After my grandma’s Mamoorial services, we hit the road in her car heading for the beach. When she was planning the details for her own Celebration of Life luncheon, she had also requested that her three kids and their families meet the beach afterward and spend several days there together having fun. For a while, it looked like the beach part of the request wasn’t going to work out due to scheduling conflicts, but then it did and I’m really grateful, because it is what she asked for. And, we love the beach! I have two natural places on the planet in which I feel most comfortable, at home, and happy with the environment. One is my own woods at my own home—I think that the Missouri Ozarks with its rocks and hills and trees, trees, trees, and incredible, rich biodiversity is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love it. I love living where I live (even though there are lots of bugs and the summers are horrendously humid). The second place is Pismo Beach, CA. Pismo is on California’s Central Coast, so it is pretty cold and not like the beaches you see on TV. There are no people roller blading by wearing bikinis (usually). It is a beach upon which to take foggy early morning walks and to surf wearing wetsuits, not a beach on which to sunbathe or swim. Quite a few years ago, my uncle bought a condo at Pismo that he rents out throughout the year. He was nice enough to reserve it for our families following the Mamoorials. My aunt rented a condo right below it for her family and my mom rented the one next door and stayed there with my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law. My mom and my aunt stayed behind in Fresno for an extra day after the Mamoorials to take care of some more details at my grandma’s house and so our first day at Pismo was just my own little family, my sister, my brother and his wife, and my uncle and his daughter and son. So, we decided it was the perfect day to take a little detour to Moonstone Beach, another Central Coast beach about one hour away from Pismo. Thankfully, my uncle and cousins volunteered to take care of Lann and Zander, and so the rest of us were able to cram into my grandma’s car and take our side trip.
This little trip to Moonstone Beach remains one of my high points from our trip. Like our unexpected laidback good fun at Legoland, I learned from this trip that the best experiences often arise from surprises or the unexpected, rather than that which is carefully planned. All we knew about Moonstone Beach was what little I had read online and reports were extremely varied. I read that it was the most beautiful beach in all the world with sunsets to rival Hawaii’s. I read that it was the stinkiest beach in all the world and that you had to flee gagging because it smelled like dumped out portapotties. I read that you could find hundreds of moonstones. I read that you could find no moonstones. I read there was a delightful boardwalk. I read that it was dirty and there was no where to walk. I read that, “it is nice except for all the tar that oozes up everywhere and gets all over.” (??!! My uncle then reported that the word Pismo actually means “tar”!! 😉 ) Interestingly, we discovered this was all true, except we didn’t stay long enough for a sunset. Moonstone Beach stretched for quite a way along the coast and depending on where you stopped, you had different experiences. We saw the tarry areas, we saw the beautiful areas, we saw the boardwalk, we saw the mounds of horridly stinky, putrid seaweed. We saw sections where copious stones sparkled in the sun and sections where there was not a single stone. Apparently other random internet reviewers didn’t bother driving any further than where they first stopped and made their pronouncement!
We followed an intuitive hunch and did not stop at the first turn off that actually said Moonstone Beach, but proceeded further down the highway until we saw an unmarked parking area. And, oh my, it was beautiful. Stones sparkled on the beach like we were at a jewelry store. In addition to moonstone, the Central Coast is also home to California Jade, agate, serpentine, and some other semiprecious stones. We immediately found large hunks of jade and then started to find moonstones. We spent ages sitting/lying on the rocky beach sorting through stones and finding treasures and it was so much fun! The thrill of discovery was huge and we felt like we’d really figured out something special 🙂
Later, at Pismo Beach, we found a small section of beach with some really lovely agates, and I already collected a bunch of plain beach stones in Carlsbad. So, we had to sort through a lot of rocks when it was time to go home—it is so wise to travel 2000 miles from home and bring back a bunch of…rocks. We ended up Priority mailing two boxes of rocks home to ourselves, actually. As we sorted through them the day before leaving, I composed some joke beach poetry:
Time to sort rocks
Cast off the non-shiny
In a fit of mistaken beauty…
Picture gallery! If you wish to see bigger versions, just click one and then proceed through the rest as a slide show.
Lovely! I’m seriously considering CA for a future family trip (I really want to see the redwoods!) and I think both of the beaches you describe in this post would really suit our family. Definitely going on the list! 🙂
We haven’t been to see the redwoods since our honeymoon (1998). We need to go back!
I find these beaches so fulfilling and not at all like many people imagine California beaches being. I hope you get to go!
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