Living in the San Joaquin Valley is sometimes challenging. The air quality isn’t always healthful and in the summer it gets blazingly sizzling, oppressively hot. The kind of hot that gives you cabin fever and you long for a cool breeze that isn’t pushed through vibrating, oscillating, rotating machinery.
Yesterday is was over 100 degrees in Clovis. Tomorrow, it is again going to be over 100 degrees and the weather forecast for the next 10 days has the thermometer over 100 degrees. Too hot to handle has a different meaning when you live in the Central Valley. We take it literally. So, I do what our fellow Fresnonian’s do, hide from the heat by heading to the coast. Walkabout is my way to manage those moments of not loving what's up. On walkabout, I can remember how fortunate I am to have the flexibility of mobility.
How do you hide from horendus heat? Take a hike on the headlands. Head to the coast for a hike on the bluffs of Montaña de Oro State Park.
But first, we need food. We take the two hour and 45-minute drive directly to downtown Morro Bay and Shine Café.
This place is worth the drive.
From their website: “Established in 1998, Shine Cafe is known for serving fresh vegan cuisine featuring local and organic ingredients for its loyal customers and the countless tourists that cross Highway 1 looking for vegetarian-friendly alternatives. With a generous selection of breakfast items, entrees, soups, salads and smoothies, our cafe is perfect for a quick bite or a full meal that will genuinely satisfy you.”
Sacramento Vegan, (http://sacramentovegan.blogspot.com ) you would be proud of us and you simply must go here and have not one, but several of their vegan items! Everything is vegan, and unapologetically, wonderfully, beautifully executed. We arrived before they opened and there were already three people in line ahead of us. You could smell all the vegan goodness in the air as we waited for our turn. The vegan tostada and the tempeh tacos were astonishing, and we never missed the meat or cheese. The juice line was slow, but you know it is good when the wait is longer than the meal. We loved sitting and people watching while enjoying a healthy guilt-free lunch.
One of our favorite hikes is near Morro Bay and in Montaña de Oro State Park. The Bluff Trail is a hike on the California headlands allowing coastal views north to Morro Bay and south along the shoreline. The path is wide, easy, well maintained and you can stay far from the dreaded poison oak. Sunscreen is a must even in the fog because you are out in the open ocean air. To add a little distance and a change of view, we added on Coon Creek Trail, a five mile out and back that follows a creek up the coastal canyon to meet with the Rattlesnake trail. Some people run, but today we chose to stroll and enjoy the view.
I feared that there would be hundreds, thousands of Valley residents lingering after the long Fourth of July holiday, but it seemed to be the normal summer crowds. Los Osos was buzzing, the State campground was full, and we needed to squeeze into a busy parking area.
But once on the trail, all was right with the world. The sky was that wonderful coastal moist mixture of blue and patches of residual marine layer overcast. It felt like naked freedom to be outside and not sweat from the overbearing heat. There were people crowed on the main beach, but after a while, the crowd thinned and we found ourselves alone with the cormorants, dark-eyed-juncos, western gulls, and California quail. The Bluff Trail was in bloom with native plants and invasive weeds side-by-side. California poppies made it a complete California coastal postcard picture ready for a Sunset Magazine cover.
We are so fortunate to live in Central California! It's hot, but we can drive a few hours, sometimes only a few minutes and be in an entirely different climate and biotic environment. Don’t like the grasslands? Drive to the forest. Don’t like the city? Drive to the wilderness. Don’t like your neighborhood? Drive to the coast.
While hiking on the Bluff trail in Montaña de Oro State Park, I was so thankful for the vision and wisdom of the rich person (or people) who made the donation to keep this part our California Coast un-developed and open for public use. There are still wild stretches where you can hear the crashing of waves, watch the pelicans fly in formation, and not see or hear human development, all within a short drive. You can smell the ocean, get sand in your toes, and you can feel the moisture in the air, all without commercial development.
Tomorrow it is going to be again heartbreaking hot. I can’t drive to the coast every day and I can’t live on the beach, but I can recall how proud I was to live in California where there is still an opportunity to walkabout to the coast and breath in the clean Pacific Ocean air.