Despite living in California my whole life, there is a lot of the coast I have not explored – so we took our first trip to Morro Bay!
Charles’ mom and her husband came to California from Arizona for spring break. We fit in lots of biking during the break in the rain – Santa Cruz, Monterey, Berkeley, Richmond, etc.
San Simeon is not Morro Bay
For our last adventure, we decided to go to Morro Bay (giving them a shorter drive back the last day). The three of them drove down Friday morning, enjoying the spectacular scenery of California after a good rain. Green Valley was actually green! They took an evening tour of Hearst Castle. I worked all day Friday, and drove down after work. All the sites eluded me, because by the time I was anywhere scenic it was already dark.
We got a cute & reasonably-priced beach-adjacent hotel in San Simeon. You could hear the ocean, and although it was still stormy, the break in the rain made it perfect for being outside. We picked up some local cider and beer, and walked down to the dark steps to the beach. Very peaceful and beautiful, and as we walked back to the hotel, we could hear frogs.
Morro Bay Exceeds Expectations
Saturday morning, the Arizona-bound crew packed all their things and we went to Morro Bay for a goodbye breakfast. We found a lovely place with a fantastic view and good food, although I will note that we never managed to get a good cup of coffee in Morro Bay.
I was so struck by the Morro itself – it really stands out against the coastline, and it seemed like no matter where we went, we could see it. The Morro is a volcanic plug, which is created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. The rest of the volcano eroded away, leaving just the Morro.
After breakfast, Charles and I headed to the Montana de Oro State Park to wander along the Bluff Trail. It retrospect, a more intensive hike could have been nice, but we got to see truly spectacular views of the coast and the bluffs. The natural features of the rock at the coastal edges, combined with the wildflowers, soaring birds, and views of Morro Rock were spectacular. We brought binoculars (highly recommended), and saw an otter swimming in the surf and eating.
Next, we went to the Morro Rock parking lot. By this point, the wind had really picked up! We could not walk all the way around the rock, so we walked to each extreme end. Otters and seals were everywhere, but no whales in sight. And we saw plenty of seagulls, but I did not see any peregrine falcons, which are supposed to nest there.
We changed in the car, and went to a wine bar for live music and a wine tasting of local wines. One of the blends reminded me why I used to think blends were cheap – it was so poorly mixed, and just ended up being overwhelming. We walked along the bay until just before sunset, then stopped for fish and chips and (local!) Firestone Walker 805.
After a nice long post-dinner walk, we went back to San Simeon and headed straight for the beach to listen to the waves and frogs again. We even got stars!
Sunday we woke up very early, packed out, and got to Morro Bay at 8:30 a.m. A quick breakfast of goat cheese-spinach scrambled egg croissant sandwiches, some dreadful coffee, we went to rent a kayak. Kayak Horizons seemed like the best option from our searches, and we walked around checking out a few places before we settled on them. The Kayak guys were great, got us going really quickly, let us borrow a dry bag, and giving us fantastic information about how to access the dunes appropriately.
We kayaked all around upper Morro Bay, checking out moored boats, getting super close (but not too close) to lots of otters and seals. The tide was quite low when we started, and we saw some seals sitting on in the shallow water with their heads and tails out of the water. We got to check out a lot of boats, some beautiful and clearly en route, and some in need of some work.
We pulled up to the recommended pull-out point in the dunes, and walked barefoot across them to the ocean. The temperature was spectacular, and the sand was invigorating. To our deep surprise, we saw some mushrooms growing in the sand. On the ocean-side, we checked for whales with our binoculars, but saw none. We were alone on the beach, except for some sandpipers, who scurried around in the surf.
After our dune adventure, we kayaked back to Kayak Horizons, and got ready to head home. It was mid-day, so we got to explore Green Valley on our way home. We stopped for a local honey tasting, got a cabernet – blackberry gelato and walked around a maze, and then stopped for a light lunch and wine tasting at AronHill Vineyards, a women-owned winery with a beautiful tasting patio and good food.
It was such a beautiful trip, my mind keeps wandering back to Morro Bay. We will have to visit again soon!
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