Christmas on the California Coast

Sunset at Ragged Point

Sunset over the Pacific at Ragged Point


My sister, in response to my holiday emails about my travels up California Highway 1, said, “You’re really a Californian now.”

She added, “You’ve made it there after Milton and Mega [our grandparents] tried, after Daddy and Mother tried, finally, someone in the family is living in California.”

The irony is that I never intended to live in California. Maybe that’s the secret to ending up here.

Our grandparents moved out here in 1923 and might have stayed if my grandfather hadn’t gotten sick and needed better health care than you could get in Southern California back then. I assume my parents couldn’t find good newspaper jobs out west when they tried.

But here I am. And I spent the holiday traveling back up the coast after visiting my sweetheart’s family in Morro Bay. Here are a few pictures, though none with snow.

sea otters

Sea otters just off the pier in Morro Bay


There were about a dozen sea otters dozing and grooming just off the pier in Morro Bay Christmas Eve morning. This was the first time I ever got a good look at them — the only ones I’d seen before were lumps way out in the ocean that other people assured me were otters. They’re big and they’re cute.

sea lion

One of the many sea lions who call Morro Bay harbor home.


I was pleased that this picture captured the sea lion both in and out of the water.


Pelicans socializing at the pier.


I love pelicans. They strike me as iconic prehistoric creatures. They seem to be friendly with each other. On another day, I saw them flying across the ocean in phalanxes, probably hunting lunch together.

hillside along Route 1

Greenery in December.


Last of all, a reminder that the coastal part of California is a mild climate. Things really do bloom this time of year.

Happy New Year to the Book View Cafe family of writers and readers.




Christmas on the California Coast — 9 Comments

  1. I was surprised by your comment about medical care. I have to add, “It all depends.” People were deliberately seeking out Southern California in the early 1920s in order to have access to the outstanding health care they’d heard about. Southern California was where the top doctors wanted to be. I do recognize access tended to be a rich-people-level thing, but your comment still struck me as strange because it happens to run counter to the situation in my own family history. My grandpa and his family, who were not rich, came to California (from Illinois) specifically due to health concerns. Family members had tuberculosis and the arid climate helped alleviate the symptoms.

    • My grandfather had a brain tumor that turned out to be benign. It was giving him savage headaches, and the doctor he saw in California gave him heavy duty painkillers that caused hallucinations, but did not diagnose the tumor They were in Riverside, I believe. He went back to Texas and had successful brain surgery in Dallas.

      I’ve always been under the impression that Los Angeles and the area around it was still developing at that time and might not have had the highest levels of medical care, while Dallas was a very established place and the city where the people making big money in oil went to spend it. However, this is also our family myth, so it could just be that my grandfather ran into a quack and could have had decent brain surgery in LA.

        • I’m thinking of Pasadena in particular. My grandpa had an aunt who died young. Her widower became a doctor, moved to Pasadena, and in 1894, founded that city’s first hospital. (It later evolved into Huntington Hospital.) Various other cousins, by coincidence, were doctors or medical professionals in Pasadena in the early decades of the 20th Century. While researching their lives, I became aware of just how much cutting-edge medicine was being done in Pasadena at the time, and just how upscale the society life was. Dallas was perhaps a better place to go for brain surgery. Who knows? But Pasadena had no cause to be ashamed of its health care. There was way more going on than treatment of TB.

  2. Beautiful photos!

    Many came here because of health concerns, mostly tubercular or those who were constantly sick with bronchial or pneumatic issues. Historically, those rich enough or desperate enough sought warmer climes to cure themselves–for example, poor John Keats, who had nothing, dragged himself to Italy, just to die there.

    The doctors followed the wealthy patients, but of course were drawn to the more established cities.

  3. You were visiting my favorite part of the coast, just three miles from the village of Cayucos, a hidden gem.