11/27/2020 to 12/11/2020
After a week of staying in place in Saratoga spending time with my brother, getting laundry done and resupplying, we hit the road and headed south to Monterey. We stayed at another nice Harvest Host golf course with beautiful views of the Monterey Bay.
We spent the first afternoon driving the 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach. The views were spectacular and just as beautiful if not better than I had remembered.
After ending in Carmel, we stopped at the Mission which is the second of a series of missions built by Father Junipero Serra in California. This one was built in 1771 and one was that I studied and wrote a report on in elementary school. It was a much larger complex than I remembered and was beautiful in its simplicity and lighting. Unfortunately, we were not able to get inside due to a mass.
Next stop was seeing the Pebble Beach golf course’s 18th hole. I think that was Ross’s highlight. Although he also has been pretty enthusiastic about watching all the surfers. If there was a ski resort nearby Ross would think he had died and gone to heaven.
On the second day we started the morning hiking with Buddy in some old military land that now is a mountain biking area. And then we hopped on our bikes and rode some of the bike paths nearby and then headed over to Fort Ord State Park. In the future, if we return to this area it would be a great place to bike. The Fort Ord State Park was military land where they had practice rifle ranges that has now been cleaned up and made into a park. The ice plant was glorious in color and the sand dunes and blue ocean a beautiful back drop. Unfortunately, no dogs were allowed on the beach, so Ross and I had to leave Buddy behind for our walk down to watch the surf.
We also made a quick trip in Monterey to walk around Cannery Row and visit the beaches at Asilomar.
The afternoon was spent playing a round of golf on the Black Horse course. The greens were extremely difficult and often you could hit the ball on to the green and due to the slope it would roll back off. What a challenge!
We departed Monterey and drove down Highway 1 along the coast. Ross was really looking forward to seeing this area, and I had biked this section years ago and was looking forward to seeing it again. It did not disappoint! The views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline are incredible. Our favorite spot along the way was Nepenthe where we sat and had a coffee and amazing homemade pastries on a sunny deck overlooking the majestic views. We could have sat there for hours. This is a place not to be missed and unfortunately our photos do not do this area justice.
We eventually wound down the coastline and ended up at Morro Bay State Park where we have enjoyed walking around the estuary, biking, and hiking some of the local trails. Unbeknownst to me, Morro Bay is a national recognized area for bird migration and there were plenty to watch. Additionally, I learned that Morro Rock was formed as a volcanic plug and is all that remains after the original volcano eroded. One of the days we rode our bikes from the campground to Morro Rock and through downtown to see the sites. Another day we enjoyed walking on the beach with Buddy while watching the waves crash against the breakwater. The surf was high which made it exciting to watch. We also were able to indulge is some fresh oysters and crab.
We also made a few day trips to my old stomping grounds of San Luis Obispo. I had gone to Architecture School in San Luis Obispo many years ago and it was fun to show it to Ross. The downtown has grown and modernized but still has lots of charm and character and is full of boutique shops and restaurants. The campus has grown like crazy and I was amazed at all the new buildings and campus housing. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos while I was there….so sorry!
We migrated south like the birds to Pismo Beach for a few more nights to allow us more beach time and a visit to Avila beach. Our campground was in walking distance to the sand dunes and the beach, so our mornings and sunsets were spent walking on the beach. The beach closest to us was flat and fairly hardpacked so they allow cars to drive on it. I thought it a bit odd and not to my liking, but it did also mean that we could bike on the beach which was a first for me.
We also spent some time at Avila beach which has become a much cuter town than when I was in college, so we spent most of the day there and I was able to paint on the pier. It was a great experience for me to paint in a high-profile spot with lots of tourists stopping by to chat while I was painting.
I was also able to catch up with a few college friends for a socially distanced backyard get together. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic is getting worse so the State of California has implemented a stay at home order so all state run campgrounds are closed. It made it a bit more challenging to find places to sleep but ultimately it all worked out.
We made it to Santa Barbara (which was our goal before turning back to Colorado) and have really enjoyed it. On our way into Santa Barbara we stopped at Refugio State Park and had breakfast on the beach. It was a beautiful way to start the day. The weather was warm, the views glorious and it was so peaceful.
We spent the afternoon walking around downtown Santa Barbara which is really lovely. The architecture is beautiful with a Spanish flair, and the shops and restaurants looked so enticing. It was sad to see them locked and/or empty due to the virus.
The following day we rode our bikes along the coastal route and out to a few beaches so that Ross could hop into the Ocean (it was way too cold for me) and head out along the Pier. Santa Barbara has a lot of appeal and I can see why so many people want to live here. The access to the beaches, the mountains, fantastic climate and a beautiful architecture makes this super attractive. To end our beach days properly, we had fish and chips on the beach and watched the glorious sunset on our last evening in Santa Barbara.
I have a few friends who live in Ojai and I had heard wonderful things about it, so Ross and I headed into the mountains for a day trip. It did not disappoint and was a very charming small town with a beautiful downtown arcade, boutique shops and had a very artsy friendly feel. We were also very impressed with all the orchards/agriculture growing nearby. It was a beautiful place to stop and see friends.
We departed Ojai and started working our way towards Joshua Tree National Park. Due to the campgrounds being closed at Joshua Tree we ended up boondocking behind the General Patton Museum. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise since we had low expectations. The General Patton Museum is located off of Hwy 10 in the middle of nowhere. So I was surprised to learn that the reason it existed was because in 1942 General Patton started a desert training center near here. A local family initially had a memorial here to General Patton which eventually grew to a substantial museum (that was closed due to Covid) so we could only see that tanks outside.
The other plaque located in this area that surprised me was one which commemorated the start of Kaiser Permanente (which is a non-profit health care system in the US). I love coming across this little tid bits of information.
We spent one afternoon touring through Joshua Tree National Park and to be honest, I was not that impressed. What I have realized, is that I am not a lover of dessert scenery and in particular the dry wide open vistas. Ross however loved the peacefulness of it. We both feel like we have seen so many of the great National Parks that we have been spoiled. It did have some great examples of the variety of cactus in this area and some beautiful rock outcroppings. The Joshua Tree (which is not actually a tree but a Yucca Plant) only grows in a few regions, so it was nice to see some good examples of them.
Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of time to plein air paint but there have been a LOT of photos taken that will ultimately become studio paintings soon. On a few evenings I did work on a dog portrait commission and was able to get it into the mail before the Christmas due date. Here is a preview of that painting. I will be introducing my new Pet Portrait Painting website soon.
From here we start our journey heading home through Arizona.