The Central California Coast offers a world of adventure and beauty. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. It can be foggy, sunny or a delightful mixture of both and it still makes me come alive with wonder, peace, and excitement all wrapped up in a blue-green wrapper.

We only had a week, and set our sites on Morro Bay as our first stop. Tom loves to get a jump on the trip by leaving in the evening. At 5:30, we pulled the RV out of the nursery. Since, I’m not a great road tripper, this gives me time to enjoy part of first day, grab some dinner along the way, settle in on a cozy couch in the back, and read as it gets dark using a convenience I have learned to love…a headlamp! As I get sleepy, I can just nod off while Tom drives. He loves the road and gets to listen to “am talk radio” as I sleep.

We had reservations at Ocean Mesa, an RV park on Morro Bay. The hosts were nice enough to hang a welcome note on their window with our space # & a map of the park. I barely remember Tom telling me, “We’re here!”, as he pulled into our spot.

Road Tripping up the California Coast 1I awoke to ocean air and the sound of sea gulls. We have stayed here before so the familiar surroundings felt comfortable as we had breakfast and met our neighbors. Sand dunes covered with ice plant adorn the beach in mounds and drifts where we have come to expect breezy weather. All of this beauty lies just across the road, leading to Morro Rock rising from the edge of the sea. You can hear the music of the waves as you sleep, and the happy sound of families throughout the day.

Morro Bay offers endless entertainment. Their “downtown” area is awesomely eclectic with history, art, books, coffee shops, cafes, & more, while the harbor is lined with boats, kayaks, restaurants, clothing, gift shops & candy stores, and a great little home & garden shop we always visit.

Road Tripping up the California Coast 2We began our visit with a trip to “downtown”, a new adventure for us. I am a fanatic about small book stores & one of our first stops was Coalesce Bookstore on Main Street. It is an absolute treasure. They specialize in old & new books, several rounds of the most unique cards I’ve ever seen and there is a Zen garden in the back where they host small weddings and concerts. Road Tripping up the California Coast 3A folk music concert scheduled for that very night was not only sold out, but they had an extensive waiting list! It was such a joy wandering through the store chatting with the owner, whom we found to be a wonderfully engaging personality, while exploring the endless choice of wonderful books and cards. We watched as a shipment of books came in and she opened the box in delight, pulling out Bernstein Bears books among other favorites. I didn’t want to leave…if fact, I was ready to relocate and work at the book store!

Tom & I love art galleries, and there was one right next door! It was small, but appealing. They were in the middle of a show upstairs and gave us a flyer for a 2-day watercolor workshop coming up in July. I’m so tempted to go back. We didn’t get much of a chance to see more of “downtown” when we realized we were getting hungry for lunch with so much more to see!

Road Tripping up the California Coast 4We started walking in the direction of the harbor with its inviting restaurants. We saw one we hadn’t tried before, “The Galley”. It had a great picture window facing the sea & looked to be busy, so we stepped inside & grabbed a menu as we waited to be seated. The menu was appealing and we were seated within a few moments. Our waitress was friendly and the food looked delicious. I chose the deep fried prawns with veggies, and Tom chose Rockfish with fries. We thoroughly delighted in each bite of our lunch and tasted and shared with each other, as we usually do. In fact, it was so good we went back and tried their fish tacos for lunch the next day. The owner shared with us that he was from Encinitas before moving to Morro Bay!!!

Road Tripping up the California Coast 5One of our favorite things to do on a road trip is to nap & share a book! We don’t get a chance to do that much at home…except Sunday afternoons, so we got in a great power nap at the end of the marina as the wind kicked up rocking the RV. Between the sound of the wind and the ocean we didn’t have a chance. I had been filling Tom in on a book I was reading on the trip & he asked me to start reading to him as he drove. From then on we read for most of the trip a wonderful book entitled “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin. We highly recommend it! Not only were we on our travel adventure, but were also traveling deep into the story we were reading… and what a story it is!

Road Tripping up the California Coast 6While dining at “The Galley”, we heard about Shell Beach, so we headed off to see what was described a place to hunt sea glass! As we arrived, it turned out that many of the tide pools were covered with the sea as the tide was coming in. We found a nice small portion of the beach still quite accessible & ventured down the stairs. The sand was similar to that of Moonstone Beach in Cambria….more like tiny polished rocks. The coastline was just lovely with many tide pools still available to explore. We only found 3 tiny pieces of sea glass, but we still got excited. The cliff protected us from the cold breeze. So we walked and explored the crazy rock formations in complete comfort. The curving coastline was superbly beautiful.

Shell Beach is a neighbor to Pismo…and definitely the other side of the coin, so to speak! It was funky…a bit crowed, dirty and very touristy! We decided to jump in to the crowd for a short walk, got some popcorn. We probably should have checked out the pier, but decided we had “experienced” all we needed of Pismo and decided to check out San Luis Obisibo on our way back. San Luis Obisbo is the cutest college town with the most delightful neighborhoods and the most wonderful downtown shopping. It was late by then …and Easter, so things were closing up. I was so disappointed. I really want to return and have at least several days to explore more. I felt exhilarated within its presence. Plus, it is surrounded by rolling green country sides.

Road Tripping up the California Coast 7Our next destination was Monterey. We had found a wonderful RV park just outside the bay called Marina Dunes. There is a trail from the park through the sand to the most beautiful dunes covered with ice plant, just like in Morro Bay. It is so striking to see with the huge expanse of beach and ocean just over the hilly dunes. We sat, and walked, explored a bit & watched a fisherman standing on the sand, which to my surprise was deep and very soft. It gives you a workout to walk through it! Even as it gets close to the water it’s still very soft and just a bit packed…not like what we are used to here in Southern California.

It is always so nice to escape the norm, don’t you think! Just being able to explore with wonder the new places…from food, to shopping…to nature. It is so exciting and refreshing.

Road Tripping up the California Coast 8We had a couple of fun things planned for Monterey…lunch with friends and the Aquarium. We had been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium before and it is always exciting to see again. This time we went in the late afternoon. It was a great time to visit. The crowds seem to thin out and we still had 2 ½ hours to explore the underwater worlds of the sea presented to beautifully. We even had time for a bite to eat before leaving. We didn’t rush this time…we took time to ponder…to sit and watch the people watching the fish. At the Kelp display…they have a little seating arena, so we sat. Watching the Kelp softly sway and the fish are in no hurry, I found myself catching the rhythm of the sea. You could almost project yourself into the scene with ease and of the fish fluidity. I think one of my favorite spots is watching the Puffins. I made friends with a couple. They seemed to like my giving them soft stokes through the glass and stayed for some time.

Road Tripping up the California Coast 9We met our friends in Moss Landing…still on the bay, but rather remote. We enjoyed lunch in the sunshine at the Haute Enchilada. There is just nothing like spending time with friends when you are off in new territory. Tom & I always tend to meet and enjoy total strangers as we experience new places. We never feel completely alone. RV parks are great for that …as well as book stores and restaurants. We get the greatest tips of places to visit or explore.

During our trip we stopped off in Cambria and Carmel just briefly at both ends of coastal Hwy 1. We had intended to take the inland route from San Luis/Morro Bay to Monterey, saving us many hours on the coastal route, but discovered a little too late we had missed our turn off. We have traversed it both together and separately three times now and it is LONG & WINDING, however, I think the conditions were just right for a beautiful ride. I’ve never seen it as clear, with the sense of height and depth and brilliant colors as on this trip. The detail you could see on upcoming bridges miles away was incredible. What is frustrating is that there are literally no turn outs for photography when you want one!!! Memories will have to suffice and they are embedded in my retinas. Tom was very gracious on this leg of our journey as I complained about needing to move…get out…tired of sitting, etc. Since there is no alternative to sprouting wings, we had no choice, but to endure this exquisite, unending beauty. Now, out of the vehicle and back home. I am extremely grateful for missing our turnoff. Sometime you take a trip…and sometimes the trip takes you.

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