Mikie biking in Morro Bay

Morro Bay (Operation Cool Down)
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July 21, 2005: Itís been so hot so long that the brain can no longer process how long and how hot itís been. The local newspaper says weíve had over a week of consecutive 100 degree-plus days, most of them 104 or higher. Itís time for Operation Cool-Down.

My daughter and son-in-law were planning to ride their Harleys to the Grand Canyon and vicinity, ending up in Las Vegas, while I took my grandson Mikie somewhere. Since I was already planning to be in Las Vegas for a computer show the last weekend of July, we decided we would all go to the Grand Canyon (North Rim), and I would hand Mikie over to them in Las Vegas while I attended the Computer Show.

Then it occurred to them that it is 115 degrees in Las Vegas in July, so they decided to go to northern Nevada, Crater Lake, and the Oregon coast. Mikie and I are heading for the California coast (Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, etc.) Weíll come back Thursday, July 28, and Mikie will stay with other grandparents so he wonít have to miss his hockey game Saturday, and Iíll go to Vegas Friday.

Letís seeÖTim & Teri to the eastern Sierra where itís cool, Mikie in the hockey rink where itís cool, and Iím diving into the inferno of southern Nevada. But at least I should have five days of cool before then, and hopefully Fresno will be down in the balmy high 90s by the time I return.


July 24, 2005: We got started about 10 oíclock this morning, hot and sweaty after the effort of last minute loading and hitching up the trailer. The forecast for Fresno is up to 105 every day for the rest of the week.

But we donít care! Weíre cool at last! The temperature on my truck thermometer dropped continuously as we headed west. We drove south and east on State Highway 41, which is joined by State 46 at Cholame. At Shandon, about ten miles east of Paso Robles, it was 98; by the time we went over the hill from Atascadero, it was 78, and as we entered Morro Bay, we found ourselves under the fog with temperatures dropping to around 60.

The fog drifted back out by the time we got set up, and it was sunny and very pleasant. We wore the same clothes we were wearing in Fresno (shorts and T-shirts), but here we were comfortable.

We went down by the bay and checked out some of the shops on the Embarcadero, then came back to the trailer for dinner. Weíre about four blocks from the bay. As the sun got down to a sharp angle at six, the fog drifted back in, and soon we were putting on long pants and sweatshirts. Itís just below 60 now at 8 p.m.

Mikie has been having a good time riding his bike around the area (weíre right on the street, but there is virtually no traffic). Heís been getting acquainted with neighbors and everyone who comes by walking their dog.

I had to call four different parks before I found one with a space available, and it is next to the dumpster. Itís not the most ideal spot, but we do get to meet everyone who brings their garbage by.


July 25, 2005: Today we explored the coast from Morro Bay to San Luis Bay and Avila Beach. We drove down State 1 and US 101 to San Luis Obispo, which took us inland, then headed back to the coast on the road to Avila Beach and San Luis Bay, which is an out of the way spot with a couple of piers and a small beach. We went out on the pier, watching sea lions, gulls, pelicans, and fishermen. We met some people from Fresno who were also there to escape the heat.

We came back home and had an early dinner, then headed up the highway about two miles to Morro Strand State Beach. I sat in my lawn chair and read, while Mikie caught little sand crabs, which he put in a bucket with some sand and a little water on the bottom. As soon as they were dropped in the bucket, they would dig into the sand. When we would slosh the water back and forth, it would partly expose them, and they would immediately dig out of sight again. This went on for about two hours, then we dumped the crabs back on the beach, rinsed the sand off of Mikie, and came back to the trailer.


July 26, 2005: Today was our trip to Hearst Castle. We took the tour recommended for first-time visitors (which applied to Mikie, but not to me). He was sure he would not enjoy the tour, but it turned out that he had a good time. He also enjoyed a movie they show on the building of the castle. While riding the bus up the hill to the castle, we saw a herd of Barbary Sheep. Hearst had a large private zoo, and there are descendants of four of the grazing animals still roaming the property.

After our tour, we stopped at the ocean by Cambria for a short time, then came back to Morro Bay and went out to dinner at a hofbrau on the Embarcadero. Afterward we did some shopping; Mikie got a stuffed shark, and I got a fleece jacket.

Itís 7:30 and the temperature has dropped below 60. It was mostly sunny today, and very pleasant, comfortable in shorts and T-shirts until dinner time.

July 27, 2005: More driving, sight-seeing and beach play today, starting with a trip up the coast to Ragged Point, which is at the southern end of the Big Sur country. We drove perhaps five miles into this region, which is one of the most rugged areas of the California Coast. We stopped several places and enjoyed the partly foggy view of cliffs dropping right down to the waterís edge.

We stopped at a vista point a few miles north of San Simeon where there are usually elephant seals basking on the beach. We saw at least 20 of them. Then we visited Hearst State Beach, across from the entrance to the castle. Mikie had a great time playing in the ocean and chasing lizards on the rocks at the upper end of the beach, while I continued reading my latest book.

Back ďhomeĒ in Morro Bay, we went out to dinner, then relaxed around camp, getting a few things picked up and put away for the trip home tomorrow.

July 30, 2005: We had a pleasant trip home, despite the fact that we encountered warmer and hotter temperatures as we headed east into the San Joaquin Valley. It seemed to me that there was less humidity, and there was a good breeze, so it was not as bad as it had been before we left.

When going to the San Luis Obispo-Morro Bay area I have always gone through Paso Robles, where the state highway joins US 101. I had always assumed that State 41 and 46 were congruent all the way from Cholame to Paso Robles, but a careful look at the map on this trip revealed that 41 actually splits off at Shandon, and winds down to join US 101 at Atascadero.

Coming home, we followed 41 all the way from Morro Bay. The section from Atascadero to Shandon is narrow and winding, but a very pleasant, scenic drive. It goes up and over a couple of low passes, through ranching country and lots of grape vineyards.

We arrived home about 2 p.m., got the trailer unloaded and put in storage, and turned Mikie over to his paternal grandparents. I was planning to go to Las Vegas the next day, but I could not face a 415 mile drive, so I cancelled that trip with a mixture of regret and relief.

--Dick Estel, July 2005


(Photos open in a new window)

Ragged Point Elephant Seals (resting, not dead)
In San Luis Bay Pier at Hearst Beach, San Simeon View from the road to Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle The Outdoor Pool Towers, Main House
Mikie biking in our RV park at Morro Bay On the pier at San Luis Bay Meeting some other heat
refugees from Fresno
Related Links
Ragged Point Hearst Castle Morro Bay
Paso Robles More Morro Avila Beach
Morro Strand State Beach Zoo at Hearst Castle Cambria
Big Sur Elephant Seals Hearst State Beach
Hearst Castle

Towers, Main House

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