Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Morro Rock

We Californians like to call this rock The Gibraltar of the West.  It may be a bit of a stretch, but it is impressive the closer you get to it.  No doubt about that.  Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo named it "El Morro" during his historical exploration of the California coast.  The name stuck.  To the Chumash, it is sacred and they have been given permission to climb it for an annual solstice ceremony.  I'm jealous.  For the rest of us, Morro Rock is strictly off limits ever since it became a California Historical Landmark in 1968.
What boggles my imagination, however, is its geological origins.  It is what scientists call a rhyolite volcanic plug.  It is all that remains of a volcano that was active 20-some million years ago.  Rhyolite is the granite like mass of molten magma.  It solidified in the vent pipe of the volcano before reaching the surface.  It is harder than either volcanic ash or even the softer rock surrounding it.  It is one of many "plugs" in this area that together are called the "Nine Sisters of San Luis Obispo County."

Because of its location, at the entrance of Morro Bay, it is the most famous of the sisters.  It has been an important navigational aid for centuries.  At 581 ft., it is not the tallest, but definitely the most impressive.  Bishop Peak is the tallest, at 1,559 ft.  This summer (when it's not so cold and rainy) I intend to explore all the others.  Even climb one, if I'm able!
There's something hauntingly beautiful about a metallic ocean and an overcast sky.  I took a long walk along the harbor.  Morro Bay is a charming little town, filled with seafood restaurants and gift shops.  During the summer, the harbor is filled with kayaks.  Not today.  Today, it was just me and a few soaking wet pelicans.   I bought some fish and chips "to go" and ate alone in my van. 

I thought of all the places I still want to go.  No sooner do I cross one destination off that list when countless others are suddenly added.  Like today.    I came here to see one rock and it has led me to eight others.   Life is one endless trip, isn't it?

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