Thursday, June 29, 2017

Solvang California - San Luis Obispo

We were up and ready to go and see the wonderfulness of the remodeled Olsen's Bakery by 7:30 AM. The sign on the door originally said they would be open at 7:00 but the hand written update said 8:00. Sherm, Jack and Barb went to Paula's while Sandy and I went back to our room. When 8:00 arrived, someone had not lived up to their commitment to connect some machines so Mrs. Olsen said they were still closed. She did, however, allow us to get our choices of pastries and buns and take them away. I sliced up my leftover sirloin from last night, put it on my Olsen bun and nuked it to make an excellent steak breakfast sandwich.

Jack and Barb's Vulcans - he can really paint

Sherm excited to see the new Olsen's

This is what the sign originally said

This is what we found at 7:30

In the Olsen's Gift Shop

Killing time waiting for breakfast

Sherm, Barb and Jack at Paula's

The plan today was to ride up to San Luis Obispo and take a tour of the San Luis Point Lighthouse where Sherm served with the Coast Guard between 1962 and 1964. He also had a few other places for us to visit in that area.

The group, consisting of seven motorcycles, a Camry and a Silverado, headed north on Highway 101 shortly after 9:30 AM. Sherm led and I brought up the rear of the motorcycles so that we had CB communications between the front and the back. It was 60 miles, which we covered in good order with no incidents.

Highway246 to Buellton

Northbound on the 101 Freeway

Somewhere around Pismo Beach

The marine layer is out there

We arrived with plenty of time to spare so Sherm took us to the Avila Valley Barn, a farmers' market. One motorcycle had difficulty parking but the only damage was a broken mirror mount. The market had many tasty looking things. If I lived in this area, I would be a regular here.


Getting parked

Where was this when I was young and single?

Awesome preserves...

...and more

Nice fruit but she is the apple of my eye

Someone does not like dill pickles

Pick your pie

The rocking chair feels very natural - I am worried about that

At the appropriate time, we all got back to the bikes and headed out for nearby Avila Beach Drive where the Point San Luis Lighthouse tours start. We arrived in the tour lot at 11:15 and parked the bikes. Elaine, a member of the Lighthouse Keepers who are preserving and restoring the site, met us. She knew Sherm from prior visits where he shared his experiences from two years as one of the lighthouse crew with the Coast Guard.

Fisherman's Beach (aka Dog Beach)

The tour begins

We are parked and ready

Sherm and Elaine with our trolley in the background

There were two ways to get to the lighthouse these days. One was to walk. They said it was about two miles but the trail had 300 foot changes in elevation and the hikers needed to sign in with PG&E, which owned the land. The other, and in our mind preferable, way was to reserve a seat on the trolley and ride to the site. The trolley was built on an RV chassis featuring a 454 GM engine and heavy duty brakes. Both were necessary because the narrow, winding road climbed way up before descending steeply to the point and the lighthouse.

Arriving at the point, we debarked from the trolley and walked the short distance to the lighthouse. "Sherm's Group" was separated and got our own docent, a young man named Jack. He seemed to enjoy his job and gave us a great tour. We started in the house which was built in 1890 and was occupied by the Lighthouse Service until the Coast Guard took over in 1939. Then the Coasties kept the light going until 1976 but did not use the residence.

The kitchen, dining room, basement (rare in this part of California) and second floor bedrooms were built of redwood and were still solid today. The light at the top of the house was accessed via a steep, narrow stairway, although the machinery had been moved to another location we would see later.

After the house, we looked through the Horn Room, where the foghorn was located. They had a Fresnel lens there, as well as the clockwork mechanism that kept the light turning before electricity arrived on the point.

Leaving our trolley on the point

Sherm tell a story about a cow, a rope, a tree and a .45

Walking to the lighthouse

Our docent, Jack

The lighthouse circa 1890

In the basement

Dining room

A copy of Lighthouse Service china

I remember stereoscopes from my childhood

Detailed crown molding

The ladder to the light room

4th order Fresnel lens

Steam powered horn room

The modern lighthouse is located on this tower

Sherm's Group

Looking out from San Luis Point

Saying goodbye to Jack

The breakwater protecting San Luis Bay

We are way up - the white dots are fishing boats

Looking across San Luis Bay to Avila Beach

By the time we got back to the parking lot, my stomach was beginning to rumble. VSP left us to head north and engage in some Basque family style dining at Los Banos but that wasn't in the cards for the rest of us. Sherm said he had a solution so we followed him to a place in San Luis Obispo called Margie's Diner. The food was excellent but the portion sizes were out of this world. Sherm had a half salad that was bigger than anything I have ever seen on one plate. It was lucky he didn't order the full salad. Sandy and I split a turkey club sandwich with fries and brought more than half of it back with us.

Margie's Diner - San Luis Obispo

Sherm and his half salad

Half salad. Really!

Cranky's turkey club and fruit

Our turkey club and fries

Sandy said her mouth would not open that wide

Sherm was happy that they had Cholula Sauce

More than sated, the motorcycles headed on the the landmark Madonna Inn while Ray and Sue headed back to Solvang in their Silverado. At the Inn, Penmaker and Phil decided they would head back as well. We showed Jack and Barb through the public areas of the Inn, especially the Men's Room with the cascading waterfall instead of a urinal. Yes, the ladies checked it out.

Lawn sculpture at the Madonna Inn


And more flowers

Nice door

Hanging gardens

In the basement

Running water

I asked what Obsipo meant and how San Luis Obispo got its name. Then I had to look it up because no one seemed to know. Obispo is Spanish for bishop. In 1772, Spanish missionaries started construction of a mission that they would name after Franciscan St. Louis, Bishop of Toulouse (1274 - 1297). The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa eventually gave its name to the town of San Luis Obispo.

The four remaining bikes started back south on the 101 Freeway with yours truly in the lead and Sherm bringing up the rear. Our first destination was the Kawasaki dealership in Santa Maria to look for a part for a Vulcan. Soon after we got started, the traffic ground to a halt. I had never split traffic before, a common and legal practice in California. VSP tried to get me to do this once and I refused. But today, I went ahead and worked my way between lanes until we reached the bottleneck.

The reason for the backup was something that each and every one of us dreads. It looked like a motorcycle was stopped in traffic and got rear ended by a one ton truck. The bike was backwards jammed against the centre divider and people were working on someone on the other side of it. We found reports of the wreck but nothing about the condition of the rider.

Arriving at the choke point

You never want to see this

We had one more backup but Sherm and I had a discussion and decided we would not split any more lanes today. We got to Santa Maria Motorcycles that, oddly, sold Harley Davidson plus Honda and Kawasaki. Unfortunately, they did not have the part we were looking for. Continuing on down Highway 101, we got off at 154 and took Ballard Canyon back to Solvang. This was my second run down Ballard Canyon in two days.

Terrible skin on vehicle on 101 Freeway

 Ballard Canyon Road

Narrow, winding and fun

Live oak

We got back to the Inn at 6:00. Everyone except the four of us were leaving first thing in the morning, so we said some goodbyes. The day had taken a lot out of us and we were in bed early.

Today's route (139 motorcycle miles):

No comments: