WEEK TWELVE: A ROCK, A WHALE, AND A MARIACHI BAND

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CONTENTS

Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Charlie and Steinbeck
Favorite Photograph - Morro Bay Sunset
Camper’s Corner - Malibu Beach RV Park, Malibu, CA
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: San Francisco and beyond

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Malibu Beach RV Park, Malibu, CA
Stop: Morro Dunes RV Park, Morro Bay, CA
Stop: Monterey Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA



Sunday
Out the Door Early
When I took the Little Ones out early it was just them and me, a dolphin and the sea. I watched a solitary dolphin fish swim back and forth over and over again as he/she fished for breakfast. Back at the coach it was time to get ready to motor.

Heading North
From our campground exit, Jan turned BALY right, heading north on the Pacific Coach Highway (CA 1) driving along the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains to our right. At Ventura we picked up the 101 for 40 miles with the rolling waves of the Pacific to our left. Just past Santa Barbara we headed west by northwest on the scenic CA 154. Brown and green mountains, vineyards, and the vibrant blue waters of Chumash Lake. Past Los Olivos we got back on the 101 for close to 60 miles of moderate traffic, good roads, and always something to look at. Through Santa Maria, by Nipoma, past Pismo Beach, and up to San Luis Obispo, where we turned on CA 1 again for the last dozen miles to Morro Bay. Right off the beach by the Morro Rock we set up camp at the Morro Bay RV Park. Although it was mid-afternoon in the summer, it was light jacket weather for us as we explored our home for the next few days.

Dog_ Man_ and Big Rock Beach RV

Monday
5:15—coffee made, camera gear ready. I had been awakened by the hooting of an owl and was looking forward to getting shots of “The Rock,” the most famous site in this area.

Beach Run
The Little Ones heard me put my jacket on and rushed to the front of the coach, anxious not to miss out on an early morning walk. As the literature says is typical of this area, I was met with fog as I opened the door. Leaving the camera gear inside, I hooked up the Pups, walked through the park and took them out to the beach that adjoins the campground. Not much activity. I saw just one surfer putting on his wet suit, then running to the water. We walked pass the shore birds, and down at water’s edge I unleashed the Pups. No rattlesnakes or coyotes here! They both took off with Mitzy pedaling her little legs like a plow horse heading for the feed bunk, while Jerry shot off like a thoroughbred on a race track. They had a great time running at full gallop while occasionally stopping to explore the sniff of a fish carcass or some other strange marine object raised from the deep and brought in by the tide.

Morro Bay Surfer Sea Otter Raft

Back to the Beach
A little later Jan and I put on our jackets and took a walk down the beach. I took my camera and got a few foggy shots in while the surf roared in our ears. A large section of the beach is fenced off in an attempt to provide a safe and suitable nesting place for the Snowy Plovers.

Weekly Call
At 9:00 I had my weekly marketing call where we discussed upcoming workshops, webinars, articles, and social media. The rest of the morning I worked on tailoring a selling services training program for a client.

Shoot the Rock
After a couple of hours I needed a break. Checking the weather, the fog had cleared and almost all The Rock was visible. So I grabbed my imaging equipment and walked out to take various shots of the rocks, the people, and the shore birds.

Flying Great White Egret Shoes Morro Rock

Out to Lunch
We decided to do a little exploring, so we got in the car and headed east on 41, driving 15 minutes or so to Atascadero. We drove around a little then found a place for lunch called Sylvester’s Burgers. Their specialty was burgers—beef, buffalo, chicken, or vegetable. The nice thing was that they had outside shaded seating, and they were dog-friendly. Hence, the Pups were with us and got their fair share of our meals. It was a pretty drive there and back complete with small mountains, wildflowers in full color, some old gangster-looking cars that looked they had pulled over for a picnic lunch, plus some dinosaurs on display that made me think of BP executives pondering the fate of the small people :<<<

Bonnie _ Clyde Picnic Lunch Time View BP Stockholder Meeting

Exploring Morro Bay
Upon our return, we took a short vehicular tour exploring the town of Morro Bay. Like most places on the water, there was a touristy section complete with stores selling taffy and fudge. Deciding to walk the town later in the week, we went back to BALY. While Jan went for groceries, I took the Pups out once again for a walk along the beach.

Talking Jan

Tuesday
Beach Run
I think I started something! About 5:30 a.m. both Pups got out of bed to tell me it was time to go out. I sensed they knew another beach run was in the plans. Taking my camera, we went out into the morning mist and back down along the water. Checking to see that we were far away from the three or four other people out walking, I let them off their leashes once again. Big smile across his face, Jerry was off like a cannon, running big circles and kicking up sand. He was just a pleasure to watch as his pent up energy fueled his long legs—it seemed as if he was flying. Mitzy also ran her hardest, although the end speed was considerably slower :’>>>.

Flying Jerry Galloping Jerry

On the Keyboard
Most of the rest of the day was all consulting/training work related.

Jo’s Return
Late afternoon our friend Jo drove up from LA—she just couldn’t get enough of us! After catching up on the last few days, we drove a mile or so to a seafood restaurant down by the fishing wharf. After a nice meal and sharing a bottle of Pinot Grigio, we went back to the beach and I took a few sunset shots. Pretty end to a nice day.

Sisters

Wednesday
My early morning walk with the Pups was a misty one, just on the verge of light rain. Again the beach was mainly empty and the Kids enjoyed their run.

Hearst Castle
Mid-morning we left the Pups in the coach, and the three humans in our pack drove the Element north through Cayuga, Cambria, and on to the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, commonly known as the Hearst Castle. This place is quite the enterprise! Hundreds and hundreds of tourists from all over the world queued up to buy tickets for the movie documenting the background on the Hearsts, purchase souvenirs, eat, and of course take one of their tours. After we watched the half-hour movie, we loaded up on a bus and trudged up the mountain. This place is unbelievable! Over-the-top does not describe it, so I will not try. However, if you are anywhere near the area, it is worth seeing. www.hearstcastle.org

Castle on a Hill Indoor Pool Neptune Pool

Security Pup Jan at Hearst Castle

Cambria Lunch
By the time we finished up at the Castle, we were all hungry. So we re-traced our route south, stopping off at the village of Cambria for a tasty, leisurely lunch. From there we headed back to our campground by the sea.

Thursday
Beach Walk
I guess I’m falling into a pattern...out the door at dawn with the Kids into a cool morning, and then out on the beach for our walk. Mainly just us, a few birds, and the roaring, crashing waves all shrouded in a light fog.

Beach Elk

Whale Watching
Jo stayed with the Pups at the coach, resting from a bad sinus condition, while Jan I and drove down to the harbor where we boarded a boat for a whale watching tour. Humpbacks are a normal visitor to the Morro Bay waters this time of year, but in the last few weeks they had been seeing blue whales, and Jan and I both wanted to take our chances at sighting one ourselves. As we got out of the protection of the harbor, the wind and the waves steadily increased. About a mile out we were in ten-foot waves and the captain told us that we may have to turn around for safety reasons and if that were the case we’d all get rain checks. However, he ventured on, and the size of the waves didn’t decrease, but they didn’t increase either. So, at one to two knots we rode up the waves to their crest, then down to their troughs. There were 22 of us in a 32-foot power catamaran, and the captain did a stellar job of finding the right angles and adjusting speed to keep most of the water in the ocean and minimizing the on-deck motion caused by the 15-foot swells. In spite of his prowess, over one-fourth of the passengers bowed over the railing or prayed into the white bucket, paying tribute to Neptune. Luckily we were not a part of this select group.

In spite of the rough ride, it was a glorious day to be out on the water. A fresh salt breeze and the deep blues of the Pacific lightened our spirits as we continued on our quest. After scanning the horizons for over an hour, the captain and a few of us sighted our first blow. The captain said because of the size and height, it had to be from a blue whale—the hunt was on. Because of the seas, we were limited to a couple knots of speed. Therefore, by the time we got close to where the whale had surfaced, she was back under the water, consuming krill out of our sight. A few minutes later she spouted again, however, she was quite a distance from our current location. We were instructed to keep looking in all locations as whale routes were totally unpredictable, but to pay close attention to the krill, layers of purplish burgundy so thick that the seagulls were able to stand on them. We would spot the blow, motor over, then sight the spout in another location. this went on several times. We were able to see the fins a couple of times, and once we were close enough to see this huge light blue body the size of an aircraft carrier’s landing deck come out of the water. Alas, I got no pictures that were keepers, but the memory is sure imprinted on my mind. A wonderful trip and a great deal at $30 per person. I’d recommend it. http://www.subseatours.com/whales/whales.html.

Australia Call
That evening I had a call with a country manager and service manager in Australia/New Zealand plus a couple of other execs from a client I’m working with to help improve their services businesses in Asia. Great group of people.

Friday
Sunny Stroll
Wow! We had sunshine for our morning walk! Just another beautiful day. Before hitting the road, we made one last trip down to the beach. Here we were fortunate to meet Boomer, a Jerry look-alike rat terrier, and Boomer’s wild two-year old female sister. They did the usual dog greeting consisting of a short stare-down combined with 360-degree sniffs. We talked briefly with their Pup Parent, then it was in the rig, heading north on Highway One.

Highway One North
We passed the pretty beaches of Cayucos again, drove by Cambria and up past the Hearst Castle. We had planned to stop at a vista point where the elephant seals had claimed the rocks. Sadly, though, there was no place big enough for us to park BALY, so we reluctantly drove on. In most places the highway was quite narrow, and tight curves were the norm. However, the magnificent view of the deep blue/turquoise Pacific, the waves crashing against the shore, and the brilliant colors of the flowers that adorned the roadside and hills more than made up for the 15-to-30-miles-per-hour trip. It was 122 miles of sheer beauty. Very highly recommended.

(Note: It would have been interesting to have recorded our conversation then have a qualitative researcher do a thematic analysis of what was heard. “Wow!”, “Gorgeous,” “Just Beautiful,” “Awesome,” and “OMG!” were probably repeated in the dozens.)

Flea Market Festival Friday
Reservations over the 4th of July were tough, but Jan set us up at the Monterey Fairgrounds. We met the camp hosts, Bill and Cat, their Irish Wolfhound female puppy, Darby, and a couple of rabbits (they have more critters that I’m sure we will meet later). We picked our site and were set up in no time. Luckily there is a strong Verizon signal for our MiFi. The good news is that directly across from our rig (I mean within 50 feet) are a couple of bounce houses and a Mexican flea market. A mariachi band was cranking out music, and the smell of tacos was in the air. After our couple of games of gin rummy we walked through the market, bought some mango and coconut juice, and some tacos for the whole family, which we took back to BALY and quickly devoured. Really good eating.

Saturday
First Exploration
Aside from driving in, parking, and walking to the flea market, we hadn’t seen much yet. So after doing some work on the computer, the Pups and I went out early to do some exploring. We pretty much walked the entire fairgrounds, among the other campsites, by the pavilions, and along the many walks.

National Steinbeck Center
Mid-morning we left the Kids in charge of BALY and drove east on CA 68 to the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The museum was very well done, showing the link between Steinbeck’s family and experiences and his works. The museum was broken down into themes around his most significant works using select verbiage from his books to tell his message in an interesting format. I’ve never read about his travel across the country with his dog Charlie, Travels with Charley, in a pick-up camper, but now I’m inspired to do so. Have any of you read it? I’d like to hear your thoughts if you have.

I’d highly recommend spending a few hours at the Steinbeck Center for anyone who admires his work. www.steinbeck.org

Mission Mission
After a wonderful lunch, we went exploring, heading out of town going NW on CA 183. Deciding we wanted a specific mission, Jan suggested that we go see a real mission, stating that one of the 21 missions in California was close. So at Castroville we hung a right and drove the short distance to San Juan Bautista to see the Old Mission San Juan Bautista. The town is old, quiet, and quaint—a real welcome change of pace from the bustle of the larger California metro areas. The self-guided tour was interesting, and we saw the church, chapel, graveyard, and gardens of this mission founded in 1797. Worthwhile time spent, and I’d recommend everyone in California visit at least one of the 21 missions founded in California that are along the 600-mile mission trail, El Camino Real. Here is the URL for the one in San Juan Bautista: www.oldmissionsjb.org

Mission San Juan Bautista

Trivial Question: Who knows what famous movie was filmed at this mission in 1957? Add a comment if you do.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
After seeing the Steinbeck Center and the exhibit around Travels With Charley, I thought it only fitting that a travel blog feature a famous traveling dog. Hence, I’ve included my picture of the picture of Charley and Steinbeck that is on display in the museum.

Charlie _ Steinbeck

Schedule Your Pup Shoot
Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot when we are in your area.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite is Morro Bay Sunset. Anyone else have a comment?

Morro Bay Sunset

CAMPER’S CORNER: Malibu Beach RV Park, Malibu, CA
This is one of the prettiest parks that we have stayed in with the Pacific dominating every view. Full hook-ups, cable TV, whirlpool, and great trails that link up with the States. However, many of the sites are quite narrow, so hope for good neighbors and be creative about placing your picnic table and so on. Also, it is pricey and they have lots and lots of rules—many more than needed. Yet, because of the great location and the magnificent view, you can overlook the shortcomings for a few days. I recommend it. www.maliburv.com/

RV Penitentiary

HEADLIGHTS
July 2 thru July 9
Monterey Fair Grounds, Monterey, CA

July 10 thru July 21
San Francisco RV Park, Pacifica, CA

July 22 thru 24
Napa Valley?

July 25 to September 17
???

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
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