24 Mar

Saturday

Despite the chilly, misty start to the day, by the time we arrived at the head of Rocky’s trail the sun was beginning to find its way through quickly warming the air.
The first part of the trail meandered around the edge of the lake, cutting in sharply around the dry camp area and away towards the dam. We hadn’t walked very far when Robert spotted a small herd of deer just above us grazing in the shade, whilst obviously wary of us they stood long enough for me to take a couple of photos.

The trail was partially shaded and fairly moist so there were plenty of wild flowers to observe and attempt to identify, viola’s were easy, and a yellow flower which looks like a buttercup with a leaf like an oxalis grows everywhere around here, California poppies obviously pretty common too. There were plants which reminded me of cultivated plants from back home but I couldn’t bring to them mind and one’s which were total stranger to us too, it’s fun to try and identify, then eventually we usually find the information either on the internet or at a nature centre.

The trail eventually led us to an overlook of the dam for the lake, a not very spectacular view after the (?) mile walk to see it, however the walk itself was interesting and despite being very warm by the time we got back we felt it a day well spent.

Sunday

From Rocky’s Trail we had been able to view various stretches of the lake but not see it all, we thought the Grey Pine Trail which went in the opposite direction around the lake may give us a better view of the lake. Also from Rocky’s Trail we had seen outcrops of rock on the other side where we thought possibly there may be either Osprey or Golden Eagle. This trail led through far more wooded landscape and was much wetter and more rutted than Rocky’s trail. Eventually we found the branch to ‘the pond’ high up in the hills we felt we should take a look, a steeper trail led to a dingy, scruffy little patch of water, quite disappointing really and not at all worth the scramble to see it. More disappointing as we planned to have our mid-day snack there but decided to retrace our steps back to the branch in the trail and head towards the high rocks we had seen the day before. As we approached we could see people right on top of the smooth round boulders not too high above us, even nearer and we realised it was quite possible to get up on top there for the view.

We scrambled up the first steep bit just as the folk from the top were coming down, we then had to squeeze by a bush and on to another steep path before the final launch up on to the top rocks. I have to say I chickened out at this point, I badly wanted to see the view but wasn’t confident enough of my footing to get up there. Robert with longer, stronger legs did manage it, the pictures show what I missed – an eagle eye view of the lake far below, maybe next time…

Monday

As there was no news about the arrival of the cooling unit for the fridge we decided to head back to Morro Bay for another couple of days, the indication was that it should arrive in time for fitting Wednesday or Thursday and we felt we could find enough to occupy us at Morro for another couple of days. On arrival at the campground there were only dry pitches, several of the hook up’s were out of service as a tree was to be felled the next day. We took a dry camp for the night with the hope of getting a hook up on Tuesday. We have filled the fridge with bottles of water and cans which hold the temperature down just enough to keep us operational without an electric supply for a short while, so we felt we would be OK.

Tuesday

There are certain members of the family who, I know, would aspire to being lumberjacks! I relate this episode just for you…. (pictures too!)

Just before 8am the tree surgeons began there assault on a huge (Robert estimates 100’) Pine tree right in the middle of the camp sites. We had prime position from our site and enjoyed the spectacle sitting in comfy chairs with a cup of coffee! The lower branches were removed by a guy with a chainsaw from a cherry picker, after that and to our great surprise one of the men roped himself up and climbed the tree, he then proceeded to saw off branches to within about 20ft of the top portion. This final section was roped and sawn through landing with a thud top down on the ground below, this thud was nothing in comparison to the one which followed as the whole trunk, sawn through from the bottom came crashing down and momentarily bounced. In less than 2 hours the tree was down. It took several more hours however for the branches to be shredded with a very powerful shredder, and the trunk to be cut into sections and carted away.

After lunch we took a drive over to Morro Strand and took Roberts kite on to the beach for an inaugural flight (he has only had it about 4yrs) Once he got the hang of it he managed to do some great twists and turns, it was also good exercise for me running after it to re-launch each time it plummeted to the ground!

Wednesday

Unfortunately still no sign of the cooling unit!

We made plans to go back to Paso Robles for early Thursday morning, but chose to spend the day at Montana de Oro and walk the Bluff trail. The Information Centre was closed when we arrived and initially we struggled to find a spot to park haRVey but ended up on the beach car park with the fridge side in the shade of a well positioned tree.

Back up the road a short way the trail led off along the cliff top (bluff), the sun was warm, the day was supposed to be the hottest this week, but as usual the strong wind from the ocean was very cold. It would be quite easy to get sun burned, and we both have been ‘caught’ as you don’t realise the strength of the sun with the chill on you.

The rock formations below the bluff were quite spectacular, layered on a diagonal to the beach and cliff they looked jagged and quite sharp, we later learnt how they were actually quite smooth. There were several places where the water had washed away the earth and rock and formed stacks with holes and caves in, even though the tide was on its way out we could see the force of the waves crashing around below us. We ended up back on the beach looking in the tide pools for a while but they were fairly empty.

Late in the afternoon we received a call to tell us the cooling unit had still not arrived, it was hoped it would be in late Thursday afternoon. Not wanting to hang around any longer we made arrangements to have the job done on Tuesday next week, so we could spend some time at Jalama Beach County Park, which we had been told was worth a visit.

Thursday

Around 100miles south and 14 miles from the main road we arrived at the campground at Jalama Beach. There were limited hook ups and unusually they had electricity but no water. We settled on a site which overlooked the Ocean with a small pine tree to shade the front screen. Our neighbours quickly introduced themselves as Mary and Dennis and we chatted for sometime before we even had our jacks down and slides out!

We took a walk down the beach which had some great rock formations and lovely stones to collect. It was slightly spoilt by patches of crude oil which at times were easy to mistake for sea weed or stones and could (and did) quite easily get on your shoes.

Chatting with our neighbours later Dennis informed us it was mostly due to natural seepage and not to the 3 oil platforms we spotted out to sea.

Friday

We started fairly early on a long walk in the opposite direction down the beach; again we found rocks and shells for collection and investigation, broken abalone pieces, sea glass and other shells. We spotted a blue heron fishing in the rocky shallows and saw lots of empty crab shells, presumably some of them his victims, probably some fell foul of the many cormorants which lined the rocky outcrops. We estimated we walked 3-4 miles along the beach and would have walked further but for the cool wind and again the ‘blobs’ of oil to be dodged.

Back at camp another long conversation struck up, Mary and I comparing ‘treasure’ finds and swapping children and grandchildren stories, Dennis and Robert chatting about whatever, when the men interrupted us as Dennis had spotted whale spouts off shore. Binoculars to eyes we watched carefully all wanting to see more. Sure enough our patience was rewarded by several more sightings. Initially I thought I was seeing the white horses of the waves breaking but the actual spouting were unmistakable when they finally came as they were so much higher out of the water. At last we have seen whales…. Well best view so far…

Saturday

It has been a while since we heard rain in the forcast but it is due tonight. We have again moved inland to Cachuma Lake. It has been a part cloudy afternoon but with a pleasant temperature and we strolled around the huge, but well spaced, campground here and looked out at the boat launch and the lake, watched many trying to catch the fish in the lake and visited the nature centre, yet again stretching the brain of the friendly docent on duty. There is so much information in there we will have to go back tomorrow as we only had 40minutes before closing time today. They have a great display about the Indians and the cave painting I would like to look at as well as live native plants and local rocks all labelled up to answer some of our many stored up questions. We intend to stay here until Monday then head back towards Paso Robles for Tuesday’s fix. We are going to hire a car for the day and go exploring which should be fun! And… we picked up a message on the mobile phone, the cooling unit was delivered Thursday afternoon. Wey-hey!

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