Lots of places to choose from in good ol' CAL-EE-4-NIGH-AYE, but the July heat of the San Joaquin Valley tends to make folks around here long for the "Central Coast". Early yesterday morning, my friend & I packed up and headed out for a day trip over there. Though it was blind luck, we couldn't have picked a better day. Absolutely chamber-of-commerce-mild-high60s-to-low70s weather after the usual morning low clouds burned off. An endlessly blue sky matched only by a bluer, calm Pacific Ocean. We covered the roughly 90 driving miles from Santa Maria in the south to cliff-dwelling Ragged Point (about 15 miles north of San Simeon/Hearst Castle) on the north end. We explored rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, tidepools....hearing the laughter of vacationing children @ every stop....elephant seals lounging on a beach north of Cayucos, a fog-shrouded lighthouse (closed to visitors, but viewed from a short distance), small shops in small towns (Morro Bay, Cambria). Dozens of photo-ops, with an especially beautiful setting sun @ Ragged Point (sits maybe 400-500' above the rocky shoreline below) that left us pretty much speechless....not to mention exhausted after a full day walking/hiking on old, out-of-shape legs. A good exhaustion, though. I was reminded a hundred times during the day that one has to get out & explore this state to appreciate its majesty. For all its faults (geological & otherwise), it is one of nature's masterpieces.