Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 2: Malibu to Morro Bay

Posted April 29, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
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"The water is wide, I cannot cross o'er,
        And neither have I wings to fly.
Build me a boat that can carry two
        And both shall row, my love and I."
                – a Scottish Folk Song
Airstreaming to Alaska

The challenge is Time and Distance.

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Morro Bay, California

Perception can be deceiving, a mystery, unsolved. Turning back is natural instinct.

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But steady focus on the goal closes the distance.

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By late January we realized how much sense it makes to fly or cruise to Alaska. Someday we may do that.

But, if this overland journey is to be as much about going to Alaska as being in Alaska, then we will approach The Great North with all the tremor of a sixth-grader asking for a dance at the cotillion, employing as many short slow deliberate steps as possible.

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Traveling the California coastline at about 100 miles per week – the pace of a bicycle tourist – gives us time to think and plan and savor the drive.

100 miles per week is also the distance pioneers averaged on the Oregon Trail. It is still a good pace. A pace that laid the groundwork for one of the world’s greatest and fastest growing economies. Nothing wrong with slow.

With Beauty and the Beast, the pioneering spirit is always with us (including an indoor bathroom, gourmet kitchen and wide screen television).

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Pulling through downtown Morro Bay

The clean Pacific breeze, gorgeous views, beaches and fish dinners make this coastal tour move way too fast – another phenomenon to discuss around the evening fire.

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Our overland trek is on schedule

Everyone is well. The equipment is operating as intended. Outerwear is the current focus as we anticipate cooler temperatures up north. We are grateful for the bounty of outfitter stores along the coast.

There are advantages to driving north in winter. Low traffic, low tourism, no bugs – more elbow room to immerse in the Pacific coast history and geography.

Whenever we enter a sweet town, rather than grab a bite and run without even a tip of the hat …

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we stop, stay a while, pass time with the locals and wait for the passes to thaw. Hmm? Could that be the origin of “pastime?” No, but you heard it here first.

Leaving Malibu

‎⁨Highway 1 – Point Mugu⁩, ⁨California⁩

On a warm, windy Santa Ana morning, we pulled out of Malibu, taking our time on PCH, we eyed opportunities for adventure, views, and foodie delights.

We are always looking for places where we can pasture The Beast and explore with low dependence on fuel.

Morro Bay

By mid-afternoon we pulled off of Highway 1 to Morro Bay State Park nestled between a serene lagoon and a public golf course in SLO, San Luis Obispo County.

The lagoon

Morro Bay is an idyllic, low-key winter destination.

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a true walking neighborhood …

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with countryside …

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and seaside charm …

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It is an estuary brimming with wildlife …

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where birds, otters, sea lions and ancient pygmy oaks take sanctuary …

It’s an easy walk or bike ride to the sunny Embarcadero, with shops and restaurants offering regional specialties …

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Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant – Crab Benedict with Fried Polenta!

with a gentle rhythm and warm, positive vibe …

and, of course, miles and miles of beach.

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Other than a productive day-trip to the city of San Luis Obispo

we pretty much stayed home, grooving on the SLO life.

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The Bayside Cafe – a five minute walk from our campsite – became our office.

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We arrived without provisions and planned to stock up in town. Then, while walking Pico to the marina to check out the kayak launch …

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we stumbled upon the dog-friendly cafe.

After an evening bite and a beer, we experienced an epiphany: “Hey, let’s just eat here every day!” The entire menu is precisely what we like – rustic and comforting – and we ate it all. The price is right and the staff is beyond superb – let’s call them super-heroes, every one. Easiest camping experience ever!

Now, with more time to play, we could visit with Susan, Jim’s kindergarten-to-high school friend who lives nearby.

And, tackling the bay every single day was also a no-brainer:

The Rock

Speaking of brains … this rock! Well, what does it look like to you?

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Morro Rock, The Gibraltar of The Pacific, one of the Nine Sisters, is visible for miles and holds the regional imagination and history. Morro (“hill” in Spanish) looks like a lot of things. This volcanic plug is a changeling. Depending on the light and atmospheric conditions it can morph into a rising super moon … or a Baked Alaska on a silver platter.

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Sometimes it can look rather small …

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and, sometimes, very large.

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A solid week of face time with The Rock didn’t get old. At sunset a local gentleman with a camera joined me at the museum lookout. I suggested that he must have thousands of rock images in his files. He said, “You never have enough photos of The Rock.”

But The Rock is not alone

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In the 1950’s The Rock was joined by another sexy landmark, three perky smoke stacks, attached to a power plant.

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In 2014 the plant closed, but the 450-foot stacks remain as an impressive monument to industrial chic. If you want to see the iconic stacks, then you should make your Morro Bay plans before they are no longer an eyesore or an intriguing aspect of the skyline.

As local politics go, you’ve got your yes-stack people and your no-stack people, but the Prime Directive holds: we remain impartial. Still, Three Stacks And A Rock is an installation worth the t-shirt. It’s a haiku for the eyes…

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this tiny spot on the planet, where the eco-system and human encroachment appear to have come to terms.

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Morro Bay gives me hope that this living-compatibly-with-nature thing just might be doable.

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One last sunset …

and the next morning we were off for Santa Cruz.

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series

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.