The Central Coast Part One

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Morro Bay, Montana de Oro, and Santa Barbara

During our time on the central coast of California, we enjoyed day trips to many cities up and down the coastal highway.  Among those were Morro Bay, Montana de Oro, and Santa Barbara.

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Morro Rock

Morro Bay

While driving on the coastal highway, it is easy to get lulled into thinking you are just passing through the same town over and over again, that is until you get to Morro Bay.  Rising up at the entrance of the bay is Morro Rock, a 576 foot tall volcanic plug, thus earning the nickname, “The Gibraltar of the Pacific.”

Around the base of the rock is a parking area, walking paths, and a public beach with restrooms.  Morro Rock is a peregrine falcon reserve, so climbing is by permit-only.  The bay surrounding the rock is filled with frolicking sea otters and many water birds.  It’s a wonderful place to spend the day picnicking, lounging on the beach, listening to the surf, and watching the light and shadow change the face of Morro Rock.

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Isn’t there ALWAYS a kite-flying breeze at the coast? Not today!

Montana de Oro

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Six miles southwest of Morro Bay is Montana de Oro State Park, one of many beautiful coastal California state parks.  Punctuated by rugged cliffs, coves, sandy beaches, tidepools, and a 1,300 ft peak, Montana de Oro is a very popular location, especially during Cal Poly’s Parents Weekend.  Yep, it was packed!  But that didn’t take away from our enjoyment of this wonderful place.

 

Santa Barbara

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The Reagan Ranch Center

Santa Barbara is a quintessential California coastal town,……perfect weather, palm tree lined streets, beautiful Spanish-style architecture, gorgeous sandy beaches, and delicious seafood.  Whether you are in the mood for kicking back and soaking up the sun or filling your vacation schedule with non-stop activity, Santa Barbara fits the bill.

A stroll along Stearns Wharf is a great way to immerse yourself in the sea breeze and salt air of the ocean as well as providing ample opportunities for take out and sit down seafood dining.

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Reagan’s chapel, reflecting the importance of faith in his life

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How well I remember that moment in time, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”

The Reagan Ranch Center on State Street is a wonderful FREE museum showcasing the importance of the Reagan Ranch in the Ynez Valley to the life and presidency of Ronald Reagan.  The Ranch Center is also home to the Young America’s Foundation, a group whose mission is to reach young people, high school and college age, with the ideals of conservatism.  After wandering through the exhibits and reliving many events, such as the assassination attempt, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and hearing many of Reagan’s recorded inspiring speeches left us feeling sad that he is no longer with us, but proud that he was our president.  There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ronald Reagan truly loved, respected, and honored this great nation of ours.

We took a walk up Anacapa Street to see the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival style building.  The grounds surrounding the courthouse are landscaped with lush, green lawns, colorful flower beds, and towering, mature shade trees.  The interior contains gorgeous tiling, beams, chandeliers, and 100-year old draperies!  A trip up the elevator to the clock tower gives you a bird’s eye view of Santa Barbara proper, the ocean, and the eastern mountains.

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Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Next up is the California Coast Part Two,……

 

 

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