Exploring the California Coast, and Seeing the Light

Sunday, October 23, 2022

It’s hard for us to sit still. We enjoy exploring the communities wherever we are. This morning, we drove south to San Luis Obispo, home to Bubblegum Alley. The alley, about 5 feet wide, and 15 feet long, is located in downtown San Luis Obispo. No one is sure when the custom started, after WWII, in the 1950’s, but people have been adding their gum to the walls lining the alley for at least 70 years. Needless to say, that’s a large accumulation of gum. Shop owners in the area haven’t been very supported, and attempts have been made a few times to clean it up. However, it continues to attract tourists like us, who add our contributions to the wall.

Of two other attractions we checked was the Mission San Luis Obispo, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We peeked inside, very respectfully, as Sunday Mass was being celebrated at the time.

The very first motel in the world was built in San Luis Obispo. The Motel Inn was built in 1925, as a convenience for a new type of traveler, the automobile driver. At that time, most drivers could only go about 40 miles per day, and architect/developer named Arthur Heineman saw an opportunity. He envisioned a series of small motor hotels, spaced about 40 miles apart to accommodate those drivers. They would be located near main roads, and included parking spaces and even some garages for the overnight guests. Heineman coined the term, motel, originally Mo-Tel, a portmanteau of the words motor and hotel.

This Motel Inn continued operating until 1991, and most of the buildings were later taken down. The remaining building was used as administrative space for the nearby Apple Farm Inn, but as of today, it is empty. Fencing surrounds the building now, but there has been talk of resurrecting the old motel.

Next, we headed west to Morro Bay, where we enjoyed ice cream and window shopping before driving out to Morro Rock, a volcanic plug that is about 576 feet tall. It’s been used for years as a navigational landmark. The surrounding beach is enjoyed by humans, squirrels, seals, sea lions and several species of birds. The waves were good enough for a few surfers to be out today.

The highlight of the day was back in Paso Robles, just a few miles from our lodging. Sensorio features two light and color installations by Bruce Munro, a British artist who uses the surrounding environment and and fiber optics to create his designs. We had seen one of his exhibits in Minnesota a few years ago, and were excited to see this one, which was much larger.

We arrived shortly before sunset, and watched as the lights came up. Almost 60,000 stemmed spheres covered the 15 acre rolling field. In the main installation, called “The Field of Lights,” the lights continually change color, creating a kind of fairy land. Visitors walk on paths through the lights.

A newer addition, called “Light Towers,” includes 69 towers of wine bottles, filled with lights. The changing colors are accompanied by music, very dramatic when viewed and heard in the dark. The music tonight was from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South African male acapella singing group. They came to fame after being featured on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album. We saw them perform live in Minneapolis several years ago, a great show.

There was a small field of what looked like jellyfish near the towers. There were white lights that moved with the wind, similar to the way jellyfish move in the sea.

A beautiful day followed by an even more beautiful evening.

About kcbernick

I love to travel.
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