Finding Morro Bay

Paso Robles is a strange place. It is essentially a “wine county” in a desert, although I assume it was not always this way; perhaps it's California’s looming drought. But this story is not about Paso Robles. It's about a place that is a 40 minute drive west. Flying down the highway, we could feel the air change from 101 to 60 degrees. The sky turned from crystal blue to a grey blanket overhead. It reminded me of ash that swims the skies after an outrageous wildfire. I spent two days in Morro Bay - the first day, I tagged along with our friends Mia and Paul on a little surf getaway and the second day I brought True, so I could show her how amazing and beautifully weird Morro Bay is.

"I noted for a moment that we were breathing the same air, thick and salty."

Morro Rock is a 581 foot volcanic plug that sits on the edge of the ocean nestled next to the town. It is rare to see the top of the rock because there is an ever-present blanket of fog that obscures it. Yet from the sands at sea level, you can hear the thousands of birds that hover above the cloud bank. I watched for a while as they soared above the fog and plummeted back below. I noted for a moment that we were breathing the same air, thick and salty.

The air was chilly but the water was freezing. I was impressed to see Mia and Paul out there with the rest of surfers braving the frigid water. I watched them and thought about how their brains must have ached every time they submerged. With the proper suits and strong sense of will power, the cold can be overcome.

Morro Bay seemed like an East Coast beach that was accidentally thrown to the West Coast. With its clumpy sand, seaweed covered beaches and a power plant in the foggy distance, it was nothing like the beaches in Malibu that I'd been introduced to previously. To me, this felt like home. 

"The vibe of the town is edgy and dysfunctional like the East I know all too well."

The vibe of the town is edgy and dysfunctional like the East I know all too well. I walked up and down the beach at a slow pace and gazed at the surfers braving the odds. I saw kids playing, the sand, family picnics and a wife and husband teaching their daughter how to surf. If that isn't enough you can walk across the parking lot, where you may be lucky enough to score a free veggie taco, and see the otters play. 

The town itself is full of kitschy souvenir shops, tourist traps and even a statue of Marilyn Monroe. There's even the Morro Bay Skate Museum, which is worth the $0 admission fee. This blend of shops that line the abnormal west coast beach, and the awe-inspiring creation that is Morro Rock, makes for an offbeat and grand adventure. 

Photos + Video: Anthony Garito

Words: Anthony Garito (edited by Luis Gonzalez)

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