Tuesday, October 17, 2017

2017/10/17 Pismo Beach and Dunes

Today Tobe Mule and I rode the Pismo dunes and onto the Oceano beach for the first time.

We were graciously invited by a woman who volunteers her time to ride the area and monitor the activity there. We had a guide and we were ready!

We started at the special lot reserved for equestrian parking,  at the street in Grover Beach where cars drive out onto the sand.

We only went 3 miles in 2 hours because half way through we stood around on the beach being photogenic and that was pretty much OK with Tobe, who is not at all sure about waves. Yet.

First, we started off on our little exploration on the sandy trails that wind through the dunes.

The flora of the dunes was quite new to me, so it was great fun to walk through the changing plant life and  see which natives were battling the invasive ice plant successfully.

Tobe, of course, wants to nibble these new plants to see what might be tasty.

Fortunately mules inherit the gustatory prowess of their donkey daddies, so he can graze like a goat when the impulse hits.

If you click on this photo on the right and blow it way up you can just barely see the pterodactyls on the wing,  in formation in the sky.

They are actually pelicans,
of course,
but when a flotilla of dozens of them comes gliding across the sky overhead
it is easy to slip into a dinosaur age revery.

And then
above us,
a massive military helicopter ......
a Jurassic Park dragonfly.

Vandenburg Air Force Base is just to the South, and we were repeatedly buzzed by their big bugs.

We came out of the dunes at the road used by the Park Rangers to access the beach.

A rustic message board gave tips on how to BE SAFE AT THE BEACH.

Tobe being a Kentucky Mule he has not yet resolved himself to a gigantic lake with waves, so we determined to give him a little more exposure and let him be as brave as he wanted to be.

Our handsome escort was Barbara V.'s  Gypsy Vanner Oberon,  star of Renaissance Faires and every little girl's fantasy horse.

He is an unflappable fellow, and this beach is his regular exercise route, so he led the way down to the sea.

Our other companions were Mary Jane on her quarterhorse, and I must say that that fact that she is still riding at 78 years old gives me great hopes that I will be doing the same.

As the two riders chat her horse is wagging her tongue, a bit of a silent commentary.

 On the smaller mostly black Gypsy Vanner is Miss Micah, getting the pregnant mare out for a prenatal exercise regimen.

 Their feathered feet and double-thick manes and tails set these horses apart from others, giving them a timeless quality.

Then it was time to head down onto the beach.
Time for Tobe to prove his big brain can deal with new stimulus.
He may have looked longingly back at the dunes, but no, it was time to be a beach mule.
 The sky was filled with beautiful clouds and of course more birds, both pelicans and seagulls in large numbers passing overhead in formation.
Poor Tobe, he was mesmerized by the moving water.
He'd get right up to it, and then beat a hasty backwards retreat as the waves advanced.
To get Tobe limbered up a bit we loped off down the beach and back, staying on the dry hard packed sand, while the horses relaxed so much they looked like they were asleep.
Bathing in the negative ions of the seashore, waving to tourists driving by on the sand in their cars.
Me and my shadow.

This is actually 3 photos of a crow
watching us
taking off
then flying away

as we turned around and started to head back.

Once again up into the dunes...
but these face the open sea and are far more wind whipped.
This is my favorite photo of the day, a landscape utterly unlike any we are used to riding.
And then it was time to head home, 90 miles south, back to the chaparral and mountain trails. But we will return, and once again explore this beautiful ocean park, preserved for our enjoyment.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic...” 
   - Van Morrison