Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 3: Morro Bay to Santa Cruz

Posted May 9, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
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Airstreaming to Alaska


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are.”

We said goodbye to Morro Bay and continued our journey north toward Alaska.

Traveling along the fringes of California we tied up loose ends – stopped to admire places we neglected in our youth and skipped past some old favorites.

Highway 41, just south of Atascadero

Paso Robles

Whenever we pass through Paso Robles, we stop for coffee and a bite at the Hunter Ranch Golf Course, an ideal RV rest stop.

The Grill serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and the magnificent view of the namesake oaks (“Paso Robles” means The Way of the Oaks) smooths out towing-day anxieties. Thank you Paso.

hunter ranch golf course


Continuing on Highway 1, we entered Castroville, The Artichoke Center Of The World.

Castroville artichokes

When I was fourteen, Jim hand fed me my first artichoke. The moment that intimidating food impersonating a medieval weapon passed my lips, I became a woman … who wanted more artichokes.

1971 – Carmen (14 years-old). Photo by James Beaubeaux (16 years-old)

Artichokes, the caviar of vegetables, have a fascinating history. This challenging mediterranean crop, cousin to the daisy (my favorite flower) nearly took down the city of New York with Tommy gun wielding mobsters and train robberies.

Castroville artichokes
Pezzini Farms artichoke fields. Most artichokes in the USA are grown in California

Bearing a tender yet armored heart the domesticated Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, is named for the secret lover (Kynara) canceled by Zeus. That tragic seduction story is often resurrected in film and literature. The meta-narrative even extends into the real-life story of the first Artichoke Queen of Castroville, Norma Jean Mortenson, famously known as Marilyn Monroe.

Castroville artichokes

Generations of powerful males like Henry VIII reserved the artichoke for their exclusive consumption, forbidding them at the women’s table, until Catherine De Medici stuck a fork in that nonsense.

The taboo existed to protect women’s honor, you see. The assertion held that the delicious thistle would make the ladies frisky. Yeah, well, they make me gassy, but pity the man who would dare try to separate me from my sexy health food.

About twice a month Jim steams these sumptuous lil’ devils with lemon, herbs and black pepper corns and serves them up with a garlicky lemon aioli for dipping. Heaven.

Castroville artichokes
Jim’s amazing artichokes

All hyped up for a roadside segue of deep-fried superfood with a side of polyphenols, we pulled the rig off at The Choke Coach at Pezzini Farms where the large yard is big enough to park the rig.

Castroville artichokes

We are tough customers because Jim IS the world’s best artichoke chef.

Castroville artichokes

We tried the tacos and the grilled artichoke. They were good …

Castroville artichokes

But I’m still thinking about that dreamy artichoke bisque we slurped from a cup! I could begin every morning with that buttery nectar. It’s in the top ten Best Soups In My Life.

Castroville artichokes
This soup is on our regular meal rotation

Now, the Castroville Artichoke Festival is on our bucket list.

Santa Cruz

santa cruz

Like Morro Bay, we entered Santa Cruz with barely a week to see the area. That non-enough feeling hit us again when we saw our parking space. We squeezed into the tightest spot ever.

The RV Park at Santa Cruz Harbor is all about location.

santa cruz

It’s walking distance to town …

santa cruz

with cycling access to the most important places …

santa cruz
Cruzin’ on our wonderful Dolphin eBikes on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

like the beach …

santa cruz

parks …

santa cruz

Coffee shops

breweries …

and even the, (ugh) …


We had some serious adulting to do. Since 2019, we’ve put off getting our Real ID’s.

Artwork on the California Real ID

To make nice with Homeland Security we had to suck it up and submit to our least favorite administrative office: the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

capitola dmv

There are dozens of online California DMV survival guides, but we’re old pros: (1) Choose an office (any office in the state) with a coffee shop next door (2) any coffee shop with a bathroom. (3) Arrive after rush hour. 4) Go as a team (5) in comfortable shoes (6) with phones charged (7) and paperwork in hand. (8) Have distractions (candy, games, podcasts) so the anxiety (of our hangry, confused fellow DMV inmates fidgeting with their impatient children and stressed-out comfort dogs while straining to hear their number throb out of the echoey public address system) doesn’t get to you.

But we experienced a miracle at the Capitola DMV. A man, even older than us, in fluorescent orange athletic shoes – an energetic government employee with a runner’s physique and astounding communication skills – guided every person through their process as if we were, every one, a VIP and, by all appearances, he was having fun. I didn’t even have time to dig for my pocket candy. We were out of there in under thirty minutes.

“I want to be just like him when I grow up,” I told Jim as we exited, “I wonder what he eats to stay so healthy?”

“Crepes.” Jim said, Yelping on his iPhone for breakfast.

sweet peas cafe

Sweet Peas Cafe, was a delicious, wholesome reward for responsible management of our civic duty.

Silver Sneakers Membership

The next item on the agenda: Fitness! As a new card-carrying member of the 65+ club, we both signed up for our Medicare Silver Sneakers benefit at 24-Hour Fitness.

24 hour fitness

Now, we have FREE access to swimming pools and shower facilities throughout the United States. This national membership program will broaden our choices for campground locations in cities and towns where fitness options are otherwise limited.

With business matters settled, we indulged our senses in Santa Cruz …

where work and play are dovetailed into the architecture and lifestyle.

It’s a mature point of view …

santa cruz
Wall mural in Downtown Santa Cruz

to understand that failure is vital to progress …

santa cruz

distractions facilitate goals,

santa cruz

and living creatively is not a waste of time.

santa cruz

It’s an “everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” kind of vibe.

A place where community …

santa cruz

and a pint of wisdom go a long way.

Otters. Oaks. Artichokes. Beaches.

santa cruz

We skipped along the Central California shoreline like children without a care …

santa cruz

confident and secure that the adults are in charge, making the best of the situation.

santa cruz lighthouse
Santa Cruz Lighthouse

All will be well.

Onward to San Franciso!

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series

  • Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
    • Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay – Chula Vista, California
    • Malibu Beach RV Resort – Malibu, California
  • Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
    • Morro Bay State Park – Morro Bay, California
  • Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
    • Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park – Santa Cruz, California
  • Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
    • San Francisco RV Park – Pacifica, California
  • Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
    • Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – Wilton, California
    • High Water Brewery (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Harmony Wynelands (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Van Ruiten Family Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Four Fools Winery (Harvest Host location) – Rodeo, California
    • Lawson’s Landing – Dillon Beach, California
    • Mia Bea Wines (Harvest Host location) – Redwood Vally, California
    • Johnny’s at the  Beach – Eureka, California
  • Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
    • Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon
    • Bay Point Landing Resort – Coos Bay, Oregon
    • Blue Herron French Cheese (Harvest Host location) – Tillimook, Oregon
    • Seaside RV Resort – Seaside, Oregon
  • Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park – Olympia, Washington
    • Salt Creek Recreation Area – Port Angeles, Washington
  • Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
    • Weir’s Beach RV Resort – Victoria, British Columbia
  • Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
    • Riverside RV Resort – Whistler, British Columbia
    • Big Bar Rest Area – Clinton, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • Alexander MacKenzie Landing – Mackenzie, British Columbia
  • Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
    • Northern Lights RV Park – Dawson Creek, British Columbia
    • Former Prophet River State Park – Peace River, British Columbia
    • Hay Lake – Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
    • Northern Rockies Lodge and RV Park – Muncho Lake, British Columbia
    • Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Liard River, British Columbia
  • Chapter 11 – Yukon
    • Watson Lake Visitors Center Parking Lot – Watson Lake, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Norsemen RV Park – Atlin, British Columbia
    • Hot Springs Campground – Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Real Canadian Superstore Parking Lot, Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Gold Rush Campground – Dawson City, Yukon
  • Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
    • Downtown Chicken Cafe and Saloon
  • Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
    • Tundra RV Park – Tok, Alaska
    • Gulkana River Rest Stop – Gulkana, Alaska
    • Bear Paw RV Park – Valdez, Alaska
  • Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
    • Grand View Cafe and RV Park – Glacier View, Alaska
    • Alaska Raceway Park (Harvest Host location) – Palmer, Alaska
    • Ship Creek RV Park – Anchorage, Alaska
  • Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
    • Heritage RV Park – Homer Spit, Alaska
    • Marathon RV Campground – Seward, Alaska
  • Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
    • Williwaw Campground – Whittier, Alaska
    • Talkeenta Camper Park – Talkeetna, Alaska
  • Chapter 17 – Denali
    • Riley Creek Campground – Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs
    • Riverview RV Park – North Pole, Alaska
    • Chena Hot Springs Campground – Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines
    • Fast Eddy’s Restaurant Parking Lot – Tok, Alaska
    • Gravel Turnout – Beaver Creek, Yukon
    • Gravel Turnout – Destruction Bay, Yukon
    • Haines Hitch-UP RV Park – Haines, Alaska
  • Chapter 20 – South to the Lower 48
    • Gravel Turnout – Haines Junction, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Jade City Parking Lot – Jade City, British Columbia
    • Mehan Lake Rest Area – Bell II, British Columbia
    • Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park – Telkwa, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • 100 Mile House Municipal Campground – 100 Mile House, British Columbia
    • Mt. Paul Golf Course (Harvest Host location) – Kamloops, British Columbia
    • Crowsnest Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Cawston, British Columbia
  • Final Chapter – Lessons Learned
    • Philosophy
    • Preparation
    • Planning
    • Mileposts (the book)
    • Roads
    • Weather
    • Camping
    • Cash and Currency
    • Clothing
    • Food
    • Wildlife
    • Bugs
    • Fuel
    • Dump Stations and Potable Water
    • Pets
    • Internet Connectivity
    • Hiking
    • Cycling
    • Kayaking
    • Damage
    • Dangers
    • Canada Border Crossing
    • US Border Crossing
    • General Observations
    • Serendipity
    • Final Thoughts
    • Our Camp Sites

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.