Morro Bay, PCH & Hearst Castle

We figured we better make a reservation since we were landing in Morro Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway on the weekend. Jim found a campground and we settled into our spot before heading out on the bikes to explore the town and Morro Rock. Bikes are the best way to get around this beach town, especially on a weekend when traffic is at a crawl. We enjoyed riding on the dedicated bike paths and on the beach. The last  time we got to ride on the beach was at Padre Island and that was months ago. Time for beach riding! And seafood!
The first day it was cloudy and foggy and we could barely see Morro Rock. The next few days we got a better look at it. It is impressive. They used to mine its volcanic granite-hard rock but that stopped in 1960 and now it is off limits. We saw a few surfers and snorkelers. All wearing wetsuits; it was chilly.
The gulls and ground squirrels were fat and tame and the sea otters lolled in the bay with the stand-up paddle boarders.
It’s a little hard to make out in this picture, but they float on their backs, feet and flippers up. We ate at the highly rated Galley Sunday evening, snagging the last Father’s Day reservation. It is right on the water with views of Morro Rock and the harbor. And really delicious food. We shared Oysters Rockefeller. I chose ahi tuna and Jim had sea bass. Got my Absolut martini fix in. Seriously five star.

On our second day of beach riding, we rode from Morro Strand back to the rock. As we slogged our bikes through the deeper sand, an angel appeared in the form of Patrick Sparks. He walked toward us with bowls of homemade pea soup and handed them to us. How did he know we were hungry? He and his friend, Michael set up on the beach and made soup for folks like us. How lucky are we?
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Thanks Patrick!
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We wanted to drive as much of the Pacific Coast Highway as we could because at some point, they discourage big rigs like ours. Mike Izzo’s neighbor in LA told us about the elephant seals near San Simeon so we went to see them on the way to Hearst Castle. William Randolph Hearst donated the land for the state park and it is a much finer legacy than the Castle, in my opinion.
The seals spend 10 solitary months of the year at sea, eating and diving and return to the beach for rest, socialization and mating. They eat and drink nothing during the time they spend on the beach and they are fairly social, juveniles sparring, females giving birth and mating. I could have watched these guys all day! We had reserved a tour of the Castle, however, so after an hour or so in the blustery wind, we headed for La Cuesta Encantada.

Hearst Castle. Meh.

The site is lovely, on the hills above the coast and the clouds, a truly fabulous setting. Our take on the experience was that the tour was too short, too expensive for what we got and tour goers were hounded by a proctor-type guy who acted like a former prison guard. He was berating people for things they hadn’t even done; not pleasant. When we toured Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, we got to see much more for our twenty five bucks. At Hearst Castle, our “Grand Rooms” tour included like four rooms and a lot of talking by the guide. This is for a residence with 115 rooms, 38 bedrooms and various guest cottages on the grounds. Four rooms! The indoor pool, hydrangeas and theater lights were the best parts. The famous outdoor pool was empty and under repair, the building surrounded by scaffolding. And they asked us for more money on the bus trip back down. I think we’re done with the grand houses.
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Next up: Fresno where we planned another stay at an Elks Lodge. We started having some cooling problems with the refrigerator and the propane ignitor died, so no boondocking till fixed. Jim ordered another PC board, had it shipped to Fresno and plans to install it during our stay. We know we need to be plugged in because it is HOT! Like 110 degrees hot.We seldom run our air conditioning but there are times that we are glad to have it.

More pics on Flickr.


3 comments on “Morro Bay, PCH & Hearst Castle

  1. Reminds me of my trip to Big Sur last year! I loved watching the seals as well. I got to see harbor seals having babies on the beach in Point Lobos State Park. I’m glad I missed Hearst Castle. Didn’t seem all that intriguing to me either!!

  2. Reminds me of my trip to Big Sur last year! I love the seals as well and I’m glad I didn’t go to Hearst Castle. Didn’t seem all that intriguing to me. My favorite was the seals. I love watching the harbor seals at point Lobos State Park. They were having a baby is right when I was there in April. Such a beautiful area!!!

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