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Beach-Time Is....

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Pismo this year.
Usually I just drove through it on the way to the beach….
I never realized just how much of a resort town it is…
And as I explored the back roads and small narrow streets…
I was often reminded of the Iberian Peninsula.

Nice….. I like.

Sea Lions in Avila

Young sea lion in Avila California


    Avila California has a few really nice piers.
    The Sea Lions have taken to sleeping along some of the lower access walkways.
    It’s illegal to try to get them to move.. as this may be construed as harassing them….
   They are also wild beasts… so if you try to get past them.. they might get scared and bite….
   In fact… these critters are like dogs with flippers and no ears.   They are beautiful creatures when in the water…. they transform from the ungainly creatures we see on land.. to swirling and twirling flying dancers in the deep kelp…..

beautiful and astounding.


Mary McLaughlin

Over the waves you call to me
Shadow of dream, ancient mystery
Oh how I long for your sweet caress
Oh how I long for your gentleness

Torn between sea mists and solid land
Nights when I’ve ached for a human hand
I’ll come to you when the moon shines bright
But I must go free with the first streak of light

Over the waves you call to me
Shadow of dream ancient mystery
Oh how I long for your sweet caress
Oh how I long for your gentleness


Summertime is for travel



  Yep, this looks like fun.
  I wonder if I could get one with a small bed that would hold a few hundred pounds of cactus in boxes?


Chevy Nomad

Chevy Nomad


  On the other hand… this looks like a lot of fun also! And I could carry a lot of cactus in the back of that wagon.  the long spring travel on that beast might smooth the ruts of our dirt road out pretty nicely.

   It’s summertime now… the freeway is crowded with motor homes, Subarus with luggage on top, antique automobiles cruising… and motorcycles

   Yeah… it’s all good.

Arroyo Grande


Arroyo Grande
A nice little town

A mix of styles…. kind of Western looking… since so much of it was built in the 1880′s

There are a lot of great eateries along the main drag called ‘Grand Avenue’.
Grand itself leads straight on to the sea going through Grover Beach, and straight to Pismo Beach.
That straight wide road becomes packed with folks visiting Pismo… and the traffic can become pretty heavy at times. There is a high proportion of great places to eat for a small town.


 Here’s a nice old-school church in Arroyo Grande
AG has a lot of nice architecture. Many ‘Craftsman’ style homes are along the streets….
And some newer homes and businesses built in faux Craftsman style.
It makes for a very attractive little center-of-town look.

Pismo Beach

Pismo and Arroyo Grande from Pismo Heights
The cone-shaped little hill on the left third of the photo is called Silver Mountain.
It is reputed to have had several mines in it during the 1800′s.
Driving around it, you can see several areas with unnatural erosion and soil disturbances.
It is also said that infertile couples can spend the night
on Silver Mountain and be assured of a child thereafter.
Silver Mountain is near our home…
When I see Silver Mountain I know I’m nearly home.


This photo shows Pismo Beach and Grover Beach (formerly known as ‘City of Grover City’).
You can also see the long wide strand of sandy beach, formerly renowned for its huge ‘Pismo Clams’.
The clams are now gone, dug up by generations of revelers.
This beach is one of the few in the US in which you can drive a vehicle.
It is packed with visitors during holiday weekends.
Pismo is referenced in many films and cartoons including Bugs Bunny and The Big Lebowski.
It is also the place of  the fictitious ‘Pismo Beach Disaster’ in the film ‘Clueless’.

New Hospital Building in Santa Maria

   There is a new addition to the Marian medical building in Santa Maria.
   It’s pretty large…. and has some building techniques I’ve never seen before….
   It seems to be covered with a plastic sheeting….. perhaps to protect it from the elements until the outer coating can be completed.
   I wonder if it is huge foam blocks… that would be filled with rebar and concrete….
   But it is interesting to see.  I suppose if I listened to the local news some…. I’d know what’s going on.


The Cowboy meets the Windmill

                                                   Windmill Nursery


    Windmill Farms….
    On the intersection of Hwy 101 and the Los Berros/Oceano turnoff in Nipomo is a little family biz.
    Over the years they have gently expanded their operations to include a petting zoo and fresh vegetables they grow on an acre or so behind the main shop where they sell produce.  I really like the series of little houses they’ve built for the petting zoo. It is so ‘Ghost Town’ looking… so ‘Western’…. so very unique.
    The foods inside are really good and fresh, and their brother is a pro-fisherman.. so sometimes they have fresh fish for sale.  I like to stop by for Albacore when it’s in season in the Fall.

    Once in a while they’ll have a BBQ open… I took the photo below of their main BBQ fellow Billy Ruiz, the owner of the BBQ operation who they contract to come by and cook meat. Like a lot of the pro BBQ people in the area, he has a trailer with all of his necessary tools and implements. He just backs it in, opens it up, and fires up the wood and he’s ready to start.
  The name of his BBQ business is Cowboy Flavor, and I tell ya, he knows his way around a steak! In fact, he’s so good that President Reagan had him go to his ranch to BBQ for the President and his guests at the ranch on a regular basis.


Summerland California

   Summerland is a small community just south of Santa Barbara. It’s a great little spot, sheltered,  with a beautiful little beach. In fact…. it’s (generally) my favorite beach… but that varies depending on weather and such.

   Here’s some photos I took of Summerland beach this last summer.



   This is from Summerland Beach looking north (actually West) to Santa Barbara. If you walk along this strand for a few miles you pass many resort areas all the way to SB.


summerland_071309_9   summerland_071309_8   summerland_071309_10

   Here are a few random photos of the water…. dogs are allowed on this beach, and it is a great joy to see people and their dogs all enjoying this beach together.
   The photo on the far right shows one of the many oil seeps that occur here.
   A nearby beach is named ‘Carpenteria’ which means ‘The Carpenter Shop’ in Spanish.
   It was named that due to the many Chumash canoes the Spanish saw beached there and being caulked with the heavy oil that seeps from local rock strata.
   These oil seeps are the only thing bad about this beach… and they only occur sporadically when the tide uncovers oil-bearing sand deposits or unplug a seep.  They smell bad, like kerosene… and the normally clean water gets a dirty foamy and rainbow appearance.


    summerland_071309_7   summerland_071309_2   summerland_071309_5

   The photo on the left shows a plaque built into a rock commemorating the first oil wells in this area… among the first in the nation.  The photo in the middle is another plaque showing various oceanic occurrences off the coast  in the last few hundred years.

summerland_071309_4   summerland_071309_3   summerland_071309_1

   Here’s a couple of close-ups of the compass, so that you can click-to-embiggen the photos and read the cool things that happened around here.  The photo on the right shows the picnic area.  There is a little grassy area, a ground-padded playground for the kids… easy access to the beach via a paved ramp, and a shower at the top to rinse off before you get back into the car.


   Summerland is more than a pretty beach, it is also a nice little community with a very low crime rate, a cute little shop area right off the highway and some nice architecture much of which was built early in the last century.  It’s close enough to Santa Barbara to stay at as a base-of-operations for your Santa Barbara/Ojai/Ventura vacation.

Antelope Valley California

Joshua Trees

I made a business trip to the Antelope Valley a couple of years ago.

It was so pretty, I thought to share.

Joshua Trees dot the landscape in some parts of this desert.

Rocky crags, framed by Joshua Trees

A Joshua Tree close-up

Arroyo Grande Morning

Arroyo Grande Morning


Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande means ‘Big Gully’ in Spanish.

   A.G. as it is known locally, is the town north of us. Technically it is the town we are attached to, our phone bill says we are in A.G.  But in our canyon, we prefer to say we are in Nipomo, because it is just over the hill.
   A.G. is a very nice town. It has a flavor of the West combined with a hint of ‘East Coast’. The people here are really interesting also, there is a very substantial hint of ‘Old Hippie’ in this town…I fit right in.

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

  I like AG for the architecture, the old buildings, many from the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. False-front Western-style buildings rub shoulders with stone or brick buildings that look like they were brought over from Massachusetts. There is a huge diversity of shops, antique stores and boutiques which will keep many people browsing for hours. There are also some specialty butchers who process the wild game which is taken in the nearby hills, you can get some great sausage made at my favorite butcher shop on this street.


Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue, Pub

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue, Pub


   AG also has some fine bars and pubs. The one in this photo is an Irish pub, and has a lion in the front window.

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

  The village of AG has a lot of reasons that tourists and travelers should stop by for a day or two.  One of them is the strange ‘Swinging Bridge’ that joins the two sides of the town as it crosses over the arroyo. This bridge was actually originally constructed in 1875 by a fellow named Newton Short who own property on both sides. He built it as a suspension bridge without sides. The sides were added in 1902. When the village of Arroyo Grande was incorporated in 1911, Mr. Short donated the bridge to the city.

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

   It’s fun to walk across this little bridge, it swings and sways, and you have a nice look deep into the gulch it is built over. Even more fun is watching the people who cross it, many people cannot seem to keep from standing in the center and making it swing just a bit side to side. Grown men become little boys when they are on something like this.

The suspension Bridge in Arroyo Grande from the creek

The suspension Bridge in Arroyo Grande from the creek

  This is a view from the bottom of the gully, looking up over the rushing waters from the recent rain, at the swinging bridge. It is easy to see why Mr. Short would have wanted a bridge to cross over the gully, it would considerably shorten the daily walks back and forth. But having it built without sides is a bit of a perplexing thing.  But I suppose after walking over it a few times without sides, it would become a regular part of the day, and not a big worry after all.  Much like working alongside a busy freeway or high up in the air on a  building. Bit by bit, the human organism becomes accustomed to the things that cause worry and consternation when first introduced.

   Arroyo Grande is right on Highway 101, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco (a bit closer to LA), so anytime you are cruising through, do take the time to pull off for a pleasant break in a quaint little town.