Let’s Escape This Heat!

Post by Alexandra

We have been lazy this summer by not posting our last several camping trips taken over the 2018 summer, so here is one post for the three that we took.

It has been a hotter than normal summer at home, as I suspect it is for many people these days.  It was also the most humid summer here that I can recall.  Scheduling a trip a month to get out of the heat was something to look forward to.

Our first trip was in June, going to the beach at the California State Park, San Mateo campground, near the San Onofre beach.  Temperatures were the mid-90’s and humid at home whereas the San Onofre area was in the mid-70’s.  We had a nice campfire that evening, which was especially enjoyable since it was cool!  This camping trip was spent taking it easy, going for dog walks around the campground and the beach.

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Our next trip was in July, when we headed for the mountains to one of our favorite local campgrounds, Barton Flats in the San Bernardino National Forest.  Temperatures were still in the mid-90’s and humid at home whereas the forest area was in the low-80’s with beautiful pine trees and their wonderful smell.  We did some hikes for a couple days and then another day went into Big Bear for breakfast, a walk around the village and a drive around the lake.  All in all, it was a relaxing trip.

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Our last trip of the summer was in August at the El Chorro Regional Park.  The last time we had camped here was a few years ago when we had lost our awning in a storm.  Drum roll that we would have better luck this time!  The weather was wonderful and the campground was about 1/3 full.  It is a good base camp since it is in between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, about 10 minutes from the beach.  We spent most of our trip exploring the nearby areas.  Here are some photos around the campground.

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Our first day was spent exploring Morro Bay.  We walked along the embarcadero, had lunch by the bay at Giovanni’s Fish Market, then went to the Morro Bay State Park where we walked along the Marina Peninsula Trail and visited the Museum of Natural History.  This museum is atop White’s Point and has a beautiful view of the bay.  We’d been to Morro Bay a number of times but had never gone to the museum before. Though it is a small museum, it is packed with a lot of information and is a very worthwhile stop if you are in the area.

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Our second day we went to the Estero Bluffs State Park, which is about 1 mile north of Cayucos, for a hike.  It is about 4 miles long with a nice hiking trail that follows the low bluffs and rocky beaches though there are parts where the bluff has erosion, so one has to be careful when looking over the edge.  We saw a number of cormorants, brown pelicans, sea gulls, and a couple of snowy egrets. We also spotted a few seals offshore laying on a few sea stacks that were just beyond the beach.  Very few people were there and it was a treat to enjoy the gorgeous and unspoiled/undeveloped coastline.

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Our last day was spent up the coast around the San Simeon area.  We first went to the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery viewing area, which is about 5 miles north of Hearst Castle.  Some volunteer members from Friends of the Elephant Seal organization  were there to answer any questions viewers may have and I suspect they were also there to keep an eye out to ensure the public would not go onto the beach and disturb the seals.  We found out some interesting facts from one of the volunteers such as the elephant seals can hold their breath underwater for 2 hours and that they live in the open ocean for 8-10 months out of the year.   The time of year that we were visiting, in August, subadult and adult males were there to molt, which will be for about one month.  Sea elephants don’t circulate blood near the skin while in the ocean therefore they can’t grow new skin continuously like humans can. They need to come on land where they are surrounded by air instead of cold water, renew their blood circulation next to the skin in order to grow new skin, and shedding the old skin in the process.  When you see an elephant seal molt, some of them look like they are rotting. Watching the elephant seals interact with each other and rest is like watching a nature documentary live!  It is definitely worth a stop if you are driving by.

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On our way back to our campsite, we stopped by the San Simeon pier to watch the brown pelicans and seagulls pick their meals from the anchovy fish schools. While walking on the pier, we watched a mother otter and her pup eat.

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The mother would dive and pull mussels off of the pier pilings while tucking a rock under her armpit.  She then swam on her back to break the mussels open by pounding them on the rock which was on her stomach.  Once she cracked one open, she would hand it to her pup, who was swimming beside her on its back, and the pup would simulate cracking the mussel open, though they did not have a rock, then eat it.  It was mesmerizing to watch them do it again and again.

We had a relaxing time watching the beach wildlife during this Morro Bay trip.  A nice way to end the hot and humid summer!

Watching Morro Bay sunset on last night eating dinner at one of the Embarcadero restaurants.

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