Morning light bathes the room. Through an open window, pounding surf and barking sea lions tap me awake as memory rewinds on four days of bliss by the sea.
Day one: Morro Bay, a classic California beach town, is charming and welcoming with a small-town allure that can’t be ignored. Winding along Highway 41, the road bends and delivers views of iconic Morro Rock. I sip a breath of ocean air and smile. Over the next four days this landmark will never be out of sight.
Protected as Morro Rock State Preserve, the 581-foot monolith can’t be hiked or climbed. Disturbing the bird life is prohibited. The “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” Morro Rock is one of nine volcanic-plug “sisters” stretching inland to San Luis Obispo. The 2,300-acre Morro Bay National Estuary and protected bay is a marine and wildlife sanctuary. Two dozen threatened and endangered species live in the bay’s watershed, including the peregrine falcon, brown pelican, sea otter, Morro Bay kangaroo rat, black rail, snowy plover, steelhead trout and Morro Manzanita. Annually, outdoor devotees are drawn to this natural wonderland and the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, which offers numerous field trips and presentations.
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