Harmony, California


Harmony, California

We were listening to a Dean Koontz book on tape that was getting spookier by the minute.  The author spoke of a small tranquil town on the central coast of California called Harmony Center.  However, it wasn’t as peaceful as it seemed as you discover while listening to the book.

Evidently an alien “being” was taking control of the minds of people in the town and getting them to do all sorts of weird stuff.  In some cases he took over the thoughts of people just passing through, but they were able to leave, the few residents couldn’t.

In the authors description of the town he depicts it as a short jaunt off of Highway 1 and just a few miles from the coast.   This small area had a gas station, a café, cottages, and one evil entity that was making residents slit their own faces or commit murder.

As the narrator was reciting the words from the final chapter of this book, we were driving on the central coast of California on Highway 1 near Cambria.  Just ahead was a sign for the upcoming city that read …Harmony, Population 18. Whaaaaaat?

So we just had to pull over and check out this little town.

I have to admit when I got out of the car, the hairs on my neck stood up.   I was thinking of that alien that takes over your mind.

Where we were, could have easily been that place.   This quaint little town was as charming as they get and a lot of it was as he described in the book.  Except this town had the feel of art and creativity!   I did a quick mind check and thankfully no alien was taking over my thoughts so off I went to explore more.

Along with a café, there was a pottery shop and a glass blowing store which gave this town that artisan ambiance.  At times they give glass blowing demonstrations but we weren’t’ there long enough to see this for ourselves.



There was also a welcome center complete with information and fresh coffee for the weary traveler as well as conversation or sitting areas scattered about.

It was a perfect place for a wedding as there was a cute little chapel and nearby there was plenty of space for the reception.   Lights were hung to enjoy the celebration through the night and quirky art statues added to the eclectic scene.

I would have really liked to stay longer and stroll around the shops but we had to leave. We were on a mission to get to our destination.

There is talk of restoring this town to be a must stop for travelers.  For right now, it is a hidden gem with lots of personality and I am glad we decided to stop and visit.

Five minutes later we were back in the car and listening to the last five minutes of that peculiar story.   I won’t tell you how it ends but I will tell you when in the central California area, check out the small stopover of Harmony, you will be glad you did.

Story and Photos: Debbie Colwell

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Moonstone Beach, Cambria


Moonstone Beach, Cambria

Moonstone Beach, is just north of Cambria on the Central California coast.

Running parallel to Highway 1, Moonstone Beach Drive runs right along the picturesque bluffs of Moonstone Beach.    Since this is a popular area, hotels line the street with most of them featuring a sitting area out front for guests to enjoy the spectacular view.

I know from experience that the hotels are way more costly in the summer months as I tried to get a reservation during this time without much success.   They were booked pretty solidly through the warm months.

Across from the hotels you will find various entrances that lead down to the beach.  I say down, because you start on a bluff and descend from different spots.   Where we parked, it wasn’t that far to get to the sand,  while other areas had longer descents.

Wooden planked trails travel the distance of the bluffs so you can still enjoy the beach without actually being on the sand.   This is what I liked about the central coast, they always provide plenty of walking trails to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The beach itself is full of drift wood and one of the reasons that I feel makes it so spectacular.  From small pieces to large tree stumps, this beach had it all.  You don’t see a lot of drift wood in Southern California.

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Los Osos and Spooners Cove

Los Osos and Spooners Cove

We traveled to Los Oso only because we heard of Spooners Cove which we were told was a great place with plenty of rocks and sea glass!

However, while in the area, we also decided to drive around and see what this mostly residential town was all about.

Before we visited the town, our first stop was Spooners Cove which is a part of the Montana de Oro State Park.

From Morro Bay it is only about 12 miles and the drive is especially scenic. From various vista points you can see estuaries, Eucalyptus groves, golf courses, and the lengthy sand spit which is a natural protection for the bay,

When we arrived at the cove, there was a sizable parking lot with plenty of spaces open.  It was 10:00 am and there were only about 15 people this long stretch of sand and rocks.

The Rocks!
The texture to this beach was so different than what I have ever seen; it was filled with every size stone imaginable.  Where the waves hit the shore there were tiny pebbles no larger than a jelly bean while further up on the beach sat these amazing flat rocks.  It was nothing like I had seen in Southern California.

The larger and flatter stones had beautiful patterns and some had artistic lines traveling from side to side, while others were just plain.  They ranged in size with the largest being the size of a normal sized pickle, but flat.


The cove is surrounded by a sea cave and a long bluff jetting out on the south side.  Another example why I love Central California as this was yet another picturesque beach.

When we arrived, we heard live music coming from one of the caves. It was a drum plus a guitar performing in natural and perfect acoustics.   I can see why they chose this place to play or practice.


One of the caves

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Three and a Quarter Days, Another Excursion to Central California

First up, Morro Bay

Long weekends are the best.  In our case it gave us enough time to travel up the coast, relax, explore, and get back in time for the Sunday night early news.

We figured that leaving later in the afternoon on a Thursday was a great time to travel up the Central California coast to possibly avoid some traffic.   However, Los Angeles didn’t cooperate, it was slow going even as we passed through Thousand Oaks, descended into Camarillo, and even through Ventura.

Once we passed through Ventura however, the traffic subsided as if to say welcome to Central California!!  You are then greeted to that wonderful California shoreline with the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean beaconing us up the coast.

The gridlock that we experienced earlier was now washing away and was replaced with relaxation even though we still had a few hours more to drive.

Soon the 101 freeway took an eastern turn as we headed inland towards San Luis Obispo.   Once in San Luis Obispo, it was only a short drive to Morro Bay on Highway 1, our home for the weekend.


Looking south from Morro Bay

I love it here but it wasn’t going to be our main attention this weekend.  I had heard of some nearby beaches and coves that were good for sea glass hunting, therefore this was going to be the plan of action.

Over the weekend we would eventually investigate Los Osos , Cambria, Moonstone Beach, and Spooner Cove.  We also walked Cayucos , Avila, Ventura Beaches,  the small town of Harmony, and actually ended up exploring more of Morro Bay.  We saw groups of sea otters, tons of sand dollars, a little bit of sea glass, all in three and quarter days.


Just a few miles out of town is a beach with tons of sand dollars(BTW, we only took the ones that were already dead)

Even though this isn’t the sequence of how our weekend went, let’s talk Morro Bay first.  I always like to drive around to see every inch of a place so our first stop was the Embarcadero.   This is where the heart of the city is with its restaurants, shops, cafes, boat rentals, antiques stores, plus places to sit just to enjoy the bay. We perused a few shops then sat back on a bench to admire this charming harbor town.


A lone boat with the sand spit in the background

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Calafia Beach, San Clemente

Calafia Beach is a part of the San Clemente State Park but is also open to the public year round.

It is the type of beach that has everything, a snack bar nearby, bathrooms, showers, and parking (although metered.)

On this second weekend in September, the day was bright making the Pacific Ocean sparkle in a bluish green hue.   It was the perfect kind of afternoon where everything looked more colorful.  The water as mentioned ,had the prettiest tint, the coast line was as clear as I have ever seen it, the multicolored umbrellas looked more vibrant, and even the sand had a sparkle.


Everything seemed to sparkle on this perfect day

With the coast in California sometimes socked in with a gray marine layer, this day was like someone turned on a bright light across the Southern California coast.

So with the weather still perfect, we decided to give this place a try.

To get there and after you park your car, you walk by the Calafia Beach Café and head toward the waves.  There is a pathway that allows you to safely pass over the railroad tracks where Amtrak and Metrolink pass by from time to time.




The tracks run right near the beach

I liked Calafia Beach a lot and so did a lot of other people.  Summer was rapidly coming to an end but the days were still warm which brought in the crowds for the weekend.

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