Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lake Lopez

The thing I really love about living here is that every moment you are not actually working, you feel like you are on vacation. At least, I do.

Part of the reason for this is probably the climate, which still feels new and exotic to me after decades on the East coast and in Colorado. I'm accustomed to living near agricultural centers, but not like this. I'm still delighted every time I see oranges and lemons growing in someone's yard. K and I pulled over on the side of the road the other day to admire an entire field that had been planted with asparagus. That's not something you see in Denver or Hagerstown! And what are these beautiful purple thistles in our neighbors' garden? Oh, those are artichokes!

Living here, you are surrounded by green things growing (and purple and pink and blue things too.) But the thing I love best about our home county doesn't have any color at all. Can you guess what it is? It's the water!

It's everywhere! Lakes and rivers, beaches and bay...there are so many inviting ways to spend our off it, on it, even eating things that came out of it.

We are in the habit now of just leaving all our canoe gear in the back of the van, so it's easy to just hop in and go for a boat ride.

Last weekend we visited Lopez Lake. Of course, I love the ocean, but sometimes we just need a break from the summer fog. Before I moved here, I was always confused by that one line in the song "Lady is a Tramp." She "hates California?" "It's cold and it's damp?" LA always looked sunny and warm in the movies. What was Ella Fitzgerald talking about? Apparently, she was talking about Los Osos and all the other coastal towns between Santa Barbara and Monterey.

Maybe she didn't know about our inland lakes. Even on our foggiest, dampest, coolest days, there is a sunny wonderland hidden behind the hills, just a few miles to the East. Last Saturday, we found it up at Lopez Lake.

It was beautiful and sunny. And it's super easy to put the canoe in, because of the nice little shaded path that goes directly from the parking lot to the water. But, as you can see, it's a motor-boat kind of place. We had a nice time paddling around and exploring the quieter inlets, but as soon as we entered the main section of the lake, it was too loud with too much wake; not the relaxing experience we'd hoped for.

To get there, you have to drive on a bridge that spans a narrow section of the lake. The most exciting part of our visit was floating under that bridge. The whole place was abuzz with swallows dipping and diving all around us.

The birds wouldn't hold still for a photo, but we did get shots of their mud-sculpture nests. Aren't they amazing? I wouldn't know how to build one of these, would you? How do the Swallows know?

We also saw dozens of wind-surfers speeding around each other. At first I assumed that they have them for rent at the lake. But they were all going SO fast, I started to think it must be a race. I meant to ask about it at the gate on our way out, but I forgot because we were too busy telling the park ranger about the campers who were feeding Doritos to the wild-life. Poor dears.

There is also a giant water slide park at Lopez Lake. And, a number of interesting trails to explore. So, we will absolutely go up there again. We just won't go up for a day of boating...not unless we buy a speed boat and one of those big floating things on a rope that people use to drag their kids along behind them. That does sound like fun. But, I don't think our "kid" would like it.

Would you, Piper?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What? SUP!

They weren't here when I left the Central Coast in 2008, at least not in large numbers. Sure, you might have seen one once in a while, drifting eerily upright along the rippling skin of the water. But now, it seems like they are everywhere...meandering amidst the field of moored boats in front of the Morro Bay Yacht Club...scooting between the wet-suited surfers in the waves that curl around The Rock...cruising the Back Bay in pairs and pods, oblivious to the leopard sharks that swarm and breed just under the surface.

It's a new decade now, and a new water sport has come into it's own. Apparently, Stand Up Paddleboarding is here to stay.

I had never done it and neither had K. Of course we had to try it! So when D and E visited on 4th of July weekend, the four of us headed over to Central Coast Stand Up Paddling, which is easy to find on the Embarcadero, right across the street from Golden China.

It looks impossible. Can you imagine standing up on a board that is just floating in the water? Neither could I. But they say, "If you can stand up, you can do it."

(I took issue with this. There are plenty of people who have missing or otherwise impaired arms. I suggested a better saying might be, "If you can sweep the floor, you can stand-up paddle." But this got us off on a tangent about who sweeps the floor at home and why can't the other person seem to do it? Not a great advertising tactic. So, I'll let them keep their motto.)

They start you out on your knees. It's surprisingly easy to balance.

They give you a funny long paddle that looks like a duck's foot at the bottom. You have to hold it backwards. At least, the way you think it ought to be held is exactly opposite of how it works.

They watch you paddle around on your knees for a minute, and once the look of confused anxiety leaves your face, they encourage you to stand up. Suddenly, you're paddle boarding!

Before you know it, you're standing perfectly upright, and perfectly dry, in the middle of the bay, with nothing but a couple of inches of foam between you and all that cold, salty water. It's an amazing feeling.

It is so easy, and the folks at the rental place are so agreeable, that soon you'll be out paddling with your best friend right there on the board in front of you... if your best friend has a life jacket of her own, and is well trained to "Sit" and "Stay."

Be careful or you will soon fall victim to delusions of grandeur. It's easy to feel like some kind of fabled saint or miracle machine. The sensation is really similar to what it must be like to walk on water.

It's not like kayaking, where you're sitting down in the boat, working your arms and shoulders to carry your otherwise inert body through the water. It's not like surfing, where you depend on the ocean's own crashing velocity to propel you into a balanced position. It's really not like anything other than just taking a stroll around your neighborhood park.

Except, now your "neighborhood" is the collection of pleasure crafts and live-a-boards that populate our local waterways.

And your "park" is the quiet, gently rising water that hugs the lonely dunes while the tide pours in from the ocean.

It's a lovely mix of the mundane and the fabulous, the exotic and the everyday. I hope you get a chance to give it a try.

If you're in the area, you don't even have to commit to the hourly rental fee. CCSUP hosts free demos every second Saturday from 9 to noon.

And if you don't live in the area, you know what I'm going to say.

This is just one more reason you should come and visit us!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging Pays

For the last couple months of my job search, I was getting pretty stressed out. I started hunting at the beginning of the year, confident I would find something in a couple of months. Before I knew it, the calendar said "April", and the suddenly "May!" I just couldn't believe almost half a year had zoomed by, and I was still unemployed.

In a panic, I started spending 10 hours a day in front of the computer. Monday through Friday I searched for jobs; I filled out applications; I re-wrote my resume; I got creative with my cover letters. By the end of each week, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was sit down at my desk and boot up the on-line machine again.

But, I'd made a commitment to keep this blog going. And in the face of so much failure and disappointment, I needed at least one project in my life that was going well. So I kept writing and I'm so glad I did.

During my second interview for the Program Specialist position at Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County, the executive director asked me, "Who is the real Madge Morningstar?" She and the other interviewers had liked my answers to all their questions. In fact, they had liked them so much that they began to suspect I was just telling them what they wanted to hear. I was too prepared, and over-polished.

This felt like an impossible questions for me to answer. It's a lot easier to prove to someone that you are NOT genuine, than to prove that you ARE. Trust takes faith and time. Well, she didn't have the faith (who could blame her) and I didn't have the time. The interview would be over in a few minutes, and I needed a job NOW.

I couldn't think of a thing to say that wouldn't sound like more of what I knew she wanted to hear. Maybe she was expecting to learn about my hobbies and life outside of work. But, I was afraid even this conversation would seem canned and rehearsed. Anticipating this kind of interest, I had prepared a page in my "brag book" with photos of me finishing trail races, rowing crew, playing with the dog and dancing salsa.

If I showed her this page, or even mentioned these activities, I was afraid she would view it as just more of my professional presentation. So I wracked my brain to come up with some acceptable proof of my authentic self that I could share with her on the spot. I had spent so much time preparing for every possible interview occasion that I was completely unprepared for being spontaneous.

We were sitting at her desk. He computer monitor showed that she was logged on to the internet.

"Would you like to look at my blog?" I asked?

Thank goodness I'd been keeping up with it! She sent me out of her office to chat with some of the other team members, while she read about the bed I built in our excitement over spotting a Great Tailed review of Pete's Pierside's tacos...and my admiration for Inga Swearingen. She even saw the photo of me soaking wet and goose-bumped all over, wearing pink patterned tights, giant floppy hat, cherry print Donna Reed apron and a strapless swimsuit on Polar Bear Plunge day.

At least she could see I had nothing to hide.

So she hired me! And I started the very next day! (One month ago exactly.)

It's an interesting, challenging, exciting job with a lot of different responsibilities. Including: supporting the "Bigs" and "Littles" in finding fun, inexpensive, interesting and educational things to do together here in San Luis Obispo County.

The half-year I've spent writing this blog has totally prepared me for that!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Zoo part one

When I was 17 or so, I went to a big amusement park with my boyfriend. I don't remember which one, but it had the usual arrangement of roller-coasters and rides...which I LOVE. It also had a little train that traveled through a sort of zoo area. I clearly remember being in line, and being really excited. I was singing a little song in a silly voice. If I close my eyes and think back, I can practically hear the boyfriend's voice repeating after me, teasing me about my song..."the animals...the animals...we're going to see the animals."

I don't remember much about the train ride itself...or what we saw from our car. I only know that it made me very sad. That was the day I decided that zoos were bad and I would never step foot inside one again.

When I was 17, the world seemed as black and white as zebras, and "never" was a reasonable time line for spur-of-the-moment decisions.

I have since learned to appreciate zoos, but I will probably never again feel bubbling excitement on my way inside one. Instead, I approach them with a kind of regretful reverence and cautious curiosity.

The problem, of course, is the persistent impression that these animals are in jail. It's so easy to start thinking, "They didn't do any thing wrong! Why are they in cages? Let's set them free! Free! Free!"

When I went to the Charles Paddock Zoo last month with my 10-year-old friend, S, I practically held my breath as we walked through the entrance. I really wanted us to have a nice time, and see some things that wouldn't depress us.

I think the zoo planners must have been thinking of people like me when they designed the layout, because the first animals we saw didn't seem to be in jail at all. They were just sitting out in the open, free to leave at any time. (At least, that's the way they looked. It didn't occur to me until just now that their flight wings may have been clipped.) Anyway, they were gorgeous, and fun to watch.

I'm not sure who that is above, but I had to include the photo because he is just so pretty. The ones below are Blue and Gold Macaws (Ara Ararauna). They are disappearing in the wild because the forests are being cut down, and because they get snatched by illegal pet traders.

Aren't they lovely? How do they get so colorful?

Then next exhibit was a small flock of flamingos. Their placard explained how their pinkness is derived from carotenoids in the crustaceans they eat.

But there wasn't any card explaining how the parrots make those blue, gold and green feathers!

Neither was their a sign telling us that the flamingo's food isn't pink when they are eating it, as I have always imagined. Rather, the color that shows up in the live prey is usually blue or green. The pink pigment doesn't show up until the carotenoids are dissolved in the flamingo's fat, and deposited into the growing feathers. This sounds strange, until you remember how shrimp and lobsters look when they are raw...kind of greenish brown...and how they look when they are cooked...bright red or pink! Apparently, heat from cooking and digestion by flamboyant birds (or salmon) are somewhat similar processes. (I just learned all that by searching for more info on-line.)

On this same side of the zoo there is also an enclosed and roofed area that is easy to miss if you are not looking for it. This is a somewhat sadder display, because it's clear these flightful creatures can't just escape on their own.

Still, I enjoyed it, especially the first bird I saw. I nearly gasped with delight, because I knew right away what it was...a red-legged, white-bellied, Black Necked Stilt!

Apparently, these bird are wild local residents. For months, I've been making googley eyes at the ones in my field books, greedily anticipating the day when I might spot one of my own! (I used the word greedy because there are SO many amazing birds here that I do see regularly, it seems almost ridiculous to be begging for more.)

It was a big thrill to see this one up close and personal. But, I can't really add it to my "life list" anymore than I can boast to other birders about spotting a pair of Macaws from South America.

There were several other interesting species in the aviary. But, other than a white Ibis, I couldn't identify them. (I don't know why they wouldn't just stand still in front of their placards!)

I was particularly enamored with this little trio. They reminded me of soldiers, in brown jackets and black helmet...guarding a castle gate.

We must have looked okay, because they let us pass, and re-enter the main area...where we could determine who was the winner of a little contest we had going.

Before we got to the zoo, S and I tried to guess what kinds of animals we would see when we got there. I think I said zebras (none), ostrich (nada), and honey badger (nope.) S however, predicted we would see Meerkats, and she was absolutely right. (You win, Gingersnap!)

These omnivorous Slender Tailed Meerkats, with the amusingly repetitive Latin name: Suricata suricatta, are type of South African mongoose. I suppose they didn't build it themselves, but I still have to say, I just love their house!

I also loved the way they would sprawl out on the sand like sunbathers. Because their enclosure was only about 5 feet high, I could easily hold my camera up over it to take a picture. I didn't think the little guys would notice, but boy, did they! The one shown below looked so calm and relaxed before I put my hand over the edge...but as soon as I did, his head spun around so fast I worried I might have given him whiplash!

It's no wonder they are jumpy about sudden movement above. Their greatest enemies are vultures and birds of prey. Sorry, Mr. Meerkat!

I'm sure you'll think it predictably egotistical of me when I admit that, of all fascinating fauna we saw that day, my favorite captive citizens were the ones that seemed almost human. In addition to the sunbathing Meerkats, I was absolutely charmed by the White Fronted Marmosets.

I wish I'd gotten a better picture. In this one, his pensive little face is hardly visible. And it's hard to see that these little guys were some of the most active of all the animals we saw that day. They were literally climbing the walls, and carousing around on the raised platforms and walkways of their carefully arranged environment like it was a tri-level speedway.

This Black Handed Spider Monkey wasn't nearly as energetic, but he was just as fascinating.

S and I sat down on a bench where we had a clear view of him sitting up on a branch. He looked just as comfortable as we were, and just as interested. Staring at him, feeling him staring at me, I couldn't help but start to wonder...who was watching who? Which one of us was the entertainment and which one of us was being entertained? It was like looking in a fun house mirror...but instead of seeing the kind of "before" and "after" versions of myself that would sell diet pills, it was like seeing "before" and "after" version of myself as Darwin would have drawn them. I felt if I could just remove the mirror, we would be revealed to be exactly the same.

I was jostled from my fantastic reverie when the monkey suddenly reached behind himself and took hold of a large poo, just as it was coming out of his butt. He raised it to his nose for a sniff, and then gave it a few turns, considering it from every angle.

Suddenly, I didn't feel so connected to him. I knew that no matter how long we sat their, neither S or I were going to take a poo. And if we did, we certainly weren't going to roll it around in our palms. (Maybe that is why these Spider Monkeys are called Black-Handed.)

When we resumed our stroll through the park-like menagerie, we were able to observe and learn about animals from all over the world, including Emus and Wallabys (Australia), Two Toed Sloths and Prehensile Tailed Porcupines (South America), Aldabra tortoises (Indian Ocean Islands), Crested Porcupines and Red River Hogs (Africa), Prevosts Squirrel (Southeast Asia) and a Burmese Python (China).

There were even a couple of creatures that were completely new to me. Did you know that the Fossa is the top predator on the island of Madagascar? And have you heard of the "stotting" Patagonian Cavies? They look like little deer, but are related to Guinea Pigs. They can achieve high speeds over long distances by bouncing along on all four limbs at once.

It looked like the zoo-keepers had taken care to make the animals comfortable. The cages and enclosures were all arranged to look and feel like a natural habitat, except for this one.

I guess they figured that livestock has been living with humans for so long that a barnyard IS their natural environment. And I have to agree with them. The animal pictured above is one of their Jacob Sheep, a "Heritage Breed" that may have originated in what is now Syria some 3,000 years ago. This display also held alpacas, which Andean societies began domesticating as many as 6,000 years ago!

So, I didn't feel bad about seeing these two species "in-jail." In fact, they looked a lot cleaner, healthier and happier than the pot-bellied-ponies or whatever it is they have at the Avila Valley Barn Farm Store.

to be continued...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Zoo part twoo

And I didn't feel too bad about the birds and reptiles either. Sure, most birds are accustomed to being able to fly...which must be one of the greatest pleasures that any living being ever experiences. But, they are only "bird-brains" after all. I find it hard to believe they really suffer from captivity in a well designed arboretum. Same with the reptiles...can their simple brains begin to grasp the fact that they are being held against their will. Do they even have a will...other than the urge to hunt, kills and eat?

But what about the mammals, the ones that haven't been turned into livestock over the last several thousand years? This is where the dilemma begins for me.

Putting these animals in cages, no matter how "humanely" they are designed, doesn't just keep them contained, it keeps them from being themselves.

What becomes of a Red River Hog who never sees a river?
How can the Fossa be a "top predator" when it has no prey?
Is a "stotting" Patagonia Cavie still a Cavie if she is forever unable to stot?

These questions plague me. I put them to rest by remembering my pets: Frankie, Dosher and Pi. I know Frank would rather be outside killing birds any day of the week, but she seems to settle for prowling about the sofa. Pipey, if freed, would pee her way around the neighborhood, and then come home for supper. Dosh wouldn't go any farther than the front stoop, no matter how long we left her out there.

I know my animal companions are decended from a long line of domesticated little monsters, and that is part of why they are such home-bodies. But I still think they make a good example of how mid-size mammals feel about their places of confinement. They don't see themselves as "trapped" inside the house (most of the time.) They see themselves as "home."

I suspect that is how many of the zoo animals feel as well; that their pens are their safe areas. And if the territory is smaller than what they would claim in the wild, maybe that is okay because there is enough food and water to sustain them. Isn't that the main deciding factor for how large or small a wild animal makes it's territory scarcity or abundance?

Ok. So I've talked myself into feeling peaceful about the Housecat to Border Collie sized specimens.

But what about the meerkats, marmosets and monkeys? They are more than just mammals to me. With their grasping digits and thoughtful expressions, they easily convince me of our close family connection.

How do I feel about these furry little people being locked away for a lifetime? At first, it seems just awful. But, when I started to really consider the reality of human nature, it doesn't seem that bad. U.S. citizens watch an average of 151 hours of TV every month (Nielsen, 2008.) Add to that the 240 hours we spend sleeping and the other 240 hours we spend at school or work and you're pretty much got the month covered. Most of our few remaining hours are spent traveling back and forth from our TV's to our offices and classrooms.

Really, considering what we homo-sapiens do with our so-called freedom, the human resemblance these three little "M" species share might actually be a reason why they are so WELL adapted to life in a box.

Having completed these emotional, semi-rational decision-making processes, I was almost able to conclude my zoo tour in absolute comfort and ease. After all, I wasn't visiting these animals in jail, I was a guest in their very own living rooms. What in the world could be wrong with that?

And then I saw the tiger.


There is just no way I can look a tiger in a cage, especially a gorgeous orange and black striped Malaysian Tiger like this one, and not feel my heart sink down to my heels.

Tigers should not be in cages.

I don't care how many house they spend asleep. I don't care how well they are fed. I don't care how lovely and lush their environs are made to be.

Tigers should not be in cages.

I'm not the only person who feels this way. Back at home, I started researching the Charles Paddock Zoo on-line. (I can't even remember how I lived before the internet...can you?)

On a site called "lotsafunmaps" one traveler expresses his extreme disappointment in the zoo, especially this exhibit. He writes about the "life and hope gone from his eyes." He asks, "why buy a Tiger if you don't have room for one?" And he laments, "for the sake of my and my child's entertainment, he spends his life this way." He concludes that his zoo entrance fee was "last money of mine that will support such cruelty."

I know this is not the effect "Mike" was expecting his comments to have, but after reading them I felt a whole lot better about the Charles Paddock Zoo, and zoos in general. He was putting words to the emotions I had been feeling. Under scrutiny, they just don't hold up.

"Life and hope gone from his eyes?" Really? This is so clearly a statement of projected emotion. How could any of us every-day citizens be able to accurately discern a "woe-is-me" expression from the countenance of a bored, frustrated, content or curious cat of this size? I doubt even animal scientists can do it.

"Why buy a Tiger?" This guy is obviously not thinking his arguments through. This issue is not the same as that of puppies, dog breeders and mills. The problem with Tigers is NOT overpopulation! We're not going to end their suffering by refusing to buy them.

In fact, this Malayan Tiger (not Burmese, as the lostsafun guy mistakenly names him) is represented in the wild by only 500 or so individuals.

"For the sake of my...entertainment?" This is probably the most embarrassing statement "Mike" makes, as it reveals the complete self-centered nature of his perceptions. Zoos are not like movie theaters or roller coasters. They do not exist solely for the amusement of paying customers.

While providing a happy experience for human visitors is important, accredited zoos also play a huge role in conservation. Sadly, for many animals, zoos are their last hope of survival. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums oversees Species Survival Plans for many endangered megafauna such as cheetahs, rhinos, pandas, gorillas, giraffes and yes, tigers. As a participating institution, the Charles Paddock zoo contributes to a united effort to conserve, protect and study endangered and threatened species along with the wild places they inhabit.

Zoos also play a vital role in environmental education.

As Bill Baker of the Abilene Zoo puts it, "It’s our reach out to the next generation that will become the conservators of the’s critically important that [children] understand the role that people can and do play in the preservation of the wild places of the world."

If I have one criticism of the zoo, it is in the area of education. Is there some way the can communicate the value of the zoo in a clearer way? I hate thinking that children who visit with guys like Mike leave thinking that they best thing they can do for animals is to never again pay an entrance fee that will "support such cruelty."

For those of us who care about wild animals, as I believe poor misguided Mike really does, one of the BEST things we can do is give money to zoos. So I'm inviting you now to go and visit the Charles Paddock Zoo, or one local to you, and don't just pay the entrance fee, give them a big tip too!

Or donate on-line at

If people like Mike don't want to give their money to zoos, that's fine. They can do other things to help wild animals, like reduce the amount of fossil fuels and cheap foreign goods they consume. Or they could petition their representatives in congress to push for stronger protections for the environment. They can chain themselves to redwood trees or pick up trash along the beach.

But to blame zoos for the plight of Malaysian Tigers and other majestic, endangered species is like blaming TV newscasters for deaths in Darfur. The people who bring a sad situation to your attention are not the same people who are causing it.

So, Thank You Mike, for helping me think more clearly about this issue. And, Thank You Charles Paddock Zoo for all you do to help animals, and for giving us a lovely afternoon.


Dear Mr. Lostafunmaps,

The object you derisively refer to as a "sculpture" is actually a children's drinking fountain. As such, it is not laughable, is it adorable. I'm sorry your kids didn't get to enjoy their experience at the zoo, but it was not because an enjoyable experience wasn't there, just waiting to be had.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Pie in the Sky

I may have set my sights a little to high when I started this writing project.

Last week, when I mentioned our camping trip to Pinnacles National Monument, I had the nerve to add, "more about that later." I shouldn't make such promises! Despite my best intentions, as long as I am blogging only one day a week (sometimes less!) there is just no way I can tell you about every fun thing we do around here. They pile up too fast.

I mean, consider last Saturday. We hiked up Cerro Alto during the day, and went to a show at the Steynberg Gallery in the evening. I'd like to write comprehensive, entertaining, well-crafted accounts of both these activities, and share some photos too. But first and foremost, I MUST tell you about what we did for lunch.

I know I mentioned the Last Stage West Barbeque in my previous post about Atascadero Lake Park. Despite having driven past this eye-catching establishment at least umpteen times, I had never dropped in. Honestly, I don't know if I would have thought of going on this day either, if I hadn't recently mentioned it here and then felt silly for not being able to say anything intelligible about it.

And if we hadn't gone...we would have missed getting our pictures taken in the hillbilly fence!

We wouldn't have been amazed by the apparently natural, authentic and un-manipulated image "Jolly Jim's" ghost in the Mystery Tree.

We wouldn't have had the chance to admire this locally built, quarter-size replica of an WWI era S-44 Submarine.

We'd have missed learning about our local history from the extensive wall display of vintage posters, maps and news articles.

And, perhaps most heart-breakingly, we still would never have tasted their homemade deep dish lemon-berry pie!

There it is, a whole post, just about the place where we stopped for lunch on a day filled with fabulousness. I didn't even tell you about the live music by a local singer-songwriter with the kind of wonderfully dark-sweet voice that makes you think of molasses and sweet potatoes. Neither did I describe the perfectly seasoned slow-cooked ribs or explain how our dessert was the love child of a lemon bar and a blackberry tart.

My original plan of turning this blog into some kind of thorough, orderly tour of Central Coast attractions was clearly just a fantasy. I knew it was going to take years to explore all this area has to offer. That is not surprise. But the cold, hard reality I'm beginning to face is this: unless I devote a lot more time to this blog, writing about all of it would take lifetimes.

If you want to hear more about our hike up Cerro Alto or the recent Steynberg show, hang in there. Those events is still fresh in my memory, I haven't given up on writing about them yet.

But, if you want to learn about the Talus Caves or the Condor Program at Pinnacles National may just have to check out the National Park Service website:

Or, come to California and see it for yourselves...but only if you make time in your trip to visit with us too!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Invalid Adventures

The Central Coast is not a place for armchair travelers! There's no excuse for staying home and reading about far-off lands. There are just too many fabulous adventures waiting for us right outside.

But, what if you caught the nasty bug that's been floating around lately, and hardly have the energy to get up and fix your own cheerios? Is it exceptable to stay at home in that case?

Not if you're married to me!

Because, a couple years ago I single-handedly, solo-mindedly designed and built a very clever collapsible bed platform for our old VW van. (Can you tell I'm real proud of it?)

And, because we went camping in Pinnacles National Monument last weekend (more on that later), and didn't get around to breaking it down during the work week, we still had it set up!

Isn't it cute? Isn't it adorable? Isn't is great how we can slide our cooler and other stuff under the bed like drawers? I just love any excuse to use it, and K having a bad cold looked like a good one to me.

So, grab your Puffs Plus, Honey! Just because you're bed-ridden doesn't mean your house-bound!

We spent the morning parked at the 24th St. Exit lot, reading books, watching Brown Pelicans,

gazing out at Morro Rock in the distance,

and thrilling to the dramatic leaps and jumps of our local kite surfers.

It seems like such a peak-experience sport, but I can't imagine I'll ever learn to do it. It just seems so demanding and complicated. Look, this guy isn't even on his board or in the water...he's just standing on the beach with his big kite in the air, and it still seems challenging.

I'll probably stick to more mundane activities, like playing fetch with the dog.

After a few hours of strenuous activity (can you read the irony in that?), we had developed quite an appetite. So, we drove into downtown Cayucos and picked up sandwiches at Duckies. (yum!)

Then we drove a little further north on the 1, and parked our rolling picnic where we could look out over a slightly different, but equally beautiful, stretch of California coastline.

We enjoyed wonderful views to the back,

to the front,

and even inside!

She is "Pretty in Plaid," isn't she? At least, she's pretty up against it.

All in all, we had a lovely day filled with fun and food, nature and culture, sloth and lethargy. And none of it could have happened if I hadn't built that bed in the van!

(Not even the last photos...because "poodle" isn't allowed up on the bed at home!)