After the rain!

24 Mar

There are times when you really wish the weather forecasters would get it wrong!


view from haRVey

The week end in Lompoc wasn’t just wet it was cold and windy too – yuk! Thankfully we had hired a car again and Saturday morning (thinking things were going to brighten) set out for a drive towards Buellton and Solvang on a more minor road which took us through some of the vineyards.  We did call at a couple but they were busy with week end organised parties who had arrived in stretched limousine and mini bus’s we thought we would not taste today.

We briefly stopped in Buellton at the visitor centre for some local information then drove across to Los Olivos where we tried a different kind of tasting for us – Olive Oil tasting. We had picked up a leaflet in the visitor centre for Global Gardens where we were able to taste a selection of locally grown and produced olive oil and vinegars. We had fun after sampling individual oils mixing them with the various vinegars to make our own combination tastes. I was surprised how different the individual oils actually tasted, my favourite was the one where the sage brush which grows close by the olive trees had actually imparted its own uniqueness to that oil. I also enjoyed the peach vinegar and we both liked the fig balsamic… so many to choose from. We actually purchased a jar of olive and roast garlic tapenade, I have since used a little of this with some pesto in a dough making a  delicious flavoured bread!

We were happy to be on the road again Monday morning, and the sun had re appeared. We were heading for Lopez Lake Recreation Area, about 8 miles from Arroyo Grande and into the hills. Again fruit orchards and vineyards lined our route, plenty of oranges and lemons hanging as well as falling from the trees, the vines just beginning to break leaf. The recreation area has a huge number of camping sites split into small areas. At check in we were advised to go and find a site then go back to register, we had plenty to choose from as the park was almost empty. We chose a spot in the Quail campground with a nice view to the lake. The trees seemed full of birds especially the acorn woodpeckers, twittering and enjoying the sunshine after the week end wet.


We took a short walk around to the marina in the afternoon just to get our bearings, in this short time we saw swallows, pelican, more woodpeckers, blue jays, small birds of the brown/grey variety….. etc., etc., apologies to my bird watcher friends for my limited knowledge but I hope the photo makes up for it.

The steep hills around the lake have several trails associated with them, we were due a challenge, or at least that is what I was told. Tuesday morning we began our walk on the Cougar trail from the campground to join Escondido trail to lead us to the High Ridge trail, just a 2.5mile round trip but marked as strenuous. Alarm bells should really have sounded when we had difficulty finding the start of the trail in the campground, however we did find it and we began to enjoy the gradual incline. This was made more interesting by us becoming aware of the quantity of fossilised shells in the sedimentary rock along the path. Typically once you spot one piece you see many more but from several pieces the path became littered with the fossil embedded stones. This was at a height of around 750 feet above sea level. Obviously at one time it was not.


As we neared the top the trail became steeper, parts were not so easy having been washed out by the week end storms, we were glad we had bought our walking sticks with us today.




Once we got to the High Ridge Trail some of the walking was easier and the views out were brilliant, in places we could see right over the lake to the ocean, it was a clear day. Some of the trail however, was extremely steep and difficult again made more so by the recent weather we presume.







Things deteriorated after this as we tried to find our way back down. At one point we completely lost the trail after deciding there was no way we would attempt what looked like should be the correct route.

I did think I had photos of the very worst part but it seems I did not stop for the photo opportunity to record the extremely steep and rough gradient we had to negotiate. Not a hike I would repeat or recommend and yes – it was a challenge!






Maybe we are glutens for punishment, maybe just fool hardy… next morning we set off to hike the Duna Vista trail which would take us 7.5 miles around the other side of the lake and into the hills there. Our morning had begun with a wonderful demonstration right in front of our camp site from the local wild turkey who are obviously feeling that spring is on its way.


Our walk started with spotting another male making himself beautiful


As we walked beside the lake the grebes and coots displayed to one another, more woodpeckers flitted back and forth and we  also spotted an Osprey sitting in a high tree perusing the lake for his lunch.


As the trail continued we moved between oak woodland and grassy meadows where again spring was certainly showing promise of being more than just around the corner. Many wild flowers were nestled in the grass, yellows, purples, pinks and white.





We stopped beside the lake  at a picnic bench for a snack, mused on how on earth it got to where it was but said a thank you for the chance to rest our feet.

The path from here began to climb, no where near as difficult as the previous day but, with the weariness of that hike it felt steep enough to me.





On reaching the top most point of the trail we were rewarded with a wonderful view, as described in the tail guide we could again see right out to the ocean, across the fork of the lake and the hills for miles around.


The ocean is the darker blue line and, if you have good reading glasses on, between it and the first bit of green is a lighter (yellow) line..that’s the sand at Pismo Beach! It was 10 miles away.

We walked for 5 hours, a really enjoyable hike in pleasant surroundings, I wish we had done this one the previous day. never the less, my legs were tired and my feet very sore when we got back. In addition to the trail there was another 3 miles getting to the start from the camp site and back again, making this hike 10.5 in total.

Next day we were on the road again, driving to and through San Luis Obispo to another regional park between San Luis and Morro Bay. This park was totally different, again the campground was split into small camping areas, however the total number of sites was much fewer. Almost all the campsites were divided by a thick bushy screen making them quite private.

Alongside the park is the Botanical Garden and the camp host advised we could pick up trails information from the store there. My feet were glad it was just a very short walk to the store. We chatted with the staff who supplied us with leaflets and also the information that Thursday night was Farmers market night in San Luis. This market has a reputation for being a great social gathering and sounded really interesting to visit. We were advised that there was no parking for haRVey but we would be able to take public transport into and out of town.

Sure enough for a $2 each fee, the 5.15 bus from the local college dropped us at the government buildings in down town San Luis. A quick piece of research before we left had shown us places to eat and I liked the sound of one where there was a good vegetarian choice. Stalls were still being set out as we arrived so food first seemed a good idea. When we left the restaurant the market was in full swing. The main street was split into three sectors, one end being the fruit and veg stalls the other food vendors, in between a selection of other traders and various organisation stands. The queue for the barbecued food being produced by the vocal traders in the picture below, stretched yards down the street. Not being meat eaters, plus we had already eaten, we did not taste the food but stood a while just to watch and listen to their theatrical performance as they cooked the various treats which were being awaited by the long queue of customers.


Just along the road we listened to another performance this time an electronic cello and further on an old time jazz band amused the passers by.

The fruit and vegetables all looked good, we bought some lovely strawberries and a huge bag of salad, avocado and broccoli, mindful that we had to carry it all home on the bus!We had a great evening out, quite a treat for us to be out after dark!

Next afternoon we walked back to the botanic gardens and thanked the girls who had given us the information and helped sort out the transport times for us. We then took a tour of the garden itself.

At present just two acres are set out to represent the five Mediterranean climate areas of the world, eventually 150 acres will become show plantings from native California plants through those from Australia, Chile, the Cape of South Africa and of course the European Mediterranean. Even in its present young state as a garden and at this early time of year there was plenty to see and be enjoyed both by us and the humming birds!










Humming bird

at bottom of picture.



By Saturday morning my walking legs had returned. Hoping to beat another forecast of rain we headed for the Eagle Rock trail to gain a vantage point over the surrounding countryside and a good view of the volcanic plugs known as Morro’s which stretch out between Morro Bay on the coast and San Luis Obispo.

Apart from a cool breeze it was a pleasant morning to walk, again the birds were flitting around, gathering nesting material and generally doing ‘spring stuff’. I really feel the season is turning. More wild flowers lined our route, we now enjoy being able to name US natives and as always I am in awe when I see things we grow as house plants growing in the wild.


From the top we looked down on the camp ground and the park below. The group of trees right in the middle of the picture is the camp ground, the ocean just on the horizon.

So now its Saturday evening and a whole week since the rain storm, tonight’s forecast – more rain… but then, after the rain there is always the sunshine!


One Response to “After the rain!”

  1. Sue March 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    great bird pictures!
    we did several hikes in the last few days that were a bit more than we anticipated.
    we are recuperating now! Morro Bay is awesome. we plan on being there sometime in mid April.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: