Gorgeous, isn't it? These are the fields and the coast mountains that border the vally I live in.
I've been making this drive for, oh..about 50 years now! Not that there isn't a ginormous coast to explore..it's just that this particular one takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to get to. Not that anyone is counting.
If the weather is horrible here; it is traditionally nice there. 110 degrees at home? Take a sweatshirt. The best time is the summer (so we can get out of the heat) and the winter 9so we can get out of the fog). We only have 2 weeks of fall and 2 weeks of spring, so we can stay home for that!
The country I'm traveling thru is the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, located in the smack middle of California. It's mainly prisons and farmland here and flat as a pancake, which is why driving thru these foothills has always been so entertaining. Where it is flat, there are usually fields of wheat, winter and summer. Where there are hills, there are usually herds of cows. In the springtime, many of the fields are covered with flocks of sheep, along with a Basque sheepherder, a couple of dogs and just a role of wire to keep them in a area to "sheep" it off. Around here, it is really common to have flocks of sheep eat a field right to the ground. Then, with the spring rains, whatever is growing will spring right up, fresh and tender. Sheep will eat a field down to the ground; horses and cows won't. This landscape between here and the coast is changing; since the weather is much like France and Italy, it is slowing being transformed into wine country. 10 years ago, I went on a wine tasting weekend with my then boyfired; we visited 45 wineries in 5 days. In the same area now, I bet there are 300 wineries, with hundreds of acres of new vineyards being planted every year. This is one of the wine tasting rooms near Paso Robles. It has a big bed and breakfast associated with it and they arranged for
chauffered wine tasting jaunts around the area.
As the wineries slowly take over the open land, I think the population will change to a huge degree. Outside of Paso, the weather is just hot and sunny enoughwith just enough rain and mild winters that the vineyards will thrive and bring with them a LOT of money from LA. With more telecommuting being done, I think people willbe able to move out of the LA/Orange County area and settle here.
Right now, these hills are loaded with coastal oaks, draped with Spanish moss. In twenty years, these hills will be filled with either equestrian properties, McMansions or pricy subdivisions. The weather here is mild and the beach is only about 30 minutes away.
The avocado groves nestle in the hills and valleys closer to the ocean; the weather is mild and foggy and perfect for that crop.
More and more of the hillsides are being planted with this tempermental crop and you can buy fresh, ripe avocados at roadside stands and the farmer's markets 4/$1 almost year round. Nothing is better than fresh produce and there are fields of specialty lettuces, sugar snap peas, kiwi,strawberries, blackberries, bok choy raised here, as well as even more "yuppie" specialty, fancy pants crops. We even have a little banana belt, so there are all kinds of exotic banans available at the farmer's market. Super fresh produce, coupled with the fishing boats that tie up in Morro Bay make this a great place to cook...even for me! The stuff is so abundant and fresh that it takes so little time to steam and saute a really great, simple meal. And I don't even LIKE to cook!
Here is the first glimpse of Morro Rock, also known as the Gibralter of the Pacific. I think it is probably part of the mountains around here...just tossed farthur out into the water. It is a tough bay to navigate out of, the water is cold, like all of the California waters and choppy. However, there are whole rafts of otters, lots of sea lions and elephant seals and, since Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary, a plethora of birds of all kinds.
We usually leave early on Friday and return REALLY early on Monday, to avoid the traffic. What do we do? Pretty much nothing. I usually cook (my least favorite thing in the world to do, since it keeps happening every few hours). Knit.
Weed my little garden.
Watch the tide go in and out. Wave to my neighbors.
Let the little dog sleep on my lap.
Walk to the beach and check on the tide.
Pick up rocks.
Watch Law and Order.