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I'm a self-professed adventure writer and former exercise junkie seeking a long-term relationship with my higher self, healthy workout habits, and a balanced, adventurous lifestyle in San Luis Obispo. Join me as I discover the healthy activities of SLO County, from land to sea.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cayucos: Estero Bluffs State Park

If you're looking for a spot along the California Central Coast to peace out, Estero Bluffs State Park in Cayucos is just the place. This 355-acre coastal plain provides a hiking trail that spans nearly four miles along the Pacific Ocean's rugged cliffs. The landscape is stark and serene, the pathway is uncrowded and quiet, the air is fresh and clean. In one word: peaceful. 

The Cayucos Land Conservancy conservation efforts help keep this protected area in northern San Luis Obispo County pristine. Several times throughout the year, they offer guided hikes along the bluffs. 

 There are several entrances to the park along Highway One, just north of the beach town of Cayucos. Look for parking areas on the west side of the highway. The first entrance is marked by a windmill, directly across from San Geronimo Road. After entering the park, it's just a short walk to these stairs that transport you down to the rocky beach. 

Although along the well-marked, flat trail you'll find a few access points that allow you to get down to the beach, for the most part, the steep, crumbling bluffs keep you trailbound.

With the recent rain, tiny specks of green are popping up along the trail. Coupled with the warm winter weather San Luis Obispo County is experiencing, now is the perfect time to explore this peaceful oasis. Be sure to check the weather forecast for upcoming visits, as rain is on the horizon.

Peaceful. Serene. Tranquil.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yosemite National Park: Nevada Fall

When golden opportunities arise—take them! I took full advantage of this past holiday weekend by heading to the Sierra Nevada Foothills to visit relatives who live near Yosemite National Park

On Monday, we rose early to drive the winding road down to Yosemite Valley to start our day with a free camera walk led by one of the Ansel Adams Gallery staff photographers. Braving the chilly winter morning, we warmed up by walking around the meadow for an hour and a half, learning of Ansel Adam's humble beginnings, picking up useful landscape composition tips, and soaking up the inspiring view around Yosemite's glacial-carved valley.

Then it was time for a serious hike. We caught the free shuttle behind Yosemite's Village Store and headed to the John Muir Trail.  After trekking along this paved pathway for about a mile, we reached the Vernal Fall footbridge. From this vantage point, the waterfall crashes above; during the warmer part of the year hikers can veer off on the Mist Trail until they reach the top of the fall.

Since the Mist Trail is closed during the winter, we took the road less followed and continued our ascent along the John Muir Trail. From the bridge, we slowly traipsed up this steep switchback trail that leads to an even higher waterfall: Nevada Fall.
Nevada Fall splashed into view about two miles up this byway, after reaching the plateau at Clark Point. We stopped for a much-needed break and gaped at the backside of Half Dome jutting into the air, while Nevada Fall crashed in the distance. Other hikers opted to continue another half mile to the top of the waterfall, but after a full day, we decided to head back down the mountain.

A beautiful hike. A golden opportunity.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sochi 2014 Olympic Games

The 2014 Olympic Games are rockin' and rollin'! My uncle's nephew, Travis Ganong (no relation to me), competed in Sochi over the weekend as a member of the U.S. Ski Team. He skied the men's downhill event and when I read the article about his celebratory fifth place finale—about how he pushed himself hard and had a smile on his face when he finished—it struck a chord.

In my humble opinion, no matter what you do, if you come from a place of contentment...you've arrived. 

Sweat with a smile!

My frequent walks on Pismo Beach often take me to a parallel universe and leave me with a smile.

 After a rainy Saturday, plenty of surfers and stand up paddleboarders hit the waves at Pismo Beach.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cloisters Beach Path, Morro Bay

This past week, San Luis Obispo County's recent warming streak changed course.The unusual skyrocketing winter temperatures in the 80s settled down a bit, bringing gentler highs in the 60s and 70s. We even saw a little rain. Regardless of the cool down, no complaints here. 

Yesterday I headed out for some early morning exercise on Morro Bay's Cloisters Beach Path. I walked a mile-and-a-half loop course that followed environmentally sensitive wetlands, sandy dunes, an uncrowded beach, and the home of the threatened shorebird, the snowy plover. The entire time, the iconic Morro Rock loomed in the near distance. Not a bad way to start the day.

The Cloisters Beach Path is easily accessible from Highway One in Morro Bay. Turn west on San Jacinto Street at the major stoplight on the highway and drive a short ways until the street dead ends. Make a left on Sandalwood Avenue and you'll see the public parking lot to the right. There are restrooms and direct access to the beach.

From the parking lot, look for the sign to the path. This paved trail eventually winds past Cloisters Community Park, and if you continue walking south for about a half mile, you'll reach the short beach boardwalk. At the fork on the boardwalk, head toward the beach. Your legs will get a nice workout traipsing through the soft sand dunes.

   If you want to extend your walk by an extra mile, head south towards Morro Rock once you reach the shore. Otherwise, head north and walk up the beach for about a half mile until you find the sandy path that leads back to your car.

 You have to watch carefully for this sandy path back to the parking lot. I use the trees to the left in this picture as a guide. This stretch of beach does not permit dogs due to the snowy plover's nesting grounds.
Whatever the weather brings, have a beautiful day!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cayucos State Beach

A piece of emerald green sea glass I found on Cayucos State Beach.
Cayucos is a gem of a town. Tucked away on Highway One in San Luis Obispo County, just five miles north of Morro Bay, this cool, funky destination is worth a visit. Rich in history, small town spirit and unspoiled coastline, its state beach is the perfect place to get some exercise. 

Yesterday, as sultry clouds hovered over SLO County, I headed to Cayucos in search of giant waves typical during this time of year. Walking along the beach I found a few colorful pieces of sea glass, felt the roar of the ocean and wondered...why aren't more people here?

I started my walk from Cayucos Pier, which is now only partially open due to a severely needed rebuild. Click here for more information about the pier's history and the current efforts to save it at savecayucospier.com.

I trekked south down Cayucos State Beach and saw a few others out for some exhilaration.
This paddle boarder braved the churning sea.

This surfer charged straight into the high waves.

Just another day in exercise paradise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cambria's Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Yesterday as I was stretching during the middle of my workout, the gentleman standing next to me said, "This is the best gym in town." I couldn't have agreed more.

But I wasn't sweatin' it out inside a fitness center, I was standing on a viewing deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Cambria's  Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. Outside in the sunshine, fresh air and low-70 degree temperatures, thunderous waves crashed below me, whales spouted in the far horizon, and I benefited from a few hours of exercise. What an amazing weekend to explore the California Central Coast! 

Cambria lies at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County and its famous stretch of coastline, Moonstone Beach, is easily accessible. Just look for the signs as you're driving on Highway One through Cambria.
When I visit the boardwalk, I prefer to park at the northern end of Moonstone Beach Drive at San Simeon State Park's Leffingwell Landing. There is a large paved lot, public restrooms, picnic grounds and beautiful views. Before beginning on the boardwalk, you can head north up these stairs and meander along a short roped trail that winds along the cliffs. Access stairs allow you to walk down to the pebble-studded shore.

To begin the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk from San Simeon State Park, walk south over the bridge from the park. The boardwalk is about 1.5 miles each way and is a flat, easy course to follow. Several benches and viewing decks allow walkers to stop and soak in the stunning blue sea. There are plenty of access stairs along the way, leading to tide pools and the beach.

There is always a bevy of activity at Moonstone Beach. Yesterday I saw surfers, fishermen, families playing on the shore, people walking their dogs, and many out searching for sea glass and moonstones.

At the southern end of the boardwalk, you'll find many beachgoers and surfers at Moonstone Beach Park. Yesterday these walloping waves gave surfers and onlookers quite a thrill.

Click here for directions and more details about this splendid walk.
Happy Trails!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

10,000 Steps

Shell Beach, San Luis Obispo County
Some health experts recommend taking 10,000 steps per day. For the average person's stride length, that translates to about 5 miles. Walking this much outdoors might not be realistic for everyoneespecially in the middle of winter, where in some states people are enduring wind chills of minus 60 degreesbut when the weather permits and you have the opportunity, why not take a few extra steps?

Even if 10,000 is daunting or unrealistic for you, studies show that taking 2,000 steps more per day may reduce your cardiovascular risk.Yesterday instead of driving, I walked to the gym for a short workout on the stair step machine and signed up for personal training sessions (can't wait!). Round trip my total steps were between four to five thousand.

Later I drove to Shell Beach to catch the sunset. I logged in a few thousand more steps while taking pictures along the crashing waves and also benefited from stair work. Shell Beach is surrounded by sheer cliffs, and walking down the access stairs is the only sensible way to get to the sand. Walking up and down stairs is a great workout all on its own.

I live in a neighborhood where I can get to the grocery store on foot. I already walked to a local coffee shop this morning, and today I'm going shopping for a pair of tennis shoes that I can keep in my office to use during the week to get some fresh air and exercise during breaks and lunches. 

If it's just too darn cold to go out where you live, walking on a treadmill at your local gym is an obvious choice. Many at-home workouts are also available through popular internet streaming sites such as netflix and hulu. I have a dvd I can do in the comfort of my own living room called "Walk Slim: 5 Really Big Miles" from Leslie Sansone, creator of the Walk at Home program.

Whatever your situation, put your best foot forward!

Even if you can't get to the beach, find ways during your day to take those extra steps that make sense to you. Click here for 25 Simple Ways to Get More Steps in Your Day by Su Reid-St. John.

Shell Beach sunsets never disappoint.