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Travel

Travel (6)

Morro Bay, CA, March 28, 2017 - There’s an abundance of pure unadulterated cuteness going on from the recent increase in California Sea Otter families living in Morro Bay. Mommas and babies are everywhere eating and grooming each other as if no one is watching. But we are and we can’t look away - they are so dang cute! Now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of these sea creatures in their natural habitat since Morro Bay harbor is experiencing the highest count to date of these adorable critters. A survey taken last May of the Morro Bay harbor documented 36 adult sea otters and nine pups, a significantly higher number than the typical five or fewer otters frequenting the harbor in the early 2000s.                       

“Large gatherings of otters throughout the harbor have attracted tourists and locals all along the waterfront to experience them in their natural habitat,” explains Jennifer Little, Executive Director of Discover Morro Bay. “You can watch along the shore or rent paddleboards and watch from a safe distance on the water as they forage for food and groom their young. They use rocks and other tools to break open crab and local food sources and are so fun to watch. We’ve seen up to 30 - 40 of them at a time floating around on their backs and enjoying life in Morro Bay.”                              

Just plop down a beach chair along the Morro Bay Harbor Walk and start watching - they’re everywhere and easy to find. If there isn’t a family of otters hanging out already, they will soon appear. The southeast side of Morro Rock is a great landmark for sea otter viewing as is Coleman beach at the intersection of Embarcadero and Coleman Drive. There are also public viewing spots all along the Embarcadero for wildlife viewing in between the plethora of restaurants, boutique shops and wine bars. To get an even closer look, paddle out in a kayak or rent a boat at Bay Cruisers and Electric Boats. Visitors can also take a ride on the Lost Isle Tiki boat to see the otters and the ever-barking sea lions, which includes a quick detour to the Morro Bay natural sand spit. Kayaks can be rented at Kayak Horizons and the Kayak Shack.

Otter Population Growth

Over the past three years, the average count of sea otters in the California range hit 3,272. This is the first time that the index, which started in 1982, has exceeded 3,090, the threshold suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the species should be delisted under the Endangered Species Act. The threshold would need to be surpassed for at least three consecutive years before the species is considered for delisting. The index hovered in the 2,800 only one decade ago.                                                                     

Experts say what’s really driving the population increase is the abundance of food they find in the waters of Morro Bay. Sea otters are integral to the health of the Morro Bay harbor environment. When viewing otters be very careful as they are wild animals and may react poorly if approached. When viewing from the water, it’s best to stay at least five kayak lengths away at all times and enjoy them in a responsible manner.                                                                    

For information on all the exciting things to do and see in Morro Bay, visit www.morrobay.org.

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.

Read the full story here.

By Gus Thomson of the Auburn Journal

They came. They saw. They were conquered – by Placer County’s outdoor attractions.

That was the consensus of local tourism industry spokespeople after 58 writers and photographers with the Outdoor Writers Association of California were treated to a variety of opportunities to explore and learn about Placer County’s outdoor amenities as part of the group’s conference Sunday and Monday in Auburn.

Bob Semerau, association president emeritus, had praise Tuesday for organizers and Auburn attractions.

“Experiencing the broad spectrum of outdoor adventure opportunities to be found in Placer County has given the membership a real appreciation for this lovely part of California,” Semerau said. “Fly fishing the middle fork of the American River with Grady Garlough of Rise Up River Trips highlighted the pristine and wild natural beauty to be found throughout the region. And the fishing was awesome.”

Read the full story here.

Well, the trees and so much more! Writing about California is what I do; I’ve been doing it a long time – 26 years. Something of an expert, so they say, but for all I have seen and done it’s a drop in the bucket. Along with writing, most of my professional career has been about tourism, hotels, restaurants, and hospitality.

I am not new to the Foresthill Divide or Placer County, but each visit is an adventure. This latest visit netted more than one surprise. The Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) was hosted by the Placer County Visitors Bureau at our spring conference. I happily spent an extra day and night in “downtown” Foresthill at the newly opened Miner’s Camp. What an experience. "Don't judge a book by its cover" very much applies. While rough and tumble on the outside, the cabins are definitely 5-star inside. The inspired use of salvaged and vintage decor is over the top! Wendy and Leif Lowery and Brian Clausman, partners on the project, really looked outside the box on this lodging venture. And no disrespect to the men, but Wendy is an interior design creative genius!

My friend, Karen, and I enjoyed the comfort of the Bogus Thunder Mine cabin which includes the most fabulous corrugated-metal clad shower with dueling showerheads. Comfy beds and bedding a real bonus – not bogus! We got all the meals covered: Dinner at Dragon In, breakfast at the newly revised Mega’s Café and lunch at Sugar Pine Pizza – all thumbs up. Definitely didn’t leave town hungry.

Read the full story here.

California Ambition, Luck and Savagery: Old Town Auburn

The transformation of the Mexican territory of Alta California began on January 24, 1848, when James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget in the American River while constructing a sawmill for John Sutter, a Sacramento land baron and unscrupulous agriculturalist. News of Marshall’s discovery inspired the Gold Rush of 1849, where thousands of haggard dreamers, scheming industrialists, and their hangers-on, from all over the US and beyond, risked it all to make their fortune in what would become the “Golden State” of California.

In the spring of 1848, a group of French gold miners arrived in the Sierra Nevada mountains and camped in what would later be known as the Auburn Ravine. Human presence of the Martis People in the Auburn area dates back to 1400 B.C., yet the Nisenan, an offshoot of the Maidu Tribe, inhabited the area more recently.

Read the full story here.

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Featured Member

 Lara Kaylor

My name is Lara Kaylor and I have worked as a journalist for more than a decade covering everything from the outdoors to small town politics. I joined OWAC in 2007.