San Simeon & Morro Bay

img_7713What a fantastic winter break!! Between Doran Beach and Christmas, I had a little time for some Dory projects. First, I put up a little shelf where the paper towels used to be (those got moved next to the fridge). Next, I put flexible foam backing on a map of California State Parks so we could mount it on the front wall. And last, I installed a little drawer under the table to hold paper things, maps, and little odds and ends. All make me very happy.

 

We started the second week of vacation with a trip to San Simeon. My plan was to visit Hearst Castle, which I’d never seen before. The other part of the plan was to hang out with Annie and Linda, fellow Altoistes, in Morro Bay for a couple of days. I talked them into shifting over to San Simeon to start with, and we all went on a holiday tour together.

Annie managed to get us sites all together, even though they were non specific reservations in the Washburn “primitive” loop. We turned heads to be sure and someone asked if it was random chance or if we were “part of a club.” We had dinner together the first night and were able, with Annie’s contribution of chicken, to rustle up fajitas for four. The next day, Richard went for a ride and the gals explored Cambria. That night we headed up to the castle for dinner and to be there in time for the shuttle. *Note to future self: do not go to the Hearst Castle visitor center for dinner, no matter how exciting soft pretzels and boxed salad may sound.

 

All I can say to sum up Hearst Castle is: “Wow.” Our tour guide was really great and she did a good job filling in the history behind the extravaganza. I just love the fact that a big part of the endeavor was the idea of sharing European treasures with a new audience. I also love that this place is a self sustaining museum and part of the California State Parks. There were so many fun little stories about what it was like to stay as a guest in this place. But the one that stands out the most is the fact that the 5 mile, 1500 ft, twisty climb up from the highway would have always happened on an unpaved road. Didn’t matter who you were back then, you’re going to have a bumpy ride because paving it would have hurt the hooves of the animals roaming around as part of the zoo. I would love to go back again and do the art tour some time because it sure did seem like we were walking past some amazing medieval pieces. For the twilight tour, there were people hanging out in period costumes to help set the mood. That was an added bit of fun. The real bonus to going in December though is to see all the lights and giant Christmas trees. Be forewarned though, a good deal of the tour is outdoors and it was windy and quite chilly!

 

The next day, we packed up to move down to Morro Bay, but took a detour up to an Elephant Seal viewing area. If you like elephant seals, this would definitely be the place to go. You get to be very close to a lot of them and sometimes fights break out. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the sound a male elephant seal makes when he wants to sound intimidating, but let’s just say I won’t be chastising Richard for loud burps anymore.

We got a hookup site in Morro Bay and that’s always a treat because it means you don’t have to worry about power usage. The downside is that we were right on the end of a row and right by a city road with a fair bit of car traffic. We literally had people stopping next to us, looking at Dory, and taking pictures. I’m not sure if they could see that we were sitting right there, but I also doubt it would have mattered. Dory is just that cool. Morro Bay SP campground is not as nice, I think, as San Simeon, but it is better located, near many fun things to do. And it has LTE service, so +1 point there. Right across the road is a little harbor with hiking trails and a good restaurant. Friday, we went over to Annie’s Alto and Richard installed a Trimetric Battery Monitor, so she can be as obsessive about amps as he is. Then it was off to a little natural history museum right by the campground. That was super fun! Richard got to try out a lot of binoculars and I got to see a reptile and insect show. Later, we headed over to Morro Rock and nature treated us to a spectacular sunset. Not posting all of the pictures I took is, to be honest, a struggle. However, given how many I simply *had to* post, I think you’ll agree, I documented the hell out of it. We wrapped up the day with an outstanding dinner at House of Juju by the Bay. Outstanding!

Our last day out found me kayaking with Annie on the bay while Richard went on another ride. Bliss. I decided for sure at that point that I do enjoy kayaking. And we even ran into (literally) some snags, so it’s not like I only enjoy it when there are otters and perfection. I understand now the whole thing about needing to watch out for tides. We only went out for an hour and a half or so, but we definitely got stuck on muddy sand bars that were not there when we left. I mean, they were there, but there was a lot more water between the bay floor and my butt when we left than when we started trying to get back. Annie was polite enough not to point out that there were places where she was floating and I was in mud. Hmm. She also very patiently talked me through getting out of it before I panicked and tried to take off my shoes and walk. Eventually, we got free of the shallows and had a relaxing paddle back to the rental place.

Saturday night we had dinner together at La Palapa in Los Osos, which was also great (but they don’t have tequila margaritas). That night was New Year’s Eve and we celebrated at Annie’s with a bottle of very, very expensive champagne, provided by Linda. That was super fun and a perfect way to end/begin the year! We all agreed that raising glasses on Nova Scotia time suited us just fine and we all got to tuck in, warm and cozy, as the rest of the campers celebrated at midnight proper.

 

img_7800Sunday we headed home. *sigh* Five nights felt like a perfect amount of time to be out. Or at least, it seemed a bit easier to pack up and head back. It helped that Monday was a holiday also, and there was an epilogue to this trip in that I went and bought a kayak!

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The kayak budget has been on hold for a while, but things were paid off enough that we decided to go for it. There will be future posts all about it I’m sure, but the first thing you’ll need to know is: Nope. It is not blue. I know. I’ll explain later. For now, this was one of the best vacations I can remember and I can highly recommend it all!

Total miles to San Simeon: 236.8, 17.9 mpg, 4 hours 59 min. Site 256. Decent sites, some solar, spotty cell service. There was no water and only vault toilets in the Washburn campground when we were there.

Total miles from Morro Bay to home: 234.6, 15.0 mpg, 4 hours 44 min. Site 10 (hookups), then moved to site 124. Hookups were nice, but the sites were pretty close together. The tent loop was more camping-like, but no solar. LTE service everywhere. Many of the bathrooms were closed. Free entry to the museum for campers.

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