What's Not To Love: The Central California Coast
California generally produces mixed responses depending on who you are talking to at the time. Several people we meet tell us that it's too expensive or too crowded, and while that may be somewhat true, I love this state. Yes the traffic can be frustrating. Yes the cost of everything here can be high, although the same is true in a lot of places popular with tourists. And yes there is a worrying lack of water here (more about the drought in a later post). But there is so much to love; beautiful jaw-dropping scenery, an endless bounty of fresh produce, wonderful restaurants, beer and wine and of course there is the sunshine, don't forget the sunshine, I love that big fiery ball in the sky. No one is ever going to change my mind about the Golden State.
We moved from the UK to California in 1999, living in the San Francisco Bay Area until we relocated to San Diego in 2010. Northern and Southern California both have great qualities but we got to spend the last week or so exploring the Central California Coast. It's so beautiful here, away from the crazy sprawl of Los Angeles and the cut-throat competitiveness of San Francisco, the central coast is Goldilocks territory, it's just right. Nowhere near as busy, but every bit as beautiful.
We spent a few days in Pismo Beach, snagging a spot at the State Beach on a Sunday after the weekend campers left for home. The beach is beautiful and goes on for miles. Then we moved onto Morro Bay State Park. For the last 4 years we have enjoyed the long Memorial Day weekend at this campground meeting up with friends. Each year we have a theme evening, in the past in has been Trailer Trash, The '60s & Superheroes: you get the idea. This year the theme was Famous Italians. On Saturday evening we gathered for a potluck dinner with the group. We (Super Mario Bros) joined the Pope, the Mona Lisa, Bacchus the God of Wine, a gaggle of Gondoliers and even a resident of Jersey Shore! I think our neighbors found us more entertaining than the night before when we sang karaoke around our campfire.
Morro Bay is a wonderful little town, and the bay itself offers some fabulous kayaking. We paddled with some friends on a sunny and calm Friday morning and found ourselves among beautiful sea otters, frolicking in the water with their babies. We stayed at a respectful distance, but these creatures seem to crave the attention prancing around our boats, with their cuteness on full display!!
We spent another enjoyable day, visiting the wineries of Paso Robles guided by our good friends John & Colleen. This is a wine region of California that we have not previously explored. It is scenically impressive, with Tuscan-like rolling hills covered with vines that produce some delicious wines. We started at Jack Creek, had a picnic lunch at Oso Libre, followed by a quick stop at Whalebone to pick up balsamic vinegar, and then onto Starr Ranch. Our final stop was at Deodoro Cellars where Bob the winemaker/ owner took time between pouring his wines to serenade us, and even allowed me to accompany him on his bongos!!
Our final day of exploring took us to Montana de Oro State Park, a few miles down the coast from Morro Bay. We braved the crowds on Memorial Day to take a stroll along the bluffs and feel the ocean air in our lungs.
It was such a wonderful weekend with great friends and was poignant bookend to our first year on the road. Just 12 months previously we had been in the same place, excitedly sharing our plans to buy an Airstream and hit the road full-time. This year we reunited with everyone to share our stories of adventure (and some misadventures) and our plans for the year ahead. Such fun times!