Cayucos Pier and David’s Memorial

The day
Week 28. September 22. My friends’ father died. He led a very full life accomplishing many things and touching many lives. That’s the type of life to have. His memorial was at the Cayucos Vets Hall which is at the base of the Cayucos Pier. Fitting, I think, because he was a man of the ocean: an avid surfer through his 70s and he even went to college in Hawaii.

View after, looking south
The memorial was very heartwarming: a real celebration of his life. And seeing his kids there — I grew up with most of them, best friends with his youngest daughter in my late teens and early 20s — my heart grew four sizes. There is something that hits me seeing all of us growing older. Maybe it’s a feeling of connection? I can’t quite tell you, but truly it moves me. We are all in the same boat.

The beach looking south, afterwards
After the memorial I walked out on the Cayucos pier and took in the just-happened sunset.

tree on the pier
And I thought about all the people in the world, just being people with their struggles and their joys and their experiences.

sunset, looking north
I do wish there was a way for us to understand when we are young just how fleeting it all is.

family on the beach, sunset style
Life goes by in a split second. Love the ones around you. Breathe in the salty sea air.

Me, Beach Week #28

Cayucos, Piedras Blancas and Baywood Park

Nathan and Nadine

Week 18. July 6, 2013. Fourth-of-July weekend was fun and packed. Big, annual third-of-July party with the Kallals; big, annual fourth-of-July campover with the Kormans (pics to come); and a visit with Steve’s friends from Austin. All of it was fun.

The Austin-ites (Nathan and Nadine) were up for Beach-a-Weeking so we headed north. The goal was Elephant Seals, but we stopped in Cayucos first for lunch (fish tacos at Duckies) and then a walk on the pier.

We’d been out there for ten minutes or so when I heard Nadine say “They’re going to jump!” and I turned just in time (and with camera in hand) to catch a backflip…

The back flip

And a gainer…

The gainer

And the swim in.

The swim away

After Cayucos we drove just north of San Simeon to see the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery. Steve and I visit the seals often. You see different types of elephant seals depending on the season: sometimes it’s all females, sometimes females and their newborns, sometimes it’s just juveniles. Middle of summer means the bulls are on the beach, and personally, that’s my favorite season because they always put on a silverback-gorilla show. Who is the king of the beach?

The warning sign

You can see all of the posturing and bellowing that was going on.

Fights left, fights right, fights in the water, fights erupting from seemingly mellow nappings. Big belching, roaring sounds. And then napping. And then posturing. And then napping. And then some sand flicking. And napping and roaring and fighting and napping. Repeat.

The fights

Because we are far away and it’s all just bulls on the beach, it’s hard to see just how big these beasts are. Fences with handy size charts along the rails can help. Nadine jumped up and added herself to the sizing mix. Here you get a sense of just how big those elephant seals down on the beach are: BIG.

The size chart

I noticed that some elephant seals don’t need to fight, they just need to bellow. They open their mouths and a huge sound comes out. I have a feeling that the sound correlates to their girth, because when big seals bellowed, the other seals literally backed away from them.

The bellow

There was a lot of bellowing.

More bellowing

Coming home, windswept and a little sunburnt, I enticed the team to stop at Good Tides Bistro in Baywood Park for some hot chocolate, promising them that it was The Very Best Hot Chocolate That They Would Ever Have. We drank it on the Second Street Pier, one of my most favorite places.


Nadine, inspired by the earlier-in-the-day Cayucos antics decided to jump off a pier herself. Less fanfare, perhaps, but you gotta start somewhere.

Nadine jumps

Our Austin friends on the Second Street Pier.

On the second street pier

A great weekend. And already two weeks ago. I have more Beach-a-Weeks to post.

Beach a Week #18

Estero Bluffs

Estero bluffs

Just a breath north of Cayucos is Estero Bluffs, a place of shorebirds and rock coves.

Here’s a little of what the walk and beach looked like (a la Steve. Thank you Steve.)

The sign implies “dogs okay” but at the beach there seemed to be big “no dogs” signs. Mixed messages! However, considering the number of plovers we saw on the shore, it would seem the “no dogs” would win out.

Estero bluffs

Estero bluffs

Tons of birds this morning, with the ocean filled with seagulls and pelicans and the rocks decorated with cormorants and wave splashes and the beaches Killdeer City.


cormorants rock on

the cormorants and the wave

I’m not sure what intertidal creature leaves this mark, but obviously it is an early breed of highway man.

trail left by mysterious intertidal creature on the sand

Our beaches are pretty free of trash. This bottle was the only refuse I saw. I didn’t have the heart to pick it up, as it was a new hunting ground for a totally different kind of sea creature.

someone left a bottle on the beach (not us!)

And here is Steve’s video of bottle activity:

This gull was being chased by five other gulls. Five greedy, hungry other gulls.

the gull will have the crab

Looking towards Cayucos.

looking towards Cayucos

And out to sea.

looking out into the ocean

me, week 15

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