Category Archives: hiking

The Fun Never Stops for your Legs in Cambria, California

Cambria, CA

Despite the nonexistence of casinos, big box stores, fast food, a red light district, theme park, or Saturday night cruz, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Cambria.  If you are an artist, nature lover, musician, foodie, adventurer, animal lover, or outdoor person, you’ll love the Cambria walking and bicycle scene.

Cambria, is a socialist walking utopia.  Cambrian’s believe everyone deserves universal walking  benefits.  Cambria adheres to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Walking Needs, i.e. plenty of public bathrooms, public drinking fountains, public space and public benches.  If you believe these public items create a welfare state don’t worry there are plenty of shops, a gym, and hotels where a person can pay to poop, drink water, walk  and pay to rest their weary body. Click here for the WELFARE WALKING THE STORY.

The author has explored all the following recommend attractions by foot or bicycle. His home base is the Bridge Street Inn located on Bridge Street in the East Village.

RESTAURANTS:

Many Cambria restaurants serve dishes made with local ingredients.  Here’s a list of restaurants that pride themselves on serving up a local eating experience.

Robin’s Restaurant
Creative meets local. International inspiration collides with the season’s bounty.

Indigo Moon Cafe
Serving delicious house-made meals, extravagant wines, and eclectic cheeses.

Black Cat Bistro
The Black Cat is known for serving Innovative Farm Fresh Fare.

Wild Ginger
Asian, Pacific Rim & Global Cuisine

Linn’s Restaurant 
Simple fare, built around fresh fruits and vegetables from area farms.

The Sea Chest Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Serving fresh seafood for over thirty years.

Cambria Pines Lodge
Enjoy home grown garden salads, live music, a lounge and food served till 11PM.

Click here to learn about the local black bean scene.
Harold Black Bean Vacations at The Bridge Street Inn

MUSIC:

Given the Circumstances Veronica and the Mental Foreplays

Cambria is located between 2 amazing music cities: San Francisco and Los Angles.  It’s no surprise then that Cambria too has a music scene.

Cambria Ale House frequently show cases singer song writers and has open mic every 3rd Sunday.

Mozzi’s Saloon offers a live dancing band every Saturday night.

Cambria Pine Lodge has live entertainment 7 nights a week.

-Los Cambritas’s dishes up huge burritos and has a dancing band on Sundays.

HIKING, BEACH and NATURE:

You would think with a population of 6,000 Cambria’s public space would consist of a dirt lot with a squat toilet and some hand sanitizer.  Not so, Cambria has amazing hiking areas.  Some trails are developed with benches, boardwalks, and handicap accessibility.  Other trails are dirt paths that take you to places in Cambria where you are completely alone and isolated even during tourist season.    A hiker need not worry about bladder infections or dehydration. Strategically placed through out Cambria are 5 public restrooms with water fountains. 

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve:  Catch the West Fiscalini Ranch Preserve trail system 3 blocks from the BSI.

Moonstone Beach: 30 acres, includes Leffingwell Landing, Moonstone Beach Drive, and Santa Rosa Creek.

Shamel Park:  On Windsor Boulevard North, Park Hill, in Cambria is a 6-acre County Park with a playing field, swimming pool (open in season), barbeques, picnic tables and a children’s play area.

The Bridge Street Inn Cemetery is a mile walk along forested Bridge Street road.  The living feel welcomed with amenities like guests restrooms, picnic tables, water, and plenty of art.   Guests leave the cemetery feeling even more alive.

Greenspace Creekside Reserve:  This property was once Cambria ’s historical “Chinese Center,” the social focus for workers who harvested seaweed and abalone for shipment back to China, or worked in local quicksilver (mercury) mines in the mountains.

San Simeon State Beach:  In 1994, a 3.3 mile trail was constructed encircling portions of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat. A portion of the trail along the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible.  Free summer trolley and bus service from Cambria.

Click here for more info about parks and hikes in Cambria.

YOGA:

GymOne
Raw Curry Yoga
The BSI offers Tuesday and Wednesday morning summer seasonal Yoga with Ginna.

SURFING:

Surfline Magazine has this to say about surfing in Cambria, “A reliable source for finding something ridable if the Cayucos Pier sucks, or if the San Simeon area is too funky.”
Moonstone surf
Santa Rosa Creek surf

Those of us who need a surf lesson Good Clean Fun and Cayucos Surf Company located 13 miles south of Cambria offer private and group lessons.

BICYCLE RIDING:

bicycle

For the bicycle rider who loves leisurely rides that involve world class scenery and local culture Cambria’s location will amaze.

Santa Rosa Creek Road for the Skilled

Santa Rosa Creek starts in Cambria and meanders through the farm and ranch land of the Santa Lucia Mountains.  The one lane windy road ends near the top of the highway 46 pass.  Old Creek Road picks up on the other side of 46.  Follow the road into Cayucos then take Highway 1 back to Cambria.  This 42.2 mile loop is not for the laid back beach cruiser cyclist.  Click here for loop details.

SANTA ROSA CREEK ROAD FOR THE CAREFREE

The  carefree Santa Rosa Creek adventure does not involve walking your bicycle or wearing padded shorts.  The first 5 miles of Santa Rose Creek Road takes a cyclist through rolling farm/ranch land along a tree lined single lane road.   Besides  the beautiful natural landscape there’s plenty of cows, goats, sheep, pigs, raptors, horses, old farm houses, and barns to look at.  Be careful a good looking pig can prove as distracting as texting.

Linn’s Original Farmstore is 5 miles up the road.  Linn’s offers individual fruit pies and drinks.  Linn’s will only serve their pies on disposable wear.  This problem is easily solved by bringing a small camping plate and fork.  The farmstore provides shade trees and tables.  A perfect place to play cribbage.

Stolo Family Winery

On the way back into town stop by Stolo Family Winery and Tasting Room.  This is the last stop before Cambria.  It’s located only a couple miles out of town.   Despite not having bike racks I felt comfortable leaning my bicycle against the building.  A tasting costs $5.  The tasting room has a wonderful open feel.  There are several chairs and tables outside near the entrance door facing west.  An ideal spot to soak up some sun rays, write a poem and watch the sunset.  The Stolo family is a nontraditional family.  No, two women are not the head of the family,  two members of the Stolo family are goats.  Chet and Betty are fun to pet while drinking wine.

cambria to hearst castle by bicycle

The Hearst Experience

Many parts of Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur are shoulderless, steep and narrow.  A bicycle rider should not pedal through Big Sur if they pedal erratically, curse god when they break a sweat or do not have the mental capacity to handle near death scrapes with inexperienced RV renters.   However the 7 mile stretch of Highway 1 between Cambria and the Hearst Castle is the section of PCH pavement for you.

The one small hill allows the inexperienced bicycle rider to enjoy the couch up till the day of their adventure.  A bicycle rider with one hand on the handlebar and the other on their smart phone can update their Facebook and text while navigating the wide PCH shoulder. What a cyclist missed because of digital distractions, they can recapture with a scenic postcard, purchased  at the Hearst Castle gift shop.

On a serious note no matter what type of bicycle rider you are Sebastian’s General Store will amaze you with their large Hearst beef sandwiches piled with delicious veggies.  Also located in the general store is the Hearst Wine tasting room.

Digest your food and sleep off the wine at the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach.

cambria to cayucose by bicycle

45.7 miles of Bicycle fun between Cambria and Pismo Beach

The wind blows North to South along the PCH.  Cambria is the second to last stop for the RTA bus heading North.  A bicycle rider can pedal the 45.7 miles from Cambria to Pismo Beach with the wind at their back.  If a bicycle rider doesn’t want to pedal back to Cambria against the wind he or she can put their bicycle on the bus. RTA BUS SCHEDULE

The Weekend Boni’s Tacos Bicycle Picnic

Coffee Houses

Linn’s Restaurant
People say, “LOCATION, LOCATION.”  Linn’s is on the corner of Main St and Bridge Street.  Their outdoor tables are the first to get direct sun in the morning.

Lilly’s Coffee House
Modern coffee meets old style conversation at Lilly’s.  Virginia can serve up all of the latest coffee drinks.  However you can’t drink your fancy mocha with your internet friends.  At Lilly’s there’s no internet and when Virginia asks, “how’s your day?” She means it.

Cambria Coffee Roasting Company
Cambria Coffee serves up one of the best Americano’s on the central coast.  They have a cozy upstairs with leather sofas and internet.  A good environment to work on travel writing and upload photos.

Another Year Over and a New One Just Begun at the Bridge Street Inn

More than a little road weary, after nearly two months traveling, we only knew we had to get back to the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t expect the startling beauty of Highway 46, from Paso Robles to Cambria—old oaks, vineyards and sycamores in undulating hills. After weeks in the desert and then in snow, fifty shades of vibrant green took our breath away.

 We looked the coastline up and down. Took a remarkable walk on the leash-free beach near Morro Bay where dogs in sizes XS to XL were flying free as kites, scampering with great canine abandon from surf to sand.  We noticed not one dropping, as all the owners seem well schooled in doggie-doodoo-picking-up-etiquette, used the bags provided, and disposed in the simple trash bags tied to the fence.

Bridge Street Inn cambria california

But after our explorations, we came back to Cambria. We could tell it was the right place at the right time for us. How do you find a great town, anyway?  I started by googling “great towns of southern California”. As travelers, we know for sure that we don’t want to spend time in bad towns. And we also know great towns are rare. So when we found a sweet hostel in an appealing setting, we knew we were blessed.  The hostel was the Bridge Street Inn. We were thrilled to find it.

Brandon Follett

The hostel life, if anyone wants to know, is one of the most sublime experiences I have ever known. Cooking together, eating together, talking with travelers, forming a short-lived but rich community—it far outshines any sterile hotel room. The hostel in Cambria, Bridge Street Inn, is managed/owned by Brandon, with an easy hand and an eye for spontaneous creativity. A modern day beat poet, Brandon played songs for us on his guitar and read his own stories, while we thoroughly enjoyed his distinctive humorous style; pure irony with a satirical twist that made me laugh out loud more than once. I was fascinated by the way Brandon encouraged co-creation and collaboration with his visitors; from conversation to projects to bonfires and potlucks. Enjoy Brandon’s creativity at Earthworm Envy.

The two interns, Ginna and Brian are bright spirits, welcoming and fun. Ginna is a yoga teacher, and wise beyond her 23 years. Taking some time to stretch and move with her on New Year’s Day was a special treat.

elephant seal

The sights around Cambria boggle the mind. “World-class” is a travel term that often falls short but I would put the viewing of the elephant seals in that category without hesitation. Never mind that it is just steps away from Highway 1 and that you view their lives elbow to elbow with a whole lot of other people. In fact, those facts make it seem more amazing to me. There is some kind of one-way mirror between the human community and the elephant seal community.  We watch them but they seem remarkably oblivious to us. They are 25 feet away on the sand; you are on the boardwalk. They are fighting, nursing, dying, birthing, swimming and resting. You are watching this with a combination of awe, inspiration and heartbreak for those that lose or die. Many questions arise, and as soon as you say them out loud, one of the other extraordinary features of this experience appear… docents. People who love the wild and can articulate it over and over to endless questions (and often stupid—I know, I asked them myself!)—are special. The elephant seal world is so raw and untamed that it nearly defies description. They are like the fundamental nature of the sea personified.

santa rosa shann

The next day, I woke up drenched by elephant seal dreams. We decided to check out Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, following Brandon’s suggestion. Walking right from the hostel, we entered this beautiful community treasure and thoroughly enjoyed its riparian and woodland communities, the rich birding and the fabulous views. The story is one that makes my heart delight and echoes a San Juan County triumph: Turtleback mountain.  When a community decides to make something last into perpetuity, it is the best of human teamwork and vision. I quote here the inspirational Fiscalini story, for it needs no amendments

fiscallini Ranch preserve cambria california

“The Fiscalini family owned the property for nearly a century, raising first dairy stock and then beef cattle. The family sold the Town Ranch out of tax necessity in 1979 and it went through a series of development plans by ambitious owners. These plans were blocked by Friends of the RanchLand until they realized that the only way to save the land was to buy it, bringing in the American Land Conservancy (ALC) in 1999.”

Bottom-line, a series of partners appeared and pledged funds to save the Ranch but these funds needed to be matched by local efforts.

“Cambrians, through numerous fundraisers, donations and an eleventh hour donation by Midstate Bank of their creek side property, accomplished the impossible. With hard work and determination the purchase was finalized in November of 2000. The Ranch now belongs to all of us, forever.The Ranch is open for public enjoyment every day.”

On New Year’s eve, we decided to herald the end of 2012 with a soak at Charan Springs Farm. The mineral rich waters are augmented by additional heat, provided by solar panels and propane, and a person who enjoys rustic, as we do, would get a kick out of soaking in two side by side tabs with surrounded by towering sycamore and live oak. The farm itself is a treat, eye candy of the best sort: a fertile organic garden and orchards, encircled by sage green mountains.

Stolo family shann

We ended 2012 with a stop at the Stolo Family Winery. Together with our new friend, Alison, another Bridge Street Inn hosteller, we toasted to our intentions for 2013 in between tastes of delicious and high quality wine.

I could go on and on about Cambria, but wait, I have a better idea. Come check it out yourself. Go see the cemetery, find the steps up to Cambria Pines, find a moonstone on Moonstone Beach or go up Big Sur to Jade Cove and find a lovely green rock there.  You will be delighted by the place. And you will have a wonderful hostel to call home in the evenings.

All words and photos are credited to
Shann Cathro Weston
Salish Sea Press
Author of Curve of the Moon 
http://shannweston.com

Special Thanks to Shann for this special guest blog!!!!  Adventure with Shann at http://doityourselflife.org

Afternoon Jade Cove Adventure

If you are a rock hound and want a good story start talkin to the locals at the Cambria Ale House.  Don’t be surprised if a local pulls out a piece of Jade from their pocket or show you a piece of Jade that has been fashioned into a ring.  They will tell you stories about obsessed rock hounds that put on scuba gear and brave the cold pacific and the currents looking for Jade on the ocean floor.  Other rock hounds risk the slick shale rock trail down to the cove and venture knee deep into the tide pools knowing that a sleeper wave can hit that at any moment.   All this excitement can be found at Jade Cove 37.5 north of the Bridge Street Inn located in the Big Sur.

Jamie and Fern on the treacherous slick shale trail to the cove.

Brian scans for sleeper waves while digging in the pool.

I look up to see Brian hit by a big wave. I hold my breath ………. thank god he is all right.

The jade found this afternoon.

As we hike back to the Jeep the marine layer lifts to show the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Don’t miss out on the Big Sur Jade Festival OCT 5, 6, 7.  Book a room now at the Bridge Street Inn.

Click here for Big Sur Jade Festival info.

Germ-Free at Big Sur

Excerpt from my personal blog (enjoy the full post HERE):

It feels almost sinful to be enjoying life the way I am in Cambria. By enjoying I don’t necessarily mean that I am “filled with joy” at every second of every day. But I am getting to view some truly spectacular sights and meet some extraordinarily inspiring and engaging people on a regular basis, and for some reason it just feels… strange. The word “should” is continuously at the forefront of my mind. I should be working harder; I should not have bought cookies from Linn’s bakery (three days in a row); I should be working a “real” job with a “real” paycheck that will give me a “real” future. Sometimes I just want to beat the should outta should, if you know what I mean. Trying to take in the slow life and enjoy the simple pleasures is so unnatural to me, but I’m learning as I go, I suppose.

Per usual, I have more self-deprecating stories for you (you can find the afore-referenced self-deprecating stories HERE). So I’m peacefully reading in The Enchanted Toolshed the other morning when Brandon (my boss) loudly bangs on the door, throws it open and proclaims, “It’s going to be a Big Sur day today!” I’m all like, wha?, and he’s like, if we can get the hostel clean in thirty minutes we can all road trip up to Big Sur and go hiking! So I’m all, whoa man, you’re throwin’ off my plans to clean and go to the post office and otherwise sit on my ars the rest of the day… I gotta stick to the plan, man!

Then I snapped out of it and realized that I simply needed to reach up my butt, grab the stick out of it and take advantage of the opportunity being presented to me.

Fast forward half an hour: I show up to meet Brandon and Lori for our intense outdoor hiking adventure… wearing spandex running pants and hot pink nikes. If you know anything about hiking you probably know that hot pink running shoes typically aren’t the way to go. Dang it. I’ve been discovered as a fraud again (flashback to the 50-pound suitcase fiasco). Regardless, I headed into the forest armed and ready with my sunscreen, teeny tiny water bottle, and … you guessed it… hand sanitizer. According to my boss that makes me even less cool and outdoorsy, but I really don’t see why one can’t be cool with nature and also be terrified of contracting a malignant jungle parasite. Can’t the two coexist?

Against the odds, I will say that I pleasantly surprised myself on the hike and held my own quite nicely.

Check out some of these gorgeous views from Big Sur:

Moral of the story: if I can get over my general laziness and occasional phobia of the outdoors in order to bask in the glory of Big Sur, so can you. So do yourself a favor: get your butt out of bed, grab a cup of coffee for the road, and prepare to be blown away by some of the most beautiful views in the country. You’ll thank me later.

Ciao for now, friends of the BSI!

A. Lafargue
frenchlikeme.tumblr.com

I Love the Dirt at the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

My love for dirt started at a young age.

When I was two my parents moved from the paved environment of the Bay Area to the rural lands of Boise, Idaho. An acre of dirt made their eyes grow large, much like a kid at a candy store. Yet unfortunately too much candy can cause a bellyache. Finding the balance between raising a family, working 9 to 5, and managing a plot of dirt was tricky; Something had to give. Luckily the strong bonds that had developed (from what I assume is child birth and breast feeding) could not be broken.
They decided dirt had to go. My family moved into a less “dirt-y” environment: Suburbia.

And despite the move my family still loved dirt. Whenever there was extra money burning in our pockets we spent it on dirt. We became weekend dirt warriors. For as many weekends as possible we eagerly traipsed on dirt for family events & relaxation. The dirt around Stanley, McCall, & Cascade, Idaho became our home away from home.

Even the annual family vacations became dirt-focused. During one of my favorite vacations we explored the dirt between Boise, Idaho & deep British Columbia. There we discovered that Canadians harbor a well-kept secret; their abundance of beautiful dirt.
They call their dirt the Canadian Rockies.

As an adult I still love dirt.

For example, when I was living in Girdwood, Alaska I kept pet worms.  Sometimes people would blindly say, “Your pet worms are more boring than a hibernating turtle.”

My response? “I love dirt.”  Plain & simple.

Here are a couple of links to a few of my favorite dirt adventures:

Yum Yum Colostrum:  A Volunteer Experience at Coonridge Orginic Goat Dairy

Atlanta, Idaho Bicycle Journey

Highwway 26 the Bicycle Tour from Boise, ID to Portland, OR

One of the (many) reasons I live at the Bridge Street Inn is for its bountiful, beautiful dirt. In front of the Inn there’s a white picket fence not to keep in the 2 1/2 kids, control the growing herbs or fence in the dog but to keep out the pavement.

Just three blocks from the BSI are some winding dirt trails that lead to the edge of North America’s western shore.  It’s a great opportunity to see the blooming milk thistle or listen to the birds chirp.

Cambria, California has an amazing section of dirt to explore called the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

440 acres of WONDERFUL dirt to explore.

Hopefully the photos below will inspire you to come visit this amazing area.

Our dirt will be waiting for you!

Cambria has plenty of areas to explore by foot. This photo blog will focus on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

From the BSI you are a few foot steps away from starting your Cambria dirt adventure. Take Main Street to the Pedestrian Bridge.

The Pedestrian Bridge is easy to find with land mark signs like Chinese Food and Black Cat Cafe.

Your dirt adventure begins here. The Pedestrian Footbridge takes you into East Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

Follow the trail west through this beautiful meadow.

Cross the footbridge up onto the Pacific Coast Highway.

Looking back at the East Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

Walk around the gate and towards the sign in the background. You have now entered East Fiscalini Ranch Reserve.

At the Santa Rosa Creek Trail sign  take the trail on the right and walk along Santa Rosa Creek or take the trail shown in the photo up onto the East Fiscalini Ranch Preserve ridge.

On the Santa Rosa Creek Sign is a detailed map of the trail system.

Endangered Monterey Pine Forest

Trails heading south along the ridge meander through an endangered Monterey Pine Forest.

Views of the Santa Lucia Mountains

The Santa Lucia Mountain range runs 105 miles from Monterey southeast for 105 miles to San Luis Obispo.  The highest summet is Junipero Serra Peak, 5, 853 ft.
– Wikipedia

The Ridge

The 400 ft ridge, affords stunning views of the coast to Piedras Blancas to the north and almost as far as Harmony Headlands State Park to the south.
– Cambria Magazine

The Bluff Trail

Intern Emily enjoys the views along the mile long Bluff Trail boardwalk.

Unique benches made by the hands of local Cambrians offer dirt worshippers a place to rest.

Signs explain the natural wonders of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary extends all the way to Cambria.

Wildlife

Santa Rosa Creek offers migrating species a wildlife corridor that is not in competition with highway-speed traffic. The result is an amazing display of nature’s diversity including a number of endangered species and species of special concern. Red-legged frogs, tidewater gobies, western pond turtles, steelhead, monarch butterflies, great blue herons, burrowing owls, and Cooper’s hawks are ranch residents along with the compact cobweb thistle and the SLO County dwarf morning glory. Coyotes, black-tailed deer, and the occasional bobcat pass under the highway bridge to the western slope in search of dry season springs and forage.
– Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Love

A relationship built on the values of the Fiscalini Ranch Reserve, the inspiration created from beautiful dirt, and a well kept outhouse are the ingredients for a healthy relationship.  This couples love should endure like a properly constructed adobe brick.

Learn about the history of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve:
http://www.cambriacsd.org/cm/parks-rec/fiscalini_ranch/Home.html

Overview of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve:
http://ffrpcambria.org/About_the_Ranch.html

Help maintain the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve:
http://ffrpcambria.org/Join_Now___Donate.html

Help protect Cambria dirt by supporting GreenSpace:
http://greenspacecambria.org/home_menu.htm