From California

Santa Barbara to LA (Dockweiler State Beach)

The five weeks in the RV has flown for me except for the last 2 days when we are basically waiting to drop off the RV. Anyway we went  up on on Pacific highway so decided to take highway101 down which was just inland of the beach as well. Roads  were six lanes some of the way and very busy for a Sunday! When we arrived at LA beach we were surprised by the size of the park; it had over 100 sites!  It was a very noisy RV park with it being located right in the flight path of LA airport. There were planes overhead every 10-15 minutes! The bike path was very close  to the van park so we decided to hire bikes and ride to Hermosa Beach then turned around and rode to  Del Ray Marina. That was about 20km; nothing for Rick but enough for me! Later we walked 15km(only cause we went the wrong way first ) round trip to go to  Panchos Mexican for  dinner. Rick had soft fish tacos and I had the tostada just so I could find out what  it was. Tostada is a fried Tortilla with beans and chicken , lettuce ,avocado, tomato and sour cream but too much even for me! We really needed the 5km walk back just to help our digestion!. We slept well despite the airplane noise because of all the exercise! In the morning Rick went for  a  run, down to Hermosa beach and back ,8km away.  I went for a walk but he didn’t come back for ages so I thought he’d gone for a extra long run but no he had to walk back over 4km because he had a torn his his left calf so now he has  slight limp and I’m holding my right side!

Santa Barbara

Spent the day in Santa Barbara which really is a pleasant place with 2 miles of beach leading down to the wharf and marina. I ran from the RV park along the shared pathway that runs next to the beach to the wharf and out to the end. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was still moored offshore and there were a number of sailors lined up on the wharf to go back to the ship. There were already people walking on the wharf and a couple of people fishing. After breakfast Lily and I walked down to the wharf and I stayed at the end fishing for a while and Lily went for a walk into town . There were a lot of sightseers on the pier .I am dumbfounded at how close people come to someone holding onto a large pole with sharp objects attached. Nothing was biting . Lily had bought supplies from the fresh food market and we walked home for lunch. After lunch and doing the laundry we walked back down to the beach and I went for a swim, while Lil went for a walk . In the evening we had dinner chilled out for the evening .Tomorrow it’s back to LA to hand the RV back on Monday.

Pacific Mackerel

Avila Beach to Santa Barbara

From Morro Bay , after a quick fish for me ( and hooking a ray ) and a walk to Morro rock for Lil, we went a few miles around the corner to the beautiful Avila Beach. The RV camp was a state Park with minimal facilities , but hookup to power and town water if you get in early enough , which we did . The camp faces south and looks out over the beautiful San Luis bay . The South facing aspect means the beach is generally protected from the prevailing swells . There are two public piers , one of which is still a working pier and has a restaurant on the end of the pier. The day we arrived was rather hot due to the protection of the headland from the breeze but cooled off later in the day with a change in wind direction . I went for a dip in the water and without the wetsuit at least the water was a tolerable temperature (finally).Later  Lil went for a walk in to the township while I went and fished from the pier . The Sea lions are here on mass in the bay with a big colony camped on some of the man made structures on the bay  Their barking pretty much goes on all night.
Following morning I tossed line in early with no result , fishing being limited to the pier as no license is required. Later I went for a run back towards the township and on to the Bob Jones Trail which is a shared shaded bath that goes for about 4.5 km or so north of the town. Before lunch I tried my hand again at the pier . Just as I was about to give it away something finally took my “Sabiki” rig . As I reeled it in the pressure got greater and greater and there was a big swirl of silver just under the surface. As it broke the surface it turned out to be 4 mackerel on the jig rather than a big fish . The next cast returned 3 more mackerel . I think this could have gone on as nauseam  , so I called it quits after 10 , and my rigs had been turned in to tangles by the multiple hookups anyway.
Anyway it was mackerel for lunch , and turns out they taste pretty good , despite their name of “slimies”( which has more to do with handling them as I found out) and their main use for bait back home. They were of course the basis for a huge fishery and cannery here in California for decades. Later that afternoon I donned the wetsuit and went for a long swim in the bay – the first time the air and water temperature and water clarity has allowed it . The water temperatures have been a surprise for me , considering we have always been at latitude closer to the equator than Melbourne, but turns out the “California” current originates up near Alaska and keeps temperatures down compared to the Southern Equatorial counter current which keeps the south coast of NSW warmer .
The following morning we went for a walk along the Bob Jones trail and back then packed up and headed for Santa Barbara. After arriving here and having lunch we went for walk to the beach and into town which turned out to be a lot longer than expected due to a wrong turn . Along the beach we noted that one of the Navy’s aircraft carriers was anchored offshore . It is a massive craft dwarfing anything else near it . The town itself is picturesque and all of the buildings have a Mexican/Spanish influence , including Ralph’s – the grocery we shopped at.  Our route back to the RV park took us through what is largely a Hispanic residential area where maybe their are a few issues as all the properties seem to be protected by large guard dogs ! Seems we have swapped  the barking of the Sea Lions of the last 2 nights for the noise of the freeway traffic .

Big Sur to Morro Bay

We had good nights sleep under the huge Coastal Redwoods .  So after a  big breakfast  we got in our RV and drove a couple miles south to walk in the Pfeiffer Big Sur National Park. It is  mountainous and covered in Coastal Redwoods with shrubby areas depending on how high the mountains were. There were areas of fire damage from a recent fire in December which seems strange but this part of California doesn’t get snow in winter. It was pretty isolated but we did see some people that were loaded up with overnight hiking gear and they  were doing it tough  with probably 30kg on their backs climbing up those hills. There were no circuit walks so we walked  about 1.5 hours total; up the mountains and then back down!
We drove a total of 116 miles to Morro Bay. The road was busy but not as bad as the day before with the pubic holiday. The scenery was beautiful again with lots of vista stops to look at the rugged coastline and mountains that come right up to the winding road. We stopped at Ragged Point for cuppas and cake . Rick had a coffee and cheese cake and I had cherry pie, since cherries are in season now, and tea!. The standard coffee and teas here are the size of a small milk shake container! But you can’t beat that American customer service. They always come to the table and ask is everything ok. How you all doin’?
After Ragged Point the road flattens and straightens.  At one of the Vista Points there were hundreds of elephant Seals sunbathing and as many tourists with cameras taking photos of them! There are lots of large rocks in the water  a bit like our Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.  Where we stayed last night Morro  Bay is a bit like Inverloch ; an inlet with a potentially dangerous entrance but much deeper channels and a large offshore fishing fleet . The RV park is a short walk to the beach with lovely paths and board walk and gardens right along the tourist wharf precinct, and lots of Gum Trees because’ I suppose’ they can cope with the Californian weather!  We heard the barking noise of  seals or sea lions in the harbour and saw a lot of otters lying in the water camouflaged amongst the reeds  looking like they are having their afternoon nap! Everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen squirrels and same here but they are bigger perhaps because the get more junk food from the bins! We went to the supermarket and are constantly impressed with their customer service. If  they see us wandering around the store looking for something someone will come up and ask me “can I help you”. Also there is a packer at the checkout. When getting “gasoline” everywhere we’ve been we’ve had to put our card in first so it is impossible to drive away and not pay as in our Aussie “gas” stations! We return the van this Monday and fly to New York on Tuesday next week so we are slowly coming back down to LA!