Cayucos Beach | Week 13 | Beach a Week

Saturday morning I headed up the coast to Cayucos, perhaps the last bonafide old-school beach town in California. I’d signed up for an embroidery class at Happy Go Smile, a cute new shop down town and across the street from the beach. Cool location, cool shop, cool proprietors.

Also nice: sitting around a table with a friendly group of ladies well equipped with needles, floss and hoops. Bonus points: Cupcakes from Amy Bakes right smack dab in the middle of the table, just there for the taking. Amy was also the teacher of the workshop. Barb, Chief Happy Go Smiler, was also there, making everyone feel welcome (and talented).

Happy Go Smile

After the class I grabbed a coffee from Top Dog, bought a new beach blanket from Good Clean Fun and headed out to the beach. It was a big walk across the street. God love Cayucos.


Lifeguard stand

Water temp: 55

I have a soft spot for the Cayucos Pier (and/or all piers, but especially this one). At its base is the Vets Hall which hosts everything from Gem shows to reggae concerts. When I was in high school we had a formal dance here and it was really great. You could dance all you want and then go walk out along the pier in between songs. We were lucky kids.

During the day the pier is filled with a handful of fisherman and a smattering of beach goers.

Cayucos pier

Cayucos pier

Cayucos pier

Cayucos is small. The town proper isn’t even a half-mile wide and only a couple miles long. Once you leave town heading north it’s really just open road and beaches ’til you get to Cambria. Maybe a house here and there, but more sand and surf than homesteads.

Looking north along the coast

Looking east, north side of the pier.

North side of the pier

Looking east, south side of the pier.

South side of the pier

And this is looking south towards Morro Bay.


In the summer time Cayucos fills with people from the Valley (and by Valley I mean San Joaquin Valley). The people of Taft, Tulare, LeMoore, Bakersfield, Fresno, Hanford — these people need respite from the heat and they seem to choose two destinations: Pismo Beach or Cayucos. Both probably double in size in half-ton trucks alone.

But in winter and spring the place is still a local’s paradise. These kids running around really reminded me of what it’s like to be a Central Coast kid.


Waller color

The only part I don’t like about Cayucos is the sand-near-the-wall space. Maybe this is the space where people build bonfires? It gets a bit dirty and the kids draw kind of lame graffiti with the left over charcoal (sorry kids; no offense; I’m sure your graffiti abilities will get better.). And okay, truth be told, I really like the splash of color above and the tribute to our feline overlords below.

charcoal graffiti


Shell Beach | Week 12 | Beach a Week

Century Plant

Sunday we met Tom and Cami at Zorro’s Cafe in Shell Beach. For those of you who don’t know, Shell is a little, itty bitty beach town just north of Pismo Beach. Mostly residential, the short streets run perpendicular to the beach — just a couple blocks long (if), lined with little beach cottages, no sidewalks and signs that remind cars to slow down.

We had a 30-minute wait for a table to open, so we walked down to the beach.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Steve at Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Most of the houses are traditional cottages, but some are big and fancy and some seem abandoned.

This house had a “lawn” of horsetail. So weird! And seemingly abandoned (but who knows).

The massive horsetail front "lawn"

And this house had a tree so large and old it seemed to be growing right into the house itself.

The tree that ate the house

Zorro’s is a locals’ favorite. There’s almost always a wait.


And it’s often chilly. This day was no different. Steve, Tom and Cami each had a sweater or jacket. I’d left mine in my car, but no worries: Zorro’s has Mexican blankets customers can wrap around themselves as they eat out on the patio. I took advantage. Very cozy.

The blanket

Tom and Cami will be having a baby any day now. Very excited for them. Also excited we got to spend a little bit of time with them before their whole world changes.

The friends

me, week 12

Coronado | Week 11 | Beach a Week

I was in San Diego for a conference and thought that it posed a pretty good opportunity to get to a beach outside my county. In fact, I had grand plans: beaches, hiking, beaches, hiking… I would make the most of my time in the Southernmost part of the state.

But what really happened is that my brain was so wiped out for learning learning learning during the conference day that all it wanted to do was hit the hay the moment I got back to my hotel room.

Monday, at least, we ventured to Coronado Beach (recommended by my friend and fellow-conference goer and fellow-San Diegan, Liana). By the time we got there it was approaching sunset, but you’d never know because the fog had come in.

Regardless, it was a pretty beach and a pretty evening and I was pretty happy to be there.

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach

For those of you who don’t know, the red-roofed building is the Hotel Del Coronado (built 1885, Queen Ann style). People call it the Hotel Del. It’s huge and grand. Do read the history if you are interested.

Coronado Beach

The no sign



Gull flying away

Sand castle

This little guy befriended me pronto. I didn’t mind one bit as he was (obviously) cute as a button with a little personality to match. Plus, he gives some perspective to the size of the sand castle.

Sand castle and my little munchkin friend

Party at the Hotel Del

Hotel Del, night time

Me, Beach a Week 11

Moonstone Boardwalk | Week 10 | Beach a Week

May 12, 2013 (Mother’s Day). My mom and I headed out to walk the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach.


Moonstone flowers

Guy lounging on Moonstone Beach


At one cove there were a dozen or so seals, including pups. Nursing pups!

Harbor seals

Harbor seal -- mother, baby, nursing

leave the seals alone

The flowers were in going strong.

flowers at moonstone

flowers at moonstone

flowers at moonstone


iris sign

This guy was out at the end of the northern most point of the boardwalk after fish-kayaking. What you can’t see are the 25 seagulls behind him, waiting for the fling of fish carcass in their direction.

cleaning fish

cleaning fish

The squirrels at Moonstone are both well fed and fearless, a dangerous combination. Or cute-as-hell combination. Perhaps both.

squirrels lined up

tag team

on the railing

me, week 10, beach a week

Cal Poly Pier | Week 9 | Beach a Week

The Cal Poly Pier opens to the public twice a year. Professors, instructors, and students man touch tanks and research stations to educate the public about the research they conduct via the program. Super geared for kids, the day provides up-close-and-personal looks into the lives of sea creatures as well as campus projects.

Excited to get to the pier

The pier was donated to Cal Poly by Unocal and is a little more than a half-mile long. You can still see, along the side, the pipes that used to carry oil from ocean to shore.


Seaweed under the pier

The seaweed below the pier.

Looking toward Avila Beach

Looking from the pier to Avila Beach proper. That beach way over yonder is the main beach people visit when they come to Avila.

Looking towards Dog Beach

This is the beach we went to for Beach a Week #7, Dog Beach.

Photo from Coast News

I was really excited to see all of the exhibits once we got onto the pier. This seastar touch tank had a huge crowd with one brave soul holding a many-legged sea star (nee starfish) and people were encouraging a little one to touch it.

Turned out that the brave soul was my mom and the little one refusing to touch it was my niece, Ysabel. The moment when I figured it out is caught here by the folks at Coast News (photo credit, Christopher Gardner/Coast News).

Mom holds the sea star

Here’s my mom, holding the sea star.

Ysa wants nothing to do with it

Here’s my niece refusing to touch the sea star.

Nathan's missing teeth

Nathan, my nephew, was brave enough to touch the sea star and game enough to show me his missing teeth.

And is very silly

Six going on seven is a great age.


Me, mom, Bec, Nathan and Ysabel (thanks Steve for taking the photo).

Beach a Week 9

San Simeon Cove | Week 6 | Beach a Week

School house

San Simeon Cove is sweet, it’s warm, it’s off-the-beaten-path. It has hikes, a long sandy beach, a little creek and a killer pier. You can fish, you can sail, you can swim. I wish I knew more about its history, but you can imagine it played an important role when the Hearsts were both building and entertaining at the castle.

There is also a cute little market/post office/wine tasting bar and a way too cute little old school house. Both have the castle as their backdrop (see: photo above).

Today’s trip was with Kristin (aka KB) and her cute-as-a-button son, Ryder. There would be pictures of them here, but I made a camera-setting mistake and lost the photos I took of them on the pier. Dumb camera. (Thanks for coming with, KB and Ryder! I’ll make up for the lost photos in the next post.)

Cove through trees

A grove of old eucs borders the beach, adding a foresty feel.

On the pier

This pier is a good one. I’ve seen at least one national commercial (for Carl’s Junior?) shot here.

Looking south

Looking south from the pier, towards Cambria.

Playing on the beach

On the beach

Nice long walk along the cliff above the beach.

Boat in the cove

Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas (just up the road a bit)

We also stopped at the Elephant Seal rookery at Piedras Blancas, just north of San Simeon. The beach was packed with females and juvenile males, all molting. The big bulls are still out to sea (won’t be back till August), so no fighting. Just lazing in the sun and sloughing off old fur. And making farting sounds seal noises.

Oh! Hai!

Tons of seals

Sing it seal sister!

Week 6

Pismo Beach | Week 5 | Beach a Week

Pismo Beach

We parked north of the pier, so that’s a pro tip to you. It gets crowded in the main part of Pismo. Cars, people, no parking, people darting out on the streets. So, go north on the frontage road and park on a beach access residential street instead. Take the wooden stairs down to the beach and don’t go barefoot unless you feel lucky in the splinter-free yatzee roll of the dice (but you’ll be fine once on the sand). Bring a kite. Bring a sweatshirt. Bring your dog. Bring a friend. Or get lucky and get your mom to take a beach walk with you. That’s what I did.

My mom on the beach at Pismo

This is my mom, my Beach-a-Week partner for the second time.

bikes on the beach

Love declarations, sand style

Twin fam plus friend!

We ran into the Twin Fam. Their mom, Angela, is one of my long-time SLO blogger friends (before Flickr even). I’d never met Angela’s family, but I’ve seen so many photos over the years that I said “Hi!!” when I saw her husband and the kids and their friend and immediately stuck out my hand and introduced myself. They were nice enough to pose for a quick pic.

Little kid running on beach

Eroding cliffs

Precariously placed houses. Gravity: it’s the law.

It's the law

Picking up after your dog: it’s the law, too.

pacific ocean at pismo beach

Beach a Week Number 5. Mar and Mom.

The Spot | Week 4 | Beach a Week

Hiking in

This used to be a secret spot (not THE most guarded secret spot in our area, but still well guarded for many years). I googled before making this post to make sure I wasn’t spilling any beans. There are other sites that will give you directions and more. I’m just here to give you a little glimpse. If you want to find it, you’ll have to do your own work.

This was my favorite beach back when I was 18, 19 and 20. I’d come and watch my boyfriend surf or I’d just come by myself (with my dog; nowadays I would never bring a dog here) and a towel and a book. I love the hike in.

For today’s sojourn Steve came along. We looked at shells and rocks and birds and checked out the tide pools. It rained earlier in the day and was really cloudy/overcast when we got there, but within 45 minutes it was all sun and got pretty toasty.

sea anemone

sea star

When did starfish become Sea Stars? Why did the name change? Anyone know? (I guess I could google that.)

turbans and rocks

I gathered up all the turbans I could find in just a 3-foot radius (all well above the water level and without any living creatures inside). Quite a few in such a small space. When the tide began lapping at my heals I moved my bounty to higher ground. Before I left I deposited them back into several different pools. Maybe a crab would like a new home.


trail and ocean

Week 4 | Beach a Week