Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

With our boys far away (one is in Colombia for two weeks!) we decided to forego the Jalama Burger and cook a nearly traditional Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  We had a small turkey loaf, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, wonderful farmers market green beans and cranberry sauce.  It was a little feast here with a million-dollar view.  Even Tucker got some!

I'll close this post with some late afternoon beach views from the other day and a wish that all who read this had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We all have so much to be thankful for and it is great to be reminded again to do so.

Best Dog Beach Ever

As we have traveled down the coast of California, we've gotten to take Tucker to many great beaches where he can run.  Never have we camped right on a great dog beach outside our door like we have here.  He is going to miss daily runs on the beach when leave tomorrow for San Diego :-(

Oil Drilling off the Santa Barbara Coast

For thousands of years, the Chumash people lived in this area and had a village right here at the mouth of Jalama Creek.  They used to make ocean-worthy canoes from wood planks and rope, caulked with tar that they found washed up on the beach.  Like the Gulf of Mexico, this area seeps oil from the ocean floor and sits on a huge lake of oil.  There are three huge oil rigs that we can see from Jalama Beach that have been there for decades.  Back in 1969 there was a huge oil spill, the third-largest in US history and the largest ever in California.  I remember seeing pictures of oiled birds and fouled beaches back then and it was my first exposure to an environmental disaster.

There hasn't been a large spill since then, but the oil rigs are somehow ominous on the horizon, because we know what could happen. At night they are all lit up like Christmas trees and at this time of year, the sun sets right behind one of them as seen from Jalama Beach. All these pictures were taken with a telephoto lens, so the platforms look smaller in real life.

Chillin' at Jalama Beach

Not much going on, just long walks with the dog, taking pictures when there is a sunset and watching the surfers and kite surfers endlessly.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jalama Beach

 Jalama Beach is a small cove with small Jalama Creek draining into it.  There are dunes between the campground/day parking lot and the beach. At low tide, the beach is very wide, hundreds of feet from dunes to the water, and lots of kelp washes up to dry.  You can walk north or south as far as the ey can see, though we haven't gone more than a few miles and in places one might get stranded at high tide.  With 120 campsites or so, there are lots of people around, but seldom more than a dozen on the beach, walking dogs, surfing or just hanging out.

The little store and restaurant has been here for decades and probably look about the same as it did 40 years ago.  They serve burgers, burritos and various fried foods that are pretty good for what they are. The store has a little bit of everything and their prices are reasonable.  We had originally planned to spend a week here, then a week 100 miles south in Ventura, but we got to talking to someone from Ventura who told us the first-come, first-served camping area we were headed for would likely be full all of Thanksgiving week.  So we decided to stay here at Jalama for another week, as it is so very pleasant and beautiful (though it gets windy sometime, more on that in a later post).  So here we are.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Santa Barbara County, Officially in Southern California

After the last few moves, which were only about 35 miles each, we now have to make some serious miles.  Only about three weeks till we need to be in San Diego, we have hundreds of miles to go.  So a little over 100 miles of driving landed us at Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County.  Back in 1943, the Atlantic Richfield Company (now known as ARCO) donated 23 acres to the county for the park.  Today, it is a virtual oasis, nestled against Vandenberg AFB to the north and surrounded by arid rangeland and oak woodlands.  Using their own well, Jalama has grass and palm trees and iceplant, making it a green speck on the brown coast. Long a local secret, Jalama has been getting more well-known lately. Getting here involved 14 miles down a narrow, steep road after leaving the Pacific Coast Highway.  Isolated as it is, there is a small store with an amazing assortment of stuff and a grill with the most famous burgers for 100 miles.

We were originally planning to be here for a week, but our arrangements for next week kind of fell through and we like it so much here, that we are likely going to stay for two weeks.  There is nothing to drive nearby to see, there is nothing to do except walk on the beach, draw, take pictures, read and generally hang out.  It is amazing how little we've done that lately, so it will be good to slow down the pace a bit before heading to "big city life" for the next two months.

So the blog will be mostly pictures for a while, if that's ok ;-)

The silver stripe in the middle is the train passing and below it is the oasis of Jalama Beach
It's just us campers and lots and LOTS of birds
Our local homeless guy.  He hangs around our campsite most days.
Did I say lots of birds

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More o' Morro Bay and Morro Rock

As we prepared to leave Morro Bay and continue our trek south, we took really fond memories of the town with us.  And it was a great place for photography, some random highlights below.

I was struck with some similarities between Plymouth, where we used to live in Massachusetts, and Morro Bay.  They are both working fishing towns that have a nice waterfront, they both have a long sand spit enclosing the harbor and lots of moored boats, they both are in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant....and most importantly, THEY BOTH HAVE A ROCK!

Avila Beach and SLO

San Luis Obispo, know locally as "slo", is a historic California mission town, now home to a state university.  Like all these central coast towns have been, it is very clean and nice.  Only 15 minutes from the beach, great wine country, the university bringing some culture to the area, lots of reasons why people like living here.  The big drawback is how far it is away from major cities--200 miles to SF and 160 miles to LA, it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We took a short trip to SLO to check out the mission, hang out downtown, then headed 10 miles to Avila Beach to see their lighthouse.

Mission San Luis Opisbo, 1772, much more restored and in active use than other missions we've seen
Downtown SLO is shaded with huge trees and very active
One big claim to fame for SLO is bubble gum alley, Only about 6 feet wide and about 30 feet long, the walls are enitely covered with gum from the ground up to about 9 feet high
Avila Beach is a lovely little town and beach, but was once the site of a major oil contamination.  Much of the town was razed and nearly 7,000 truckloads of contaminated soil were hauled off by Unocal in the late 1990's
Probably the cutest lighthouse we've ever seen. Build in 1890, it still has the original paint colors, but the light has been replaced with an electrical one nearby.
The view from the top of the lighthouse.
Only trolleys can go up the access road to the lighthouse--it is a harrowing, but beautiful ride up a one-lane road.