I love to explore by getting in the car and just following my nose!
Last Friday we headed north to Morro Bay for a family reunion. This time we thought we’d take our time going north and get off the main highway just to see what could see. I love some of the little agricultural towns we only occasionally hear about.
Our main travel route to Morro Bay is Hwy 101. But halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, just a few miles off 101, is the town of Guadalupe, located in the middle of some of the state’s richest agricultural areas.
There is also a lot of oil in Guadalupe, but you don’t want to get me started on that topic again…we’ll come back to that another day when I tell you about how Unocal leaked 18 million gallons of petroleum in the nearby dunes. It’s the weekend and we’ve all had a long week, I’m sure, so today I only want to share some beautiful photos–and an interesting story about Cecil B. DeMille.
I love agricultural areas, but even more so, I love the ocean. And although we’d never traveled this route through Guadalupe before, I knew that if we just kept heading west we were going to find ourselves in the southernmost part of the beautiful Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes complex, an 18-mile stretch of coastline connecting northern Santa Barbara County to Southern San Luis Obispo County.
We had to leave Zena behind this time, because NO dogs are allowed…not even in the car! The Dunes are home to the Western Snowy Plover and the Least Tern, and over 200 species of birds, with nesting areas all too tempting to animals. The Dunes also provide protection to many other endangered and threatened species of plants and animals. Dogs (and I’d add people) don’t always respect the habitats and stay outside the perimeter of the nesting areas.
Deer, bobcats, black bear and mountain lions also make their home in this unusual habitat.
It’s almost impossible to give you a good view of the dunes because no matter how many photos I took, gigantic mounds of sand just don’t translate well.
It just looks like a lot of sand doesn’t it? Well, try to imagine some dunes rising up 500 feet. They are separated into uplands and wetlands habitats, and the different ecosystems within the dunes system support a wide variety of plants uniquely adaptable to the harsh and ever-changing environment found here.
A woman traveling from Arkansas approached us shaking her head and repeating, “I just can’t believe how gorgeous this is! It’s incredible…I feel like I could cry.” And that’s how I feel every time I see these gorgeous expanses of coastline.
So what’s the Cecil B. DeMille connection?
In 1923 Cecil B. DeMille produced a silent version of The Ten Commandments–not to be confused with his epic 1953 version. DeMille directed 1,500 workers to build a massive Egyptian set in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, including an 800 by 120 ft. temple, four 35 ft. statues of Rameses II and 21 five-ton plaster sphinx,
Following the shooting of the film, DeMille bulldozed the entire set and left it in the dunes. Imagine trying to do that today and how many laws would be broken? It makes me wonder what else is under all that sand.
Apparently on rare occasions when the wind has been extreme there are reports of catching a glimpse of one of the sphinx.
And just suppose these relics don’t entirely disappear. Imagine what archaeologists are going to question 500 years from now?