Marika and I have been exploring new places along the coast. Sometimes we take our trips in Marika’s car so it’s faster, more economical and easier to maneuver around a town. Other times we take the RV so that the dogs can hang in comfort while we’re out adventuring.
Last weekend we had reservations to tour the Point San Luis Lighthouse a few miles south of Morro Bay. We took the RV and made a day of it.
We turned onto Avila Beach Road, a two lane stretch of road that curves around the wide C that is San Luis Bay, then dead ends at the Port San Luis Harbor. We got there early, before ten o’clock, so that we could find a parking spot for the RV and have time to explore and relax before our 1pm Lighthouse tour.
Since it’s the end of summer, we didn’t expect too many cars. But four days ago, humpback whales were spotted feeding in the bay and the crowds have been coming ever since.
So we parked in the first spot big enough along the road and started toward Dog Beach. But there were too many people and dogs already on the beach so we took a short walk up a hill, then piled back into the RV and drove back into the actual town of Avila Beach just down the road to explore. But the streets were hilly and narrow and the public parking lot said NO RVs, so we returned to the beach road, found a place to park closer to where we needed to meet the Lighthouse Tour bus and had lunch.
The dinette window faced the expanse of water, still smooth and gray like the sky. Anchored boats bobbed in the water and a few pelicans glided overhead. Kayakers and stand up paddle boarders moved through the water, all watching for whale activity.
We watched the cars, bumper to bumper, driving in and out. As soon as one car pulled out of a parking space, another pulled in. People set up beach chairs along the narrow sidewalk, sat in the backs of their pickup trucks, leaned against their cars, watching and waiting.
There was no unusual bird activity, no gathering of thousands of pelicans diving for fish like they had reported days before. Still, people came with cameras and binoculars and lined up along the road, watching. I wondered if they were noticing anything else – the kayakers, the dogs running on the beach, the subtle changes in the sky – or if they were only looking for what they wanted to see.
The fog rolled out, revealing the curve of land on the other side of the bay, and the water turned blue to match the sky. And still the cars drove in and people stood and watched the water.
At 12:30 we walked down to the Lighthouse meeting point and got in the van that took us onto the private property of PG and E, up a narrow, winding, single lane road through scrub oak and cyprus trees. About half way up, the road hugged the steep edge, revealing the water below us, shining and spectacular in its bigness and blueness.
The tour was fun and informative. We learned about whaling in the area in the 1870’s and saw the original Fresnel light, long since replaced by an electric light and now housed in the old fog horn room. The tour bus driver said that the whales had been feeding on giant schools of sardines and anchovies, but they had all moved further north. Too bad no one told all of the folks who had driven to Avila Beach.
We could have felt rushed to get back to camp, or, if we’d been in the car, maybe we’d have been too hungry or tired to stay. But with everything with us in the RV, it was an easy decision to stay put, enjoy the view and hang around for the sunset.
We took a nap and read. I wrote a bit and we took the dogs for a short walk along the sidewalk, away from the flow of traffic. Marika made dinner and we dined with a view of pelicans and gulls gliding along the curve of the coast.
The sun went down behind the mountain we had driven up in the tour bus hours before. Traffic finally thinned. A bonfire blazed on the beach and a few kayakers floated on the water, now silver and rippling in the wind.
We pulled out at eight, easing into the light flow of cars. We made every light and cruised north on the 101 in the dark, all of us ready to be parked and settled. Home.