Saturday, 17 November 2012

Morro Bay and Santa Barbara

Detour north to Morro Bay

Josh Talbott
We'd zipped straight past here earlier, and it was with some reluctance that Ian agreed to go to yet another fabric shop!  But Morro Bay, even on a cool, overcast morning was definitely worth a visit.  With an hour to kill before the shop opened up, we wandered down to the fishing port.  An industrial backdrop of power station chimneys and transformers doesn't spoil the attraction of the real, working fishing port.  We watched as large swordfish were winched ashore from a boat, weighed and covered in ice before being cut up.
Further along we watched as the local artist, Josh Talbott ( painted a large mural, of  a seascape, painted in acrylics over a collage of his personal collection of literature about the sea.  It is to raise awareness and to protest against moves by the local energy company to survey the local coastline with imaging equipment, which basically involves high frequency sound waves being used, harming the fish, sea mammals, and ultimately threatening the fishing industry and way of life of the local community.  I hope that's right.  I was being distracted by a large pelican, which seemed to have been attracted to a kindred spirit!  His favourite work is painting seascapes over sheets of music.

Morro Bay
We both found that this central and northern regions of California seem more reflective, less driven by materialism, a bit bohemian, and back to nature.  Really like it.  Buildings are low-rise, often wooden.  Countryside is greener and tree-filled.  Advertising is low-key, with smaller stores.  We continued on, after a successful visit to a very nice shop for flannels, the Cotton Ball, to Santa Barbara, about 120mls down HW101.  The weather worsened to drizzle, with temperature dropping to the low 60s.  We booked in at the Hol Inn Express, where we've stayed before, and headed straight for the Shellfish Company Bar at the very end of Stearns Wharf, where we've been before.  Great seafood cooked in front of you, as you sit at the narrow bar, around the cookers, watching the chef at work, with flames licking up the old, battered pans.  Great fun!
A stroll down the main State St, however, revealed suggestions of a decline since last year, with several shops closed down, some looking in need of some attention, an influx of massage shops and, (the sure sign that things are on a downward trend), nail bars!!  More vagrants and beggars than last time, and just a bit shabbier than I remember.  Maybe the recession has started to bite even in the upmarket towns.  That said, Santa Barbara still has one of the most beautiful hinterlands, with pine, oak and eucalypt clad mountains, layer upon layer coming down to a lovely sea front.  Here for two nights, so we'll probably have a drive up into the mountains tomorrow.
Missing Lily, Andrew and Lizzy.  Missing little hands pulling you inside, missing little feet pattering on the wooden floor of their apartment!  The weather has gone a lot cooler and wetter up in Novato now.  Andrew and Lizzy will be pleased with the change, and Lizzy will be able to wear her new gloves, hat and scarf she got for her birthday, on 14 November.

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