Beach for One Picture of the Week

Did you really think that we would leave California without bringing back a beach shot? No way—that would be unconstitutional. Whenever Queen Anne and I visit the Morro Bay area, we always save an afternoon for a drive up the Big Sur coast. Sometimes we make it to Carmel for lunch; sometimes, we’re blocked by a landslide—like this year.

Getting to Monterey Bay isn’t the point; there are traditions we have to uphold. As we pass by San Simeon, we point to and wave at the hilltop castle. A stop at the elephant seal colony is required to watch them sleeping on the beach. If we’re not planning a full drive, we’ll pick up a bottle of local wine, some cheese for Anne, and Italian deli meats for me. There’s a beautiful little beach under that famous bridge featured in all the postcards you see, and we spend a couple of hours picnicking on a blanket while we search for Japan on the Pacific horizon.

Four Elephant Seals - With mating season over, four young female elephant seals can finally nap on the warm sun without those big galoots accosting them.
Four Elephant Seals – With the mating season over, four young female elephant seals can finally nap in the warm sun without those big galoots accosting them.

Because of this year’s landslide, we didn’t even make it to our picnic spot. Instead, we drove leisurely along the Pacific Coast Highway to the spot where Caltrans turned back traffic. From the pull-out, we could clearly make out the slide area just south of our bridge. It still looked like Big Sur; only a section of the road was missing. The ocean below was full of silt that turned the water mud brown. It surprised me that it hadn’t settled during the month since part of a mountain fell into the sea.

With the rest of the afternoon to kill, we made our way back to Cambria, frequently stopping to take pictures of beaches, flowers, seals, and the San Simeon lighthouse. I was disappointed that the grounds were posted as a “No Drone Zone” because I had such a great shot planned.

Back in the village, we had one last dinner out and then stopped at the local liquor store. We found out a little secret during our last trip. It’s fun to taste the new vintages at the vineyards, but the liquor store (and the Circle K), sells bottles at discount prices. We sadly went back to the motel with the few bottles we bought and prepared for the long drive home.

Beach for One - Surprisingly, you can find a secluded beach for a private picnic along California's central coast.
Beach for One – Surprisingly, you can find a secluded beach for a private picnic along California’s central coast.

This week’s featured image is called Beach for One, and you can see a larger version on its Web Page by clicking here. I picked this shot because you’d never expect to find such a lovely spot in California without a single person on it or in the water surfing. I’m going to print a small version over my desk to remember this moment come July and 115º temperatures.

Until next time — jw

San Simeon – California

This was an easy day for us because we acted like tourists. I guess by definition, we are, but because we hang out here so often, it seems like the place belongs to us. Even with all the traffic we saw today, by California standards, the place was deserted. If you want real California traffic, go to Disneyland.

The day started off with a long hot shower. If you don’t RV, you’re probably not aware that campsites provide showers for their guests. If you have one of those battleships on wheels, this isn’t a problem. Your shower is as big as the one at home. If you have a little trailer like ours, you need to use the one provided by the camp.

Ocean View Garage
I love old neon signs, so when I saw this, I ran across the street to shoot it. It turns out the garage restores vintage cars . . . and signs.

The parks we’ve stayed in lately have quarter showers. You put a quarter in and you get three to five minutes of spray. It takes a minute for the hot water to get there, then another minute to fiddle with the knob. Today, the showers were free, so I could stand under the nozzle until my skin turned pink and my fingers wrinkled. I’m sure that Queen Anne shaved her legs, because I could clearly hear her swearing back at the trailer.

Anne Checks out the New Movies
It’s been three months since Anne’s been able to see her movies, so checking out the new films at the local theater was a must.

Being tourists for us means walking around the towns and checking out the shops, galleries and restaurants. It’s been three months since Anne has had access to her movies, so checking out the new movie posters at the local theater was a must stop for her. In Morro Bay, there’s an outstanding store that sells sea shells (that’s even hard to type). Anne wanted to buy some to use as decorations in our house and she went nuts. It was like the comedy bit in the movie The Jerk. “All I need is this one. That’s all. And maybe this one, just these two. I probably need to have this also . . . ” She has three credit card transactions from that store.

Elephant Seals at War
This is what Elephant Seals do in between naps.

After that, we drove north past Hearst Castle to visit the Elephant Seals. It’s a stop we always make when we’re here. Normally they’re trying to sleep in the sand and the only movement you see is an occasional sand toss. I’ve photographed them several times, but it always looks like a bunch of dead bodies on the beach. Blah! Today, one of the big males must have stepped on the others flipper, and that started a big testosterone contest. They snorted and barked at each other for a couple of minutes, then flopped over and fell asleep again.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Cambria, a small town south of San Simeon “where the pines meet the sea.” It was a tiny village when I first visited in 1968, and now it’s a large village. Fortunately, the cottages and summer homes are hidden among the trees. We walked the streets until the shops closed, then headed back to The Ritz where The Queen fixed me a gourmet meal of canned tamales. Someday, I’ll need to show her how to turn the stove on.

Harmony Creamery
Thew Creamery Coop in Harmony.

Tomorrow we will be heading over the hill for our last day of vineyard hopping (don’t worry Jane, there’s plenty left for you). We scoped out a couple of new labels to try, and there are some old favorites that keep us returning. After a day of that, we’re having dinner in a Cambria restaurant that we discovered today. After a day of wine tasting, maybe I’ll work up the nerve to drive Fritz down the hill on the old back road. Just for old time’s sake.