Morro Bay came highly recommended to us; visitors praised the abundance of wildlife here and its relatively small town feel in a state where everything is gentrified. Entrance into the harbor is scenic, with the iconic Morro rock at its entrance, a 581ft volcanic mound which in the past has been used as a stone quarry to build the local breakwater and buildings. Today, it is a natural preserve that is home to a recovering population of peregrine falcons and other birds, with a beach that is popular for surfing and bathing. On the day that we arrived, conditions were pleasant, with clear skies and mild winds, but the harbor often proves to be dangerous, with strong currents and dense fog. A monument at the mouth of the harbor commemorating the families of local fishermen who stand and wait for the return of their loved ones in stormy weather reminds us that Mother Nature is not to be taken for granted.
We dropped our hook in what would prove to be a comfortable anchorage, with a short dinghy ride on one side to some sand dunes housing snowy plovers, and on the other side to the charming Morro Bay waterfront, with numerous seafood restaurants and inns. A harem of sea lions had taken over what was supposed to be a floating dock for visiting boats, barking their presence at all hours of the day. One night, we were awoken by a clambering sound outside our boat, and rushed out to see a sea lion making a hasty exit from our dinghy, leaving us bucketfuls of sea water to be sponged out the next day.
On our first excursion to land, we were treated to the sight of sea otters frolicking in the harbor. In the past centuries, they were hunted close to extinction in coastal California, for their luxuriously thick fur. Now, they are a protected species. On our walk, we met an elderly resident out walking her dog, who told us about moving between Morro Bay and the neighboring Bakersfield but eventually settling back here because she preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the area.
That Saturday, we were able to catch the local street market, where the smell of kettle corn filled the air. We dropped in to a second hand bookstore run by a local family, with a backyard that is sometimes used for weddings. Visitors chatted with the storekeeper, and every spare piece of wall was covered with photos of families and friends. Next, we stopped by a stall selling incense, as we were running low on the boat. Nick Chronis, a veteran from the Navy, hand makes the incense from makko powder, a sustainable cut-and-return crop .” I have the best smelling backyard in my neighborhood”, he told us happily, and we returned home with a good selection of our favorite scents. (Link)
Reflection of the day:
Sea otters sleep holding hands or holding on to the same piece of seaweed as their family members so that they do not drift apart at night. Fall asleep holding on to your friends and family in your heart.