Pismo Breach, CA

After another 5 days without decent cell or internet, I’m finally able to post our doings from a week ago. There will be more soon.700_pismo4We had been looking forward to the change of pace that getting to the coast would bring, but the change wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. My last several days in Death Valley had been slightly marred by a minor but consistent swollen gland in my throat.  It hurt a bit to swallow, but not much else. This is something I get from time to time and it usually resolves itself within a few days – it just goes away. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it progresses into something more serious. Thursday morning when I woke at the Pizmo Beach State Campground, it seemed to have dropped into my lungs and I had a deep and painful cough. which of course gave me a decent headache. Each of our first 2 days there the cough was worse and I felt worse. Thinking I had developed some sort of lung infection, I was just at the point of wanting to track down a doctor for antibiotics, when on day 3 it seemed to travel back up to my head and transformed into a raging head cold. It took 3 more days to fully bloom – until today (Friday), I am feeling a lot better. But my whole time in Pismo I could do nothing much more than hang out in the LD and cough, sneeze and drip my day away. Since I don’t have much to write about, I suggest having a look over at Mary’s blog. She got out to do a number of things we had planned.677_monarch1Our first evening there I was still kind of OK. The Pismo Beach State Campground was really nice too. We arrived on a Monday and there were plenty of sites available, even though one of the loops was closed. There are showers available at a price, water and a dump station. All for the reasonable California price of $23 (with the $2 senior discount). There are so many other state parks that charge up to $40/night with no hook-ups ($60 with) and they can be no more than a diagonal parking space barely big enough for the rig. This campground, as you might expect, is right up against the beach. It is separated by a large wooded sand berm and in the closer sites, you get a nice sound of pounding surf. We chose a site a bit away from there because those sites were more covered by trees and we’ve been having trouble getting enough low winter sun on the panels for our evening TV watching. We picked a nice open site and were happy to find out we could pirate a free WiFi signal supplied by the RV Park adjacent to the State Campground. It was quite strong at the dinette, not so much in the rear. But a nice bonus!675_monarch2After setting up, we strolled over to the Monarch Butterfly Preserve, which is situated just south of the campground. We could just walk to it from the campground. Word was they were back in town and in good numbers. The last of the big storm that hit the northern part of the state was passing through making it a beautiful fresh coastal kind of day. It looked like they got a little rain here in the past couple of days, but not much. Our last time here, January 2013, it was overcast and cold and the butterflies were not active or in the numbers they were this time around. There weren’t exactly millions of them, but maybe several thousand fluttering around and hanging on the trees in the grove. We got to witness their mating ritual, which consisted of the males landing on females on the ground, getting a good hold of them, then taking off while the female just hung on. I guess they find a place in the trees and do the deed. A happy Valentine’s Day (a bit early) was being had all around us.
693_pismo1A path from the reserve led down to the beach and we spent the rest of the afternoon beachcombing the surf line. So again, if you haven’t already, have a look at Mary’s blog for the rest of what we (mostly she) did.
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Beachcombing booty of sand dollars.

Beachcombing booty of sand dollars.

San Simeon State Park
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So I’m feeling much better today. Just a little residual junk in the lungs and a little stuffiness and mild cough. We moved about 50 miles north to San Simeon State Park along the coast for the next few days. This weekend is Presidents Day, so Mary had made reservations a week ago for these days thinking it might be tough to get in on a Friday. At Pismo, mid week the place was almost empty, but RV’s started streaming in Thursday afternoon and the place was full by end of day. We arrived here about noon with our reservations and began looking around for a good spot. There are actually 3 campgrounds that make up the park. There were lots of spaces available in all of them. We found a really great spot high on a bluff in the first campground, but learned that our reservation was actually for a space in one of the lower campgrounds. No matter, the ranger said, it would just cost us an extra $5 for these premium spots. Looking out over the coastal terrain to the ocean and beyond, we decided to splurge and spend $25 instead of the $20. It is less crowded in this campground and we have one of the best views. By late Friday afternoon, most spaces looked taken.

A Black Phoebe at our campsite.

A Black Phoebe at our campsite.

752_SS4Saturday morning we were up for a little hike. There is a nicely maintained 4 mile trail that winds around the park that we wanted to explore. It branches off here and there for alternate destinations, like under highway 1 to the beach, and we decided to go there first. Friday afternoon was clear, warm and beautiful, but another northern storm was supposed to be coming in for Saturday. No rain for us, but we did awake to cloudy and decidedly cooler conditions. No matter, we hiked anyway.
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Bristle-thighed Curlew

Bristle-thighed Curlew

The light, while kind of flat, was actually nice enough. We first walked down to and along the beach. Fishermen (and woman) were out, along with kids and other beachcombers. Low fog would coming in and out created some nice moody scenes.
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774_SS9We backtracked a bit to get back on the main trail that meandered through a cool coastal pine forest. Lots of Spanish Moss draped in the trees made this hike a little more interesting. The fog kept rising and falling giving us different looks all the time. By hikes end, it had gotten warmer, and we were tired. My cold not completely gone, I was ready to stop. Mary has mentioned her throat is now feeling scratchy.
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782_SS13Tomorrow morning (Sunday) is our tour of Hearst Castle. Should be an easy day. Hopefully, Mary stays healthy.

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