Paso Robles (The Pass of the Oaks) is situated slightly inland in the coastal mountains (hills really) and is "the" new wine country of California
. Its mediterrean-like climate make it ideal for growing wine grapes and olives. Paso is a good stepping off point for exploring Hearst Castle in San Simeon, the favorite (never completed) estate of the late William Randolph Hearst (media mogul). Nearby you can check out a colony of elephant seals which number in the thousands and farther down the coast is Morro Bay. Morro Bay is home to Morro Rock, part of the Nine Sisters and is a 26 million year old extinct chain of volcanoes. As we love museums, we checked out the Estrella Warbirds Museum and the Camp Roberts Historical Museum located on the base of Camp Roberts. Home to the largest National Guard deployment base in California, Camp Roberts has been sending out forces since WWII. Got to see some pretty cool tanks, fighter helicopters and lots of US war memorabilia. Down the highway we stopped at Mission San Miguel, an important mission of the Franciscan Friars since 1767. Still an active church, the mission spread Christanity to the Native peoples and retains the old world feel. Spent an afternoon at Lake San Antonio canoeing and listening to the silence!
After a week of hanging out (and needing some peace and quiet) we have to decided to go east - to Death Valley! We'll let you know how it goes.......
Just when we thought California couldn't get any more amazing, well, we hit the Central West Coast region! Our first stop was Monterey the wonderful seaside city. Think beautiful beaches, sea life and outdoor living. We made the county fairgrounds our home base (home to the summer of love 1968 concert with Janis Joplin/Jimmy Hendrix/The Who). Checked out the Monterey Aquarium (incredible), Carmel-by-the-Sea, watched the seals and sea lions at the Fisherman's Wharf and explored tidal pools at Point Lobos State Reserve. After seeing the vast sea life, the boys are eager to start scuba diving asap! However, being the sometimes politically incorrect folks that we are, we often queried about how yummy a particular sea creature may be - we made a few people laugh at our comments towards a tank full of large lobsters at the aquarium! After enjoying Halloween California-style and wishing we could move to Monterey, we decided to head down the coast a bit.