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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
and the temperature has dropped below 60. It was mostly sunny today,
and very pleasant, comfortable in shorts and T-shirts until dinner
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 the
most rugged area of the
California Coast. We stopped several places and enjoyed the partly foggy view of
cliffs dropping right down to the waterís edge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Estel, July 2005