Here and There on California’s Central Coast
Monday 11 September 2017 — Category: Outings
During my December 2016 trip to Santa Maria on California’s Central Coast, in addition to visiting some brewpubs I also visited a few of my favorite coastal locations. The morning of December 24, after trying to get an early start, my wife and I finally made it to Pismo Beach around 9:00 or so. Because it was only a few days after the winter solstice the sun was still low in the sky even at that time of the morning, providing great light and shadows for photography.
After walking to the end of the 1,200-foot Pismo Pier and back, we walked the three-quarters of a mile to the north end of the beach, and then back. There was a lot to see: fishermen, a search and rescue helicopter, surfers, wildlife, and more.
During the hour we were there I took 36 pictures. The best 14 start off the new California Coast 2016 album. For other photos at beaches just north and south of Pismo, see the Shell Beach 2011, Grover Beach 2011, Grover Beach 2013 and Oceano Dunes 2014 albums. When I was going to college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo during the 1980s, one of my favorite haunts was Montaña de Oro — Spanish for “Mountain of Gold” — a state park approximately two miles south of Los Osos and six miles south of Morro Bay.
After going out to lunch with my son later that day, we headed north for a whirlwind tour of some of the San Luis Obispo county coastline, eventually ending up at Montaña de Oro. Although it was sunny, it was somewhat wintery out, with a strong wind and scattered showers, which added to the experience of this rugged area. After parking at the end of the road at Spooner’s Cove, we took a footpath along the top of the adjacent bluffs to the south.
The highlight of our short half-hour visit was a rainbow right by Morro Rock which, as I mentioned above, was about six miles away. In the photo to the right you can also see the old power plant. It’s not every day that you get to feast your eyes on that scene!
I was so entranced by the sight that I took a few dozen photos to try to capture the fleeting beauty of the moment. Because they were all somewhat similar, only 3 photos from Montaña de Oro made it into the new California Coast 2016 album. For a lot more photos (87!) from about two years previous, see the California Coastal “Mountain of Gold” article and the accompanying Montaña de Oro 2015 album. On our last day on the Central Coast my wife and I got out the door a bit earlier, arriving at Oso Flaco Lake, part of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, around 8:30. I really like this place ... it’s only a 14-mile drive from Santa Maria, yet I feel like I’m in another world.
Because I have an abundance of pictures from three previous outings — see the Oso Flaco 2011, Oso Flaco 2013, and Oso Flaco 2015, albums and accompanying articles — I wasn’t very motivated to take any more photos. But I found more inspiration once we followed the half-mile boardwalk from the lake to the beach.
The view from the observation desk at the end of the boardwalk was breathtaking. As I attempted four different 200-degree panoramic photos to stitch together at home, I ended up with more than 100 shots. The best one was the above 26-image panorama — click on it to see the full-sized version.
During our one-hour visit I took a total of 122 photos (mostly for the panoramas). The best 6 complete the new California Coast 2016 album. And that completes this article!