Sunday, November 11, 2007

Took a few days off!

We took off for a few days and went up the coast a hundred and fifty miles to the small coastal town of Avila Beach, California. It is hidden from the main highway and missed by most travelers.

Actually there are two neigboring communities: Avila Beach and Port San Luis, about two miles apart. For many years they were an oil processing and fishing community. A long oil rig servicing pier still pokes into the nearby ocean, servicing the occasional boat. A few years ago the oil industry decided that the location was no longer needed for major oil storage and processing and closed down and removed much of their operations.

Unfortunately, the oil processing had contaminated much of the ground below the small town of Avila Beach. The oil company was required to dig up much of the town and then pay for it to be rebuilt. Most of the quaint old stores, small hotels, and homes were torn down and the ground beneath them dug up.

We have visited the community several times over the years, both before it was torn down, and since. Our last trip was three years ago when the rebuilding had just commenced. At that time (and again this time) we stayed at an older hotel that is on the beach front, but halfway up a hill, and just above the oil containation.

Today the hotel is old compared with much of the new community. But the owners have played on its old fashion features to make it unique. Each room is different and provides some special ambiance. We stayed in the same room as on our last visit; a suit overlooking the beach. We were able to go to bed with the ocean waves crashing outside our window. It brings back memories of our youth when we lived on the beach at Malibu.

The weather was not the best, which we had expected, cold and a little damp. But there were few other visitors around and we shared the beach front and pier mostly with locals. There were many new places to explore and the long fishing pier to walk along. Mostly we just lazed around and read.

On the Thursday evening we drove into the nearby university town of San Luis Obisbo. That night they have a large street fair and farmer's market. The main street is blocked off and filled with stalls and milling people. Unfortunately, at this time of year it is dark and not too suitable for photography.

I had intended to look for new material as we wandered around. I took some photographs but was not much inspired. Twice we went to the nearby tiny community of Port Saint Luis. It is a tiny fishing port with its own pier and a fish processing plant. The whole bay with both communities is a natural harbor with many fishing boats and a big boat repair yard at Port saint Luis. The photography opportunities were better, though scarce on the interesting characters for portraits I usually go for.

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