Spencer’s Market: A Family Owned Business Who Cares & Provides Local

DSC05872John Spencer’s boyhood home was a cattle ranch in Santa Maria where his dad raised prime beef. One summer while in middle school, his dad taught him exactly where and how to plant cuttings for a cabernet sauvignon vineyard. At fifteen the Righetti High School student coveted a car. His dad expected him to earn it if he wanted it, thus, began his life’s career in the grocery business. His first job was “meat clean-up” at Williams Brothers Store #7 — the Santa Maria store that would become the first independent neighborhood grocery owned and operated by John and Beatrice Spencer.

“We just celebrated our 20-year anniversary owning Spencer’s Fresh Markets,” said Spencer. The couple currently own and operate stores in Santa Maria at 3580 Orcutt Road and Morro Bay at 2650 Main Street with approximately 100 employees. www.spencersfreshmarkets.com. Note the word fresh in their name!dscf0752.jpg


But first Spencer would experience intensive on-the-job training to learn the grocery business inside and out. He worked his way up at Williams Brothers to store manager before he was promoted to operations supervisor overseeing 19 stores. “I preferred being out in the stores. When Vons purchased Williams Brothers they saw I knew first hand what was going on so kept me on.”

For four years Spencer did the forecasting and budgeting for The Vons Companies. When he realized a couple of the locations were not performing up to corporate standards, he worked out a deal with then CEO Phillip Hawkins to purchase the Santa Maria store.

Meanwhile, Young’s Market owners Phil and Yvonne Young wanted to retire from their Morro Bay store.  “They liked how I ran Williams Brothers when I was the store manager. We put together a handshake deal and they are still my landlords although we lost Phil a couple years ago.”

“My time spent with Vons is probably the reason we are still in business today,” said Spencer. He added his stores operate professionally using corporate procedures while remaining a neighborhood grocer offering many local products.

Spencer still prefers his time in the stores. “I like that our people are neighbors serving neighbors. Customers can talk to the store manager and request the products they want to see us carry.”

CCC Ewereka

Many local products got their start or expanded their popularity at Spencer’s Fresh Markets. “We develop personal partnerships with our local product owners,” said Spencer. “Darren’s Berries started in a fruit stand then approached us to be his fruit stand. Twenty years later we’re still carrying Darren’s Berries.”

Spencer’s was first to feature Central Coast grown avocados. Customers will also find a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, including early season strawberries. Santa Maria-style barbecue meats and products, Brian’s Bread made in Atascadero, Cayucos Hot Sauce and local wines can be found at Spencer’s.  Many partnerships started during the Thursday afternoon Farmer’s Market at the Morro Bay store.

Spencer noted Frank Bouget was a find for Spencer’s Fresh Markets. “He trained in French culinary schools and can bake anything. I met him in the late 1980s when he first arrived in the United States.” Spencer lured him to Williams Brothers and then re-hired him in 2010 to handle all the store’s fresh bakery items and special orders out of the Santa Maria store.

“We have fun, too,” said Spencer. “When we added Cal Poly Eggnog, Frank came up with Cal Poly Eggnog Cream Pie. He also created Raspberry Pinot Noir Cream Pie.“

The market produces its own salsas and a variety of sausages from a fully customized meat department. The deli features prime Boar’s Head products and creates fresh signature sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes and deep fried and roasted chicken.IMG_1145

Spencer gets teary-eyed talking about how he met and hired Doug Carroll, popularized on KVEC’s Dave Congalton Show as Pastor Doug. “It all started as Free Flapjack Fridays on Sunny Country. (From his wheelchair) Pastor Doug would cook with me during customer appreciation breakfasts. Then he created his own recipes pulling products off the shelves and serving samples in the stores.” All the while Carroll battled Multiple Sclerosis with a positive attitude, infectious laugh and stories that inspired all who met him until he succumbed at 54 in 2011.

Spencer can be heard regularly on KVEC-Radio promoting local seasonal products and Spencer’s Fresh Markets’ deals of the week.

Beatrice still works with her husband in the office. They married August 1, 1981 and have four daughters, Caitlin, Kristine, Kayla and Cameryn, each a graduate or current student of Cal Poly.

Note: John Spencer was also the exclusive market to support the Kelsey Wine Program that benefits the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.



A Hallmark Encouragement


In a couple weeks — April 5-7 to be exact — Morro Bay produces another Citywide yard sale. It has become a big deal since it began at least eleven years ago. Tourists visit to discover treasures or trinkets they can’t live without and some even bring trailers to take home furniture or larger items. Local use it as a time to spring clean and make a few extra bucks. There is a gentleman from Ventura, I think, that comes by every year and asks my husband if he has coins to sell. He offers a fair value and we make Bob buy the family dinner that night…or used to before the crab feed!!

The city garage company waives fees for hauling big items away the week after the yard sale. So everyone wins. And now groups are piggy-backing on evening opportunities for tourists to stay and play in Morro Bay.


Speaking of crab feeds!!! Morro Bay Rotary has an “all you can eat” crab feed with all the fixings on Saturday evening April 6. Proceeds benefit community groups needing a boost of cash. Morro Bay Tourism recognizes this event as a true tourism opportunity so pitches it to visitors.

Only a $60 a ticket and almost sold out!! But then where else can you get a dinner among friends and lots of crab from Tognazzini’s Dockside? My son-in-law consumed 6 crabs last year and we all ate our share. And Rotarian servers even break the parts up enough so lazy-pickers like me can enjoy.

The Community radio station The Rock also has a big night. They offer lots of good songs dancing and adult beverages at the Morro Bay Veteran’s Hall. Have to work off a big crab dinner someway!!

So why am I promoting here besides a couple good causes to enjoy? I’m getting ready for the Citywide Yard Sale. We’ve decided to help out Garden House of Morro Bay this year. Garden House is a a wonderful home a couple blocks from us that helps senior residents with all kinds of dementias. Our Aunt Stella spent several lovely years there and now my good friend Kasey Watson owns it and my mother’s granddaughter Jody is her administrative assistant. Just as Mom found her new satisfying life in Cayucos, Jody has found another career utilizing all her best talents. Mom would be amazed and so proud Jody has found her career-feeder!

Looking through my stuff I found a Hallmark birthday card to me from my mother, Pat McKaye. She moved to Cayucos when she was 80 and was totally involved in her adopted community. She ran the thrift store and coordinated the Cayucos Senior Volunteers, which donated so much back to the community. She made wonderful friends and found her new home away from home — a haven to feed on. She was also proud of me that I had found my first love — the career I wanted in high school. I was writing for the local newspapers. I had forgotten she had given me this story idea.


Mom was excited Jody and Mike were back permanently from Louisiana. He was from there and she was in school back there, but that’s another story. Somehow she linked that with  the Hummingbirds she loved to watch from her patio-slider door. At our house we would watch out of our kitchen window where we once saw a family of hummingbirds build a nest, birth their children and fly away. Having the kids close was a joy although she never hovered — visited, enjoyed the nectars offered and flew away…then back again another day.

She thought of names like Holly because it was close to their last name of Hollier. The villain bird or was it the hero bird was Anne, the middle name of both my daughter and I. She did mention another bird, a red necked bird who tried to steal the nectar from the feeder, but as you will see Anne protects it for her own.

Birds are jealous of each other, she wrote. “They love to sit on the feeder and chase each other off. They are very curious and love to play especially when the water hose is on. They also like things to stay the same.”

She told how once she got a new feeder and they refused to drink from it or play on it. She returned the older feeder to its roost and they were back again — playfully. Another time a storm was blowing hard even for her protected patio. The wind and the rain knocked over a large gardenia bush. “They flew in and around and around and chattered as if to say, ‘What’s wrong'”

Another time the wind was blowing the feeder sideways to and fro up and down. The hummingbirds would fly around and around begging it to stop. When it wouldn’t stop they finally took a risk and flew onto the branch. They rode it like a bucking roller coaster. When the feeder was empty they would fly to the window and hover as if to say, “We are out. We need more. We want to stay.”


One time a bird hid in the bush near the feeder or maybe it was refuge in the fallen gardenia bush. Whenever another bird would fly to the feeder, the stalking bird would fly out and chase it away. Contrary to popular belief, he or she would sit there for hours protecting his/her feeder from marauders.

Mom thought Anne was a good name for the bird who captured her favorite place and guarded it as if her own. After a time Anne was the only one using the feeder and one day Mom wrote she came out and there were all kinds of hummingbirds of smaller sizes and variations of green — lighter to darker green — feeding all at once from the same feeder. She wondered if Anne drive them away. Then she saw Anne. It looked like she would try to make them leave the feeder, but instead she joined them and flew around them. Mom thought she is protecting her own. Anne was saying, “Feed my babes. I have captured our safe place for them and you can help me nurture and grow to fly away to make their new home.”

This is the story Mom wanted me to tell — the circle of life — the love of a mother for her own. I’m sure Mom thought the story would most likely in a children’s book at the Cayucos Library and Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay, but…..

This was about nine years ago when Mom flew away. She found her safe haven or heaven. Who then would have really understood blogging is also meant for storytelling.

And so it goes…..Thanks, Mom.





A Rare Travel Story

Editor’s Note: My first paying job was in high school –15-going on 16. That summer, I was in summer school at Bakersfield High School taking typing in the morning and my friend’s (Bette Lou Kane) father was the publisher of THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN He got me the job taking classified advertisements in the afternoons until I could be full time once summer school was over. However, it was Mr. Partridge, my immediate boss,  who literally taught me how to type, requiring I type the ads directly from the phone conversation with the client instead of writing it out and then typing. Somehow I did it, but that’s another story maybe for another time.

The job I really wanted was upstairs in the newsroom, but it took a career of teaching 4th graders, then high school English, then radio, TV, etc. etc. and moving to the Central Coast before I worked for a newspaper writing stories about the people and events that happened in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos.

Early in my journalistic career my husband and I vacationed in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. I was excited about finally writing for the newspaper and picked up all the local free papers along the way to glean ideas. I was working for The Bay News at the time in Morro Bay and found a way to adapt our vacation to my new home town.

Might Morro Bay’s Sister City Be Kennebunkport, MN  By Judy Salamacha

Central Coast to East Coast – from sea to shining sea – people and places are so different yet so much alike.  While traveling the south-central coast of Maine recently, I noticed a New England accent couldn’t disguise the parallel lives shared by new friends met with friends back home on the Central Coast.  In particular I found three individuals that instantly reminded me of a Morro Bay counterpart.

Named the “Best Family Restaurant on the Maine South Coast,”Mike’s Clam Shack and Fish Market is located in Wells, MN.  Owner Mike McDermott has been in the family business forever and his philosophy and operations reminded me of Giovanni’s Fresh Fish Market.  Not just because Gio was awarded by the Morro Bay Harbor Festival “Best Clam Chowder” for three year’s running, but both Mike and Gio are popular with locals and tourists. Both pride themselves on featuring fresh fish and family friendly prices.  Walk in either restaurant and you’ll hear “Where’s Mike?” – “Can I talk to Gio?”

Mike has expanded four times growing from a 20X20 clam shack serving 125 on a good night to over 2,000 a night at the height of the summer season.  Gio is currently expanding again and likely serves almost as many on a good summer day.  Mike buys fresh daily at the Portland fish market, while Gio often buys direct from the fisherman right off his dock.  Mike and Gio cater to locals, who in turn recommend their restaurants to tourists.  Mike’s Clam Shack is well known for their Haddock & Chips, Lobster Rolls and, or course, like Gio, award-winning Clam Chowder.

Then there was Harbor Master Lee McCurdy of Cape Porpoise Harbor in Kennebunkport.  Like Morro Bay’s Harbor Master Rick Algert, McCurdy manages the dock and reports to the local advisory board.  Both supervise the harbor patrol and harbor leases. McCurdy handles the fisherman’s day-to-day off-loading of lobster traps while Algert is more involved in harbor management.

Although lobster fishing is still going strong in Maine, legislation is continually hampering the working fisherman. Both McCurdy and Algert are advocates for the shrinking number of fisherman still trying to survive in an overly regulated environment.  Just as Morro Bay’s fisherman continually fight for their right to fish, so it was with the latest issue for the lobster fishermen.   Due to two incidents of whale entanglements in the last couple of years, the fisherman might have to re-engineer their float ropes at thousands of dollars to the fisherman.

McCurdy, a former gill netter, enjoys being close to the water and industry without his livelihood tied to the sea, but with shrinking numbers of fisherman in his harbor he, like Algert, share concerns about life as they’ve known it.

The Noonan family was a local dynasty reminding me of the Tognazzinis. Richard Noonan, like Mark Tognazzini was a fisherman’s fisherman.  Richard works 800 lobster traps. Richard’s daily catch went directly to their restaurant, Noonan’s Lobster Hut, in Kennebunkport, just as Mark fishes for Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant when allowed to fish.  And just like the Tognazzinis, the entire Noonan family, including the patriarchs George Noonan or Wilmer Tognazzini, is involved in the restaurant.  And just like Mark, Richard works closely with other fisherman promoting fishing and consumption of fresh-caught fish and seafood in Maine and on the Central Coast of California.

Hoping to continue the family tradition Richard’s son, John, loved lobstering with his dad. He had just completed his first full year with his own traps and it was a good year.  At age 20, he hoped he could survive in the business, but was realistic enough to take construction management at the community college just in case times got leaner.  Another son, Ben, was a master boat mechanic.  His biggest client was the Secret Service based at former President Bush’s Kennebunkport estate.

Sister-city programs foster sharing commonalities and better business practices. The Central Coast could learn some tricks of the tourist trade from Maine’s tourism-based communities. Maine has many more than the two lighthouses in San Luis Obispo County, Maine, however, has preserved, protected and endowed their lighthouses in order to attract the tourists by car, tour bus, trolley or harbor cruise.  Portland alone offered multiple harbor cruises with picture-perfect views of five lighthouses.

Both coastal communities had a familiar variety of gift shops, shirt shops, art galleries, and nautical museums. One entrepreneur we visited had found his niche. The Lighthouse Store in Wells attracted busloads of tourists, which had basically the same products for sale as Central Coast gift shops, but it was marketed on-line and around the tourist communities as the “ultimate lighthouse destination” boasting 12,000 lighthouse products.  Tourists had to stop just to see if the shop really had 12,000 lighthouses.

Like Morro Bay, Maine had harbor dinner cruise vessels similar to Morro Bay’s Papagallo II or The Chablis.  Whale watching and sport fishing tours were comparable to Virg’s Landing.

However, the Central Coast might be missing one cruise opportunity.  Non-fisherman, most likely tourists, pay the lobster captains big bucks for a chance to crew on a lobster boat.  On the other hand, not this land-lubber. No, thank you,

In fact, Gio or Mark, can you take the lobster meat out of the shell before serving me, please?






Senior Care With a Personal Touch

Editor’s Note: This column first ran in INSPIRED HEALTH Magazine Volume 4 — published by http://www.simplyclearmarketing.com.

Inspired Heath — Dr. Steven Sainsbury

Dr. Steven Sainsbury hates meetings – except those face-to-face with his patients in San Luis Obispo County or some-wherever he is needed in the rest of the world.

Back in November, 2008 he transitioned from hospital emergency care to develop a unique mobile primary care practice — visiting his patients in their homes creating a true house-call practice.

Dr. Sainsbury served patients for 20 years chiefly as an emergency physician at Sierra Vista Hospital. He discovered he liked the night shift best.

“I could be off duty sleeping when staff meetings were held,” he joked.

The U.S. Census as of July 1, 2016 lists the SLO County’s 65 and over population at 18.9%. As Dr. Sainsbury contemplated retirement, he realized he had developed the skills to prepare him to advocate, diagnose and treat San Luis Obispo’s growing senior population. He realized there was a hole in patient care in the county and decided to consult with two north county practitioners, including his fellow medical director at Central Coast Hospice, Templeton’s Dr. Jeffrey Bourne. www.centralcoasthospice.com.

“They liked their practices so I decided to try it,” he said. “I needed a saner lifestyle and serving seniors offered the best of what I liked about patient care – diagnosis and immediate treatment.”

Hospital emergency care had also established contacts with every doctor in the community so his fledgling practice grew quickly with immediate referrals.

The new practice offered two major surprises. “Paperwork,” he said. “I always had staff to take care of filing Medicare and insurance. I needed to carve out time to do it myself.”  He spends a minimum of three hours per day on paperwork.

“I also didn’t anticipate the number of phone calls. Now I’m working directly with the patients, families of patients and medical facilities where most of my patients reside.”

Dr. Sainsbury visits 25 private homes monthly and has 300 patients in a variety of homecare facilities. Typically, 250 are private Medicare patients with others under Hospice care. However, after eight years, he is finally in a place where he’s adjusted his schedule so he can sleep at night. He doesn’t take calls after 9pm. And he doesn’t take on more than the load he is currently carrying.

Why is such a practice valuable within a community? “It’s hard for many patients to leave their homes even to go to a doctor’s office and they are always more comfortable in their home environment,” Dr. Sainsbury explained. “At home I can also check their meds and eliminate what they shouldn’t be taking.” He mentioned many seniors are taking Lipitor or Statins. “Frankly, after 90 they don’t need them. The side effects could be making them uncomfortable.”

His biggest challenge is dealing with patients’ families. “The family wants the best or the most care needed for their loved one, but in-reality will a mammogram help an elderly patient in all cases? Should I diagnose chemo when I know the outcome would be the same anyway? When I know a treatment won’t improve quality of life should I recommend it anyway?”

Dr. Sainsbury’s stated his ethic. “I’m the advocate for the patient. All I care about is what the patient wants and his/her quality of life.”

He adamantly advises families need a clear DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) policy earlier than later in life and one that everyone must agree to abide by. All must do what the patient originally wanted. The DNR will not complicate decisions when emotional stress takes hold.

Family – his and others – have always been very important to Dr. Sainsbury. His personal life has been full raising children, volunteering as team football physician for Cal Poly and traveling annually on medical missionary trips to faraway places such as the Congo, Jordan, Guatemala and the Amazon with several different groups — Flying Doctors, Doctors on Call and more.

“It takes a certain personality to provide a house-call practice,” he said. “It is easier or at least much different when patients come to an office or to the ER. “There is plenty of work for others to come into the field, but I believe there are only a few doctors that are willing to do what I do.”

Editor’s Note: Dr. Sainsbury is loved by patients, families of patients, and administrators at the facilities he serves. I know this first hand. He cared for our Aunt Stella for the three years she lived and thrived at Garden House in Morro Bay after breaking a hip at her assisted living home in Michigan where the employee ratio was not sufficient to care for her so we were able to bring her to California and to Garden House.

Kasey Watson, Administrator/Owner of Garden House of Morro Bay, which is the first SLO County nonprofit secured home for patients of all dementias, works regularly with Dr. Sainsbury, which is how our family first met him. He regularly serves most of the residents at Garden House. There are fifteen residents living onsite at any given time. Garden House has a waiting list and encourages families to plan ahead, tour the home and if it will fit future needs, register on the waiting list.

Kasey Watson: “Dr. Sainsbury takes the time to listen to his patients needs and concerns, as well as their family members. He is available by phone and willing to meet with families when they have questions.   He collaborates with our care team by seeing our residents monthly which maximizes the quality of their lives by keeping him educated as to a resident’s current well-being. Our Residents needs can change dramatically in a short amount of time. When we need to inform or consult with him because of a change in a residents’ status he always responds quickly, either by phone, email, fax or text, whichever is most appropriate. Because he does this so quickly, it elevates our response times and ensures that best possible comfort and outcomes for the Resident.” Kasey Watson, Administrator, Garden House of Morro Bay

For more information: www.drsainsbury.com (805) 546-7650

To Contact Garden House of Morro Bay contact www.gardenhousemorrobay.org. Ask for Jody Salamacha-Hollier or Kasey. Another note: After moving to Morro Bay and experiencing Garden House while Aunt Stella was there years ago, she discovered what a positive work-environment it could be for her and is now Assistant-Administrator after two years on the job.  Jody and Kasey are always on the look-out for caregivers to help fulfill their mission providing the highest quality of life and health and companionship for their residents. If you care and are looking for a loving place to work, give Jody or Kasey a call.




North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program

The North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program is an amazing program for a group of Central Coast citizens that needed to find each other to work and play together. Families network together and things happen within their communities. This story ran the summer of 2018, but was a long time coming to print, but well worth the wait since it merged groups together to play together. Enjoy and maybe you’ll want to get involved.

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Photo by Tom Grant

Symbiotic Networking is defined as business and community representatives of like-purpose and interests coming together for mutual benefits. You won’t find it defined in the dictionary or listed as one of the top business practices in INC. Magazine, but it produces results – instantly or after years of nurturing relationships. And when it all clicks magic happens for all concerned.

For example, San Luis Sports Therapy, Morro Bay Councilman Matt Makowetski, North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, Cal Poly University, the cities of Morro Bay and Atascadero and Project Surf Camp – just to name a few of the beneficiaries — realized Symbiotic Networking’s results when linking their business models to nonprofit community projects.

The magic happens again Friday, June 29, from 11am to 5pm at 890 Shasta in Morro Bay when the public is invited to the 6th Annual Benefit Barbecue for Project Surf Camp hosted by Clinic Director Michael Williams, owner of San Luis Sports Therapy (www.slsportstherapy.com).

“We move out the therapy equipment to become a cafeteria,” Williams said. “It’s a pre-holiday free lunch. I provide the Tri-tip and friends help barbecue and bring side-dishes. Local businesses donate gifts and we draw tickets all afternoon. Last year we gave $5,600 to Project Surf Camp. We’re hoping to give over $6,000 this year.”

Williams’ converted an annual appreciation potluck to a community event ultimately benefitting three nonprofits — Project Surf Camp, United Blood Services and the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program.

“When I opened the business in 2002, I decided to thank everyone with a BBQ before the 4th of July holiday. We also offered a blood drive with United Blood Services. It grew every year until we were at around 200 guests.”

At the same time, Williams and Makowetski coached their children in youth recreation programs. A teacher during the school year, Makowetski spent his summers helping John Taylor, founder of Project Surf Camp, provide ocean experiences for special needs adults and children. When Makowetski explained the concept of Project Surf Camp to Williams, he realized, “It was right up my alley. More than 200 good-hearted people already enjoy our barbecue. Why not make it a community event?”

Williams admired that John Taylor enjoyed surfing with a prosthesis and created Project Surf Camp www.projectsurfcamp.org so everyone on the Central Coast might experience ocean recreation – especially those with varying disabilities.

The day camps are half-days at Morro Rock Beach near the Morro Creek outlet. Four paid specialists and many community groups and individuals volunteer to provide the instruction and safety support for the campers as they test out the waves.

Ron Vasconcellos is a longtime participant of San Luis Sports Therapy’s wellness program. He suggested to Williams the NCASARP (www.ncasarp.org) participants, fondly called the Bulldogs, were a perfect group to benefit from a surf camp session. Ron and his wife Ruth started NCASARP in 2010 with several parents, Cal Poly coaches, and professors, students and community volunteers to develop a year-round, county-wide sports and recreation program for kids and adults who live with developmental disabilities.

“We were looking for more activities — sports and social activities — for our son, Chris,” said Vasconcellos. The program launched when Atascadero Parks & Recreation offered their gym one-day weekly all year long. Bulldogs’ families and board members operate the activities for the nonprofit. “It takes a village – so many partners have helped develop it into a county-wide program.  Kevin Taylor, Cal Poly Kinesiology Department (www.calpoly.edu), Coach Faith Mimnaugh and Cal Poly students have made a big difference.”

The Bulldogs recently received the Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Award during a Community Foundation Awards Night recognizing Cal Poly’s participation. At least 18-20 students participate weekly offering everything from strengthening skills to high-fives and friendship. “Many students have changed their career paths after their involvement in our program,” said Vasconcellos. “Our Bulldogs respond to those closer to their age.”

Regularly 35 participants from 13-70 years old show up to play basketball, volleyball, broomball, kickball or line dancing in Atascadero. Each Monday Kennedy Fitness in San Luis offers their pool for aquatics. Social activities like bowling, pizza parties, Blues Baseball, and Cal Poly sporting events become social get-togethers for Bulldogs and families. Discounted Ride-On transportation is available.

Thus, Project Surf Camp was a natural expansion activity for the Bulldogs and Vasconcellos had volunteers to help to support a day at camp.

Williams liked the idea. Not only could his business and patrons support Project Surf Camp financially, but his staff would benefit with on-the-job-training sea-side working with special needs campers. “Saturdays are the only days we can take off from our regular patrons,” said Williams. “This year our day with the Bulldogs is July 21.

Indeed, Symbiotic Networking makes things happen. June 29 meet the team at Michael Williams’ barbecue. Many will go home with a Coast Electronics-donated television, or a surfboard, or restaurant gift certificates or…..good vibrations for networking to help Project Surf Camp in 2018.

And now it is 2019…all the programs are ongoing through the year and then summertime Project Surf Camp will kick in again. Will your group be involved?







Looking Back: Flooding in Morro Bay & Gary & David Owens Come to the Rescue

Late 2018 the Central Coast saw lots of good rain and thankfully no or little damage. 2019 is stacking up to be a wet year and we’re facing another big storm coming in this afternoon or tonight which is February 1. Midwest-style thunder and lightening happened a couple days ago, but then gentle rains. The winds and high — King Surf, Blood Moon have all been exciting.

I thought it would be interesting to post the following column that appeared in Tolosa Press, the former name of Simply Clear Marketing and Media. It was my “Then & Now” Column for 1/14/16 and appeared in The Bay News, Coast News, and SLO City News. It was reflective of years ago when Morro Bay actually experience flooding and the Gary and David Owens Family, owners of Village Cleaners in Morro Bay came to the rescue…what we do in small communities!

Enjoy the column:

Cheers! As of January 4, 2016, PG&E Meteorologist John Lindsey announced on his FACEBOOK page, “El Niño has arrived. A series of storms will march across the Pacific toward California this month, if not longer.”

And as promised, January 5 saw rain dousing the plains – and rooftops, freeways, wine grapes and avocado trees, lettuce and strawberry fields with more expected the entire week.

Let’s hope it continues at a steady start-and-stop pace rather than what happened March 10, 1995 when father and son, Gary and David Owens, were called into duty rescuing folks from their cars, waterlogged under the Hwy. 1 — Main Street underpass. The corridor was flooded all the way to the intersection at Hwy. 46. Main and Radcliffe Streets which were underwater by over 4-feet deep.

“I don’t expect this to happen again,” said David. “Both of the trailer parks were flooded from all night rain. A shed got loose and lodged under the highway so the water backed up. I’m sure we’re better prepared to handle El Nino today.”

Gary Owens further explained, “There was a major fire a few months earlier off Hwy. 46 — almost to Hwy, 101 and SLO — so the ground behind the trailer parks couldn’t absorb the water. We got 9.5 inches in less than 24 hours.”

David and his mother, Marlene, were co-owners and operators of Village Center Dry Cleaners at 750 Napa in Morro Bay. David took a call for one of his employees, Carol Harpster. The fire department was looking for her husband, Fred, because they knew he had a boat.

“I volunteered I had a Zodiac we used for diving,” said David. He was immediately enlisted to help. The inflatable was at his dad’s home a couple blocks away from the cleaners. “I said to Dad – Do you want to go rescue people?”

David said there were three to four cars stalled near Radcliffe with “water up to the roof.”

Gary said he noticed the “bottom of the water was to the top of the street sign. Estero Glass (fronting Main Street) had cars parked with water running over them.”

When they launched the inflatable, David stepped onto the street at the Radcliffe intersection and it was almost over his head. “It was deep enough to run a 6-hp motor,” he said. “The first guy had dropped his keys and wanted Dad to dive for them. He found his keys. Then there were two guys standing on the top of their Volkswagen grateful to be rescued.”

Next the Owens motored over to Preston Lane where there were people trapped in an apartment complex.

“We rescued two ladies, a guy and their cats. One lady was most grateful for us rescuing her luggage. The firemen couldn’t take it,” said David. “I had to leave Dad there because I didn’t have room. It was a bumpy ride going against a swift current getting the ladies out. I later found out one of the ladies was Norm and Nancy Blackburn’s mom and she had a heart condition, but she made it even though one of the cat carriers was sloshing out of control. At the exit an ambulance was waiting to check them out.”

The Owens team even had to rescue a CDF team. “Their ‘turn-out’ suits filled with water as they were trying to dislodge the shed,” said David. “There was so much current around Preston Lane, I got banged up shins and we both ended up with poison oak getting in and out of the water.”

The entire Owens Family have been business owners in Morro Bay and active community members. Gary and David are both past presidents of Morro Bay Rotary. Marlene has since retired and spends time making finely crafted walking sticks after recuperating from a car accident and making sure she would not only walk, but hike again. She sold her half of the business to David in 2000. Her father, Pete Stock, started it in 1969 after bringing the family to Morro Bay from Nebraska. She was on the founding board of directors for Camp Hapitok, which closed as of 2015. Marlene is also very active as a member and in leadership positions for Quota Club of Morro Bay. They have been involved since it began in the early 1970s.

(Note: Author update information) Today in his spare time Gary enjoys woodworking and is proud of his grandchildren.

David wonders how many of his softball tournaments and games might be rained out this season. Besides managing the cleaners he officiates for the American Softball Association (ASA), recreation department basketball, and high school volleyball. Last year he officiated over 170 games. (Note: David has added Cal Poly events to his officiating schedule since this column was published.)

David also served as president of the board and then director of the Morro Bay Harbor Festival for five years. Wife Dawn was volunteer coordinator for the Harbor Festival and the two of them have four children; Dak, 22, Dari, 20, Dexton, 16, and Devan, 11.

We will hear more from the Owens family. Their children were active at Camp Hapitok and Dari has taken top academic honors at college and Dak is fitting nicely into the family-owned business.

Thank you, Owens Family, for all you do for the Central Coast and Morro Bay.

Writing: My Journey

May 19, 2018 the SLO (San Luis Obispo) Sisters in Crime invited me to give the Welcome for their first annual conference. I was honored and it forced me to ask the conference’s thematic question “Why I Wrote,” which led me on a journey to remember how I finally got to where I wanted to be – a writer writing an author published. Slightly modified I’m sharing it on my blog for readers to get to know me a bit better as I continue to post past published articles hoping the reader will enjoy.


President’s Weekend February 14-17, 2019 it is an honor to be accepted again as a volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference. This year I am especially honored to support the inaugural efforts by Director Laurie McLean and her team — although they have many years of guiding this amazing writers conference. https://www.sfwriters.org.

Why We Write?

When I was very young my best friends were my paper dolls who humored me as I created stories about their lives. In grammar school, I won a poetry contest and seeds were planted to someday become a writer. In Junior High, my graduating peers gave me a newspaper bannered with a fake news headline stating I would thrive as a journalist. In high school, I lived two lives – junior journalist behind the “pen” on the school newspaper and social butterfly performer cheerleading for Garces Memorial High School’s sporting events. At Bakersfield College, I contributed and assisted the professor who edited the college’s Literary Magazine.

I chose to transfer to Northwestern Journalism School because it was the best, but I had to settle on UCLA after my mother offered the only career discouragement I can remember her giving me, “Judy, you don’t pay attention to the details.” At UCLA, I was diverted from a a straight pathway to reporting for the LA Times or San Francisco Chronicle. I became a generalist testing our a variety of specialties in English and History. I enjoyed changing gears and lacked confidence to focus on communications classes and creative writing

Mom & I

Cayucos Senior Center Monthly Potluck: Mom was such an inspiration, including her decision to move to Cayucos at age-80 then volunteer to coordinate the volunteers and operations at the Center. She was honored as SLO Volunteer of the Year and other amazing awards. 

After graduation, I became a career gypsy. I didn’t realize my bouncing from one entirely different career to another was hands-on research – prep for a future writing career. I was an English teacher, marketing and public relations VP for a land development corporation, radio talk show host, television executive, and an auto-racing promotions director for Bakersfield’s NASCAR track – and in between tested out many learning positions on nonprofit boards.  

I also learned to pay more attention to the details, but still didn’t realize how important my mother’s advice was until I realized a good editor could make or break a newspaper career – the career I finally chased after 2001 when we moved to the Central Coast.

I’ve been blessed to write for SLO County’s Tribune, The Sun Bulletin and Simply Clear Marketing & Media’s newspapers and magazines. I was even publisher of The Bay News for a time because I’d “…never done that job before” until it merged with SLO City News to create Tolosa Press.

Col Bakers Field CoverApril2013FinalPrint

My favorite stories have always been discovering something few knew about people – telling their story – in fact, that’s how I stumbled into co-authoring the first and currently only biography about the namesake of Bakersfield, Colonel Baker’s Field, An American Pioneer Story with Sandra Mittelsteadt. No one had written this amazing pioneer’s life story although his great-great grandson, Chris Brewer, had done all the research and was willing to share it with two determined women get tell his story for the residents of Kern County and Visalia – and even Des Moines, Iowa. Brewer was willing to share many first source photographs that added to the historical quality and design of the book along with the exceptional artwork created by my daughter Jody Salamacha Hollier. Brewer was also a small press publisher (Bear State Books), a professional California historian and author of many California books.  

pixpicnic with three girlssandy

From Chris Brewer’s vast collection of photography and first source research materials we were able to use in Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story — with a little restoration by Jody. Below is one of several B&W photos Jody “colorized.” 

pixstagecoach before and after 

It is no secret I tend to do things back-ass-ward. I’m should have gone to Cal Poly since my career philosophy has always been “learn by doing.” I didn’t want to write a traditional biography or history book, I wanted it to read like a novel so on top of researching the content available, we had to learn to tell a story infused with creative license acceptable to a California historian and a great-great grandson sharing his research.

Publishing was easy, but writing what ultimately became a creative nonfiction narrative took four years, many trips to Bakersfield and Exeter for interviews, and untold calls and emails with my co-author and two editors — Plus the fun part – getting lost in the 1869 research. We had many false starts and I would still be revising if my co-author hadn’t taken it away from me. But sage advice at a Central Coast Writers Conference by Editor Jordan Rosenfeld was key to our success. She not so gently told us during a conference workshop we were telling the story not showing it. Aha! Her book Make A Scene gave us the tools to complete and publish our book.


Signing our book at Russo’s Book Store in Bakersfield was always a great marketing opportunity for Sandy Mittelsteadt and I.

But then we had to market it. Today we’re lucky enough to be in our 2nd printing. We listened to many who purchased the first edition and told us the book needed to be in the schools. Before we ordered the 2nd print, we worked with community sponsorship to fund 1200 additional books for Kern County/Bakersfield middle school classrooms.

What are the tricks to marketing a book? Frankly the only marketing benchmark we found effective was to find the right audience to tell your story and the audience will buy the book – one or 10 books at a time.

So why do we write? Each year while directing the Central Coast Writers Conference someone would announce, “We write because we have to.”

I don’t believe that anymore. We write because we make a determined choice to write – a good story percolating in our brains, a commentary on the world’s condition, a biography of someone who needs to be remembered – sharing our own insights in our memoir for our children, our students or maybe posterity.

 When do we write? No matter how busy we are with our daily lives, we carve out the time to write when we are passionate about what we want to say – or we have a deadline!  

And how do we become passionate enough to force us to carve out the time to tell the story or offer a commentary? Staying close to those who will teach us more about our craft is critical. Being in the presents of other writers, attending workshops and reading the works of other writers to broaden our perspectives will provide the examples we need to encourage us to focus on our own writing. Better yet learn and write then share what we have learned with our peers and share our drafts with a critique group that will give us honest feedback and motivation to continue our work.


Catherine Kornreich, Brian Schwartz, Debbie Black and I at the Central Coast Writers Conference. We are the Critikis minus Susan Vasquez who was world traveling doing her research!

Let me leave you with a few of my favorite quotes that inspire me…

Already published before we worked on Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story, my co-author Sandra Mittelsteadt’s answer to those who say they always wanted to write, but…She will say, ”The only difference between you and me is I wrote the first word.”

A Central Coast friend and fellow writer Anna Unkovich said, “I believe that we’re in our most blessed, joyful, and peaceful inner place when we’re in a state of creativity.”

 A favorite movie quote is from chick-flick Up Close and Personal. Michele Pfeifer’s character — reporter Tally Atwater says, “What we in the news business can never forget is that we are only as good as the stories we tell.”

 I think the quote that is spurring me onto whatever new pathway in my writing career I seem to be chasing comes from Jane Goodall, ‘You’re never going to win an argument appealing to a person’s head. You have to change their heart.”

In today’s world, there is certainly reason to change hearts. As writers, I believe we can do that.  But if writing is simply a personal endeavor that helps you get through the day or might show the next generation a “slice of life in 2019” that’s perfectly okay. Gloria Steinman’s philosophy is probably universal for most people who love to write. She says, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

And as my favorite interview ever!!! author Bertha Tyler taught me to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank” because that’s what Dean always said to her. Bertha is a restauranteur — the Chat ‘n Chew of Morro Bay, co-owner with husband Dean of the Morro Bay Aquarium and the most positive person I know — and first time author at age-92.


Big Big SLO’s Music Man Paul Irving

Paul Irving is the founder, CEO, Marketing Director, and Director of Distribution of BigBigSLO Music Entertainment of San Luis Obispo, but he was a musician first. Paul Irving lives his passion every day. In fact, he’s built a career working and playing in arenas that best suit his talents — live music promotion and performance.

“I’ve seen live music cut through anything that divides us,” he said. “Music is helping us connect during these divisive times because people are willing to leave politics and religion at the door to enjoy it together.”33942-10150666807302680-1334999824-n

After college Irving was well on his way to corporate success, but at 21 he decided it wasn’t the life he wanted. A friend who lured him to the Central Coast discovered he’d played trumpet since age-four and recruited him for the 1980s-90s band, Rock Steady Posse. The group’s local popularity and Irving’s self-taught Guerrilla marketing talents launched them on a western states tour so he quit his day-job with Greg Hind at GH Sports. After five years, touring wasn’t the life he wanted either. He preferred to stay, perform and promote locally.

“All my life I’ve been the one to set up the parties,” he said. “I enjoy getting people together. In ‘93 three drummers and me on trumpet played the Odd Fellows Hall in Morro Bay. People loved the Afro-Funk style. Mosaic was born and hot until 1997 when we broke up.” Band members Dylan Johnson and Jacob Odell went off to study and play their music in New York and Boston while Andrew Wise and Irving stayed home and wrote over 50 pieces knowing someday there would be a time again for their music. Meanwhile, Irving fulfilled another passion — developing the Sailing Center of Morro Bay giving rides and teaching sailing.


A decade later Irving encouraged Johnson to return to San Luis and in 2007 six of the seven members of Mosaic birthed the Zongo All-Stars with a ready-made danceable Afro-Latin sound and a savvy, connected band manager in Irving to find them gigs. Somewhere in the mix Irving married long-time girlfriend, Jessica, and realized he needed a career that would sustain his family. Irving’s Bayside Life has offered clients life insurance and fixed annuities for 18 years.

“Insurance didn’t fulfill my soul,” he said, “but I love both lives.” Mornings he attends to insurance clients at his office  overlooking the back bay he loves. “Mostpeople are looking for quality of life. I’ve achieved it. Afternoons it’s time to play.”

When Vina Robles recruited him to lead their “street team” promotions, Irving developed a time-efficient product to promote multiple area-wide live music happenings. The 2018 BigBigSLO Music Sourcebook features 174 live music venues and 210 local bands. BigBigSLO.com also produces a monthly BigBigSLO Live Music Monthly Pocket Planner. Irving is personally out and about to 50 to 60 venues distributing 10,000 pocket-sized planners all cooperatively supported by the musicians and live music venues.

And In his spare time, he produces live music events like Baywood’s JUNEFEST, the Zongo Yachting Cup , and annually in late August, the family-friendly BAYWOOD BAYFEST at the Back Bay Inn featuring the Zongo All-Stars among many local favorites.

Then there is Monday evenings after the Baywood Farmer’s Market when families gather with their lawn chairs at the Blue Heron Restaurant from May through October and go indoors from November through April at La Palapa Restaurant. What began as three friends enjoying a happy hour beer near the Baywood pier has morphed into BEER AT THE PIER CONCERTS. “Ted Emrick, a prominent glass artist in Baywood and Curt Miller, the drummer of the Mother Corn Shuckers and owner of the Morro Bay’s “In the Groove” and I were regulars at the Baywood Café informally enjoying a cold one after work. Jointly we sparked the idea of making it a regular thing with music,” said Irving. Baywood Café agreed to host the informal acoustic jams featuring groups like Tuan Chau’s Cuesta Ridge, Zongo All-Stars, Green2White and more. “When Daylight Savings Time kicked in the first year I thought we’d take a break for the winter months but the community wanted to continue and LaPalapa stepped up to host it.”

Irving continued, “Blue Heron Chef Shaun Behrens remarked, “This has grown into a big thing” and talked his investor group to support his vision with a garden stage, dancing and sitting lawn, fire-pit lounge, multiple patios for take-out or fine dining inside or outside, and two bars all right on the bay. Recently Terry Lawless of U2 who lives in the area played live just because he loves to play. We book a variety of musical styles of local top talent.” BigBigSLO.com contains a full schedule.


“I learned early how to balance what paid the bills with what I’m passionate about – family, music and sailing,” he said. Paul Irving believes he is living the Central Coast dream – and his children Edie, 16, and Cooper, 14, both at Morro Bay High School are continuing a family legacy in music and entertainment. Irving mused, “Working with my insurance clients, every day I’m tuned into mortality. It’s become an urgency not to waste any time while I’m here so I seek quality of life for my familyand strive to benefit my community.”




Morro Bay Maritime Museum: After 20-Plus Years A Dream Becomes Reality

Editor’s Note: This was published in Biz Matters September 26-27, a product of Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Exciting for this reporter to be part of the later developments of this project. It remains open free to the public on Saturdays and additional days as volunteers are developed to be there. It is definitely worth the stop-by to see for the entire family. 

Finished Boat 02

Just one of the many models showcasing the Maritime History of the Central Coast. This one is a replica of the Dive Boat owned by Harold Biaggini created by master modeler Ken Foran, now a resident of Morro Bay and member of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. 


Meandering northwest towards Morro Rock in Morro Bay, visitors are attracted by the protruding nose of a submarine just south of the power plant stacks. A stop to take a photo of the DSRV Avalon becomes a must. They discover three historic vessels on display at California’s newest museum, the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.

Saturday, September 29 the public was invited to a grand opening of MBMM’s first interpretive center at 1215 Embarcadero. Saturdays are now open with free admission at least through December 31 to thank and celebrate 25 years of visitor and community support as the concept developed from dream to opening.

The festivities include proclamations from Morro Bay’s Vice-Mayor Marlys McPherson and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson. Local Historian and Tribune’s Times By columnist Dan Krieger will offer anecdotes about SLO County’s maritime history, the Salinan Tribe will conduct a blessing of the grounds and Jenna & the Funky Fellows will entertain before the public is invited to tour the building’s interpretive displays.

The following weekend PG&E’s John Lindsey launched a full-sized weather balloon to celebrate the sponsored weather station, one of the interior displays. Additional Central Coast’s social and maritime history displays include Native American roots, the early years of merchant shipping, World War II’s Montebello incident off the coast of Cambria, plus the commercial fishing, abalone diving and recreational industries.

 Memorial bricks are dedicated to fisherman, area families and organizations and an anchor monument honors Bertha and Dean Tyler and the 43 charter members that helped fund MBMM.    

Looking back long-time president of the board Larry Newland shared how it all started. “It’s 1988 and I am sitting in my kayak alongside my friend Brent Roberts who is sitting in his kayak at Coleman Beach on the Morro Bay waterfront. Brent is telling me about his dream for a maritime museum for the town. He mentions all the history of the fishing industry, the abalone divers, and even the Navy.

 “We need to preserve that and have it available for the public,” he says. As we paddle out into the bay I look back at the waterfront and in my mind’s eye I can see the past; fishing vessels tied up to the docks, divers working in the rich waters, and even that time during World War II when Morro Bay became a Navy town.  “Yes, I think, we need a Morro Bay maritime museum.”

 Thus, began the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association (dba: Morro Bay Maritime Museum). “Early members have worked over the years to bring to life Brent’s dream. Artifacts and photos were displayed during every Harbor Festival.”

The mission statement of the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association is to provide an easily accessible educational venue for maritime history, science and technology. “CCMMA brought the Endeavour, a magnificent tall ship replica from Australia, to Morro Bay. We were the first to arrange for these sailing replicas to come here and because of that hundreds of school children as well as adults had the opportunity to learn about maritime history.” In 2015 MBMM hosted San Diego’s Maritime Museum’s maiden voyage of Cabrillo’s San Salvador. Each visit more than 10,000 toured with volunteers acting as tour guides and docents. “The public obviously has a real interest in the culture of times past.”

The tugboat Alma was one of the first donated in 1995 by the Kelsey family, owners of Sylvester’s Tug Service. It was built in 1927 in San Francisco and is typical of the small wooden tugs that worked in harbors along the west coast during the first half of the 20th century.

“When World War II was thrust upon this country, vessels that plied the coastal waters were anxious about possible attacks from Japanese submarines. Such an occurrence happened on December 23, 1941 when the Union Oil tanker Montebello was hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk off the coast of Cambria. The Alma was anchored off Cayucos and upon hearing explosions went to investigate and found survivors from the tanker in lifeboats. They rescued 22 men from those boats.”

 Newland indicated that a grant from the Hind Foundation provided the funding to restore the ALMA. Two additional vessels being restored are part of the fleet to be displayed. A locally crafted small submarine and the Spindrift, built in 1933, is the only surviving Monterey style boat used from the 1920s through the 1960s.

 “Once the city (Morro Bay) was on board momentum began to fast-track,” Newland commented. A slice of the power plant parking lot was designated and the fleet moved to their permanent location 1215 Embarcadero in 2015. Also on display is a 30-foot Coast Guard Surf Rescue vessel and the 50-foot Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle Avalon.  Many people don’t realize that Morro Bay was a naval station during World War II, so obtaining a vessel like the Avalon for the museum fits our purpose.”

 On loan from the U.S. Navy the Avalon arrived in Morro Bay in June of 2012. “It is one of only two rescue submarines built for the Navy and was designed to rescue crews of downed submarines. It was used for research and conducted training with Naval operations around the world. More than $10,000 was raised to obtain the vessel and bring it here. Many volunteers were involved in the process including Congressperson Lois Capps and Morro Bay mayor Bill Yates.”

“Brent Roberts passed away in 2005, but I am sure he is watching the progress of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum,” concluded Newland.



Never Too Old to Paddleboard – Morro Bayan Cheryl Bariel Learned at Age-72.

Editor’s Note: This article was published in the “Biz Matters” section of publications printed by Simply Clear Marketing & Media in 2018. If you haven’t met Sandi Twist, you’ll enjoy her philosophy to teach anyone their style of paddle boarding on Morro Bay In Central California. Sandi is also Vice-President of the Board of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and Ken Twist is on the board of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. 


Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Living on the Central Coast offers abundant opportunities to live playfully – and even work playfully. Case in point: Cheryl Bariel never intended to inspire her SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) friends, but she did, including her instructor, Sandi Twist, co-owner with husband Ken of The Paddleboard Company of Morro Bay.


In 2017 Cheryl Bariel relocated from Santa Rosa. She already practiced a disciplined routine to maintain a healthier lifestyle after successfully battling uterine cancer in 2014. Morro Bay offered her many scenic areas for daily walking, but she wanted more. I’m 72 years old and have learned my limits, but overcoming cancer gave me confidence to believe I could try anything,” she said.

Fellow paddler Bert Tibbitts said, “I met Cheryl when we were both taking “SUP Works,” an introductory paddleboarding class conducted by The Paddleboard Co. in conjunction with Fitness Works of Morro Bay.  After we had taken only a few sessions, Cheryl and I were talking about a paddleboard race planned in Morro Bay and she said, ‘I am going to do that.’ I said ‘Whaaat…the race is several miles long and only a few weeks off.’  She entered the race and completed the course.  And now, once again she displays her amazing attitude when she took on another challenge paddling every day for 31 days.”


“I wanted more lessons. I like figuring things out – how to overcome obstacles,” Bariel said. “There was so much to remember. I was determined to become self-sufficient at it.” She decided to commit to seven days to “get my system down.” When she finished seven she added another seven, then fourteen consecutive days. She’d still be racking up the days beyond the 31 if her doctor hadn’t advised she stay out of the water after an unrelated hand injury. “It Is best to take a lesson – at least Sandi’s (Twist) Quick Tips to learn about the tides, the wind, how to load and unload the board.”

Twist added, “It’s a process…and often a show-stopper for some thinking it is too much work, too hard to handle. There are few health or physical excuses that can’t be modified by one of our company’s certified trainers and yet I always hear I’m too old, not healthy enough, bad knees, hips — THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT. Cheryl is such an example at 72.” One qualifier she says, “For safety reasons, you must be under 280lbs.”

“It’s best to go out with a buddy,” advised Bariel. “When I’d been paddling about three months — eight days into my personal challenge, a friend couldn’t make it, so I decided to test it out by myself. My confidence was high. I thought — I’m prepared. I’ve learned what to do to be comfortable with what I know and what’s around me…I just need to do it.

“I was out by Bayside (Restaurant) when the fog rolled in. I couldn’t see Morro Rock then I couldn’t see the Embarcadero. I got nervous when I couldn’t see the boats around me. The tides changed and luckily took me near Tidelands Park. I was able to find a place to get out and walked the board back to the Embarcadero until the fog lifted then I got back in and finished my paddle.” She noted it was her wake-up call to “learn your escape routes and always carry a phone.”

About Day 14 she met another challenge — loading her equipment by herself after a paddle. Once she mastered the tricky maneuver of loading and unloading, she now enjoys helping others.

Bariel, Twist and Tibbetts are regular members of the Tribe, a SUP social group that paddles Thursday mornings from the dock behind The Paddleboard Company. Several paddlers meet up on the bay from various launch points. Twist said, “It started slowly last winter. Many had learned to paddle then purchased boards over the winter. Anyone can come. They don’t have to be in a class or have taken a class from our company. The only criteria is that they must already know how to paddle.”

What’s the next challenge for Bariel? She announced to an amazed Twist she planned to enter the Rock to Pier Paddle. Twist explained, “We paddle along-side the runners who run the beach route. You must be an experienced paddler since we go outside the bay.” She said the paddlers usually get to Cayucos for all the festivities about the time as the runners. For more information and to register at www.leaguelineup.com.


The Paddleboard Company owners, Ken and Sandi Twist met at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She had visited Morro Bay while attending Cal Poly Pomona studying engineering. Visiting her sister university by the bay, she had to wonder why she was in Pomona. “Once I transferred and met my husband it was all history. We have a passion for the sport and we personally love doing it. Paddling Morro Bay is always fun, always challenging, always a new experience — a mystery with constant change — a puzzle to manage. The Paddleboard Company is our way of sharing it.”


The Paddle Board Company is located at 575 Embarcadero in Morro Bay and offers a variety of private or group lessons by certified trainers; scheduled water activities, including fitness programs and Paddleboard Yoga, plus high quality paddleboards for sale, rent or even loan to test out during sessions. www.thepaddleboardcompany.com.

Maybe a New Year’s Resolution? If you live on the Central Coast, why not try paddle boarding with Sandi Twist? Or if you are visiting, make it a must-do on your list while in Morro Bay. Time or age is not an issue!!