San Simeon, CA to Morro Bay, CA

28.7 mi / 10.5 mph / 965 ft. climbing
Home: Morro Bay State Park hiker/biker campsite

An early pass by San Simeon State Park, with its hiker/biker area visible from Highway 1, proved that staying put for a second night in our motel was likely worth the extra $35 we paid over camping there.

Soon after we passed through the much busier Moonstone Beach resort strip, and town of Cambria, which seemed to be doing excellent business while the lodging strip of San Simeon was suffering. They were more scenic (Moonstone Beach) and cuter (Cambria) places to stay, but that just highlighted how our goal for motel nights should explicitly target the less-scenic and less-cute, because we hole up inside so much during our motel stays that the scenery and cuteness of the area is irrelevant, so we should really avoid paying extra for that. After all, we get no shortage of scenery and cuteness for the 80% of our time when we aren’t under a roof.

Now fully out of Big Sur, Rett was reminded for the first time in a while that she does still enjoy the act of cycling. Both her and I had begun starting to wonder if that was true, so it was good for at least one day to know that it is. Contributors to that enjoyment were wide shoulders on smooth roads, (relatively) flat riding, and a tailwind for good measure.

Very patriotic cows.

At least half the distance of our relatively short day was spent with Morro Rock in our sights. A volcanic plug barely connected to land, it’s big enough to dominate the horizon from miles away.

Eating our cheese Danish 2nd-breakfasts in front of Morro Rock.
Even back in the flat-ish areas, the coast is still pretty great.
Morro Rock.

In the town of Morro Bay we stopped at yet another wild/sour/saison brewery, The Libertine, where everything they make, including their one IPA and their Autumn Harvest stout, are soured. Their gose is even made with Pacific Ocean seawater! Not sure what it is about this section of California that provides such a density of these creative, non-IPA beers that Rett and I (but particularly Rett) enjoy so much, but it’s very welcome! The very odd thing is that not only does their website not list their available beers, but also their in-house chalkboard lists only their beer names, and has no styles or descriptive information. I guess in a place that spins vinyl records, is called “The Libertine”, and has a mocking chalkboard “graveyard” marking the years that a dozen or so prominent craft breweries sold out to macrobreweries, catering only to those in-the-know fits right in?

While watching out the window at the surprising stream of tourists heading in every direction, I offhandedly observed that the primary clothing choice of the Morro Bay tourist (on a sunny but cool December day) is the hoodie. Subsequent data collection while we sampled our beers supported the hypothesis, revealing at least 80% hoodie wearage! I guess since Rett has managed to add one to her very-limited bike-touring wardrobe (though not nearly as plush and pannier-filling as most we saw), I shouldn’t be surprised that it remains the American uniform.

Libertine Brewing
Morro Rock seen from Libertine’s dining room.

Morro Bay State Park is another campground in an urban setting, where it’s always a bit unknown what the hiker/biker situation is going to be like. But it turned out to be really nice, this night at least. In the expansive eucalyptus-carpeted area, we met Francis, a “local”, but not in the usual “local” sense. “Regional” might be more accurate, as he was a true bike tourer, but just doing a quick weekend getaway, meeting up with a couple of other cycling friends who arrived after dark.

Morro Bay State Park hiker/biker site, separated from the golf course (and surrounded by eucalyptus trees.
Real mountains(!) at sunset. This may be another of the “9 sisters”, a line of volcanic plugs that Morro Rock is at one end of.

He let us know that the annual Christmas lighted boat parade was happening that night (maybe partly explaining the surprising crowds from earlier in the day), and while we didn’t want to make the effort to ride back to the center of town after dark like him and his friends did, we instead took the campground ranger’s advice and walked to the top of a nearby hill. We couldn’t see much of the “parade”, but we could at least see the crowd of lighted boats massed in the staging area, and more memorable than that, with Rett’s phone playing Christmas music, dance together alone on the hilltop on the dark December evening.

Christmas boats in Morro Bay.



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2 responses to “San Simeon, CA to Morro Bay, CA”

  1. Kenneth Gregie Avatar
    Kenneth Gregie

    With your campsite being that close to the fairway, I would expect at least a couple of golf balls from errant shots would be lying about!

    1. neil Avatar

      ha, now you’ve got me thinking I should have been more concerned about a shot coming at our tent, but I’m glad I didn’t think of it at the time! The giant eucalyptus trees are huge garbage-producers, and them dropping branches and bark crashing down through the night was crazy enough, the idea of a golf ball whacking the rainfly would have been too much!

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