May 20-24_Morro Bay
Morro Bay is blessed with two symbols that represent the town. So outstanding are both they can easily be seen twenty miles away.
One is the Morro Bay rock. It is the natural remains of a volcanic plug that formed millions of years ago. I’m told the Army blasted away at the rock during WWII in order to use the stone for a breakwater, so the rock is about 1/3 smaller than originally formed. Today it is on State Park land, once again immutable in time.
Recently a drunk male climbed the rock in a misguided attempt to inspire his girlfriend to marry him. He got to the top and called her on his cellphone and proposed. She rejected him. Then he couldn’t get back down under his own power, and he subsequently had to be rescued. Finally on level ground he was promptly arrested. Now that’s a bad day!
If the thought has crossed your mind, it’s illegal to climb the rock!
The second symbol is the three large smoke stacks above the (now decommissioned) power generating station. They were constructed in the early 60s as the answer to a pollution problem. The answer in those days was send the pollution skyward and it will disappear. I wonder what we are thinking about pollution control now that will seem just as absurd to the next generation.
And again, if the thought has crossed your mind, it is illegal to climb these towers!
Morro Bay is a natural stop between Santa Barbara and Monterey. It has none of the panache of Santa Barbara nor Monterey. It is just the right size to have enough of everything and only a bit too many small retail shops and bars. It’s homey, salt-of-the-earth, unassuming and laid back: almost like a town on island time. A fine fishing fleet anchors the town — making fresh fish prices low and the waterfront picturesque.
It’s the perfect size for a community, enough of everything and nothing extra. The community is full of sailors, paddle-boarders, hikers, kayakers and outdoor types. If that’s not enough activity you can take a harbor tour or go whale-watching, picnic (but don ‘t climb the rock). The fish is fresh, the food prices are reasonable and the locals are as welcoming as in any Mexican village.
And I enjoyed playing Coast Guard for a day!!
Of course the picture is not entirely pretty. The fishing industry is on a slow relentless decline, the jobs replacing those are lower paying,and housing prices are going through the roof, driving out affordable rentals. Tourism and sales in small retail shops can only pick up so much of the economic slack.
For mariners the Morro Bay Yacht Club is the hub of activity. It’s a volunteer club with access to moorings in the bay. The current is strong, so it is advisable to tie to one of their mooring – at a fair price of $25.00 per night. Just how friendly are they? I had multiple offers to give me a lift to the grocery chain store, and all the lay-of-the-land advice my brain could hold. By the way, the MBYC holds a regular Friday evening cocktail hour and guests are invited.
And a big shout out to new friends Anne and Glen Albright, for hosting me to the best breakfast in town.
What I like the very best is that their Internet access reaches to their moorings, so for a rare time on this trip I have the luxury of good Internet service on RD (more valuable than a hot shower).
When it was time to leave my mooring line snagged on the mooring chain under water and I was struggling with it (for an hour) when a harbor patrol boat came by and asked if they could help. They spent the next hour untangling my bow line. When I asked them how I could thank them they answered “you just did.” That’s the kind of town Morro Bay is.
I departed at 1530 hours for an all nighter and a 90 miles of motoring under clear skies and a full moon to arrive in Monterey Bay the following afternoon.