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!!














Merry Christmas Len & Midge: Keep Sailing on Morro Bay


Living the dream is not the same as living on easy street. Just ask Chef Leonard and Midge Gentieu, owners of Morro Bay’s luxury dinner cruise yacht, the Papagallo II. “From ten-years-old I wanted a boat. We were seven kids and couldn’t afford a rowboat. My dad said if I didn’t drink or smoke until I was 18 he’d buy me a boat. I didn’t, but he died when I was 14.”

Gentieu’s other dream to become a chef was not favored by his father. “But he gave me words I always try to live by whatever I do in life – he said ‘If you want to be a cook then be a cook, but be the best cook.’”


Documented in his autobiography Chasing the Heat 50 Years & a Million Meals, Gentieu graduated with honors from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in an era when you had to earn your stripes as a chef. He literally earned those stripes while serving two three-star generals in the U.S. Army. During his career, he has also owned and operated five restaurants and has been an executive chef for restaurants, resorts and clubs throughout California.

He models “the guy that does the work gets the knowledge” and believes the restaurant business was his perfect apprenticeship to survive and thrive for ten years navigating guests circumventing Morro Bay. Then there are the times he must travel outside the bay for regular U.S. Coast Guard and Morro Bay Harbor Patrol requirements.


At age 56, Gentieu found his “boat” while working as executive chef at Linn’s Restaurant in Cambria.  During time away from the kitchen, he’d park dockside in Morro Bay and plan – or dream – about his future business. “I’m a fan of motivational books like Zig Zigler’s. I’d see my yacht docked instead of three fishing boats. I started saving. Midge and I would plan travel around checking out yachts for sale. When I found the Papagallo, the broker asked me what I was moving up from. He was not impressed when I said a kayak, but the owner Ernie Gabiati, the founder of Gallo Salame, liked that I wouldn’t change the name and we wanted to offer quality entertainment on board. Midge was not too excited, but sometimes you have to believe and take that calculated risk.”

Once sailing their new yacht on San Francisco Bay Midge said, “I could get used to this,” but the 19-hour cruise to Morro Bay made them question their sanity.images

Along with several other chapters of challenges and successes, their first cruise home to Morro Bay is one of 24 “day(s) from hell” chapters he recounts in his debut book – readable as if audible with him standing behind his fully stocked bar serving a favorite Central Coast wine and musing about the life and times of Chef Leonard Gentieu, a life well lived.

What’s next? Gentieu is visualizing a B&B yacht with several berths offering the good life with cuisine on deck viewing another somewhere along the Pacific Coast.

Meanwhile, small group charters are available on the Papagallo II.  Contact www.onboardnauticalevents.com or call (805) 771-9916. You’ll enjoy booking with Midge and cruising with the Gentieus.


Editor’s Note: That being me!! If you haven’t travel with Len and Midge, you are missing a treat. Cruising Morro Bay, hearing a Chef Len tale — not tall tale, but adventures with Chef Len — is worth traveling to Morro Bay, CA. And besides, he and Midge are good people, good neighbors and active citizens making a difference in their community.

Thanks for your ideas, insight and support of the newly opened Morro Bay Maritime Museum — located at 1210 Embarcadero almost directly across the bay boulevard from where the Papagallo II is docked.

This is reprinted from the San Luis Obispo By the Bay Monday column featuring people and activities of Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos, CA in San Luis Obispo County along the Pacific Ocean Coastline written for years by Judy Salamacha.



AAUW Garden Tour Sends Girls to Explore Science Careers

TechTrek2017From left to
Theona Hadjiyane, Reagen Garcia, Leona Moylan, Fiona Stevens, Claire Haslett, and Anika Velasquez.
Note: This was the 2017 class of AAUW Tech Trek Summer Camp Teens. i post now because the Central Coast members of AAUW (American Association of University Women) will be looking for gardens to showcase in the spring to earn the funds to send future Teens to Camp. This was published in The Bay News, Morro Bay and Coast News, South County, San Luis Obispo and archived at https://www.simplyclearmarketing.com

It is never too late – or too early — to invest in our youth. For example, annually the Morro Bay-based American Association of University Women (AAUW) produces a Garden Tour. For a mere $15 ticket five home owners in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos open their uniquely designed gardens offering tips for planting, pruning and general landscaping.

The event takes place on a Sunday typically in April. It is self-guided gleaning gardening tips and ideas knowing your investment has helped invest in the future of young women entering eight grade. Proceeds help fund scholarships to attend Tech Trek, a week-long immersion summer camp focused on science, technology, engineering and math at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The program, developed in 1998 by California AAUW member Mary Wolback, has consistently proven to open future goals and dreams  inspiring students with possibilities never considered possible. It is documented Tech Trek alumnae surpass the national average in most advanced math and science courses.

During the summer of 2017, four young women from Los Osos Middle School, Leona Moylan, Fiona Stevens, Claire Haslett and Anika Velasquez passed an extensive qualification process that included an application, an essay, and a personal interview.  Additionally, AAUW coordinated attendance at camp for Theona Hadjiyane and Reagan Garcia funded by the Cayucos Lioness Club. The young scientists’ interests ranged from the search for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes to renewable energy sources and filtration systems to provide potable drinking water.

Notes of appreciation and a presentation at a Fall AAUW general meeting followed their Tech Trek Camp experience. After six months into their final year at middle school I asked the question, “Did summer camp continue to influence your education – and goals for your potential future careers?”

Theona Hadjiyane explained, “I have done a little better in my math and science classes since attending Tech Trek…my attitude has not changed because I have always liked learning new things in school and I will always want to be a teacher. Camp reinforced my plans for the future and reminded me of the great things I will do.”

“The highlight of camp for me was definitely the social aspect,” Anika Velasquez said. “There were so many girls and they were all wonderful people. I remember one night in our dorm all of our girls gathered around my roommate’s bed and I did impressions for them. The smiles on these amazingly intelligent girls’ faces and hearing them laughing was the best part of my trip.” Anika also enjoyed the boat trip. “It’s awesome that we get to experience something that is specific to our area and a big part of the Central Coast.”

”I enjoy math very much,” added Reagan Garcia, “but if it hadn’t been for my math teacher, I probably wouldn’t have ever even known what Tech Trek was.  After hearing about the camp, I decided to apply because I knew I wanted to go to college and wanted to find inspiration from other women who are in STEM careers.”

“The biggest surprise was that all the girls there had huge dreams and were all ready to chase them!” said Claire Haslett. “My dreams to become an endocrinologist have become more real. I absolutely love math and science, but this camp taught me to love it even more. My dreams for medical school will come true!”

Fiona Stevens first heard about Tech Trek from her older sister, Natalie, who constantly “…talked about (it) for two months.” Fiona was interested in STEM courses. Aerospace Engineering was her favorite. “We spent hours each day learning and doing fun activities, like making hot air balloons, rockets out of liter bottles, and making paper airplanes…definitely the best part of my core class was learning about rockets…no lift, a little bit of drag, weight is going down, and thrust is going up.” She determined, “I have always enjoyed attending school, but I never really thought about my future career until Tech Trek. I was introduced to many inspiring women who have careers in science and math, that have pushed me to believe in myself and have directed me towards some future careers, like being a Biomedical Engineer, or an Electrical Engineer.”

Anika has applied everything she learned and improved her study habits. She summed it up for all involved. “Tech Trek taught me that even though I am a girl, I can achieve anything I set my mind to, which helped reinforce my plans for college and life’s career by planning out high school, and getting me involved in my interests, such as space, medicine, and the ocean.”

Indeed, worth a $15 investment enjoying a Sunday afternoon Central Coast Garden Party. Tickets are available after April 1 each year at Volumes of Pleasure Bookstore, Coalesce Bookstore, and Farm Supply in San Luis Obispo or from any AAUW Morro Bay Branch member. Missed it this year? Check it out next April. Of course, want to invest more to help a girl find her career at Tech Trek? You can also underwrite the cost of a girl to attend camp so AAUW can send a larger class to Santa Barbara from the Central Coast. For more information, https://www.morrobayaauw.org.













Trading One Paradise for Another

What drives folks to move to the Central Coast? The slower, but active lifestyle? The Mediterranean climate? The ease of making friends in a smaller community where one can make an impact by just getting involved? Living near the beach for many means living in paradise, so what would make one trade it away?

ChablisMorroBayViewRick and Claire Grantham say they will miss Morro Bay, but they have decided to exchange one paradise for another – Paulsbo, Washington. “We found a little piece of heaven,” said Rick as he pulled out the pictures of their new dream home. He was particularly impressed with the mini-theater room perfect for watching movies with the grandkids. Indeed, being closer to their son, Greg, and daughter, Jennie, was the motivator to plan a move in January. While their current view is the Pacific Ocean, he concluded, “Our view will be the Hood Canal.” He pointed to a picture he caught of submarines sailing by with a Navy escort.

1980-01-01 SSN + AVALON DSRV 001

Not this submarine which is actually featured in the new interpretive center for the Morro Bay Maritime Museum, but Rick spied an escort!!

Recovering from a second back surgery, Claire explained since she retired in 2015 they’ve had wonderful times traveling to various places in the United States in their motorhome, but this past year was tough. They lost close family members and had personal health issues. “During one of our visits with son Greg, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Mom, I’ll always take care of you.’ That’s when Rick and I got serious and realized we wanted to live closer to children and grandchildren.” They have another son in Oceanside, but knew they could enjoy motorhome visits south to Morro Bay, Oceanside and, of course, occasional — maybe even regular — L.A. Rams games.

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Rick in his RAM Room. He’s been attending and saving RAM collectibles since the team began. When they returned to LA he was first to purchase season

In 1992 the Granthams were newlyweds when Rick accepted a Senior Medical Tech position at the California Men’s Colony (CMC). They were relocated from Southern California to San Luis Obispo. Claire was hired as Nursing Director for a new rehabilitation unit at Sierra Vista where she ultimately would lead the hospital’s Infectious Prevention program for seventeen years. Rick would enjoy volunteerism and community service after he retired from CMC in 1995.

When they settled into Morro Bay, they didn’t know a soul, but by getting involved each have made lifelong friends. And since they’ve done it once before, getting involved in Paulsbo community life is their plan. They know their kids are excited they are moving closer, but also know they will be busy with their own lives.

Claire says the friends she’ll miss are like a patchwork quilt coming from a variety of activities they have been involved in. She served on the SLO County Community Health Commission and Emergency Medical Corps, but it was a quilting class taught by Becky Rogers at The Cotton Ball that linked her with many of the friends she still enjoys today. “I will miss my friends, warm weather, and the only home we’ve shared as a couple,” she said. “But we still have our water view and a mountain view of Mount Olympus.”

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Greg was a Sophomore at Morro Bay High School when they first moved. He played several sports so they volunteered to work shifts at the snack-bar where they met a different set of friends. Although they actively participated together forming the Morro Bay Police Volunteers, Rick credits Claire for most of the organizing especially when former Chief Joe Loven retired and dubbed the Granthams as the new leaders for the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner. They built a crew that cooked and served the dinner – some joining them annually for the fourteen years they chaired the event with annual support from Carla Wixom.

They would open their home for events like Caroling Cops and several Morro Bay Rotary functions. Rick was president of Morro Bay Rotary 2002-2003, but always remained active and intends to join a club in Washington. They also shared interests in San Luis Obispo County Veterans Outreach and Combat Services – he as a Vietnam Veteran and she from her healthcare interests.

Claire loved her job at Sierra Vista. It allowed her to get out into the community giving flu shots and providing information about preventable diseases. But she also became a sought-after friend, a medical advocate, for many as issues that would trigger questions and hospital visits.

Rick stated his “biggest honor” was serving on the Morro Bay City Council. “I would check in every day with every department and developed great relationships.” He was proud the Harbor Walk and the Morro Bay Blvd. Traffic Circle were completed during his two terms.

And not only because Washington is where his kids grew up, but Rick also recalls his first exposure to Washington was in Kingston, which is nearby Paulsbo. He was stationed there as a military medic. “It was a small town with only about 100 in our unit. In a way, it feels like we are moving back home.”

Thanks, Rick and Claire, for your military, law enforcement, government, community and career nursing services. Morro Bay will miss you, too.


Thank You Thank You Thank You: Central Coast Honor Flight Says It For Us!

Image 12-12-18 at 10.21 AMMajor Jim Murphy of Los Osos retired from the United States Marine Corp after 20 years of service, including tours in Korea and Vietnam. He’d visited Veteran’s memorials in Washington, D.C. several times before, but last June his 3-day tour with 49 other Honor Flight Central Coast California Veterans and Guardians was different. In his never-hold-back style, he remarked to members of a sponsoring group, the Rotary Club of Morro Bay, “Any Veteran who doesn’t sign-up and go is a darn fool.”

Tony Weizneiwski of Cayucos served in Japan with the 97th Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery during World War II. He met his new friend “Murph” on the same June tour and agreed. “It was very emotional,” he said. “Everywhere we went there were people of all ages thanking us.”

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Honor Flight board member Janice House explained, “Our heroes are transported to D.C. three times a year – two in the fall and one in the spring. We want to make sure every Veteran has the chance to visit their memorial. Top priority is given to the senior Veterans, World War II survivors, and other Veterans who may be suffering from a terminal illness.”

The first Honor Flight took place in May, 2005 with six small planes taking twelve World War II Veterans from Springfield, OH to Washington. The list quickly mushroomed to warrant expanding to commercial airlines. American Airlines stepped up as corporate sponsor and community partners donated to make the trips happen for more Veterans. The founding organization, Honor Flight Network, approved a Central Coast California regional hub to serve San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. The first flight took off May 13, 2014.

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House added, “We’re scheduling Korean War and WWII Veterans now. But it is important for everyone to get on the list. Things happen with schedules — why a Veteran might not be able to attend so we’ll call someone else on the list to take their place.”

“My most vivid memories will be greetings everywhere we landed,” said Murphy. “There were cheers, flags, thank you signs, and sincere, interested questions by children and their teachers. Two monuments stood out for me this time – the Navy monument and Fort McHenry in Baltimore. My guardian — although I didn’t need one — was my red-headed daughter, Molly. Coming home I’ll treasure the coin Under-Sheriff Tim Olivas gave each of us when we landed at the San Luis Obispo Airport about 10:30 p.m.“

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Weizneiwski’s guardian was his brother. “I was most impressed with the Korean Wall that had fresh flowers on display every day. They were brought by Korean-Americans living in the DC area.” It is notable that his younger brother by 15 years served in Korea and Weizneiwski still brings his wife flowers from his garden daily.

Honor Flight requires a guardian accompany the Veteran and they don’t have to be family. House explained, “They need to sign-up, time flexibility helps, be in good health — and strong enough to push the Veteran in a wheelchair. We do a lot of walking. The guardians pay their own way of $1,500. The Veterans are fully funded.”

Morro Bay Rotarian Jack Keely encouraged others to also become guardians. His fondest memory was meeting with a school group. “The teacher introduced us by saying to her class ‘Meet the people who saved the world.’”

The group always stays together as a unit. There is a meet-up lunch before the tour and after realizing the bonding that is created during the trip, a post-reunion was added to the festivities hosted by Tolo Winery of Paso Robles.  Both Murphy and Weizneiwski were particularly stunned by the water-bridge created by the fire department as the plane went airborne.

Murphy said, “First we went to Arlington to pay respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After his duty, the soldier came over and told us about his responsibilities.” Fort McHenry was also memorable. “They played our National Anthem inspired there by Francis Scott Key (Battle of Baltimore, War of 1812). As it played a curtain opened to view Fort McHenry across the bay.”

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The Veteran duo agreed their time together allowed them a chance to reminisce the past while building new friendships with similar life experiences. Why it was asked does it seem PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) happens to younger Veterans.

Murphy answered, “I have taught servicemen all the ‘dirty tricks’ of war and I’ve been told by younger men what I taught them saved their lives. I was never spit upon when I returned home. I was offered the chance to transition back into regular society.”

On a lighter note, he directed the conversation back to the benefits of Honor Flight. “You’re crazy not to go. You always get prime parking! People of all ages offer you a thank you for your service and all I had to buy was the drinks I ordered from a bar.”

Mother-Daughter Passion for Beekeeping

Published in Then & Now Column http://www.simpleclearmarketing.com Image 3-13-18 at 5.46 PM

Ten years ago Haven Honey began as a hobby for Doris Diel and her daughter, Sandra Hansen. After retiring from a nursing career, Doris became concerned about the sustainability of honeybees. She’d read about the threats to their habitat and realized the loss of the honeybee would be a worldwide disaster. For example, a 2014 report on MSNBC stated that “…honeybees pollinate 70 of 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world, thus, responsible for $30 billion a year in crops. We may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, all of the animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain.”


Diel decided to help and ordered the appropriate beekeeping equipment. “When my mom ordered her first hive, she invited me to come over, suit up and do a hive inspection with her,” said Sandra. “I remember how intense it was that first time, being surrounded by the energy and hum of the bees swirling all around me.  It was completely fascinating and I was instantly hooked!  From then on we tended the bees together and eventually I put hives in my yard as well.”


They read books, internet news, blogs, and attended workshops to deepen their understanding of the challenges honeybees face – particularly imbibing sprayed pesticides on crops the honeybees pollinate and an Asian mite that attaches itself to the bees. “We’ve embraced a philosophy of beekeeping that we hope will help our bees naturally overcome some of these challenges,” said Sandra, who lives in Morro Bay. Diel lives on five acres in Atascadero. They manage hives on properties throughout the county including Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, Cayucos, and Morro Bay. However, both admit they are still working to turn their passionate hobby into profitable business.


Branching into presentations about beekeeping to area groups, they recently spoke to the Morro Bay Rotary Club explaining the intricate, communal life of the honeybees. Hives have about 50,000 bees with Queen who directs all activities. Female worker bees make up most of the population and are responsible for almost everything. They gather nectar, guard the hive and honey, care for the young brood bees, etc. The male drone bees mate with the queen, which ends their life cycle.


Sandra explained, “In beekeeping there are many days that you don’t do anything other than enjoy watching them go about their business.  In the Spring, when the Queen is laying a lot and building up the hive population for the coming nectar flows, the most important job for a beekeeper is making sure the bees have enough room so they don’t swarm.  This means checking all the hives and adding super boxes if necessary.  A super box is just another box of frames stacked on top. It’s like adding a story to an apartment.  It also can be time to do the first honey harvest depending how much surplus honey is stored.  Spring and summer are the busy seasons. And then in the late fall you do the opposite, making sure the bees are packed enough to stay warm and therefore you remove boxes. In the winter, you mostly just leave them alone because they do not like to be opened up in cool weather.”


Yes, bee stings come with the job even when they wear all the safety equipment, but they have built up a tolerance. In fact, they will protect others when bothered by bee swarms. The best scenario is if the swarm is on a lower branch. They can lure the orb of buzzing bees with sugar water into a box held directly under the swarm by yanking the branch so the swarm will lurch into the box. Success, however, depends on getting the Queen so the rest of the bees follow,


Both agree the hardest part of beekeeping is losing a hive. Sometimes there is no apparent reason for losing a hive that was once thriving then suddenly dies. Sometimes they just move on. Other times it is mites or ants that overtake a hive. “It is amazing how attached you can become to these little insects,” said Sandra.


Research and testimony from locals confirm raw honey sourced from the area the honeybees gather the nectar combats allergies. As stated on their website www.havenhoney.com, “Our honey is raw to preserve all of the enzymes, and minimally filtered to ensure it contains beneficial pollens. It’s also delicious…straight from the hive!” Currently they are so small they typically sell out of honey within a few days of harvesting. It’s best to watch their Facebook for notices and act quickly. If a stronger harvest Doris will take her half of the honey up to the General Store. They also offer several beeswax products.


It was difficult for Sandra to identify what she liked best about beekeeping. “I think the endless opportunities for learning — the awe and wonder at these miraculous little creatures and the essential work they do.  They inspire a profound sense of interconnectedness.”  She loves sharing her time and hobby with her mom…and then there is the delicious honey. “There is nothing like harvest day and enjoying a taste of honey right from the comb!”