I awoke to the gentle sound of water splashing outside my room. It was only my second night at the Anderson Inn in Morro Bay but it was sound I had already come to expect and adore. It was a symphony of nature played by harbor seals, the sea breeze and small sail boats drifting past my ocean front room.
After enjoying the morning concert on the balcony with a cup of coffee, my friend and I strolled down the Embarcadero for breakfast at Frank and Lola’s Front Street Cafe (www.frankieandlolas.com). Located across from the water and near the old Morro Bay Power Plant that shut down earlier this year, Frank and Lola’s has small town charm and big time homemade flavor.
My breakfast was “Da Bomb,” the cafe’s tasty sandwich with two eggs broken, served on grilled sourdough with cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato and aioli. My friend enjoyed a spinach and mushroom omelet with scrambled eggs in a phyllo cup with melted sage cheddar and a side of iron skillet potatoes.
Walking back to our hotel, we discovered a retired U.S. Navy rescue submarine on the side of the road, beneath the three, towering 450-foot smoke stacks from the old power plant. Launched in the early 1970s, the 50-ft-long Avalon sub was designed to rescue crew members of downed submarines. It’s one of two deep submergence rescue vehicles built by the United States. The vessel was brought to Morro Bay in 2012 with help from the nearby Central Coast Maritime Museum Association (www.morrobaymaritime.org), which preserves California maritime history, and explores the science and technology of the sea.
Back at Anderson Inn, we loaded our ice chest into my Jeep and headed to Montaña De Oro, one of California’s most beautiful state parks. Boasting 8,000 acres of rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, the park is only a few miles from Morro Bay, but is very far from civilization.
Spanish for “Mountain of Gold,” Montaña De Oro gets its name from the abundance of wildflowers in spring, when it is covered by carpets of fiddleneck and California poppy on the slopes that sweep back from the sea, and California buttercups decorating the mountain sides. This helps explain why it is one of the largest state parks in California, with close to a million visitors each year.
As we winded around the Pecho Valley Rd, the park’s main highway, we discovered Spooner’s Cove, a gorgeous, hidden beach with wave-cut terraces, cliffs, tide pools, colorful rocks made of sea glass, and lots of soft sand to relax on. From the bluffs above Spooner’s Cove we could see park’s most prominent geologic feature, 1,347-ft-tall Valencia Peak. We could also see an aerial view of the four-mile-long Morro bay sandspit, an ecologically diverse area that represents a unique dune barrier separating Morro Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
Back in Morro Bay we had dinner at The Galley Seafood Bar & Grill (www.galleymorrobay.com). Located on the bottom floor of the Anderson Inn, overlooking the bay, the restaurant believes in “fresh, premium seafood is best served naked, cooked to perfection, with a selection of light sauces on the side.”
Our dinner began with Bloody Mary’s, an incredible shrimp cocktail of Jumbo Prawns with spicy Galley cocktail sauce, and a large Caesar salad with Spanish anchovies and shaved Parmesan.
For the main course I had succulent and fresh, blackened local rockfish with wild rice; and my friend devoured a juicy filet mignon, wrapped in bacon, and served with grilled asparagus and grilled mashed potatoes. For dessert we split a mocha ice cream pie, with fudge, whipped cream and macadamia nuts.
For more information on visiting Morro Bay, visit www.morrobay.org. For more information on staying at Anderson Inn, visit: