A visit to Montano de Oro

At the rocks at Spooner's Cove

At the rocks at Spooner's Cove

We love the area from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles.  The world changes here and life takes a step back.  Even in this Eden, there are areas that sparkle even more.  Montano del Oro is one of those areas.  Nestled to the south of Morro Bay, along the coast, this used to be a large ranch  that ultimately became a state park.   The park’s name, “Mountain of Gold,” comes from the golden wildflowers that bloom in spring.  At 8000 acres, it has many things to see.  There are hiking trails, camping, beaches and Spooner’s Cove across from the ranch house.  There was a dock here during the ranch days used to tranfer the produce and stock.  The old ranch house has been converted to a museum and the docents can help explain life in those days. 

The website has a wealth of information http://www.slostateparks.com/montana_de_oro/default.asp . Take lunch and enjoy the varied sights. Much of park is along the coast and offers breath taking views of the rugged coast. Being just south of Morro Bay, the spectacular views of Morro Rock are inspiring and unique. Even the drive to the park entrance is surprising as the road it winds through a residential area with views of the bay to the north. Take the trip and imagine the past!

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Desert in Bloom – Anza-Borrego

Vivid colors from the desert
Hard to find Ghost Flowers
Hard to find Ghost Flowers
Vivid colors from the desert

The Ocotillo's vivid color

We had never been to Anza-Borrego and the spring bloom seemed like the right time.  Wow, we happened to pick one of the best years out of the last five to make our trip and what an experience it was.  Anza-Borrego is the largest of the California State Parks, covering over 600,000 acres  and continues to grow.  It is west of the Salton Sea and is best to visit anytime but the summer where temperatures can reach in the 120’s+.  The park is named after Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish name borrego, or bighorn sheep.   For those of you who have never seen the desert in spring, it is quitHumming Bird Moth feeding on a flowere a sight.  The normally dry and brown desert explodes with a carpet of colorful flowers.  In some areas the bloom is as far as the eye can see.  Reds, yellows, purples and white flowers cover the expanse.  This year, the northern side of the park was in bloom with little to be seen in the southern portion.  Mary and I could not take enough pictures.  This is a photo rich area that is only around for a few weeks each year and then returns to the stark, harsh environment we so commonly associate with the desert.  In one canyon, the Ghost flowers could be seen.  They were limited to one patch on one hillside (at least where we could drive).    I have included a picture above.  Surprisingly, the weather this time of year, March, is very comfortable but a little warm.  Be sure to bring water.   Of particular interst is that it is not just the flowers that can catch you eye.  While taking pictures, Mary thought she saw a Humming Bird and snaped this picture before she realized it was just a moth.  When we got home and opened the image, we found it was a fabulous shot of a Humming Bird Moth feeding on a desert flower.  What a great eye she has and what a great picture she took.  Her new Nikon D90 helped a little.  Enjoy!