Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Between a Rock and a Hearst Place

view of Morro Rock from bay with sailboats in foreground
Morro Rock

We've been recharging our bodie's batteries here in Morro Bay, California before we tackle Europe and our upcoming house sitting assignments.  This funky little waterfront town is just what we needed to rejuvenate ourselves and prep for four months abroad.

Morro Bay is a town of about 10,000 people, situated along the Central Coast, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Morro Rock, located at the harbor's entrance, is 578 feet tall and sits like a sentinel watching over the town.  The bay itself leads into an estuary that fills and empties with the tides.  At low tide you can occupy hours in the mud flats watching the birds (a stop on Pacific Flyway, the town hosts a major bird watching festival in January) and at high tide it's great kayaking.  If you're lucky you'll spot a sea lion or an otter or two.

The otters tie up in the kelp to rest.  That darker brown baby is lying atop its mama.
This sea lion was looking for a free lunch from local fishermen.

While tourism is the major industry here, it's the beach, so it's low key.  Lots of people "discover" Morro Bay almost by accident.  They are here to drive the world renowned Highway 1 to Big Sur or to see that famous guy's big house up the road...a.k.a. Hearst Castle.  Those fortunate enough to make a stop here will find many family owned restaurants, some good seafood, a variety of shops and galleries featuring the work of local artists, little coffee houses and plenty of places to stay.  If you're into breathing some fresh sea air there is an 18 hole golf course with panoramic bay views, plenty of waves for surfing and a long stretch of beach perfect for walking.  With two state parks within the city, a Museum of Natural History, and an elegant, old movie theater downtown thrown into the mix there is something for everyone to enjoy.  But, as much as Morro Bay may offer the tourist, it's much more than just another beach side tourist town.  It's a place filled with people who've been here forever and have no desire to leave.  Why would they - they have the very best of California right here.

Morro Bay's a fun town for walking and shopping - with "totally killer deals" to be had. 

Artist Kim Van Nordstrand's mermaid welcomes you to her Main Street shop ArtSea.

After dark, the Fuel Dock rocks with live music.

It's really not possible to walk past Crill's Saltwater Taffy without stopping...really, we've tried.

The Morro Bay power plant may be considered in eyesore by some
but it has been around so long that's it's hard to imagine the waterfront without it.
It would be sort of like Morro Bay without Morro Rock.
By the way, those two little black specks on the far right tower are people!

The birds don't mind sharing the bay.

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