Growing by the Bay

Category: further afield

Photo Wednesday: Graffiti artist

Let’s head down to SoCal for a picture today. This image of an artist on Venice Beach is one of my more popular photos posted to Flickr. Why is that, do you suppose?

Sierra color

woods lake in the sierra nevada

Last month I spent a week in the Sierra near the town of Pioneer. There was some nice fall color. This photo is from a set taken at Woods Lake, a high alpine lake near Carson Pass.


Morro Rock

Morro Rock in Morro Bay on the central California coast, viewed from the beach at Montana de Ora

A morro (a Spanish word for pebble) is a rocky outcrop rising from shallow waters — the Sugar Loaf in Rio is one famous example; Morro Rock in Morro Bay on the central California coast is another. The rock reaches an elevation of 576 feet (a little less than half the height of Sugar Loaf). It has been called “the Gibralter of the Pacific.”

Morro Rock is a plug, the hardened lava vent of an extinct volcanic peak. Several other volcanic peaks dot the central California coast between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo; collectively they are known as the Nine Sisters. Besides Morro Rock these include Black Hill (665 ft), Cabrillo Peak (911 ft), Hollister Peak (1,404 ft), Cerro Romauldo (1,306 ft), Chumash Peak (1,257 ft), Bishop Peak (1,559 ft), Cerro San Luis (1,292 ft), and Islay Hill (775 ft).

The Chumash Indian tribe made their home in this area. Members of this tribe are the only people who can legally climb the rock (a dangerous activity because of loose boulders that often fall); the climbs are part of the Chumash solstice ceremony.

The rock was apparently first sighted by Europeans in 1542, by the explorer Juan Cabrillo.

Morro Rock viewed from the sand spit in Morro Bay


The Nine Sisters of San Luis Obispo County (Sierra Club San Luis Obispo)
More of my Morro Rock photos


Hearst Castle gardens

Hearst Castle offers five tours covering different parts of the buildings and grounds. One of these is the garden tour. The gardens are not spectacular, but they are decent examples of the mediterranean style.

At this time in spring, lantana is a prominent feature.

lantana at hearst castle

Sometimes the Lantana is pruned in a clumping pattern.
lantana at hearst castle

Azaleas are another flowering plant that is featured.
azaleas at san simeon

The estate has a lot of steps and terraces that are used to set off plantings.
san simeon terrace

Ceramic elements and columns are other architectural features.
san simeon column

And of course the staturary for which Mr. Hearst was so fond.
hearst castle statue

San Simeon outdoor pool

outdoor pool at hearst castle, san simeon, north of cambria

The outdoor pool at San Simeon epitomizes the site’s southern Spanish Renaissance and gothic style. Construction is primarily of poured concrete, embellished with European antiguities and facsimilies thereof. Despite going top-dollar all the way, the result verges on kitsch. Still, it must have been a kick spalshing around in this hilltop pool.

More photos to come . . .

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Cambria, California

Mr. Vista is relaxing in Cambria on the Central California Coast — as well as I can considering the frigid weather.

Cambria is best known for the nearby Hearst Castle at San Simeon, and also for its cutesy downtown, but it has some nice natural areas as well. The Fiscalini Ranch preserve is a coastal area of 430 acres that was formerly a cattle ranch and dairy. The ranch was sold in 1993, and housing was planned, but a local group, working with the American Land Conservancy and other organizations, raised the money to preserve the space for public use. The preserve is managed by the Cambria Community Services District, which created number of wheelchair-accesible paths along the bluff overlooking the shore.

cambria coast

Cormorants nest on rocks offshore.

cormorants on rock at cambria coast

At this time of year the the Cambria Morning Glory (Calystegia subacaulis) blooms in the bluff meadows. Also known as Hill Morning Glory or Fall Bindweed, this low-growing herb is found nowhere but the California coast.

cambria morning glory

More to come. Stay tuned . . .


Pool at Hearst Castle

 indoor pool at hearst castle

Just a photo today, as we head south a little bit, to Hearst Castle near Cambria. This is one of the opulent indoor pools.

Weekend getaways from San Francisco

pelican at santa cruz boardwalk

Carrie Katz has a pretty good summary of weekend getaways from the city.

I photographed the pelican at right at the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

>> POSTING WILL BE LIGHT for a bit at friscovista while I am on the road.

Some rights reserved 2022 Tom’s Garden. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, noncommercial, no derivs: 3.0) License (US), although some of the work this blog incorporates may be separately licensed. Text and images by Thomas Christensen unless otherwise noted. For print permissions or other inquiries please request via