Books, gardens, coffee…(continued)

With less than a week left here, I want  to finish sharing some coffee, gardens and favorite small businesses with you.

One of the first places we went for coffee when we got here was The Rock Espresso Bar. We saw it while taking a walk and decided to check it out.

The Rock Espresso Bar

The interior was clean but somewhat stark, the barista friendly.

Friendly Barista

Friendly Barista

The coffee was excellent. I love a good bagel but few live up to the bagels of my childhood memories when on weekend mornings dad would pick them up, still warm from the oven. The one I had here was incredible, perfectly fresh and just the right degree of crusty and chewy. It was served open face with cream cheese and a topping of fresh ripe tomatoes, avocado, pico de gallo and fresh cilantro if I recall correctly. The tomato was freshly picked from the barrel in the below photo and there were herbs from the garden, too.
2374 (1024x768) We sat outside in the garden to enjoy our coffee and food, surrounded by herbs, vegetables and flowers, all used in the kitchen. Earlier this week, I stopped in to take a photo of the garden and it had been cleaned out with new planting beginning so it didn’t look as lush as it did in the fall.
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Garden shelter

Garden shelter

Coming from a farm community without a coffee bar, we are overwhelmed with the choices for coffee here and still haven’t tried them all.

The second place we tried, which really felt like home to us, was Top Dog Coffee Bar.

Top Dog

Top Dog

It’s cozy and comfortable and we enjoyed live acoustic guitar music the first afternoon we stopped in. They have an interesting menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and fresh-baked goods.

Morro Bay is a very dog friendly community

Morro Bay is a very dog friendly community

2461 (1024x768) 2463 (1024x768) Inside the tables are a bit close and it can get loud at times, but in the back there’s a quiet garden with numerous comfortable, intimate spots for reading or quiet conversation.

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Through a new friend here, we were introduced to a curmudgeonly group of artists, musicians, intellectuals, bikers and other odd-ball but interesting folks. Just the sort of folks I enjoy, but they gather to solve the world’s problems much too early in the day for me. Later in the day,  I  feel right at home in the curmudgeon corner later and one never knows what character will wander in the door.

Curmudgeon Corner

Curmudgeon Corner

The next garden, doesn’t come with coffee or snacks, but Beads by the Bay tempts with all its beautiful sparkly beads, chains, findings and other shiny bits but I simply can’t find time for yet another hobby. Susan helped me put together a special gift for my friend and neighbor who has been patiently responding to the frightening and ear-splitting false alarms of our security system and sharing custody of Scruffy, our semi-feral cat. I can’t say what the gift is, but it’s something very interesting and something I’ve never seen before. I like the unique.

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Just a hint of the treasures within.

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Behind this glittery shop is a peaceful garden with a Koi pond (inhabited by goldfish with big dreams), garden art, organic herbs, succulents, sedums , tillandsia, bonsai, pottery and more for sale. The garden boasts a Psoralea pinnata, sometimes called Grape Kool-Aid Bush. I would love to see and smell it in bloom.

Koi Pond (the sign has a story)

Koi Pond (and Taco Temple sign, perhaps with a story)

In my next post, I’ll tell you about Taco Temple, what it is, why I went there last night, and if I can do a little detective work today, perhaps an interesting story about why the sign is here.

The little garden cottage (up the steps in the below photo) is used as a classroom and also is open for informal beading groups or anyone who’d like to work here.

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The last “garden” I want to mention is The Garden Gallery, a remarkable two-story complex which rambles here and there with many small  areas or “shops” with artfully displayed home accessories and a large outdoor area of pottery, fountains and a mind-boggling assortment of succulent plants, most of which, to my disappointment, wouldn’t be hardy in Oregon. The plants are beautiful, all healthy and well maintained, dead-leafed, etc. (well, as much as cacti could be). I’ve only a few photos to share, enough to give you just a taste of what is there.
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Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing a bit of Morro Bay and thanks for joining me on my journey. If time allows before I leave, I’ll have one more post about where regular people eat in Morro Bay, and I’d also like to show you some beautiful and interesting plants I’ve seen on my rambling walks around town. By the weekend, I’ll be heading north and then blogging from home, New Leaf Garden at the Porter-Brasfield House in Oregon.


Books, gardens, coffee…

Morro Bay not only has some of my favorite things, but it also blends them in a most delightful way. Despite the drought, volunteer groups keep gardens going in almost every vacant lot, parking strip, street planters, around public buildings and on private land loaned for that purpose.  Many businesses have gardens including a bead shop that displays garden art for sale in a cozy space behind the store. Two of my favorite coffee cafes have lovely sheltered gardens behind them that are great places to sip while reading or catching up with Facebook friends. Even on cool breezy days they’re comfortable.

Next door to one of the coffee cafes is a wonderful, small independent bookstore,  Coalesce Books, with a lovely garden and garden chapel that is used for weddings, concerts and other events.

Garden Entry

Garden Entry

The bookstore was founded in 1973 by two young women from Oregon. Just outside of the store is a sidewalk chalkboard donated by the Morro Bay Public Art Foundation. Often it will have very literate graffiti but occasionally somebody wanders by from the local saloon. The teensy mailbox on the left side of the chalk board holds colored chalk for passing artists and poets.

Graffiti Chalk Board

Graffiti Chalk Board

The book store carries a wide variety of books, new and used, features local authors, but is perhaps a little heavy on the “new age” and metaphysical, at least for my taste. They also have music and a nice selection of greeting cards and small gifts.

Cozy Reading Corner

Cozy Reading Corner

Another quiet corner

A quiet spot for browsing...

A quiet spot for browsing…

And many photos of the peaceful garden:
2156 (1024x768) 2155 (768x1024) 2153 (1024x768) 2152 (1024x768) 2150 (1024x768) 2148 (1024x768) 2146 (1024x768) 2145 (1024x768) 2144 (1024x768)I hope you enjoyed your photo visit to my favorite bookstore here. It’s late, so I’ll share some of the other gardens around town with you in a future blog post.  

The Dragon and the SurviveOars

Last month I saw a long, brightly painted rowboat sitting at the docks, along with a smaller, plainer one, and as it was during the Bird Festival, I thought perhaps they had brought them in so that more of the birders would have safe access to the good birding in the back bay. It looked to me like it could hold about twenty people and I thought it was a great idea since some years back, a group went out in kayaks and some inexperienced paddlers got into a very dangerous situation with several people in a life-or-death situation and those who tried to rescue them were in turn put at risk in a treacherous situation. Fortunately all were rescued without injury or loss of life, but I’m sure it was a huge concern for the organizers of the Bird Festival in future years.

At the dock...

At the dock…

Then, in the past couple of weeks I’ve seen it again, docked where the Coast Guard and Harbor Patrol have their boats and personal watercraft for rescue and other work. I noticed the name on it: Joanna’s Joy. I started wondering who is Joanna and who takes this out since I walk the waterfront nearly every day and have never seen anyone in or near it.

Joanna's Joy

Joanna’s Joy

Then, yesterday afternoon I took a very long walk, past the harbor, around where the breakwater meets Morro Rock, and onto the beach. I stayed out much later than usual and didn’t start back until almost sunset. It was getting close to dark by the time I reached the north end of the docks and a fishing boat was also approaching. I couldn’t resist walking onto the T-pier to see what they caught, and as I did, I saw a couple of people down near “Joanna’s Joy,” then a few more. I thought maybe they had been out paddling and were stowing their gear as it was late. But, within a matter of minutes, a larger group of women and a few men assembled, a bright flock with a flaming pink life vest here, a fluorescent pink baseball cap there and pale and brilliant pink headbands and jackets scattered throughout the group. As I took a closer look, I saw they were preparing to go out for a sunset paddle.

Rower's Assembling

Rowers Assembling

I called down below to a woman and asked about her group and she called back up to me that they were the Central Coast mumble mumble. After she repeated it two more times, I was embarrassed to ask a third time and so just asked if I might take a few photos for my blog.

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Ready, set...


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They back-rowed from the dock and then gracefully turned and paddled north toward the breakwater and Morro Rock.

Heading North

Heading North

I watched the fishing boat tie up and decided I better get moving toward home as it was getting dark and although the area is perfectly safe, I’m a klutz and there are many trip hazards along the way. Walking south along the waterfront, I saw Joanna’s Joy and her lively crew rowing strongly from the north to the south and was able to snap a couple more photos of them silhouetted against the darkening sky and water. I was filled with joy and admiration for these ladies and gentlemen who choose to live life on their terms.

Sunset Paddle

Sunset Paddle

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When I got home, I told Harold about them and mentioned the way the boat was painted. As I spoke, I recalled several cyber friends who have written of rowing and racing dragon boats and it occurred to me that the crew I’d seen must be dragon boat rowers.  Enter Uncle Google: a quick search on Central Coast Rowing, Central Coast Dragon boats, etc. brought me to Central Coast SurviveOars. According to their website, they are part of Team Survivor, San Luis Obispo, an organization for women who have survived all types of cancer. Team Survivor is a national organization dedicated to “foster and promote exercise opportunities for women affected by cancer” which the San Luis Obispo group does through their dragon boating team, the SurviveOars . The local group’s blog isn’t current but you can see it here. I love the concept of the parent organization and they have different types of programs in many areas so if you or someone you know is in cancer treatment or recovery and might benefit and appreciate the camaraderie and support, check out Team Survivor. All are welcome and some of the activities they enjoy include:

  • Walk/Run Groups (“Walk & Talk”)
  • Dragon Boat Racing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Yoga
  • Cycling (Road and Mountain)
  • Golf Clinics
  • Pilates
  • Triathlon Training

I hope you are as inspired by them as I am. They refuse to let their cancer control or define them.