Three and a Half Days, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Oceano

Last year we wrote a story entitled “Five and a Half Days” in which we visited San Francisco, Sausalito, Napa, Fairfield, Suisun Bay, Benicia, The Delta, plus visited the Jelly Belly Factory, fished Grizzly Island, and so much more yet only in five and a half days. We never felt rushed and spent hours just leisurely kicking back or fishing along the rain saturated banks of the delta.

This time we are doing a mini version called, Three and a Half Days.  On this trip, we visited Cayucos, Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Oceano, Summerland,  The Dutch town of Solvang,  Carpenteria, Downtown Ventura, and Santa Barbara.  We visited a butterfly grove, an ostrich farm, we saw six piers plus drove on two, we fished at night under a full moon, we saw otter and seals, and made it back home in time to watch the 6:00 news.  As with the other trip, we never felt rushed.

 Part Two

Pismo Beach
After spending the earlier part of the day in Avila and Cayucos, I wasn’t ready for the more crowded scene at Pismo Beach.

Even though it has a lesser population than Avila Beach, it is better known and has a higher volume of visitors.  Part of that reason is that Pismo Beach has a unique attraction… you can drive on the beach!!

Pismo Beach is six miles south of Avila and has a whole different feel.  I liked it there, although after visiting the other two cities first, it felt like it was inflicted with TMP (too many people.)

We headed to the pier first as this seemed to be where most of the tourist attractions, shops, restaurants, and TMC congregate.   The beach was just as terrific as Cayucos or Avila and the pier although on the smallish side, added to the scenic atmosphere.


Pismo Pier at Sunset

I wanted to walk on the pier but it was closed just like the others.   So I did my obligatory walk on the beach for sea glass hunting and yet again only found a few less than prime pieces.

Butterflies
We had heard about a butterfly grove at the state park, so we decided to drive past town to see it for ourselves.   Each year thousands of orange monarch butterflies flock to Pismo Beach to find shelter from the cold northern winters.

We were lucky that we were in the middle of the migration period that runs from October to February and were able to see this phenomenon.

Walking into the grove, you are not sure where to go or where they  are amongst all of the tall eucalyptus trees.  It doesn’t take long to figure it out though as you soon run into a gathering of people all looking up into the trees.

The thing is, you can’t really see them.  So I took my telephoto and there they were, thousands of them hanging on to the limbs!!  It was an amazing


Closer view of butterflies

The grove provides a few telescopes that are set up for anyone to use plus they have informative talks scheduled at designated times and guides to help you.    At the time we visited, they reported that there were over 14,000 monarchs present.  I wonder who did the counting.

Anyway, if you are ever in town during this time frame, be sure and check out the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.

The Town
The belly was now rumbling so it was time to find a place to eat.   Many years ago we stopped very briefly in Pismo and had clam chowder that I am told was the best ever.  We set out to find this place again and soon located it on a street by the pier.

There were additional eating establishments on the street, however, this one seemed to be the most popular, evidenced by the line of people wrapped around the building.  Evidently others also felt it was the best chowder ever.

Since I don’t eat sea food, I opted out of waiting in line, instead, I had a very uneventful sandwich at the local Subway.

After filling our tummies, we headed north of town to investigate further. We came across a beautiful park situated on a bluff with an expansive view of interesting rock formations and arches.  It was a beautiful setting and there was even a cool sea cave that I wondered if you were allowed to enter and explore on a kayak or SUP.


There is a lot to do in Pismo whether you are an adrenaline junkie, ocean enthusiast, angler, or anything in between.   If you spend a little time there,

Grover Beach and Oceano
Not really having any rhyme or reason on where we were going, we headed south to Grover Beach.

As with Pismo Beach, Grover is all about driving on the beach.  We saw at least two trucks pulling trailers piled high with ATV’s that were available for rental.   We found an entrance, although, you just can’t take off onto the sand.  For one, you have to pay, for two, you should know the local rules and regulations, and finally, you should know where you can go as to not get caught in the sand.

I didn’t see how much it costs  to get onto the beach, but it must not be too bad as there were at least a hundred vehicles parked about a half mile from where we stood.   I saw a few trucks and SUV’s drive by on the harder part of the sand and a few were parked right next to where they were hanging out enjoying the beach.


Grover entrance with the sand dunes of Oceano in the distance

You can literally drive up, set out your chairs or towels and have your vehicle right there!   Pretty cool.

You can surf, fish, ride ATV’s, and any activity revolving around the ocean.

Oceano is well known for The Oceano State Vehicular Recreation Area, in short, sand dunes!!!  This recreational area is a wide five mile long beach that

In a designated area, motorcycles, ATV’s,  dune buggies are allowed to freely roam the dunes and on the beach side you can even horseback ride.

It is suggested that you use a four wheeled vehicle in case you get stuck in the thicker parts of the sand.

We decided not to drive on the beach this time as it would have been only for a few moments anyway as the day was coming to an end.   On the way back to our hotel we stopped briefly to watch the now setting sun blast hues of orange behind the empty Pismo Pier.

Tomorrow we are heading for our stay in Santa Barbara for part three.

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Three and a Half Days, Cayucos, Avila Beach

Three and a Half Days, Cayucos, Aviia Beach

Last year we did a story entitled “Five and a Half Days” in which we visited San Francisco, Sausalito, Napa, Fairfield, Suisun Bay, Benicia, The Delta, plus visited the Jelly Belly Factory, fished Grizzly Island, and so much more yet only in five and a half days. We never felt rushed and spent hours just leisurely kicking back or fishing along the rain saturated banks of the delta.

This time we are doing a mini version called, Three and a Half Days.  On this trip, we visited Cayucos, Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Oceano, Summerland,  The Dutch town of Solvang,  Carpenteria, Downtown Ventura, and Santa Barbara.  We visited a butterfly grove, an ostrich farm, we saw six piers plus drove on two, we fished at night under a full moon, we saw otter and seals, and made it back home in time to watch the 6:00 news.  As with the other trip, we never felt rushed.

PART ONE


Cayucos and Avila Beach
Don’t ask me why but we decided to make our first stop and overnight stay at Cayucos, a small town situated on the central coast of California.  Maybe it was because every hotel on this New Year’s weekend was pretty much booked except for the really expensive rooms.  Luckily, we found an inexpensive vacancy in Cayucos, so I immediately perused the internet to find information about this hotel.   The reviews were all over the place. One person loved their room, the other hated it, some thought it dirty, and others thought it was fine.  So it was with much trepidation that I pressed the “Book It” button on the online travel site.

We arrived in Cayucos and checked into the room.  I became just as undecided as the reviews, I both hated it and loved it at the same time.   It had a small living room, with a kitchen, separate bedroom, a couch, chair, and a fire place.  That is what I loved about it, plus it was on the main street and close to the beach.  We won’t go into what about it I hated.

It was dark now and our bodies were stiff from a long drive, however, we were still running on adrenaline, so we decided to check out the vicinity nearby…it didn’t take long.

There appeared to be one main street with restaurants, shops, and various other businesses.  It was just past nine thirty and it seemed like the town had already rolled up the carpets.  On this road, the Sea Shanty restaurant was all decked out in holiday lights and looked to be the happening place. A few other eateries and bars had their fill of patrons but other than that, the road was quiet.


The Sea Shanty

Most of the homes lined the rolling hills of which are quite common on the central coast.    After a long dry summer, the hills were more of a brownish tint than their normal vibrant green.

Continue reading “Three and a Half Days, Cayucos, Avila Beach”

Newport Harbor Holiday Boat Parade



The small wooden boat was moored in a little inlet nestled next to the Iconic Pavilion and close to a fueling dock in Newport Harbor.  Other boats and dinghies also called this place home and were   peacefully floating in the water on this early Saturday morning.   A slight fog rolled gently across the water surface and you could hear the fog horns in the distance.

Under the watchful eye of a small girl, a gray haired fisherman was pulling the bright yellow vessel to shore to attach the outboard motor and to fill it with all of his fishing gear.  The child was anxiously waiting for her turn to get lifted in the boat to begin a full day of trolling around the bay in search for the best fishing spot.  With an undersized spinning reel and rod in hand, she knew it wasn’t just about the fishing; for her, it was being with her Dad and spending the day in the harbor.

That little girl was me and so started my love for the wonderful world of the Newport Harbor. I love this place and even more so during the holidays.

Newport Harbor
Thanks for bearing with me on my trip down memory lane because I can’t help myself.  Every time I go to the holiday boat parade I think of the many times the little yellow craft motored around the bay in search of the catch of the day.

Exploring deeper in the harbor you will find channels, small canals, islands, and some of the nicest bay front homes in California.   During the holiday season, many of the homes deck out in holiday décor and tons of lights.   Along with the annual boat parade, some of the homes compete in the annual, “Ring of Lights” contest where awards are given in various categories.

Last year we rented a duffy to see the home fronts, this year we came to watch the parade.

The parade this year ran early from the 13th to the 17th.  So the next time you will see it is in 2018.  All I can say is put it on your calendar because it is a good one.


This is one of the most premier boat parades in California.

Continue reading “Newport Harbor Holiday Boat Parade”

Canterbury Gardens and Gifts

Staycationer JoJo described it best as she passed through the double doors at Canterbury Gardens in Escondido, California, she said, “it made her smile.”

As you walk in, there is room after room of displays or vignettes of classical, new age, and specialty Christmas decorations and ornaments.   You will find nutcrackers, villages, trees, lights, and all sorts of Christmas items.  In very corner there are trees with themes such as the cool beach themed tree with surfboards, mermaids, starfish, etc.


An ornament on the beach themed tree

Continue reading “Canterbury Gardens and Gifts”

Lawrence Welk Village Resort, Escondido

I guess the first question has to be, “Who is Lawrence Welk and why does he have a bunch of resorts named after him?”

Well, here is the answer.

Lawrence Welk was actually a very famous bandleader who is best known for his variety show that was launched in 1955 and lasted 16 years plus many seasons in syndication.  This popular TV show included music, comedy routines, guest musicians, and singers.

Even though his roots were in the entertainment industry, Lawrence Welk stumbled into the resort business in 1964. The story goes that he was driving in the north county of San Diego to potentially invest in an orange grove but instead purchased a motel and a nine-hole golf course.  He later staged one of his shows there and it became an instant hotspot especially for the multitude of Welk fans.

Today there are five resorts including the original in Escondido, California which we are featuring in this story.  Situated just off of the Interstate 15 freeway, this location has two golf courses, a theater, shops, vacation homes, and timeshares.  The other resorts are in Lake Tahoe, Cabo San Lucas,  Palm Springs, Branson, Mo.,  and are ranked among the top resorts in the world by TripAdvisor.com.  All are still owned by the Welk family and managed by the grandson.

The resort
The Escondido resort

I have had the pleasure of visiting the Palm Springs resort and was very impressed by the grounds, rooms, and especially the pool. Although I have never stayed at the resort in Escondido, I have been there many times for either a round of golf or to the theater for one of their high caliber musicals.

Continue reading “Lawrence Welk Village Resort, Escondido”