|Tuesday AM, after breakfast with Tony & Mark, we headed out for a six hour drive to Morro Bay, California. Leaving Palm Springs it was very windy and tossed the car around a bit but not too bad. I can see why they have all those wind mills there! Also quite hazey or smoggy? As we got closer to LA the smog was a lot more evident and heavy. Not really interested in living around that area! I'll take Florida. Instead of taking the most direct route we swung north towards California City and then west through Bakersfield to avoid any LA area traffic. That put us across the Mojave Desert. Saw a lot of Joshua trees which belong in the yucca family and are only found in the southwest where it is mostly confined to the Mojave Desert. Something different for us to see...
Along our way we passed through the Lost Hills Oil Field which is the 18th largest in CA but ranks 6th in remaining reserves. We'd been looking for oil fields in Texas and found some but nothing as dense with pump jacks as we saw here! Quite the sight.
A bit later while crossing the Mojave and looking for the next rest area we spotted a sign that simply said "Visitor Center" and took that exit hoping for nice facilities than the typical highway rest areas. Turned out to be the visitor center for the Borax Company. That's as in 20 mule team Borax! It is the largest open pit mine in California that has been going since 1927 in Boron, CA. It is one of the richest borate deposits on the planet. The company started in Death Valley in 1872 where they used the 20 mule teams to haul the ore out of the desert. Nice visitor center displays on top of a hill overlooking the pit with a video presentation for us and a gift shop. And...a very nice rest room! Well worth the detour which added a lot of time to our day trip.
Also along the way, we saw miles of vineyards. Enough to make all our wine sipping friends very happy! Many orchards including almonds which could make ME very happy!
Got to Morro Bay early evening, checked into hotel with a view of the sunset beside Morro Rock, a huge "volcanic plug" which forms inside a volcano and is denser than the surrounding rock which erodes away with time and leaves the "plug" we could see from our hotel window. You can drive out to it and look around, use the beach, and watch the birds and wildlife. It is a peregrine falcon sanctuary and we think we saw one flying overhead. There are lots of California ground squirrels out there and are always looking for handouts. There is also a power plant with several tall stacks there that isn't operating. When we were driving into town and saw the stacks we were hoping there wasn't going to be a nuke plant there for our enjoyment!
On the waterfront of Morro Bay is the "Avalon" which was one of two rescue vessels designed to rescue sailors from downed subs. See photo.
We stayed here for two days to rest and recuperate and look around a little. Followed as close to the coast as we could and drove south through Baywood to Montana de Oro State Park which had nice views of the coast and hills. There were lots of horse trails there which seemed to be getting a lot of use.
Finally found out the name of some flowers we'd been seeing and enjoying. I stopped and asked a couple walking their dog and found they were "ice plants". Looking them up on the internet tells me they were introduced from South Africa as a control along the railroads and then along the roads. Now they are considered an "invasive" since they spread so easily and quickly.
So...we got a little rest from the road and are in a good position to head a little north to the Hearst Castle on Wednesday!