rout and I was disappointed.  In Super Bowls, I like the games to be exciting and this one was looking to be a bore.

But in the second half, the 49ers woke up and made the game close.  And as much as I wanted them to win, I can’t fault the refs for this at all.  The main thing an officiating crew has to do in making judgment calls is to be consistent.  This crew was that so I really can’t complain.  Besides, there’s always next year!

Monday we walked into town, along the beach and then up onto the north side of this beach area.  It was a long walk and we were both tired afterwards.

Tuesday dawned overcast and cold.  I decided to play 18 holes at the Shell State Beach course.  I didn’t play particularly well though and on the last few holes the wind came up and it was cold without the sunshine to warm me up!

Today we were going to take a nice ride, but then I had some difficulty dumping the tanks.  Not sure if I got it resolved or not, but will keep an eye on it.  Then we went to Avila Beach in the afternoon to walk part of the Bob Jones Trail.  This is a 3 mile end-to-end trail, so to walk it fully would be 6 miles.  We aren’t quite ready for that yet, so we did about half.  At least we had great weather on the walk!

The first part of the walk goes alongside a 18 hole championship golf course – one that I played last year and will possibly play next week.


Walkers have to be careful here!


Looking down across fairway #11


The tee for #18 is across the water and this shot is from the end of the landing area for tee shots.


#18 landing area and fairway are to the right.


The San Luis Obispo Creek runs through the course.


Green for #11

Tomorrow starts the ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament on TV.  I enjoy watching this tournament because of the celebrities that play in it with the Pros.  Since our favorite new program is Special Report on Fox News with Bret Baier, and he is supposed to play in the tournament, Carol says she may even watch!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

No Margaritas at Santa Margarita Lake

Today we made an outing to Santa Margarita Lake.  The lake is about 30 miles from our Pismo Beach Campground on the north side of San Luis Obispo.  It is a county park built around a man-made lake on the Salinas River.  The dam was built in the 1920s and open for boating (no swimming) in the 1950s.  It stores the drinking water for the city of San Luis Obispo.

When we arrived, we first drove around the park to get our bearings.


small boats across the lake.  Notice how down the lake level is.


Looking across the lake.  It is much longer than wider!


Some huge water valves for controlling the drinking water flow.  These must have been replaced by others.  Note the fence to the right to get a sense of the size of these valves.


Looking down along the lake.


Across the lake, you can see one of the hiking trails going up the hill.

We brought a picnic lunch and parked at a table just above the lake.  It was a bit chilly outside, but we decided to eat at the table and brave the temperature.  Other than an occasional airplane flying overhead, it was very quiet.  But I am sure in the summer, there are lots of boats on the lake so it would only get nosier as the year marches on.

After lunch we decided to take one of the hiking trails.  The one we chose, Grey Pine Loop, was 1.4 miles.  The path is also used by mountain bikes and horses, though for now it is closed to them, because it is too wet.  For us though, since it had not rained for awhile, the path was actually in good shape.


The trail goes up and down the hills.  I measured the difference using my GPS app on my phone and found out that the maximum gain in elevation was 212 feet.  However, it goes up and down in 60-100 foot sections, so you actually do quite a bit of climbing.

One of the things we noticed were the trees which have lost their leaves for the winter.  Except some trees have these dense cluster of leaves even this time of year.  I remember reading somewhere that these are actually parasitic growths in the trees which explains why they are so different.


The trail has some great scenery on it including the view of the rocky cliffs shown below.


As you walk along the path, there are some areas with steep drop-offs to one side.  Below you can see the large mossy covered rocks and the trail narrowing as it crosses one of these areas with a steep cliff below the trail.



Another mossy rock with a bare southern exposure


A view of the lake in the distance

As you walk on, you actually get quite a distance away from and above the lake.  The path supposedly loops down to the road and you can then walk back on that.  We got 40 minutes in on the path and didn’t see any sign of the trail looping down to the road.  We were afraid either it wasn’t marked properly or maybe we somehow missed it, as we felt like we had been walking forever.

So we turned around and headed back to the car.  The trip back felt quicker, probably because overall, there was a 212 foot loss of elevation.  Once we got to the car, we decided to see if we could find the end of the trail where it meets the road.  We found it and it appeared to us that we really weren’t very far from reaching it if we had not turned back.

Having walked so much of the trail, during the ride back to the RV, we talked about walking the full trail down to the road and then turning around and coming back on the trail.  It would make it a longer walk, but I bet we could do it soon!  With all the exercise we are getting, these longer walks aren’t so hard to do as they used to be.