After yesterday's fun with service, today it seemed like a good idea to go more self-seve. Not that I was about to make my own food, of course. Today I stopped by the Hofbrau, where you stand in line with a tray to order your sandwich. 

I got pastrami and fries. 

It's dang crowded for 3 in the afternoon, but I still got an outside table with a view of the rock. The clouds from yesterday were only brief visitors. 

There's horseradish and real mustard for fixings. I wish I could have had onions, but I guess I could have ordered a salad if I needed them. 

The pastrami sandwich was excellent.  The fries were good. I like this place, though it doesn't quite have the ambience of the pub from yesterday. 

Well, there are these lights. 

Bathroom Quiz

So you walk into a restroom. It has two commodes. One is in a stall with a door. The other is in the open. 

Are you supposed to lock the restroom door? It's obviously for more than one person, but one can't have privacy. 

The Libertine Pub

Ok, second try. 

They're playing Jack Johnson as I walk in. This might be more my speed anyway. This is a seat-yourself kinda place. I wonder if I have to order at the bar. I'll give it a minute. 

Meanwhile, the view is nearly identical to the Hook place. 

Wait staff interaction at two minutes. Good. 

There aren't as many choices here, but more than enough for a lunch. I consider the chicken quesadilla but go with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. There are four cheeses coming, my friends. 

More important, a second member of the waitstaff just checked in to see if I need anything. And this place is twice as crowded as the other place. 

Folks, service makes up for a lot when you're just eating lunch. The grilled cheese was good, but the fries were terrible. Will I be back? Almost certainly, and it's because the food was acceptable, but the service was great. In the end, I was helped by three separate staff members. 

Oh, and they have Cayucos Hot Sauce on the tables. 

Sadly, they've stopped playing Jack Johnson. 

Off the Hook

I know what you're thinking: "Abbot, you don't like seafood."

Or maybe you were thinking, "I hate that noise the phone makes when it's left off the hook!"

If you're thinking the latter, then I expect you are getting up in years. 

If it was the former, then I have to say, "Yes, but I have to give all the restaurants on Embarcadero a try."

It's been a few minutes since I sat down. So I might have to walk out of here without ordering. The hostess was nice, but if I don't get to give a drink order at least, I've got better things to do. 

It's sad, too. I was looking forward to a cucumber roll and French fries, surely a marriage made in heaven. Add a bit of gyoza for a complete meal. Also, look at the view:

Quite a grumpy looking day, huh?

Nope, 11 minutes is a long enough wait, I think, don't you?  Sorry, Off the Hook. I tried. 

[NB: I wrote all of the above while sitting at the table waiting to be, well, interacted with in any way whatsoever. The hostess seated me, but after that nobody asked if I wanted a drink or to order, nobody said they'd be with me in just a moment. In retrospect, 11 minutes seems fairly short, but I guess I was hungry and I didn't fancy waiting around for half an hour to get a meal. Consider: It wasn't terribly busy. There were two tables seated when I arrived and two new tables were seated after I arrived. The two after I arrived were both served drinks and had entree orders taken while I sat alone and unnoticed. So I left and tried a different restaurant.]

Otter Rock Cafe

I've been coming to Morro Bay restaurants for a year now. Last December, I stayed in a vacation house and then in January stayed a week at a motel while I waited for my house to settle. You'd think I'd have had a chance to suss out the Morro Bay eateries.  But the truth is: a) I don't like seafood and b) I fall into ruts pretty easily. 

I early on found a restaurant that had friendly staff who remembered me. it had a pretty good view of the rock, so I tended to return to it on my weekly meal on the Embarcadero. 

But the owners have changed and last week my favorite waitress left to start her own restaurant. Now, I'm certainly going to check that out, but it seemed like a good week to try out other places especially since I have the week off. I tend to give up on diet until my birthday. 

I'm looking for a casual place to sit and watch the water and read. The food doesn't have to be great, but the environment and cost are important. 

Otter Rock Cafe has a nice enough view. Some windows actually show the big rock. 

The staff was friendly and efficient. They checked whether I wanted a soda refill twice, which is a big plus. On the other hand the burger I ordered medium rare came out burnt and the bun was dry. 

Verdict: a maybe 

I Didn't Know I Was Lost At The Time

Back in Nevada City, I tried to make a Thanksgiving tradition of driving out to some small town with a name from "Back East." Down here, I never got around to doing anything on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd try something different for Christmas. I decided to pick a town with a presidential name. I figure there must be a bunch, so this could be a good series. Today, I drove to Taft, California.

Sadly, driving on Christmas leaves you in towns with even less going on than on Thanksgiving. And Taft didn't really jump out at me as picturesque, so I wound up not taking a lot of pictures. There's the cool theater:

And the town is surrounded by oil fields, with many of the major names represented. So I suppose this was inevitable (click on the pictures to get a slide show):

On the way, I had a nice couple of hikes in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I was excited to learn that there's a mountain in my county that's over 5000 feet high. That might not sound like much to you mountain folk, but if you consider that my house is at 60 feet, then you see the jump you get. I didn't make it down to see Caliente Peak, but I figure it's worth a return. Today, I mostly walked around the lake and the salt flat for Soda Lake:

The San Andreas Fault runs through here. It's not very exciting. Apparently, it's responsible for the bend in this creek bed:

The tumbleweeds are everywhere, and the wind was high today. If you're driving into the wind, it's a little like there are all of these spherical dogs running at you. I found a pack of them all cuddled up in the corner of this gully:

The neatest thing was outside the park just to the north.

Back in the 60s, some developers tried to divide up the land and sell parcels in a to-be-built subdivision under speculation that the California Aqueduct would come through here. It wound up going elsewhere, but there are a bunch of street signs left, even without streets. I assume it was some sort of attempt to say, "Look, we're serious here. Trust us. There'll be a real town some day." Anyway, here's one for the Gin Blossoms:

Greening of Cayucos

All this rain (which seems to have ended for real yesterday) has brought back the green.

That's the dam at the end of my street. Even with all this rain, I don't think the lake is more than a quarter of the way up that dam.

Proud Day

Pretty proud to say that it didn't take me an entire year to replace the plastic bin of tools in my living room with a proper table.

Rain is Done

We had rain yesterday, but it's clear today, so I can set the "hasn't rained since" clock. 

The best part of this time of year is that I can actually get seated at the marina restaurant. (It's always too crowded in the summer.) And today I'm right up front. 

Rainy Days and Butternut Squash

For the record, it's been raining again these last few days. We can certainly use it.

This weekend, I stayed in the house and cooked.

I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver for a pasta casserole with ricotta and butternut squash.

I've got to believe that English butternut squashes are smaller because I had enough for a big casserole dish and a smaller single serving one, and I wasn't careful to use every part of the thing

It was delicious.


Wow, we've gotten to the time of year where the sun actually sets over the water. It always sets over the water, of course, but the water is actually south of my house, so for much of the year, it's setting over the hills on the arm of land that just out west on the north side of the bay.

It's Raining Again

I think we all have to admit that this song does not hold up. I don't remember it droning quite so much.


I'm reading that we haven't had measurable rain in 186 days. Then last night the water finally returned to the Central Coast. Not sure how much we got and it's still drizzling.

It's been so long since I slept to the sound of rain on the roof -- my bedroom's ceiling is the roof -- and last night was the best shuteye I've gotten in a long while.

Tree Update

Everybody remember my bacon tree? I planted it for my birthday back in the winter. Here's what it looked like then:

With the drought, we're restricted to outside watering only on Monday and Thursday. Do you know how hard it is to remember to water on those days? I finally had to put an appointment in my calendar to remind me.

Unfortunately, travel doesn't help. Last week, for example, I missed both days. I can't understand why one of the days can't be a weekend day. So, given that, I think the tree is in fair shape, though it definitely has a sunburn.

Truly, it's just the mist from the ocean keeping this thing alive.

Denver Cowboys

Took a few days to visit my company's office in Denver and I found a couple of cowboys.

My favorite thing is still watching folks walk right by these things without noticing they're around.

Speaking of Whale Rock Reservoir

This weekend I took a walk around it. This would be a lovely lake to kayak upon. I walked as far as allowed along the southeastern shore (about 2 1/2 miles) and back and didn't once see another human. That's pretty rare down here.

A shame there isn't kayaking because people are afraid.

It's not like the dozens of birds I saw in the water are all that clean. And you can pay a $2 fee to fish, though you have to do it without touching the water somehow. That implies there are fish in there. Fish never poop, I guess.

[Aside. Well, I just read up and it looks like it's a California thing. You need a special exemption to allow recreational uses of drinking water reservoirs. These reservoirs are exempt from the rule: San Diego County reservoirs, Modesto Reservoir, Nacimiento Reservoir, Sly Park Reservoir and Canyon Lake Reservoir. I thought Jackson Meadows, Scotts Flat and Spaulding were used for drinking water, but this would imply not? Maybe Scotts Flat is for flood control. I know Spaulding is also used for electricity. Or maybe NID is also exempt?]

I do like the view up into the hill. The little white house very much reminds me of Scotland.

Whale Rock Reservoir

I'm going to call this the Check Mark Ride.

I found something to use the wind for. It's pretty light today, but almost always the wind here blows inland. And so a ride with the wind is a ride up hill. These hills aren't the mountains of Nevada County, but when you start 60 feet above sea level, 505 feet isn't bad.

I rode to the last lookout over Whale Rock Reservoir, which is pretty dang low. Sadly, you can walk down to fish on the lake, but you're supposed to avoid "bodily contact" because this is our drinking water. It'd be awfully nice to kayak, I think, especially so close to home, but no go. I'm sure birds never touch the water and the trout never poop.

I'm going to do this ride again just because on the way down there's a speed gauge and without trying I tripped it at 21 mph.


Still the most beautiful lake I've ever kayaked on.

Bike Report

Biking along the coast is really, really nice when there is no wind. Sadly, there are few days without wind. 

Still, it is lovely here. 

SUP, Monk!

Went out for a kayak paddle on Morro Bay this weekend. Got dunked when I wandered into the ocean, but the exciting thing was finding someone dressed as a monk working a standup paddle board.

(You might want to click to make this picture bigger.)

He noticed me. I think I made him mad.

Conference Search

Running around looking for a place to hold a conference next year is exhausting. I forgot how far it really was to South Tahoe, and it sure has a lot more traffic than I remember.


The world is full of connections. I was living in the hills of Nevada County just upslope from Grass Valley. I'm now living down here on the coast just south of Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaperman who inspired Citizen Kane.

Today I'm watching Deadwood for the first time. I'm somewhere in the second season and a representative for a Hearst is making noises. So I looked him up. Turns out it's William Randolph Hearst's father. 

And where did George Hearst start making his money?  Grass Valley, California.

I know it's the new car effect, but still. 

Cayucos Whirlpool

At the vacation house I was renting between homes this winter, I saw a Hiroshege print. Actually, I saw a jigsaw puzzle that had been glued together, framed and hung on a wall. I decided that if I ever got back to painting, I'd try to make my own version.

Well, here it is:

I tried to make the rocks look a little more like Whale Rock, though this time of year Whale Rock is almost all white, and the coast is more like the hills on the other side of the pier.  True, the coast would be to the right of this view of Whale Rock, but we have cameras for reality, right?

Here's what it looks like hung on the wall:


Well, I found an app for my iPhone that lets me add posts from the phone. I'm not sure if this will increase my output or not, but it's with a try. 

Looks like I can add pictures, like this one:

but I can't do much formatting. Pretty much, it looks like I can bold text, but I can't change the picture size or provide a link to whatever sea creature I took a picture of. 

There were gobs and gobs of them on the beach this weekend. I like the blue food coloring. 


OK, so I've been slacking a bit and it's time to get back on the horse. I found myself writing a pretty rambling email to a friend this morning and I realized that my writing needs a bit of pruning. The best way to get back into writing habits is to write, and I don't really think it matters what.

I owe a post on the annual state of the Toaties, but I'll get to that later.

Here's what I did today: I dressed up a shed.

The house I bought down here in Cayucos was more expensive than I had hoped back when I was dreaming of finding a shack to improve, so I've not had the budget to dive into home construction projects that I thought I'd have. I haven't really done anything to the house since I ripped out the bathtub sliding doors. (Doesn't look like I made pictures of that. Goodness.)

Back in the yard with all the cactus plants, there is a ragged shed. I suspect it's unfinished because of the fear of permitting or something, but there's a shell of a shed that the former occupant used to store surfboards. It was covered with a tarp, wrapped entirely with black plastic, but underneath has a good frame. Here is what it looked like:

The blue tarp had gotten itself shredded by the wind and there are bits and pieces of blue plastic all over the yard. There isn't a lot of rain here and I'm just using it as a place to paint, but that black plastic is starting to get little rips and the tree from the neighbors yard has a good flail in every breeze, so I was sure it was going to split right open at some point.

In keeping with the not-a-real-structure thing, I decided to cover up the front with the kind of material you can use to reupholster outdoor furniture. Then I put a series of Ondura roofing panels on top. It's corrugated, but not nearly so shiny and cheap looking as plastic, in my humble opinion. And so now my shed looks like this:

I'm pretty happy with it. We'll see how it holds up to the weather.