The Annual Cambria Scarecrow Festival: “Where Whimsy Runs Rampant.”

This past weekend Conner and I drove to Cambria which is 35-40 minutes North of SLO on Highway 1 to admire some of the best home made scarecrows that I have ever seen. The Cambria Scarecrow Festival is an incredibly unique event which happens annually during the month of October along the Central Coast in the towns of Cambria, San Simeon, and Harmony.

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The festival began in 2009 with only 30 scarecrows on display, and has since grown into a nationally famed event with hundreds of scarecrows created by local students, businesses and residents. The creativity and variety of the scarecrows is incredible.

The displays range from tributes to past heroes including Teddy Roosevelt and his rough rider pal, and Frida Kahlo and Diego painting. There are movie characters like the famous duo from “Up” and Cinderella when she misses midnight… there are scarecrows that MOVE such as the New Wave Riders which can be seen biking on Main street in Cambria and Lucia grape stomper outside of a wine cellar stomping on her grapes.

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This photo of Lucia is courtesy of the Cambria Scarecrows Facebook page

The Festival is more than just a showcase of scarecrows, it also includes extra activities on weekends. On the official opening weekend there’s wine, music and a silent auction at the Cambria Nursery to kick off the celebration. On the fourth weekend, there’s a 5k run/walk which awards prizes to runners dressed up as the best scarecrows. The final weekend closes off the festival with an Oktoberfest celebration featuring local beers wines brats and music.

If you want build a scarecrow but your crafting skills are a bit rusty, the festival has workshops for helping participants who are interested in building the scarecrow of their dreams. There are design workshops, and workshops to help you restore past creations you have made that you’d like to enter in, again.

And if you can’t participate, there are other ways you can get involved such as becoming a volunteer, a sponsor, or even renting out a scarecrow for your business property. The the rental money will go toward helping fund local art programs.

Oh, and the best part is that the festival is not only a fun way to bring together the community through building decorative art for the city, it’s also a contestThere are a variety of categories for the contest including “Most Imaginative,” “Best Group Installation,” and “Best Animation.”

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This particular scarecrow won the blue ribbon in the “most humorous” category. You can’t see it too well in this picture, but it’s a robber cat, with a dog stuck to the back of his leg, trying to stop him from stealing valuables from this jewelry store. It’s called “Doggie Catcher.”

We thought this scarecrow was pretty funny, too. His name is Wally and he’s outside Cambria Mimosa… hence the enormous mimosa he’s holding. But it’s okay, because he’s really good at sharing.

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Conner tried to look grumpy to pose with Grumpy in the winning entry for the “group” category which included Snow White and all of the seven dwarves. You can tell he’s not as grumpy as the pretty realistic scarecrow he’s impersonating, but it’s a good impression.

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Groot won second place for “using the unexpected” by incorporating the use of pool noodles into his design. So crafty!

You don’t have to be a resident of Cambria to enter in your scarecrow.  All you need is to register your entry by September 15th, and to have a business who will display your entry outside their location in certain designated areas around Cambria from 8am on October 1st through October 31st.

The scarecrows will be taken down after October 31, but if you can’t make it to the festival to admire them in all of their glory in person before that, you can check out my slideshow below and a gallery of some of the most memorable ones on the official website by clicking here!

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Vino and Vinyasa- Practice Yoga at a Local Winery then Drink Wine…For Free

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I did something really cool, yesterday. I practiced yoga at a local SLO winery, and I then got to drink wine after the class, for free. Dreams really do come true.

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Sound too good to be real? It’s not! This activity is organized by Lululemon SLO and is held every Thursday in September from 5pm-7pm at Clairborne & Churchill Winery in San Luis Obispo.

Starting at 5:15, Lululemon ambassador and experienced yogi Niccola Nelson instructs a refreshing Vinyasa class on the grass outside this beautiful winery. As you practice your balance and appreciate the energy of the yogi’s around you, you also experience a sort of spiritual connection with the Earth. You watch the sun set below the background of rolling hills, illuminating the space around the trees of surrounding vineyards.

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Spots in these classes are pretty limited because there’s only a limited amount of space on the patio outside, so be sure to sign up on Eventbrite before you go. Taryn and I didn’t know we were supposed to sign up, so we waited for space to open up and were given spots in the class after a few people didn’t make it.

It was a powerful experience to feel the warm sun on your skin and breathe in the fresh air all while looking forward to enjoying wine afterward.

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Immediately following the class is complimentary wine tasting on the patio courtesy of Clairborne and Churchill. You can try for your favorite taste, and buy a bottle to enjoy later. There are also local food venders rotating weekly, such as The Neighborhood Acai and Juice, selling yummy treats to refuel you and give you the chance to treat yoself after the workout.

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It’s a really great opportunity to get your sweat on with a friend, meet other yogis who also share your appreciation for wine, and enjoy the last bits of the Summer sunshine here on the Central Coast. So, invite a friend and come join us next week… I know that I’ll be there! 😉

The Libertine Coffee Bar

Two of my favorite things in the world: coffee and Kelly. Well, Kelly and I are back on the coffee grind (Get it?! Even if you think my pun is bad please keep reading…)! The Libertine Coffee Bar in downtown SLO is my latest and greatest fulfilling conquest in the never ending hunt for the enjoyment my very favorite caffeinated beverage.

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Located on Broad Street right next door to the Libertine Brewing company, it’s open from 6am-6pm and features drip coffee, espresso, kombucha, and a variety of tea. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! SLODOCO has even hopped on this coffee train and is making donuts for the Libertine Coffee bar alongside other local chef’s treats.

I asked the barista for her what her recommendation on their most popular drink would be and she suggested the Bullet Proof coffee. It’s a drip coffee which features a teaspoon of coconut oil and butter (yes, butter…) blended in a magic bullet blender making the concoction creamy mix of froth with just the right amount coffee bite to it. It was filling, too. I only got a 12 ounce but was very satisfied.

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This shop features outdoor seating on the corner of Broad and Pacific. It has an ambiance which makes you feel like you’re at a new and chic modern coffee shop with the rustic authenticity of a spot that has been well loved and established.

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There are many items on the menu which can be personalized like the Liber-tea which is any of their many kinds of special tea’s poured with steamed milk.  Each tea is special, so ask your barista about the many types of teas and the unique backstory on each one.

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I can confidently say I will be visiting their shop many more times to thoroughly experience and explore the many other distinct menu items such as their Vanilla Chocolate cold brew and the Liber-tea.

Go check it out! And hit me up always if you want an espresso buddy…

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Cerro Cabrillo Hike in Morro Bay

My parents just visited me in San Luis Obispo! Naturally I wanted to show them an exciting new hike, and my favorite hikes are ones with ocean views. In the past, we have gone to Avila Ridge or Montana de Oro to hike but this time we went and climbed Cerro Cabrillo in Morro Bay.

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Cerro Cabrillo means “Cabrillo Hill” in Spanish. It is an out and back trail and despite and only being the 6th tallest of the nine sisters at 900 feet, it’s a moderately strenuous hike. The last 500 feet are an extremely  steep ascent involving rock scrambling.

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The turn into the parking lot is off of South Bay Boulevard and when you’re driving, it comes up fast. It can be a hard turn to see from the road, once you are in the parking lot there is lots of room to park your car.

Begin your hike on the Quarry Trail which starts right at the parking lot. This trail will lead you most of the way toward the top, and is straight and flat for the most part at the beginning.

Travel along the Quarry Trail for a while, and when you reach the Live Oak trail junction, still keep on going straight.

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Continue going straight until you see the trail start to curve left and up the hill toward the tiki head. If you hit the Park Ridge Trail junction you’ve gone too far.

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Twinsies

The trail starts to get steeper here, but keep going because the view from the top is worth it.

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Hi, Tiki head!

The naturally formed tiki head can be seen in the face of the rocks on the side of the hill. You’ll be hiking up past him. This starts to be the part of the path which is not maintained by the park, and you’ll have to do some scrambling in order to reach the peak.

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Right before turning left to make the final ascent

The final ascent is a steep 500 feet toward the top in 4 tenths of a mile on a path which is less well-traveled. Be sure to look out for poison oak as you climb in between the rocks.

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Hi mom! Featuring Hollister Peak in the background

As you ascend, you can see Hollister Peak, one of the other nine sisters off in the distance. Hiking shoes or sneakers with a good grip is helpful on this section of the hike. The sharp slope tested the traction of my dad’s shoes at times… most of the time the hill was the winner and my dad/his shoes lost.

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When you complete the boulder scrambling and shoe traction testing ascent, get ready to feast your eyes on 360 degree views of the central coast including Morro Bay and Morro Rock to the North West, Montana de Oro to the South West, and the Santa Lucia Mountains to the East. YAS.

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Mom, dad, and me with Morro Rock in the background

Below is a link to the parking lot at the trailhead.

The address for the trailhead is South Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, CA 93442.

Hike to Serenity Swing from Poly Canyon Village

I remember the first time I hiked serenity swing  it was the first quarter of my freshman year on a Monday Night, in the dark, with my new friend I had just made in the Poly Escapes program. We hiked serenity swing for the first time on this random Monday night in darkness because there was supposed to be a meteor shower. You couldn’t see much of Poly or SLO in the dark… but it was still fun. And a much fun that very first time was, every time I have hike it since then still seems to get better.

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Silly freshman Molly doing hikes in the pitch dark

Over the years the serenity swing has changed. People have added a second swing next to the current one, and broken the existing one only to have it be replaced for a seat with what is consistently in my opinion one of the best views in SLO.

This hike is around 4 miles long (depending on which path you take) and has about 950 feet of elevation gain.

From the top you can see Morro Rock north of SLO as well as down south of SLO the Pacific Ocean near Avila. You can see Bishops Peak between the hills of Poly Canyon, the Architecture Graveyard, and the majestic campus of Cal Poly. It’s a beautiful sight.

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Two pretty sights

This trail has a strenuous climb toward the end. It will have you climbing up what personally I think has to be about a 70-75 degree slope while at the same time wind is trying to gust you away. But trust me, in the end the view and the feeling you get when you reach the top makes it worthwhile.

When I did this hike for the blog, we parked in the intramural fields by Poly Canyon Village and trekked up the trail paralleling Poly Canyon Road toward architecture graveyard called Brizzolara Creek Trail. This is why the route in the map I embedded may look slightly different than if you were to just walk along Poly Canyon Road. Ultimately as long as you find your way to the entrance to the Arch Graveyard, you can find your way the rest of the way up the trail.

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The map at the entrance to Arch Graveyard

When you reach Architecture Graveyard, don’t take a left toward it, but instead turn right and walk up the path with a slight hill which will eventually lead you to a house and barn on your right. This path will lead you to the first gate which you can easily open and pass through.

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Gate #1

Walk beyond the gate for a few tenths of a mile to come to a second gate. There’s usually some mud around this area shortly after is rains, so watch your shoes!

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Gate #2

Once you get past the second gate keep right on the lesser steep path. You’ll be on this path for a while. If you have any confusion as to which turns to make, follow my trail on the map embedded at the bottom of the post.

Eventually you’ll reach another gate. This is the last gate you’ll go through before beginning the final ascent to the top of the hill. Turn left.

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Sophia after passing through the third gate

There are two paths to climb to get to the top of the hill where serenity swing is. Both are extremely steep, so it’s best to pick the one that doesn’t have people already on it at the moment (I’m not saying you’re going to fall, but just in case someone else does it’s best to have extra room).

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Both ways lead to the top

For this hike, we took the path which is shown to the left on the way up, and the path on the right on the way down.

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Good thing there are footholds in the ground?

When you reach the top of the climb, go left toward the big tree. It’s the only tree in near sight and the one with the swing hanging from it. Then, go take some basic pictures. Post them to Instagram and revel in the likes. You’ve earned it.

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Basicness

Have another way up to serenity swing you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Scout Coffee

It’s national coffee day and you know what that means… Time to enjoy the aroma of the espresso beans and the creamy texture of a well pulled latte with whatever syrup combination your heart desires. Mmmm. Dreamy.

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Both the coffee and Kelly are lookin’ dreamy.

Both Americanos and black coffee are great too but they’re not as fun to daydream about… anyway if you’re looking for a prime spot to visit for this celebration of a day of all days, NATIONAL COFFEE DAY YAAAAS check out Scout Coffee on either Foothill Plaza or Downtown SLO on Garden Street.

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The OG Scout on Garden Street downtown has been around since early 2014. The pictures in this blog post are from the newest Scout which just opened up in August of 2016 on Foothill (because it’s right next to where I live and where I will now be spending the majority of my free time and money…). But the owners Jon and Sara Peterson are extremely accomplished in the ways of coffee roasting, marketing, business owning and barista-ing.

According to their website, “Scout is truly a community place, where the products, service, people and space just can’t be beat.”

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Each batch of coffee is roasted locally at their sister company right in here SLO, HoneyCoIf you’re not into coffee (I respectfully disagree with you 😉 ) Scout also has tea, house made sodas made with local produce, seasonal milkshakes, house-made almond milk, and fresh made baked goods (of which I personally recommend their legendary cookies).

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There’s space to study and socialize, to read a book and to enjoy your drink. Be forewarned however that there are not many power outlets at either location, which is not necessarily a bad thing… It just means you need to actually talk to people around you or stay off electronics for a little while. If you’re looking for a place to study for long periods of time this might not be the right place.

The decor is refreshing and homey, the espresso delicious and the ambiance cheery and full of life.

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The almond milk mocha is one of the greatest things I have ever tasted in my life, and special because the almond milk is home made in house. Anything you order, however, will not disappoint.

Check out either location of Scout Coffee, today, and thank me later. Maybe by buying me one of those almond milk mocha’s…. 😉

Foothill Location:

Garden Street Location:

Morro Strand Trail to Morro Rock

Again, I’m a sucker for beach hikes. Even though this wasn’t so much of a hike but a walk, at a level elevation 3.5 mile out and back, it was a quite the trek fighting through the sand along the beach to Morro Rock. I guess it’s always leg day for me…

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Conner and I did another sunset hike, and I suggest you do this walk at sunset too, because the outline of Morro Rock on the twilight sky is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Anyway, this “Hike” starts at a park called Cloisters Park which has a big parking lot and a clearly marked walkway to start. It’s a about a tenth of a mile walk from the park to Morro Strand Trail which is the coastal route to Morro Rock.

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Conner was excited about all the Pokemon in the area

The paved walking route is relatively short, and features information about the surrounding area on the side.

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Area information!

When you get to Morro Strand Trail, turn right toward the beach. The area around the path is a protected Snowy Plover Nesting Area from March 1st through September 30th, so keep this in mind and respect the habitat if you’re walking through the area at this time. We did this hike in mid September, so we were extra careful to watch for the birds!

After making the right turn, you’ll walk along a paved path and quickly reach a boardwalk with views of Morro Rock and the dunes.

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Yaaaaas

Turn left again when you reach the end of the roped off walkway and make your way toward Morro Rock!

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The rules to the beach are posted at the end of the boardwalk, including no dogs and no glass! I guess kites aren’t allowed, either… They frighten the Snowy Plover Birds. So unfortunately, don’t go bringin’ out your fancy kite because the Snowy Plovers will think it’s a hawk and get scared…

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It’s about a 1.5 mile walk to Morro Rock from the end of the boardwalk area. Be sure to take some epic Morro Rock pictures when you get there, like this.

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My second mixtape is dropping soon

Or this

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It’s a beautiful walk, especially in the evening with low tide and the sunset. Also for all you Pokemon fanatics out there, Conner caught a Pikachu on the beach by the rock.

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I’m so romantic with my sand dollar pictures

This beach had more sand dollars on it than I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, I was consciously trying not to step on them all. So, I collected a bunch and made a Pinterest-worthy picture on the beach as seen above…

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Morro Rock is known as the westernmost peak in the Morros in San Luis Obispo County. Climbing Morro rock is not allowed, but five other peaks in the Morros that you can climb include five of the volcanic peaks: Black Hill, Cerro Cabrillo, Bishop Peak, Cerro San Luis, and Islay Hill.

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The address is Coisters Park, Coral Ave, Morro Bay, CA 93442 and you can use the map to guide you to the exact coordinates here: