Thursday, September 26, 2019

Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo

At the end of the previously mentioned road trip, we stayed in the charming seaside community of Morro Bay, whose combination of tourist accommodations, seafood restaurants and bars, and fishing docks and vessels reminded me of a more impressive version of Pt. Judith, Rhode Island (near where I grew up) as well as the 1952 Clifford Odets/ Fritz Lang noir film Clash By Night (which is actually set in Monterey, before it became all posh). Morro Bay's distinctive features include Morro Rock, a big ol' mini-mountain thing sitting out in the water at what looks to be a swimmable distance from shore, and bold local populations of otters and sea lions, as integrated into the local landscape as squirrels and blue jays are here in New York. I ate some very good fish and chips at a place called Dorn's, where Jack Lalanne used to hang out between bouts of jumping jacks and making his own vegetable juice.

An otter: 

Our program was a few miles away in nearby San Luis Obispo. I first heard of this town many years ago, when one of my jobs for Tony Bennett was typing up his itinerary (I think he may have flown into a local airport here rather than the busier San Francisco, where he goes frequently for obvious reasons. In fact, to digress a minute, I saw this statue to him while I was in SF):

Coincidentally my sister lived in San Luis Obispo for a few months only recently, so I was very interested to take a peep around on that account as well. It is an interesting mix of an old Spanish mission town, college town (Cal Poly is there), and Middle-American small town. 

Here's pix of the local mission, built 1772:

Some other notable tourist attractions include an alley where the walls are covered by the pre-chewed gum of college students: 

A gorgeous local art deco cinema: 

A store and bank built by a leader in the Chinese community in the 19th century: 

And a monument to Chinese-American railroad workers: 

Then came the program with Bob Sarber at the History Center of San Luis Obispo County, which I described here. The center is in a former Carnegie library, a very charming building. 

As I say, we'll have a post devoted to Wilkie Mahoney in the coming months, hopefully guest authored by Sarber himself. You won't regret being introduced to this interesting character -- and by that I mean both Mahoney AND Sarber!

Coming up next: a visit to Niles and the Niles Essanay Silent Movie Museum. But first, something cool -- on the way to the San Jose train station, I saw a tent pitched for the Mexican circus Circo Caballero! 

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