Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Planning

The Piedras Blancas Light Station is open for daily tours during the summer.  Meet at the former Piedras Blancas Motel, which is about 1 1/2 mile north of the station itself at 9:45 a.m..  Guides will then lead the car caravan of visitors to the station for a guided tour.  The tour is about 2 hours and involves an easy and beautiful 1/2 mile stroll along the newly laid out trails.  Tours cost $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17, kids under 5 free.  

The last time I was there, they had just started work on restoration.  All around the lighthouse as far as the eye could see was ice plant, and volunteers were just starting the process of removing all gazillion tons of it.  The task seemed as futile as handing someone a teaspoon and telling them to empty the ocean.  But one should never doubt Weed Warriors with teaspoons since as you can see from the lovely flowers in the photos here, the volunteers did the impossible.  The habitat is now restored as far as the eye can see with native plants and is now filled with little critters of all sorts.  

The tower itself is now in the process of restoration.  Built of brick, for years, it was traditionally whitewashed, an astonishingly difficult and time consuming job, considering its size.  Then the Navy figured they'd save some time and painted it with oil-based paint which contained lead and had the unfortunate side effect of not allowing the brick to breathe which lead to moisture being trapped in the brick with bad consequences for both brick and mortar.  The folks in charge of restoration are now in the process of figuring out (and fund raising) to get the best method to getting the old paint off the tower. 

While the stairs to the top of the tower are block off, the view from inside looking up is still dizzying.

If you haven't been out to Piedras Plancas, now's the time to plan to head out there.  Flowers are all in bloom, there's still some elephant seals lazing about on the sheltered coves and there's plenty of sea lions perched and barking on the white rocks.

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After touring Piedras Blancas, make a reservation to get down to Santa Maria for the PCPA's production of "Hairspray," which will be playing through July 2 at the Marian Theatre (800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria., 922-8313) They've mounted a splendid, sharply comical, highly energized and sweetly funny production of the musical that's simply terriffic.  

Bree Murphy, who regularly appears at the Melodrama Theatre, leads an outstanding cast.  PCPA always does an amazing job.  It's one of the theatre jewels of the central coast.  

Speaking of jewels, the Palm Theatre is now playing  Woody Allen's film, "Midnight in Paris."  It's a Woody Allen film for people who hate Woody Allen.  He isn't in this one.  Instead, his persona is being sweetly played by an age-appropriate Owen Wilson.  And, unlike so many Woody films, in this movie, the Woody Allen Character actually learns something and changes thereby instead of just kvetching and twitching and doing schtick until you want to reach into the screen and slap him silly. The film is witty, the whole premise very clever (brush up on your early 20th century artists and writers to catch all the sly references), and Paris never looked more beautiful. 

And if you get lucky, you may still be able to gallop down to the PAC box office by noon to get tickets to the last two performances of "Choirs on Fire," the California International Choral Festival & Competition. The Choirs Choice Competition starts a 1 pm. today at the PAC, with the Grand Finale & Awards tonight at 8 pm. which ends with ALL the choirs plus the Mira Costa Choir and the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble joining in for one grand finale. 

The festival started Friday and is an event organized by Gary Lamprecht ( who directs our own Vocal Arts Ensemble) and about a bazillion volunteers and sponsors, that brings international choirs from all over the world for this competition.  And we're the benficiciaries of their efforts. If you're not on the Vocal Arts mailing list, go to www. and sign up so when the festival comes again in a couple of years, you'll be ready.      

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