Becky and Harold’s Great Adventure of the West: The California Coast

Our stay in Morrow Bay was one of good wine, good food, good company and exploring the Rock.

We put Las Vega behind us, glad to have seen the show but not thinking that we will return anytime soon.  Las Vegas is a marvel because of all the lights and hotels, but it is also a testimony to the darker aspects of humanity.  I guess that is why they call it—with some pride—”sin city.” 

The drive from Las Vegas to Morro Bay was a long one and the Mojave Desert presented us with an eerie fascination of baren landscape and cacti.  As we started through the valleys and canyons of California, however, we were greeted by all kinds of fruit, nut and olive trees and soon, as we approached the coastal area, we were in wine country with acres and acres of grapes bordering both sides of the highway.  As I said, this was a long ng drive and the closer Becky got—she was driving—the faster she went wanting to bring an end to our day’s journey. 

When we finally arrived at our suite (the Ascot Suites) in Morro Bay we were pleased to have arrived.  The front desk had texted me on several occasions wondering what our arrival time would be.  Originally, I told them we would arrive between 4:30 and 5:00 but as we got closer the time stretched out and we did not reach the Suites until a little after 6:00.  The woman at the front desk was a grandmotherly-looking woman who was very strict about the Suites’ policies.  I had made the reservation in my name, so I was the one who had to check in and sign the register.  Initially, she insisted that I use my credit card, but upon Becky’s insistence, she recanted and allowed us to us the credit card we are using for this trip but was one in Becky’s name.  When we got to our room, it strangely looked like a room you would find at Grandma’s house, rose stamped wallpaper and frilly drapes that hung loosely from the curtain rods.  If the bed and breakfast we stayed in was the Motel 6 of bed and breakfasts, this place was the Super 8 of hotel suites.  It was, however, clean and the bed was comfortable, but because of COVID, they discontinued their breakfast even though Grandma at the front desk was NOT wearing a mask.

As luck would have it, our good friends Bruce and Anne were staying 11 minutes from our Suite, We texted them as soon as we arrived and shortly, they were at our door with a bottle of wine ready for happy hour, which we celebrated with a thirsty vigor.  The conversation was a lot of fun and after finishing off a sack of popcorn, the bottle of wine and a couple of drinks, we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  As we walked, we looked at the ocean and Morro Rock, the namesake of the town and enjoyed the peace of the beautiful sunset as the sun hid behind the grandeur of the rock—except Becky.  She wanted to move the rock so she could see the ocean more fully!  All kidding aside, the window of the reentrant looked out over the bay and Morro Rock and as the sun set casting beautiful hues of purple and red around the rock, we enjoyed good food and good company.  It was the perfect end to Day 10.

Our good friends who joined us at Morrow Bay, Bruce and Anne.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the same restaurant.  It was close, it was good, and it had a beautiful view.  Following breakfast we explored the Morro Rock area, took some pictures and started toward Monterey. 

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Highway 1, or the “Coastal Highway” as it is called, is amazing.  It winds (and I do mean winds) its away along the coast of California skirting high cliffs and looking out over the Pacific Ocean.  The views were breathtaking, and we made frequent stops to enjoy the beauty and take pictures.  We ate at Nepenthe Restaurant, and it too was amazing although a little over-priced.  The view and an excellent bottle of wine (we didn’t drink the whole thing but corked it for later) made it worthwhile, however.  There is so much to see and enjoy along this route that a short distance could take days, but we only had one.  We will have to do it again sometime.  Disappointingly, the Hurst Castle was closed due to COVID, so we were unable to tour it, but the costal scenes made up for it.  We also stopped and watched the elephant seals.  The males are massive animals.  We watched one crawl from the sea.  He was as aggressive as he was huge, especially when it came to the females.  While smaller, the females were more agile and quicker than the huge male and so were able to fend off his advances.  It was fascinating to watch.

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We made it into Monterey and to our hotel a little before 8 p,m.  We stayed at the Sea Breeze Suites and the room we had was nothing like the pictures we saw on the Internet, not even close.  They were clean *sort of), but very small with a queen bed that was not all that comfortable, and the furniture was run down.  I think they went dumpster diving to find their furniture.  It was less than nice.  At any rate, we stayed there for two nights.  Becky tried to upgrade, but nothing was available, so we are stuck there.  They did have a fire pit, however, and we ended the night with good conversations with those who were enjoying its warmth.

We started day 12 with a quick breakfast in our not-even-mediocre suite.  It filled us up but in no way was it good.  At any rate, we left the Suite and started for the 17-mile Drive.  It costs abou4 $11 per car to get into the area, but it was worth it.  It took us past some of the most beautiful coastal areas that central California has to offer with lunch and a bottle of wine at Pebble Beach Golf Resort.  It was wonderful and the view from the balcony on which we were perched was located by and overlooked the 18th hole of the golf course.  I have to say, that looks like a challenging course but the golfers we watched seem to navigate it quite well.  We also met a retired airline pilot who recommended menu items   Our conversation with him was enjoyable and his Standard Poodle, Dolly, was also a lot of fun.  We enjoyed our meal and the company and then walked around the area a bit before moving on to Carmel. 

Carmel is an area where the “rich and shameless” hang out and I’ve never seen so many Teslas.  There were about two per block.  At any rate, it was a delightful area and if were among the ranks of the rich, it would definitely be a nice area to live. We ended our tour of the 17-mile Drive and headed towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium located in Cannery Row.  Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the Aquarium was closed and because of COVID, tickets had to be purchased in advance, which we did. Our tour will be 2 p.m. the following day.  Cannery Row, however, was an interesting place to tour.  It is full of quaint shops and different eateries.  We weren’t quite hungry yet, so we stopped at a wine-tasting room called “The Monterey Bay Winery,” They offered samplers of various wines, and we tried the Reds, which were quite good.  We also had a charcutier tray consisting of different cheeses and a variety of crackers and bread sticks.  The tasting-room looked over the bay and we were able to relax with the peaceful waves of the ocean lapping the shore while watching sea otters frolic in the kelp.  It was a wonderfully relaxing with good wine and good food.  How could it get any better than this?

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In the morning, we had to vacate the room and ready for the next leg of our trip.  I mentioned to Becky that our ability to pick a motel room was not stellar.  This room was, well there is no other way to say it, a dump.  At any rate, packed up our stuff and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Wham, we arrived, we walk along the Warf looking at all the boats moored there.  This wharf is a working wharf and fishing boats were busy unloading their catch.  Seagulls hovered overhead looking for scraps and an occasional sea lion swam around the boats hoping to catch fish that fell overboard.  Eventually we made our way back to the tourist section that was filled with shops, restaurants and lots of people.  Finding a restaurant with a nice view of the bay, we settled down for what turned out to be an excellent meal and yes, a nice bottle of wine.  It was quite relaxing.

Following lunch, we visited the Aquarium.  Our tickets were for 2:00.  Ordering our tickets over the Internet, we thought, meant that a limited number of people would be admitted at a given time.  We were wrong!  There were people everywhere!  The line ran down the street and wound back and forth like a snake.  It reminded me of when we tried to attend an Obama speech.  The line grew so fast, we never found the end of it.  We found the end of this line, but it was long.  There were thousands of gawkers to look at poor, secluded sea animals that I imagine would have been much happier in their natural habitat than the artificial one offered by the Aquarium.  However, it was a nice aquarium as far as aquariums go, but there were just too many people, and that is not something I say easily because I usually enjoy crowds.

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Escaping the aquarium, we headed for Sacramento.,  As soon as we made it inland, however, we were astounded by the smoke settling over the land from the Caldor Fire, which was up towards Tahoe.  In fact, at one point, our GPS warned that Highway 50 had been closed due to the fire.  We wondered if we would make it to Kay and Brett’s house since we needed 50 to do so, but the fire was much further up the mountain and we made it although the air quality was horrible.  At that point, I heard the raging fire was 8 miles from Tahoe and it was only 19% contained.

Escaping the aquarium, we headed for Sacramento.,  As soon as we made it inland, however, we were astounded by the smoke settling over the land from the Caldor Fire, which was up towards Tahoe.  In fact, at one point, our GPS warned that Highway 50 had been closed due to the fire.  We wondered if we would make it to Kay and Brett’s house since we needed 50 to do so, but the fire was much further up the mountain and we made it although the air quality was horrible.  At that point, I heard the raging fire was 8 miles from Tahoe and it was only 19% contained.

It was nice to see Brett and Kay, and after catching up we decided to go eat. They live in a great area. There are all the amenities of modern life as opposed to the small rural area where we were living in Colorado.  They have grocery stores, restaurants, shops and they even have a COSTCO.  It was great. We found a nice restaurant, enjoyed good food and good conversation 3neding the evening at a local dancehall complete with dancing girls.  It was a lot of fun.  I’m not the greatest dancer, but Brett really got down.  It was his genre of music.  Returning home, we all readied ourselves for bed ending Day 13.  It was a good day.

Published by Harold W. Anderson, Ph.D.

I am a retired United Methodist Minister and recently closed my practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, retiring with my wife to Rancho Murieta, CA. Now I have a blog and several hobbies that take up my time. We enjoy traveling and occasionally spending time at our cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

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