Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Tour of the Central California Coast

While Hubby and Shaggy played golf last week at the beach, the girls and I took a drive up the coast for the day.  Lollipop Pop was my photographer from the passenger seat. Highway 1 runs along the ocean for much of our state and offers a view into some beautiful scenery.  This stretch of beach is Cayucos and is one of my favorite towns in the area.  It is rustic, quiet and full of antique stores.
This thriving metropolis could have been yours several years go when the entire town was for sale.

San Simeon is the home of Hearst Castle. This gem is a must see if you are ever in this neck of the woods.  The mansion is perched on the top of the hill overlooking the ocean and mountains.  There is now a wonderful Visitor Center from which you take a tour bus to the top and you are quite likely to see zebras that are descendants from the original herds. There are several tours to choose from and they are all well worth doing.

A bit further up the highway (a two lane highway), we arrived at our destination.  The Elephant Seals stay here year round.  At certain times of the year, you can see the bulls arrive and mating begin. Other times there are babies to ogle over. We saw the Mamas and mostly teens this time with some bulls thrown in the mix. These creatures were just lying in the sun and sunbathing.  There is a wonderful boardwalk built above the beach for easy viewing and a large parking lot to park safely. The first picture shows one tossing sand on himself...natural sunscreen/cooling mechanism.  It was super windy, but well worth it.


 These critters were everywhere and not afraid of people.  There were several people allowing them to crawl into their laps and on their arms.  Not sure if they could read the signs that said to not feed the wildlife or not. 
 Appeared not. 

 The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse offers tours, but I goofed and got too late of a start...maybe next time.

 We stopped for lunch at a terrific pizza place in Cambria on the way back.  Cambria is a unique town that is in the hills that drop to the sea.  It has lots of pine trees and I love it. 
Our next stop was Morro Bay.  This town is where we spent most of our beach time until a few years ago.  Sugar Plum Fairy had never been to the hokey little aquarium to feed to seals, so off we went. 
 She thought it was wonderful! 

Morro Bay is also the home of The Coffee Pot Restaurant. The owner of this place is a Chinese Immigrant who truly has lived the American Dream.  His book, Double Luck, is his wonderful life story that began as a boy of 3 in China who was orphaned and then passed from relative to relative. It is a powerful story and appropriate for young adults.  I met him when we had him come to Shaggy's school several years ago to speak. Super nice man.

Before leaving Morro Bay, the girls and I stopped at the Teeter Totter park.  Not really the name, but fun. AND I must say that since I have lost 65 pounds, I can play on the teeter totter too!  I have not laughed so hard in a very long time. 
WHY did I wait so long to live this lifestyle? 

Hubby had to return home the following day, so the kids and I headed down the coast to Santa Maria. Santa Maria is where my Mom went to school and my grandparents lived until they passed away many years later. 
We played miniature golf...
...rode bumper boats...

...climbed rock walls...

(I adore watching Shaggy help his sisters do something)

...and raced cars.

We then went to a pizza place that Shaggy knew of. Klondike Pizza had a yummy salad for me as well.  The experience comes complete with baskets of peanuts and a dirt floor to toss the shells on.  Perfect fun!  The bathrooms were cute,  too.

We also took a drive past my grandparents' house...made me sad.  It was always a crisp white paint with black trim.  The rose garden is gone and it isvery unkempt.
I still have the wonderful memories, however.

Our final day at the beach was spent in Avila.  Avila used to be a sleepy fishing village and had all of the character that implies. 

 There was an oil leak years ago and the oil company did a massive cleanup and rebuilding of the downtown. 

There is a yummy restaurant on the end of the pier
Avila Beach is now lovely and filled with great restaurants, shops and hotels, but I miss the Avila of my childhood. 
It is usually less windy than Pismo Beach where we stay and Thursday was near perfection.
Shaggy dug a hole for his sister to stand in...

...and they all worked on a fort of some sort.

We just relaxed and enjoyed the sun, the sea, the wildlife and each other. 

Perfect ending.


Janie Fox said...

That looks like an awesome time. The seals. Oh my!! I want to go there!!

Sarah said...

What an awesome weekend!! We took a trip to Sonoma for the zip lining but didn't get to see the ocean :( We could smell it - but not see it. Looks like you visited a lot of places and had a great time!

Michelle said...

That looks like such a great time! Those seals are so sweet.

Denice said...

HOMESICK! But...what a fun and fantastic sounding time that you had......I had to go over the post twice...this will be a favorite of mine. Whenever I miss it there I will go back to this! Thanks for sharing...

Erin Bishop/The Whatever Girls said...

Looks like so much fun! I love Pismo Beach! It's one of my favorite places in the entire world:)