Category Archives: San Luis Obispo

Jocko’s Steakhouse

IMG_8971On our way up to Morro Bay Katie and I stopped at Jocko’s Steakhouse in Nipomo, CA one of the best steakhouses in the state. Katie talked and talked about this place before our trip and I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. It actually exceeded my expectations.

We arrived in the early evening with a reservation for 6:45pm. Katie had told me that even though we had a reservation we would be waiting for a while. Often Jocko’s begins to turn away guests in the evening as they get so packed they cannot serve everyone that wishes to eat there. We told them that we were there and waited in the bar drinking beer and shirley temples. We stepped outside for a moment to watch the chef grill as many as what looked like 50 steaks at a time on their huge grill, astonished at how he was able to keep track of them all.

An hour later we were finally seated, thankful that our wait time wasn’t 2 hours like it was for others at the bar we spoke to who hadn’t called first. We ordered the steak to split with two plates. Katie wanted it rare, I wanted it medium, so we settled on medium rare, which turned out to be perfect. Katie took the more rare half and I ate the more cooked half. The meat melted in our mouths and I was so excited to eat it when it arrived that I completely forgot to take pictures.

The fries and beans were less than par, but we really only went there for the steak. So, if you are ever in the area and craving steak, Jocko’s is the place to go. Their meat is the freshest around and best tasting with a salty crust that is delicious.

Spooner’s Cove in Montana De Oro

IMG_8973On our way home from Morro Bay State Park Katie and I stopped by Montana De Oro State Park. It is only about 15 miles south of Morro Bay. With the girls still with us I had found a beach in the park that they were allowed to run around on and enjoy with us, Spooner’s Cove.

Once we finally found Montana De Oro State Park, the campground, and the visitor center or what used to be the Pecho’s family ranch house we headed to the beach just below. We parked in the lot in front of Spooner’s Cove, leashed up the girls, and headed out to check out the beach. Punky was ecstatic. She barked and barked as we trudged through the rough white sand until we reached the water’s edge where she continued to bark until Katie finally picked her up to calm her.

At the water’s edge the sand became coarse rocks, sea glass, and shells about the size of mini chocolate chips. We jumped to the rugged rocks to explore the tidal pools. Slippery with algae we cautiously moved out toward the sea slowly as we looked at bigger and bigger pools. We found fish, snails, and small crabs living within the crevices.

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It got so slippery that we decided to head back. As I jumped back to the beach my foot sunk deep into the coarse sand and the water rushed into my sneaker. Not discouraged by my now wet shoe we continued to explore, walking along the shoreline in the bay. There were two scuba divers in the water and another man fishing along the shore. The birds were scavenging a fish skeleton and Frankie couldn’t resist charging toward them and sending them flying away. She absolutely loves running along the beach.

We examined the south side of the cove, took some pictures of the interesting rock figurations and formations and explored a bit more. If we didn’t have the girls we might have explored even further, but our time had run out. We needed to get home for a concert. We headed back to the truck with smiles upon all of our faces happy about the day, explorations, and sights we had come across.

Spooner’s Cove is fun for everyone. I can only imagine how much I would enjoy it in the summer. Laying on the beach, swimming in the gentle waves, exploring the rocks and trails along the shoreline, and diving among the fish. Seeing everything the area has to offer was all I could think about while I was there. It seems like a perfect summer vacation spot.

Schnauzers on the Black Hill Trail

IMG_8973While in Morro Bay Katie and I went on a hike with her two dogs, Punky and Frankie. From the campsite we jumped in our truck and headed out of the campground until we realized that the trail was actually right in the Morro Bay State Park. We parked back at our campsite and walked to the end of the campground past the group sites where the trailhead was located.

We reached the trailhead of Black Hill Trail, a 3 mile round trip hike that dogs are allowed to traverse and started our trek across a field surrounded by grass and short scrubs. As we continued the trail crossed a street and then declined for a short time before it narrowed between tall trees. At this point we started to see small red and green leaves all around us so we held Frankie and Punky in close to our sides. Poison oak lay along the edges of the trail for the rest of the hike.

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The trail started it’s incline, finishing at a total elevation of 600ft, along a dirt path with fences at different points along the way to discourage mountain bikers. Switchbacks then tracked back and forth up the hill side. With each step we took we rose higher and our view of Morro Bay and the surrounding area became better and better.

We came across a small building and just past that came to a medium sized parking lot that could hold about 30 cars. Turns out we could have skipped the whole mile of the trail and drove to about .5 miles from the top. Here, we took a small break for water for the dogs and a few pictures.

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Then we continued to the top of the hill where the scrubs and trees had disappeared and bright gold rock covered the surface. We scurried up the rocks and took in the final view. We could see the bay to the west and north, the marshland to the south, and even the land and valley filled with trees to the east.

After we had our fill of the view we headed back down the same trail we used to reach the top. It was a much quicker trip as most of it was now down hill. With the two girls at our sides we reached the bottom without any problems well before sunset.

Black Hill Trail is a great place to hike with or without a dog. The trail is well kept and easy to follow. A good trail for people of all ages and levels. Also, while we were there we were pretty secluded. On our 3 mile hike we saw 1 other dog and about 6 other people. If you are ever camping at Morro Bay, Black Hill Trail is a hike with views of the bay that you don’t want to miss.

Camping in Morro Bay State Park

IMG_8973On the weekend before Thanksgiving Katie and I headed up north to Morro Bay State Park with Punky and Frankie for a short weekend of camping fun. We arrived late at night and the campground was completely full. We quickly lit a fire and the proceeded to set up our tent and sleeping spot as the girls patiently waited in the car, or not patiently as pinky wouldn’t stop whining.

Once we were set up the girls came out for bathroom break and then we all huddled by the small fire to try to warm up. Within 30 minutes I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and Frankie started growling towards another campsite. That was our first encounter with the coyotes. We decided the girls would be safer in the car and within another 10 minutes the ranger drove through the park following another coyote through the campground. We decided to call it a night soon afterwards and all climbed into the tent. It was very cold so we huddled together for warmth with Frankie under the covers in the middle and Punky under them on the side.

When we awoke we clambered out into the crisp air to a whole new world around us. Everyone was up making breakfast so we slowly started our day. I made the fire while Katie walked the girls. Once again our wood was not the best, but we managed to heat up our burritos and some hot chocolate. The girls settled in their crate as the morning slowly wasted away.

Once most of the other campers had left we took Punky and tethered her to our table and then I played a little with Frankie as she at her breakfast. Eventually we decided to go on a hike within the campground called Black Hill Trail which took a couple hours and then we were back at our campsite relaxing again.

With the time change and the shorter days it got pretty late without us even noticing it. By 5pm we were already starting dinner and dessert, chicken sausages and banana boats. We started dinner so early we even had time for second dessert, s’mores with real graham crackers from Trader Joe’s.

As we sat by the fire and the night air grew colder Katie put Punky in the crate again and wrapped her up like a little burrito in her favorite fluffy blanket. Another two coyotes came around, but this time Punky was the only one to let us know as Frankie was huddled under my sweatshirt sleeping. We burned as much wood as we could, our fire hot with white flames and so large it encompassed the entire pit. Staying warm was the only thing we thought of.

We headed to sleep and this night the girls were a little less cuddly. Katie and I thought it was colder the second night than the first, but the girls must have adapted to the cold quickly since they chose not to sleep under the covers that night.

The following morning we were up earlier. We made breakfast, packed up our supplies, and said goodbye to Morro Bay State Park. It’s definitely a nice place to stay. You are within walking distance from a dock where you can rent kayaks, a little cafe called Bayside Cafe, a nice hike, and a golf course. Put it on your bucket list if you are into just relaxing camping trips.

Woodstock Pizza

IMG_8971On Katie’s and my way home from Big Sur we stopped by Woodstock Pizza in San Luis Obispo for a delicious and much needed meal. After spending the morning packing up our campsite and the afternoon driving through Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive we were quite hungry.

We headed inside and took a long look at the menu. Even though there was only one group ahead of us, it took a long time to place our order. The group was very disoriented in their process and weren’t quite sure what they even wanted to eat. Eventually we got our chance and ordered the SLO Classic with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and olives.

We took our seat and waited for our food arrived. The place was pretty empty with a huge room and then a smaller back room with a few video games in it. Our pizza came and it was a very good. Somewhat salty, but that’s to be expected with the sausage. Maybe next time we will try the BBQ Bird.

Woodstock Pizza is a great place to stop by on your way up north or if you’re spending the week or weekend in San Luis Obispo. With the few video games and an assortment of beer to drink you might find college students enjoy this place even more than others. Though, it’s a great restaurant for people of all ages.

Sand Dollars and Crabs at Avila Beach

IMG_8973Katie and I visited Avila Beach on our trip to Avila Hot Springs as our last adventure before heading home. It was one of the few things Katie really wanted to do that weekend. We arrived and found parking in the lot about one block from the small beach town’s main street.

We quickly walked down the main street’s three blocks and reached the far south end of the town where the shops end. We started back and this time slowly passed the ocean and beige sandy beaches and many shops. We occasionally walked in and out of some of the shops just browsing the small stores that looked of interest to us. Each had their own set of trinkets and little knick-knacks, from frames and key chains to shirts and beach towels. They were the kind of stores that you only find at a beach town and the kinds of items that allowed you to remember your summer vacation getaway.

After looking in the stores we headed down to the beach. The light brown, almost white sandy beach was a big difference from Shell Beach’s coarse sand, which hurt our feet. This beach was smooth and firm along the water’s edge, quite easy to walk on. We walked the beach from the pier as far south as we could go scouring for shells and rocks to take home. Suddenly I noticed one creature that I had seen many of in the stores on our walk down the street, a sand dollar. I quickly picked it up showed it to Katie. In the stores I had read about the Legend of the Sand Dollar or Holy Ghost Shell. How it resembles the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. I felt lucky to find the only one on the sandy shore that day.

As we got further from all the other people and more isolated I noticed little V’s in the sand as the salt water washed back to the ocean. I told Katie what they were, little sand crabs that stick their antenna out of the sand to catch food as the water rushes above them. Then without thinking much about it I reached down and picked up two handfuls of sand. The sand crab wiggled deep beneath the sand in my hand until it rested on my palm, feeling much safer down below the surface. I slowly let some of the sand fall from my hand and eventually it was exposed. Up close you could see it’s small round body, almost translucent, and little legs. It felt so weird crawling on my hand trying to escape to safety. After showing Katie I released it back to the sand where I found it and it disappeared faster than I ever imagined it would. Turns out they use their tails to burrow into the sand and can be completely submerged in less than 1.5 seconds

With our feet wet from the ocean we hung out for a little longer and walked back along the beach. As we reached the pier we tried to pick the quickest and easiest way to the street without burning our feet on the hot sand. We then headed to the car, it was getting late and we still had a long drive ahead of us.

As we drove out of the parking lot and to the freeway back toward Los Angeles we only wished we could have stayed and enjoyed this delightful small beach town a little longer and then we saw the strangest sight ever. A man, pedaling along on his bike with a gorgeous Blue and Gold Macaw riding on the handle bars. It was quite a spectacle and I tried my hardest to get a good picture of it. I wish we could have stopped.

Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab

IMG_8971Before leaving Avila Beach on Katie and my trip to Avila Hot Springs we stopped into one of the shops for some ice cream. As we walked down the street looking for a place to stop I saw a sign for Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. I had remember seeing a flyer at the hot springs for the ice cream and excitedly exclaimed that this must be the spot. We headed inside for a look around.

The shop was bigger than expected from outside. They had trinkets and gadgets for purchase from gardening decorations to magnets to photo albums. We walked around exploring the different decoration items. Eventually we got tired of looking and headed over to their counter where they sold sandwiches, fudge, ice cream, coffee and smoothies.

I ordered a mint fudge ice cream cone from the super nice guy behind the counter. His scoop was perfect, round, big and fit exactly right on top of the cone. The ice cream was absolutely delicious! Perfect for the hot day of exploring the small town and beach we were having.

After further investigation when I got home I still can’t be quite sure if the place we stopped was one of Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Labs or if they only sold Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab ice cream but I don’t think it was. From the outside there was no sign other than the Doc Burnstein sign, but inside the ice cream bar was called Hula Hut. Also, after googling Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab I noticed that they only had 3 locations, Arroyo Grande Village, San Luis Obispo, and Old Town Orcutt and technically we were in Avila Beach.

I can’t wait to go back to Central California and get to one of their real ice cream labs. Hopefully I will be able to get there on a Tuesday evening when they have their all you can eat deals. Either way, their ice cream is creamy, soft, and too yummy for words.

Avila Valley Barn

IMG_8973Right next door to the Avila Hot Springs is the Avila Valley Barn. Not so close that you can smell the animals, but close enough that you could walk if you wanted to. Of course Katie and I had to stop by before heading home on our last day at the hot springs.

We parked in the lot next door and walked straight into the animal section with goats, sheep, and miniature horses. Inside there were small bags of goat feed for purchase. We took a moment to watch the children feed them through the gates. There were signs over the horses that said no petting, but the rest of the animals you were able to reach through or over the fence and give them a soft pat on the head.

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There was a tractor hay ride about to depart as we arrived to the barn entrance. Before heading in we noticed that they had fresh ice cream for sale along with deli meats in another building nearby. We headed into the barn where there were multitudes of things to see. They had fresh locally grown fruits and veggies, homemade pies and sauces, and recipe books and cooking accessories. They even had honey from their own bees and jams from the fruit they grown in their fields. As we were looking around I even saw where their pies were made as I snuck a peak through a window into their kitchen.

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Though everything looked delicious we didn’t end up purchasing anything. The barn has a lot to explore and experience. While we didn’t have a ton of time to check it all out I’m sure you could spend a half day or so there feeding the animals, going on the tractor ride, looking through and shopping at the barn. It’s definitely fun for families with children.

Old West Cinnamon Rolls

IMG_8973On Katie and my way home from Avila Hot Springs we stopped in at Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach for a treat. The place is relatively big for it’s looks from the outside and from what I had expected. Once inside they have a front counter and a few tables to sit at.

Old West Cinnamon Rolls is a family run business who’s cinnamon rolls have become tradition at fairs, shows, and bakeries all over the US. Their menu consists of coffee, smoothies, and other drinks. Their signature item being their cinnamon rolls, which they still make using Betty’s original recipe from over 40 years ago. They have every kind of cinnamon roll you can imagine from original to crumb to raisin walnut.

I tried their original frosted and crumb when I went. They came out of the oven warm and ready to be eaten. I took my first bite of the frosted and boy was it good. So rich that I had to stop about a quarter of the way through and finish the rest later. I saved the crumb until the following day. I must say I actually think the crumb was even better. The crispy top added texture to the soft roll. Next time I’m back in Pismo Beach, CA I’ll be sure to stop by again.

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Crunchy Sand at Shell Beach

IMG_8971While on a camping trip to Avila Hot Springs Katie and I took some time exploring the nearby beaches. I had heard that we should check out Shell Beach so we googled it and headed over to see what was so special. As we arrived we could see that it was absolutely beautiful. From the streets of Pismo Beach, CA the large rocks sticking out of the water along the ocean’s edge were breathtaking. The horizon like nothing I had seen anywhere else.

Driving along the water’s edge, we came across three staircases. Not sure which to take, we choose the one furthest south to start. As we reached the bottom there was not much sand. We traversed over the rocks and eventually came to a little section with more sand than rocks. We searched for rocks compressed with shells inside them, but didn’t come across anything that looked remotely similar to what I had seen from my friend that had been there. We wondered if we were in the correct area so we headed back to the car and moved farther north.

We walked down the staircase farthest north this time since the tide was coming in and there was no way to go down to the sand on the middle staircase without getting wet. Down in the sand this time it crunched beneath your feet. The drastic change in only a mile away from the other section of the beach was interesting and somewhat confusing. Unlike most sand you find in California this sand was harsh and hurt as you walked. Our feet created huge deep marks as we walked. As I took a closer look I could see that the sand was made of small rocks and shell pieces about 2 mm in size.

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We walked around continuing to look for those big compressed rocks with shell within them, but not finding any in this area either. At least there were rocks in the last area that might have had the compressed shells in them. This area had hardly any big rocks at all. The dark brown sand was beautiful however. We headed back to our campsite glad that we took some time to explore and see somewhere new.