Day 19: Reaching the Pacific Ocean
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
After breakfast, we took a brief and unproductive visit to the Mariposa Grove, a sequoia grove located in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree, so I figured it might be interesting to visit. Too many people, too many cars... Plus, we were eager to leave and drive the last 200 miles and finally reach the Pacific Ocean, 18 days after leaving New York.
The first part of the drive, going south on route 41, was not particularly interesting. After having crossed Fresno, we drove through San Joaquin Valley, famous for being "the food basket of the world". We were literally surrounded by hundreds of farms producing grapes, cotton, nuts, oranges, peaches, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables. As we were driving south, slowly the manicured farms gave way to the ranches, while the landscape slowly turned from green to yellow, characterized by soft hills, covered by endless meadows.
Finally, after a few more miles, we reached Morro Bay in the afternoon. After so many miles across the great plains, the Rocky Mountains, the deserts of the Southwest, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the farmlands of California, it was a refreshing experience to see and smell the ocean again.
Morro Bay's most striking feature is Morro Rock, a 576 foot high volcanic plug which stands at the entrance to the harbor.
We headed down to the marina area, where the hotel I had booked - the Anderson Inn - is located, and, as soon as we parked the car, we were greeted by the yelping of some seals sunbathing and having fun right next to the marina boardwalk.
While strolling along the boardwalk, we stumbled upon the Fiona Bleu Gallery, where we had the opportunity to know Rowan Chase (in the photo below), a local artist whose work is strongly influenced by the colors and textures of the environment of the coastline of San Luis Obispo County. We chatted a bit with him, browsed through the gallery, and finally we treated ourselves with a couple of small pieces to always remember this day.
The Anderson Inn hotel was more expensive than other hotels in the area, but I wanted to surprise my wife with a nice room and celebrate reaching the Pacific Ocean with a delicious seafood dinner at the Galley restaurant, located just downstairs, with a nice view of the harbor and of Morro Rock.