Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sand, Surf & Sun: Ventura & Morro Bay

We drove north through/around LA, trying to avoid the worst of the traffic. Everywhere else we've been, Saturday morning is a good time to drive through a city, but not LA, where even then we had stop & go traffic. But we put up with it and got through it, eventually breaking out of the fray when the 101 sidled up alongside the beach just north of Ventura. A short ways up the road from there, as we were admiring the beaches and the surf, we noticed a long string of RVs parked on the roadside right next to the beach. There were too many of them in a row for them to be day-users, so we knew they must be camping. We impulsively pulled off at the next exit and backtracked on highway 1 to investigate. Sure enough, this was a state beach "campground", consisting of RV-length parallel parking spots, no hookups, just yards from the seawall protecting the road from the sea. We found an empty spot and, with not a little bit of maneuvering, squeezed in.

The pounding surf drowned out almost all of the road noise, and all but the most raucous of generators. Pelicans flew by almost constantly, skimming the water with their wingtips and getting lift off of the air pushed up by waves rearing up to break. Porpoise swam by. Surfers caught the perfect wave...

Ourselves, we just walked the sand beach - Toby loves himself a good beach:

We only stayed at this roadside/beachside campsite the one night, although it was cheap and couldn't be closer to the sea. It was also noisy, although the constant surf was noise of a natural and relaxing variety, the highway, commuter train, and most of all generators, were not so nice. If we were surfers we'd have settled in for a while as the wave break was nearly perfect, but we're not so we didn't.

Instead we pushed up the 101 another coupla hours, onto Highway 1 and to Morro Bay. There we stayed at a private park which was fairly nice, with wooden half-walls between sites, making it easy to fence-in a big dog-yard. Just a few hundred feet from the campground was one of Morro Bay's nice sand beaches, plus the towering presence of Morro Rock:

We enjoyed our stay in Morro Bay - liked the town, liked the area. The town has a tourist element, but it's a real working town with a fishy waterfront. We walked, beachcombed, bird-watched, kayaked, and bicycled.

We especially enjoyed our first encounter with sea otters, which we found frolicking in the kelp just a few yards off shore near Morro Rock.

They were rolling themselves up in kelp to anchor themselves during nap time. Then they'd rub their tails between big webbed feet, and hold their heads up with their paws. If that wasn't comfortable, it looked like they'd hook their claws into their jaws to hold their heads up. Very adorable creatures.

Also lounging on the warm rocks in the sun were dozens of ground squirrels, which apparently get fed by us humans, as they exhibit no fear and approach within inches to check for tidbits.

On one of our walks down to the beach we were amazed to see an egret stab into the undergrowth and come out with a young ground squirrel in its beak, which it then dipped in water to lubricate, and swallowed!

We had a nice paddle in the harbor, weaving amongst the fishing and pleasure boats, watching pelicans and cormorants feed, and sea lions jostle for space on an overloaded floating dock:

Loving this central California coast! More to come as we head north up the Big Sur coastline.

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