My sister and I took a road trip to visit our brother’s family and home near Paso Robles in the central coast area of California. It took three days to drive from Seattle because I wanted to see San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1.
|Mt. Shasta, California, from the passenger seat.|
Perfect weather followed us down I-5 allowing impressive views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Shasta. Carpeted in a lovely shade of green, Oregon lived up to its name as the grass seed capital of the world. An agent at AAA encouraged us to stop in Ashland. Because of her enthusiastic praise of Oregon small towns, we made side trips into Cottage Grove and Roseburg. The towns were charming; smartly retaining vintage looks repurposed for todays needs. Ashland’s downtown did not disappoint either. Home to Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland is a tourist destination. Colorful historic buildings line quaint boulevards and bright flowers cascade from street lamps. I scheduled time for a couple of drawings while my companion perused the galleries and retail stores.
Searching for subject matter, a bright blue building trimmed with gold embellishments caught my eye at once. Bookended by two equally colorful buildings, the effect was vibrantly cheerful.
|A tea shop in Ashland, OR|
With time for a second drawing, I chose the Thai Tea building. The arches, long tall poplars and lime green color scheme was someone’s exotic vision realized.
My companion soon caught up with me to report a shopkeeper informed her Ashland’s real estate was becoming out of reach for the average person to afford. Sounds familiar. She also reported Ashland becomes unbearably hot in the summer.
After Ashland, I didn’t have much time to sketch because we were eager to reach Paso Robles. Even without the opportunity to sketch, it was exciting to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and see some famous San Francisco houses from the driver’s seat. At Pescadero Beach on the Pacific, yellow wildflowers and craggy rocks met the surf to form a rugged palette.
|Hills in Central Coast California|
After finally reaching our destination and settling in, I pulled out the sketchbook intent on capturing the atmosphere of beautiful rolling hills expanding through space. Deep green groves of trees accent the hills with foliage so dense it looked black. Picturesque vineyards dot the countryside and fanciful arched iron gates beckon visitors to drive up winding roads for wine tastings under wisteria-laden pergolas.
|Overlook from Hearst Castle terrace.|
The Central Coast area is also home to the Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark. On top of a mountain, the Hearst Castle has sweeping views of the ranch surrounding the castle and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The architect of the Hearst Castle, Julia Morgan, was the first woman admitted to the l’Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and the first woman to receive an architect’s license in California. She worked with Hearst to create a castle based on European architectural designs. The castle is a museum of antiquities, well worth the trip and price of admission. I recommend the movie about Hearst and the castle. It’s offered in the theatre on the grounds. The castle, gardens, and views are a riot of color, texture and form. I could have drawn all day.
On the second day in Paso, we drove to Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. Morro Bay is home to Morro Rock, a volcanic plug located offshore. We drove across the causeway to get a closer look at the rock then retreated to the town for breakfast and a drawing session. The peacefully bobbing boats in the aquamarine bay brought peaceful thoughts. Morro Rock in the background made it feel distinctly different.
|Morro Bay music store and Thai restaurant.|
Later, we ventured a few blocks from the waterfront to visit a bead store. The bohemian inspired storefronts were brightly painted and detailed with contrasting colors. My brother was an avid guitar player so I’m sure he visited the pink music store. The breezy beach vibe in Morro Bay was so laid back and comfortable I wanted to stay forever. Instead, we headed back to Seattle only taking two days this time, most of the way through rain, no views. Time to plan another trip!