readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn

My Blogging friend, Norah Colvin invited me to write a guest post for her two education blogs.  What a thrill. Thanks, Norah. via readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn

Plan Your Travel Itinerary to Include the California Central Coast

2018 Central Coast trip
Monica and Marsha

Residents of the Central Valley of California, like our friends Monica and Jack, often travel to the Central Coast to escape the heat in the summer and the fog in the winter. January at the Central Coast is the best-kept secret in the world. It was fresh and breezy the day we arrived but calm and close in the 70s the next day.

Here are some spots you might want to check out.

Secret #1 Pacific Plaza Hotel in Oceano

2018 Central Coast tripThese individually owned properties at Pacific Plaza Hotel each have one bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining nook, and bath.  If you don’t want to cook or drive, you can walk to four restaurants within two blocks of the hotel.

2018 Central Coast trip
Manny had a great time at Pacific Plaza. He watched movies all day.

For January, the manager ran a special in which guests paid the last two digits of their birth year as rent for the night.  This resort offers reasonable rates the rest of the year as well. Bordering on Ocean Lagoon Park, which has a wheelchair-accessible fishing overhang, it is only a short walk from the beach.

Across the street friends with an RV can park at the Oceano Campground in Pismo State Beach. I have stayed there as well and loved the walk to the beach.

Secret #2 Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

In the thirty years I have visited the Central Coast, I had never seen the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.  When our friend Scott Wright posted this picture of the butterflies, I knew I had to go there.

A friend asked me why her daughter didn’t see any butterflies in the summer when she was there. It’s closed most of the year because the butterflies are either dead or elsewhere, mostly elsewhere. We learned that summer butterflies hatch, mate and die within about six weeks. Winter butterflies have a much more exciting life.

The Monarch Butterfly Grove is located half a mile south of Pismo Beach just off Hwy 1.  If you want to see Monarchs, the season opened October 28, 2017, and closes February 28, 2018. So get there soon.

Barbara, a retired PE teacher, walked around telling people to watch their steps or they would step on mating butterflies. That was her only job. One couple visiting from Oregon asked her a question. Better than a swarm of butterflies landing on your arm that opened a serendipitous opportunity for the six of us to hear one of the best lecturers not on the lecture circuit.

Barbara told us about butterfly sex and other titillating topics for over forty minutes. In this last six-minute video, you will learn about the female butterfly’s health benefits of having sex. Girls listen up.

Secret #3 Drive South on 101

Los Olivos

Los Olivos may be the cutest, cleanest town in California. They usually get lots of traffic from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, because of the heart-breaking fire and mudslides in Montecito this year, their tourism business is suffering.

2018 Central Coast trip
Monica and Jack ready to enjoy a cup of coffee.

We had the fortune to run into the Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce President. She served as our YELP. There are twenty-three wineries along the promenade, but only two coffee shops. We weren’ ready for wine at 9:00 am.

  • Corner House Coffee shop – The coffee was decent, and the decor was great.2018 Central Coast trip
  • When we arrived at the coffee shop Stafford’s Chocolates next door was closed, but Monica noticed an open door when we finished and charged over. In the process of learning about the adorable shop, we found the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The excellent news is that the chocolates are made in Porterville, which is in Tulare County where we live! I’ll tell you more about this fabulous place, and it’s owner Amy Freedman later. I took a great video and some mouth-watering photos.2018 Central Coast trip
  • Oak Hill Farm Local Olive Oil Tasting. We tried basil and blood orange olive oil. They are great for salads as well as cooking.

Santa Ynez

2018 Central Coast trip

Santa Ynez is cowboyish while Los Olivos is more the Old West revival, according to my real estate husband.  There is so much to see here that we only scratched the surface – food.

  • 2018 Central Coast trip
    Matt Nichols

    Laura, from the Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce, sent us to the Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn owned by Matt and Jeff Nichols. It was spotless and had the best food ever. I had fried calamari and a chicken sandwich.

After that huge meal, we ambled next door to a dress shop but felt too fat and happy to buy anything.

Santa Barbara

Father Junipero Sera founded the iconic Old Mission of Santa Barbara, the heart of today’s city of Santa Barbara, in 1786.  Do you know how the mission got its name?2018 Central Coast tripMore important to my husband was to visit the Porsche dealer to unearth a good deal on a used Porsche. Thankfully, the Porsche stayed parked in Santa Barbara.2018 Central Coast trip

The last tour of the Mission started at 1:00, and we arrived at 4:30. Except for the gift shop and the entry information, the Mission was closed. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and the golden hour made it the perfect time to capture some photos. You’ve probably seen pictures of this glorious mission, but seeing it in person adds a new dimension. I’ll write more about it in a future post.

Secret #4 The Five Cities Area

Winery Tours are popular just on the outskirts of Pismo Beach to the east. We stopped in to see the Old Edna Townsite. We were thrilled to see our friend Pattea Torrence, who continues to restore the old townsite to its former glory. The day we visited she was busy remodeling this perfect new home for an antique store, or maybe chocolates. mmm2018 Central Coast trip

You can find vacation rentals as well as wine tasting. The wine tasting, owned by a separate company, Sextant Wines, disappointed me but I like sweet wines.

Secret #5 Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden

We were on our way home from our short Central Coast trip, and Jack said, “I want to take you to Sculpterra Winery. We wondered why in the world he would be so insistent that we go there. Jack doesn’t usually drink wine.

But wineries on the Central Coast are more than wineries, each one vying for the most unique, most beautiful spot in paradise. I put one picture on Facebook, and the comments started rolling in. You will soon learn why.

If my pictures don’t do this winery justice, and they don’t, you’ll have to go for yourself. Inside we found more treasures, not the least of which was Darren Brown, the photographer-narrator of this YouTube Video. I’ll write more about this fabulous experience in a later post as well.

Hope you enjoyed this quick drive to the beautiful Central California Coast.  In the next few weeks, I’ll highlight some of the most enjoyable, unique spots in their own posts.

Have you been to the Central California Coast? Tell me about your experiences.

More Exciting Road or Walking Trips



Dennis Scott Carruthers contacted me by email asking to do a guest post on Always Write. I checked out his website, Even though I’m a bit envious, I loved his work. See if you feel the same way.

travel photography


by D. Scott Carruthers


Becoming a travel photographer is one of the most exciting career paths any budding photographer can take. As commercial flights get cheaper and traveling is more emphasized as a hobby rather than a luxury, more photographers find themselves wanting to pursue their passion for images and explore unknown parts of the world.

In this post, we will be discovering the eight benefits of becoming a travel photographer. Read more at

In order to travel, health is of primary importance. I met David through his book, Didn’t Get Frazzled, see the review on Always Write.

A medical review of the documentary What the Heath

How the Ancient Puebloans Lived Large in the Grand Canyon Even Though Water Was Scarce

ancient Puebloans
the Grand Canyon

Enjoying September at the Grand Canyon

Stare at this view. With a backpack full of food and a water bottle handy, we had the privilege of doing this for as long as we wanted without worrying about how we would survive. Gazing across the Grand Canyon, we let our minds wander about how it might be to live there.

We wondered how the trees could root around to find enough water to turn even the spiniest needles green. But suppose we had to depend on this view to house, clothe, and shelter us?

That thought made us grateful for the stores and modern conveniences we enjoy today without considering how they got there and continue to exist. Indeed, with the coming of the ubiquitous Amazon online grocery stores, the rumor is that we will soon be able to buy everything we need from Amazon and in some locations enjoy a two-hour delivery time. Humans today may never have to leave their homes to even gather food.

But that was not the case for these ancient desert dwellers.

Ancient Puebloans
Tusayan Museum and Ruin

Visit the Tusayan Museum and Ruin

This easy paved path to the museum and through the Tusayan Village or gathering loop makes a beautiful walk through the park. Yet it was very unlike what the natives must have faced living here day after day.  Merely lining a path with the abundant decorative rock, makes it a thing of beauty. During the days of habitation, though, it is doubtful that so much greenery and stones would be used only to beautify the environment as it is today.

Ancient Puebloans
The Gathering Loop

The Gathering Loop Where the Early Puebloans Shopped

Like the sign says, it’s only a .01 mile loop shopping center. What could you do with a yucca and a pinyon pine? There was not a lot of variety here to provide needed items for food, clothing, and shelter.

The daytime weather in September might not warrant a need for many clothes. The temperatures soared into the high seventies by mid-afternoon. By night they ancient Puebloans might have needed at least a blanket. They might make a basket out of pine needles, but a pine blanket would be somewhat scratchy and not very cozy.

To make baskets out of pine needles requires that you soak them in water overnight first to make them pliable enough to bend, twist, and weave into a basket. We did not see an abundance of water springing out of the ground at this site. So we wondered how they made baskets.

Ancient Puebloans
a daisy inches off the path

Possible Food

Off the trail, a few inches this beautiful daisy grew amid some sparse grasses. Probably you could eat the daisy, but it would not be very filling. You might weave the stems into a basket, but the petals would not last. Maybe the pollen would attract bees, and you could harvest the honey for food. The dead tree might be useful to create some shoes or better yet, digging tools. There might be some tasty bugs living on the decaying wood. The grasses might be soft enough to weave into some light-weight summer clothing or a blanket. Small sizes only!

ancient puebloans
Along the Gathering Loop

Caring for Trees

Walking along the path, you see more fallen logs and branches. We learned that they did use wood in their buildings for ladders and frames for the rocks which they piled together to build walls. If they wanted windows, wood frames were essential. One guide told us that in the days of habitation there would not have been this many trees along the path. Shopping would have been more limited than it is today.

Possibly, however, the trees were in better shape because the ancient people harvested from them and cared for them. The oak trees in Central California were undoubtedly more prolific and better cared for during the time with the Yokuts Indians inhabited the rich Southern San Joaquin Valley. Since they harvested the acorns for making flour, the native people took better care of the trees, and no doubt saved some of the acorns to plant more trees.

Ancient puebloans
the Living Quarters

Ancient Puebloan Housing

Here you can see the foundation of their houses. Possibly in the middle circle, there was a place for a fire. You can imagine how the Puebloans would use every small scrap of wood.

The rectangular shapes of the stones look perfect for stacking. Don’t you wonder how they transported them to their housing sites? Were there plenty of rocks in one area, so they built several homes here, or did they have to scavenge the flatland and carry their stones to the homesites. Possibly the remodeled and added to the rocks that had been built by an earlier inhabitant that had moved on or died out.

ancient puebloans
the Living Quarters

Here you see how nicely the stones stacked. They might have held them together with dirt mixed with urine to make the mud. Apparently, that made a durable cement. In the foreground, you see what we would use as ornamental flowers in our yards. I wonder what gems these tiny yellow flowers held for the native desert dwellers.

ancient puebloans
rocks and daisy

Appreciating Subsistence

As you can tell, subsistence in this location would be difficult. They might have gathered insects that swarmed out from under the rocks when they dug them out. Flowers and grasses would not have sustained them for very long. Maybe the kids ate rocks like the children in the book Stone Soup or my brother when he was young. More likely they used the rocks to kill or wound larger animals which would have provided more adequate clothing, blankets, and food.

ancient puebloans
finishing the Gathering Loop

It did not take long to complete the .01 mile loop. You can imagine that it took several days for park workers to create this beautiful path that only takes visitors minutes to amble around. Yet, as they walked along the way, what thoughts do you think filtered through their minds? No one talked much, so it’s hard to say.

What’s your impression?

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