Central California Coast

We knew when we left Lone Pine that we wanted to head for the coast.  Staying on the coast was proving to be difficult because a lot of the campgrounds are closed due to damage from recent storms and the ones that are open were already booked.  Somehow, though, we managed to get a spot in Hearst San Simeon State Park for four nights the day after we left Tuttle Creek.  That left us with one night to fill.

After much searching on the internet, Jeff found Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield.  RV parks are typically our last resort because they are usually the most expensive option and also don’t usually have the secluded feel that we like, but this one had some advantages we couldn’t pass up.  First, and probably most importantly, this RV park has an area where you can wash your rig.  It is mostly just an area with a hose, but this is a huge advantage!  We have not stayed anywhere else yet that would allow us to wash our truck and trailer, so the last time we washed was at a spray-off carwash where we felt we had to rush because others were waiting. We didn’t get things cleaned very well, and it still cost us over $20.  At Orange Grove, we were able to take our time and really get everything scrubbed up.  We can’t stress enough how good it felt to have everything clean, even for a short time!  (It rained that night, of course.)  We also needed to get some laundry done, so on-site laundry facilities were a nice advantage, too.  It was nice to be able to multitask and get the laundry done while we were washing the truck and Bigfoot, instead of wasting an hour and a half waiting around in a laundromat.  And, the most fun advantage to this RV park is that it is set in an orange grove, the oranges were in season, and we were allowed to pick as many as we wanted.  Neither of us had ever eaten an orange right off the tree before, and we totally recommend it!  They were absolutely the juiciest oranges we have ever eaten.  We still have a few left and will be so sad when they are gone!

With chores done, it was time to point our rig west to the coast!  Like we said, we were staying at Hearst San Simeon State Park in the Washburn Campground.  This campground was about a mile inland from the coast, but was set on a plateau with nice views of the countryside, and if you hiked to the top of a hill, the Pacific.  The campground itself was not much to talk about.  It was a typical state park campground…In need of some maintenance, and lots of noisy campers very close by.  We will also say that a short section of the road getting in, and the roads through the campground, were about the most pothole-ridden roads we have ever traveled.

The good news is that we were not here for the campground.  We were here to see the surrounding area, especially the area of Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Ragged Point, so that is what we set out to do.  On day one, we drove down to Morro Bay and spent a good bit of time wandering around Morro Rock Beach, Morro Rock Ecological Preserve, and the area around the Morro Bay T Pier.  We had a great time oohing and ahhing over Morro Rock, watching the birds fish, and seeing the sea otters twirl in the water.  There were lots of beautiful flowers in bloom, too.

We have talked to many locals from the area, and at least two of them said that we should tour Hearst Castle while here, so on Wednesday, our second day here, that is what we did.  This is the home William Randolph Hearst built atop a hill overlooking the village of San Simeon and the Pacific Ocean.  It is absolutely the most elaborate estate we have ever toured.  The main house itself might have gotten the designation on its own, but when you factor in the three guest houses, gigantic outdoor Neptune Pool, indoor Roman pool, mile-long pergola, 127 acres of terraced gardens, and PRIVATE ZOO, it is just beyond compare.  And wait, there’s more!  It is also a display of Hearst’s massive art collection.  There were sculptures, paintings, tapestries, etc.  The most amazing pieces to us, were the Egyptian sculptures created 3,500 years ago!  It is difficult to comprehend that this all belonged to one person and was once a home! 

“Portal to Big Sur” at Ragged Point

After leaving Hearst Castle, we continued North on Highway 1 and stopped at the Elephant Seal Vista Point, and then on to Ragged Point.  Ragged Point is where the highway is currently closed due to road damage, so it was as far as we could go, and our turn-around point.  The elephant seals were fun to watch at the vista.  Unfortunately, the males are out to sea right now, so we didn’t get to see any of the giants, but there were tons of females and babies/adolescents that were all really busy doing nothing!  One would occasionally move a few feet, make a little noise, or flip sand onto themselves, but otherwise they were happily resting in the sun.  Rarely have we seen this many animals in one place, so just walking the boardwalk and marveling at the number of them was a great way to spend an hour! 

On Thursday, our final full day in the area, we drove to Cambria and walked in the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.  This is a nice area with trails and a boardwalk overlooking the coast.  We also drove the Moonstone Beach Road and walked out onto the rocks during low-tide to explore the tide pools.  We saw many sea anemones (That is a tough word to say.  If they make the cut into a video, don’t laugh at Heather’s mispronunciations too much…), muscles, sea snails, a few little crabs, and lots of kelp.  It was fun to hike around on the rocks wondering what would be found in the next pool.  This was a new experience for both of us, and we both hope that there is more tide pool exploration in our future!

Sadly, we have been unable to find more camping along the coast for now, so it is time to head back inland.  Our next week or so will be spent in the Lake Success area.  While we will be sad to leave the Pacific behind for now, we are also looking forward to a few days of rest and having the mountains in view again.  Besides, this will definitely not be our last glimpse of the ocean on this trip.  So much more to come!

Watch all our adventures on the California Coast here!

Until next time!

4 thoughts on “Central California Coast”

  1. Cool stuff, particularly the elephant seals and the tide pools!

    What’s the deal with the portal to Big Sur? It’s a compelling image.

  2. I think the female Elephant Seal may be my spirit animal. I’d love to lie around and occasionally make a little noise. Minus the sand flip stuff and add Prosecco,

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