Pirate’s Cove

October 15th – 16th

I leave El Capitan Park early and drive west and north on Highway 101. I stop at another state park at Gaviota, just out of curiosity. It’s closed for the season.

I continue north and inland, and in short order I’ve passed Point Conception and Point Arguello on the coast. Anyone familiar with California knows that northward of these two landmarks we are no longer in southern California. It’s cooler here and the ocean water gradually becomes cold.

I stop at the village of Solvang for lunch. Solvang was founded by Danish settlers and tries to look it. I take no pictures, but you can see plenty of photos here. You can read about Solvang here and here.

By late afternoon I arrive at Pismo Beach State Park. It’s cool here, breezy, and in the evening a heavy dew gathers on my picnic table. I can’t sit outside and work.

But the next morning is sunny and bright and I go to a place with the evocative name of Pirate’s Cove. It’s on an isolated stretch of the coast between Pismo Beach and Avila Beach:

1_coast near Pismo Beach


It even has a pirate’s cave…

2_the pirate's cave

…through which we can see a lot of wildlife:

3_bird colonies


The cove seen from above…

October 14-16_Captitan to Paso 042 4_view onto Pirate's Cove

…and from the opposite shore:

5_cove from the opposite end


The water temperature isn’t bad at all, considering where we are now, and normally the cove would be a good swimming hole, but the surf is rough today, the waves high.

11_would be a good swimming hole, but...


Above us some opulent homes…

7_with some opulent houses above

…and more:

6_more houses


In fact, Pirate’s Cove is indeed a good swimming hole…

8_in fact it is a good swimming hole...

…and an ideal place for nude sunbathing:

9_seal sunbathing on rock in cove

10_another sunbather


I’ve been lucky with wildlife lately.

Crystal Cove

Hi everyone,

It’s been a week since I’ve posted anything, but I’ve been busy all the same and I have a lot to report. I’m in Monterey this morning, heading north to Sonoma County today to the home of my brother Tim. But this isn’t yet the end of the Olsen Road. I have two or three posts from the last week in the works.

Reading: The Best of Connie Willis

For those of you who don’t know Connie Willis, you can learn about her here and here, and doubtless on many more sites too. This is a collection of her award winning short fiction. I’ve read many of these stories before, but there are some that are new to me.


October 11th

I leave San Clemente State Park early and stop in Newport Beach at Crystal Cove State Park. This turns out to be a most interesting place. As I’ve been focused on beach houses lately, I have to say that there are a few here that deserve attention, in more than one way…

1_Crystal Cove house_1

…all of them in the same state as the one above:

2_CC house_2 4_CC houses_4 5_CC house_5


But wait, there appears to be one, top left, that is still inhabitable:

3_CC houses_3


In fact, the Crystal Cove community is alive and well:

7_Crystal Cove community

Though now a part of the state park system, Crystal Cove is partially managed by an association that seeks to help preserve its traditions and character.


There are many beach bungalows available for short-term rent:

8_houses for rent

The village center of Crystal Cove has a visitor’s center, a restaurant, a bar (of course)…

10_village center

… and also a museum where there is a section devoted to beachware…

11_beachware museum 12_museum bis

13_museum poster

And these are the last photos I take with this camera. After nearly four years of good and loyal service, my very good little Canon gives up the ghost, doubtless from the wear and tear and sand and dust of recent months.

I continue up the coast  via Huntington Beach and Long Beach, somewhat contraried by the fate of my camera. I stop at two or three camera shops along the way  and learn that it will be less expensive to buy a new camera  than to repair this one.

It’s getting late in the day and there is the vast obstacle of Los Angeles just ahead of me, so I decide to drive on and get past it. I take Interstate Highway 410, also called the San Diego Freeway, and Venice Blvd. to make my way to the Pacific Coast Highway. And that is how I end up in a motel in Malibu for the night. It’s too dark for me to go on to the next state park, even though I know it’s not far. The days are much shorter now than when I first started out on the Olsen Road.

Up the coast

I’m in Malibu today, reporting on the last three days.  There are more pictures to come, but I’ve had a problem with my camera. I hope to get it taken care of tomorrow.


October 8th to 11th

I leave Jamul on the 8th and begin to slowly make my way up the coast of southern California, camping at Carlsbad the first night.

1_campsite at Carlsbad

This isn’t a very nice campground and it’s expensive. Many of the beach state parks in southern California are now managed as money-making operations by local municipalities or even private interests.

But there nice sunsets here…

2_sunset at Carlsbad

…and we’re right on the path of southern migration…

5_flying south

…which reminds me that I should be on my way north.


Early the next morning I’m on my way north along the Pacific Coast Highway. I stop at San Onofre State Park, but the campground is closed for the season. I use my pass from the campground in Carlsbad to spend a few hours there. It’s enormous and empty, whereas Carlsbad was crowded.

6_beach at San Onofre

San Onofre Beach is hard to get to. Everywhere there are signs warning us of the unstable cliffs and that we should keep back.

8_cliffs at San Onofre

This beach is isolated and empty, yet our State Park System must nevertheless try to impose prudish laws:

7_no nudity


Later in the day I finally arrive in San Clemente, the beach resort town that became famous in the early 1970s as the location of the Western White House, the California home of then president Richard Nixon. It’s quite near San Onofre State Park.

Fabienne and Wayne, you are right, San Clemente State Park is very nice. It’s the best I’ve seen, with good services and a pleasant personnel, even if they make me change campsites for the second night. This is my second campsite, not so nice as the first:

9_San Clemente campsite 1 10_San Clement campsite 2

(But I didn’t get a picture of the first one. I had a lot more trees there.)

I like San Clemente. The town center is nearby and has everything I need, especially a café with a good internet connection; so I get a lot of work done.  I’m now working on : Heritage materials and biofouling mitigation through UV-C irradiation in show caves: State-of-the-art and future challenges.

And they have nice sunsets too:

11_San Clemente-sunset

But there are beautiful sunsets all along this coast.


One afternoon I take a long walk south of the park to look at some of the expensive homes on the bluff above the beach.

18_houses full west_look fragile

17_houses up close


Speaking of unstable cliffs, all along the California coast, north and south, there are problems with houses sliding down the cliffs. I wonder if and when it may happen to some of these homes:

14_San Clemente houses 2

Some of them look very fragile:

19_very fragile 13_San Clement houses 1

Especially this one:

20_especially this one

I wonder if structures such as these can last another twenty years. Then again, I suppose that these are just another sort of cliff dwelling. They, too, may have to be abandoned.