Decent artice about Oceano in the NYT...suprise!

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Decent artice about Oceano in the NYT...suprise!

Post by ChoppedLiver » ... beach.html

THIS breezy, easygoing city on the central coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a throwback to endless summers gone by, a time when you could drive on the beach, build a fire in the sand and then camp beside it. It’s just about the only place left in California where you can still do all that, and the city revels in it. All along the 1,200-foot long Pismo Beach Pier hang banners emblazoned with a Woody surf wagon and the slogan “Classic California.”

Well, maybe. It’s the anti-Malibu, that’s for sure: no celebrities, no multimillion-dollar homes keeping you from the beach, no trendy Nobu serving high-end sushi. The mingled scents of fish and chips, pizza and exhaust fumes — residue from an abundance of motorcycles and muscle cars — perfume the streets. Shopping fare is largely T-shirts and saltwater taffy. But there is also a lot of laid-back, old-school fun: kites, bikes, barbecue and cold Coronas. And something unique: the ever-shifting Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes complex. These mountains of sand laced with coastal scrub, wildflowers, tidal pools and trails contain more than 100 species of animals. The powdery forms flow along the coast for 18 miles.

“Pismo’s kick-back quality lures two million visitors a year,” said Suzen Brasile, executive director of the city’s conference and visitors’ bureau. “Most people who come say, ‘What California was, Pismo still is.’ ” That’s a place where people can cut loose on the beach.

On a recent Saturday afternoon Dave and Cathy Sullivan, a local couple, harnessed themselves into a neon-orange buggy at Sun Buggie Fun Rentals for their debut ride. Sitting low in the roll cage of what looked like a big-wheeled hot rod and wearing race-car helmets and goggles, they prepared to head out onto the packed wet sand of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, the 1,500-acre portion of the dunes complex designated for beach and dune driving.

“We run, we cycle, Dave’s a tri-athlete, but we’ve never done this before,” Ms. Sullivan, 28, said. “I’m probably not going to go too fast.” Orange numbered poles on the beach and along a free-form “Sand Highway” through the dunes help drivers navigate.

Up and down the beach that day all-terrain vehicles, Jeeps and pick-ups shared the sand with the occasional tow truck summoned to haul out the unfortunate few. Out of a low-hanging fog came five riders on horseback; the animals’ ankles made tiny wavelets in the shallows. R.V.’s parked on the beach, and tents were pitched. The whole scene was surreal.

Still, Pismo itself is solidly down to earth. For instance, when it’s time for lunch, visitors shake the sand out of their shorts and head into Pismo’s compact downtown and Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ. They line up at Mo’s and order the signature pulled-pork sandwiches or ribs. The house specialty shredded pork sandwich comes with generous side dishes ($7.45); a half-slab of ribs is $15.95. Ceiling fans keep the delectable aroma circulating.

Insider tip: Skip the ubiquitous clam chowders you’ll hear so much about. The famous Pismo clams were overharvested long ago, and the ones you’ll get are unlikely to be local. For dessert head up the city’s main commercial thoroughfare, Dolliver Street (California Route 1) to Tomasko Taffy for a scoop of “Motor Oil,” a delectably sludgy dark chocolate and Kahlua ice cream, created by the local purveyor, Doc Burnstein ($2.75 a scoop).

Then it’s time to stroll back down Dolliver to the Sky’s the Limit, a colorful emporium with kites hung from the ceiling, magic tricks, fake mustaches ($7.99), miniature woody wagons ($10.99) and hundreds of other items. The city’s ever-present breezes make kite flying a popular pastime. The store sells basic models for $15.99, but it also offers a dual line stunt kite for $300.

Teresa O’Neill, an owner of the store and an avid kite flyer herself, tells customers where to launch. “There aren’t any restrictions on the beach, and it’s not crowded,” she said. “You could never do this in San Diego.” Pismo is also a destination for those ultimate kite flyers — kiteboarders — who can be seen skimming the sea and occasionally taking to the skies, nearly every weekend.

When you’re ready for some retail therapy that’s more than candy and sunglasses, there’s Pacific Coast Threads. This chock-full boutique offers stylish jewelry, unusual accessories and gift items, all at modest prices.

If you’ve got energy to spare, or prefer pedal power to a dune buggy, you can walk around the corner to Fernando’s Hideaway Bicycle Rentals. For $12 an hour you can rent a “banana bike”— a low-slung, three-wheeled bike with a banana-shaped sling-style seat — and peel out on the beach a block away. The proprietor, Tony Fernandes, also rents beach cruisers for $10 an hour and surreys for $15 and can suggest other places to ride.

There are several good choices for dinner, but the best view in town is from Steamers of Pismo, and the fish is fresh. Good possibilities are the plentiful seafood salad with shrimp and crab ($19) or the yellow fin pepper-crusted tuna ($21). After dinner you can walk through town and watch all the neon signs light up. In true Pismo style, they might be called retro if most of them weren’t original.

The next morning a good bet is to start the day with a local classic at Old West Cinnamon Rolls. Unlike the faux-local clams, these buns are the real thing. They’re worth the wait, and there is likely to be one. They come plain, with nuts, raisins, even cream-cheese frosting. The rolls cost $2.50 to $3.25 each; served warm, with a $1 carton of milk, they’re a breakfast of champions.

When it’s time to see more of the dunes than you can view from inside a buggy, there are several access points into different areas, some requiring rigorous hikes. First, get the lay of the land with a call or visit to the Dunes Center in nearby Guadalupe, a stewardship organization for the dune complex. The Oso Flaco Lake area is suitable for almost everyone; it offers wildlife viewing along an easy one-mile level boardwalk that goes over the freshwater lake through wildflowers, dunes and coastal scrub to a windswept beach. Before you go, you might want to pick up a picnic lunch at DePalo & Sons Provisions in Shell Beach, just north of Pismo. No ordinary deli, DePalo looks like a miniature Tuscan villa and offers sandwiches like grilled eggplant with tomatoes, gorgonzola and avocado on ciabatta ($8.99), a wine cellar, and treats like biscotti, pizzelles, cheeses and fresh fruit.

Thus equipped (and wearing appropriate footwear), it’s time to make your way to the lake, which lies 20 minutes south of Pismo Beach off California Route 1. Hikers one recent weekend spied a blue heron curtsying on the lake’s shore, and bird-watchers had their binoculars trained on the sky, as the ever-watchful hawks flew around. Coastal vegetation was starting to bloom, including wildflowers like lupine, dunes paintbrush and giant coreopsis in lavender, yellow and salmon.

As the dunes rose up on both sides of the boardwalk beyond the lake, a wedge of foaming teal blue sea began to appear in the distance. Standing on the beach, visitors could see the hills where Cecil B. DeMille filmed “The Ten Commandments” in 1923, and where a utopian sect of artists and seekers called the Dunites lived in driftwood shacks and tents in the 1930s and ’40s. There was the far-off buzz of buggy engines, but it seemed worlds away from this wild coastline and shifting masses of sand. It was hard to believe that tourists were buying souvenirs and tacky T-shirts only a few miles up the road.

A healthy dose of kitsch paired with spectacular natural scenery? Perhaps this was classic California after all.

If You Go


The Cliffs Resort (2757 Shell Beach Road; 800-826-7827; perches on a bluff over the Pacific. Rates start at $179.

The Cottage Inn by the Sea (2351 Price Street; 888-440-8400; pairs a romantic stone-and-stucco Tudor style with superb coastline views. Rates start at $179.


Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ, 221 Pomeroy Street; (805) 773-6193;

Tomasko Taffy, 711 Dolliver Street; (805) 773-1115.

Steamers of Pismo, 1601 Price Street; (805) 773-4711;

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, 861 Dolliver Street; (805) 773-1428.

DePalo & Sons, 2665 Shell Beach Road; (805) 773-1589;


Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area begins on the beach at Pole 2, one mile south of Pier Avenue; (805) 473-7220;

Sun Buggie Fun Rentals, on the beach near Pole 2; (866) 728-4443;

The Sky’s the Limit, 761 Dolliver Street; (805) 773-8697.

Pacific Coast Threads, 160 Hinds Avenue; (805) 773-0031.

Fernando’s Hideaway Bicycle Rentals, 519 Cypress Street; (805) 773-9400.

Dunes Center, 1055 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe; (805) 343-2455;

Oso Flaco Lake at Oceano Dunes, on Oso Flaco Road, off Route 1; (805) 473-7220;

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Re: Decent artice about Oceano in the NYT...suprise!

Post by Woodglue »

Nice... and yes, surprising! =D>
My Avatar is BLM's DRAMP Proposed OHV Access under Alt #3.
Purple = Closed
Green = Open
More here

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