Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Montana de Oro

Panoramic Shot from
Panoramic Shot from


Though few people actually know it exists, no trip to the Central Coast of California would be complete without a visit to Montana de Oro.


This is a question I ask a lot.  Sure, I love Moonstone Beach and it’s just around the corner from Hearst Castle, but Montana de Oro is only about an hour away.  So, why aren’t the tour buses going there?  In many ways, Montana de Oro is much more spectacular.  It doesn’t have the B&B’s or restaurants, but that’s part of what makes it so marvelous.

I think California is trying to hide it from the rest of the world.  Google Montana de Oro and check out the California State Parks Website.  You get a picture of a few people on horseback.  If I was trying to decide if the park was somewhere I wanted to visit, the page wouldn’t get me there.  With a little persistence I found a brochure on the site which made the place a little more desirable, but nothing they show or tell you says, “HELLO! THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOTS ON EARTH!”



I have gorgeous pictures of Montana de Oro, but they are all pre-digital and they are all packed away.  Please go Wikipedia and enjoy the rest of what they have to say about this gorgeous stretch of the California Central Coast.  I’ll leave the history of the park to them and just tell you about my love affair with Montana de Oro.


The way in which we decided we wanted to live in San Luis Obispo County is a very long story that includes a visit to the Red Lobster at LBJ and Greenville Avenue in Dallas.  On our maiden trip to the Central Coast we somehow hooked up with a Morro Bay real estate agent who I can’t even find on the internet now.  They took us to see a couple of available houses out in Los Osos and then said we should see Montana de Oro.  They loved the park so much, they actually drove us out there themselves.

That trip to the Central Coast was actually just an exploratory visit, but once Bill saw Montana de Oro, the exploration was over.  We started looking, in earnest, for a lot to build on.  We found the lot and made the offer on our way out of town.  We set a moving date without even having a place to live.

Back in Dallas, with an accepted offer in hand, we needed a place to live while the house was being built.  It was a no-brainer.  Since we didn’t buy the lot in Cabrillo Estates, we decided we’d enjoy living there while the house was built.  We rented a house sight unseen.

I very vividly remember walking into that rental house.  We unlocked the front door and the view was so gorgeous my knees almost buckled.  I sat down on a step into the den in utter amazement.  You could see all the way from Montana de Oro to the Morro Rock.  My amazement continued for the next three years.  Yes, I said three years.  That’s how long it took us to build that house in Pismo Beach.

As astounding as my first sight of that view was, it was only the beginning.  Imagine the same view with about fifteen deer grazing in the backyard or with a family of quail strutting from one side of the yard to the other. I can sincerely say that living with that view is one of my favorite things about my life so far – even if it was in California.


We didn’t actually make daily visits to Montana de Oro while we lived in Los Osos, but we were there a lot.  We’d pass the entrance sign and roll down the windows to smell the eucalyptus trees.  Seems as if there was some good reason they’d transplanted the trees to the area, but I’ve forgotten it.  I just know they smelled great.

We’d drive directly to Spooner’s Cove for the picturesque view.  Then we’d walk around the Bluff Trail and let the awe roll in with the crashing waves.

Montana de Oro is pretty well known with Californians who hike and ride horses, but other than that, it’s truly a hidden gem.  I never hiked to the peak or rode a horse there, but it’s still one of my favorite places on earth and maybe I’m glad that no one really knows about it – that is except for you and me.

From Montana de Oro we drove into San Luis Obispo to have lunch with some friends at one of our favorite eateries.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about The Upper Crust Trattoria.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Revisiting Los Osos

Los Osos CA
Imagine waking up to this view!


Happy New Year!  I hope 2015 holds much happiness for you and yours, as well as lots of travel!

Now onto our journey to the West Coast.  We called Los Osos home while our house was built in Pismo Beach. In fact, we almost bought a lot in Los Osos rather than Pismo. I wonder what turn our life together would have taken if we’d gambled on that steep outcropping rather than the more sedate hilltop in Pismo.

Sally and The Great Skin Company

One of the first things I did when I moved to Los Osos was join South Bay Women’s Network.  I loved that group of women and had the honor of serving in several offices for them – from Historian to President.  It’s through SBWN that I met the lovely Sally Brooks and made my way to The Great Skin Company.  In Sally I found a wonderful friend and at her salon I enjoyed some of the best facials I’ve ever had.  Should you happen to go to the Central Coast, book something at The Great Skin Company and tell Sally I sent you.

On this particular morning, I didn’t have an appointment for a facial, but Sally had arranged for several of my friends from SBWN to drop by for coffee.  I loved that the group is still doing great things for the South Bay area.  I have to confess that I was proud that my presidential year still holds some record accomplishments, but I was lucky, I was working with an amazing group of women.

Cabrillo Estates

I hugged a lot of necks and loved catching up at Sally’s, but the road was calling.  We had lunch plans in San Luis Obispo and things we wanted to see before that.

First we stopped in Cabrillo Estates, a subdivision of homes at the edge of Los Osos.  That’s where we hung our hat for a few years.  We particularly liked Cabrillo Estates because the streets were all named after heroes of the Alamo.  Not sure of the reason, but when we lived there our house was on Bowie Drive.

When we were looking for lots, there was one we loved in Cabrillo Estates, but we ended up choosing a lot in Pismo Beach.  The lot in Cabrillo Estates had the most dramatic view by far, but Los Osos is a sleepy little bedroom community, while Pismo was a happening beach town.  We chose the beach town, but lived in Los Osos while the house was built.

Looking back, I was much happier in the Los Osos rental house than I was in the luxurious home we built in Pismo Beach.  There are many things which contributed to my season of discontent, but I can’t help but wonder how life would have been different if we’d built in Los Osos instead.

The lot in Los Osos was intimidating – virtually a sheer wall cliff to hang a house on.  Some one did eventually build a very contemporary home virtually made of glass and it had nearly a three million dollar price tag.  Crazy for a house with less than 2000 square feet, but the view, as you can see, is out of this world.

The Top of the Hill
The Top of the Hill

The top of the hill was also for sale when we were looking for lots, but it was an acreage we knew we couldn’t afford.   Here’s what they built up there.

From Cabrillo Estates we went to an old favorite, Montana de Oro State Park.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about it.