Posts Tagged ‘mission san luis obispo de tolosa’

A giant astronaut lives only yards away from Bambu Batu in the heart of Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.  The Moon Tree, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted as a 55-inch tall seedling just upstream from the Broad Street Bridge near Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on July 30, 1976.

The majestic tree began its life as a seedling stuffed into a cylinder taken on the NASA/USFS mission to the lunar surface in 1971.  As a part of crew member Stuart Roosa’s personal kit, the seeds joined others that were plucked from their earthly homes around the country, and launched into space aboard Apollo 14.  After returning to their home planet, they were donated to the USFS and allowed to germinate.  Most of the seeds bequeathed to the Placerville, CA  and the Gulfport,  MI stations sprouted successfully, and the USFS collected between 420 and 450 saplings from seeds and cuttings after a few years.  They were planted in locations across the US as a part of the nation’s 1976 bicentennial celebration.

Most of the species of trees, predominantly sourced from southern and western parts of the country, were grown alongside normal saplings as a control.  After decades of observation, there have been no recordings of discernible differences between the Moon Trees and their counterparts.  Nevertheless, San Luis Obispo is proud to have a living relic of the space age in the heart of town.


For some of us, clutter counts as decoration.  Surveying my living room at home, it seems that the main culprits of congestion are the stacks of books piled on top of tables, wedged in between couch cushions, and stuffed into shelves.  Normally, this kind of disarray would not be much of a bother, but seeing as a number of the members of my disorganized library have been pored over several times and have been occupying the same space for a couple years, it might be time to sell them back to my local used bookstore.  While I would like to think that getting rid of this heap of paper would clear up some room to move freely along hallways and allow me to actually see the surface of my furniture again, I know that I will just end up replacing one set of reads for another.  Lucky for me that San Luis Obispo has a number of places to fuel my addiction.

Phoenix Books (990 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo)- Walking distance from Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Phoneix Books looks and smells like the way a used bookstore should.  Handmade signs alert you to each topic, and while a majority of the books are organized alphabetically, there are still a number that are piled on the floor without much rhyme or reason next to the ceiling-high shelves.  Lovers of pulp fiction with enjoy their selection of dime novels, fantasy and science fiction. The turnover can be pretty high, so each trip reveals new treasures.

Kreuzberg, CA (685 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo)- Both cafe and used bookstore, Kreuzberg CA is the perfect place to grab a novel and relax with a coffee, beer, or glass of wine.  With a great menu, funky decor, and friendly staff, the place is a comfortable place to study, meet friends, or simply enjoy people watching.  The books are placed randomly amidst the couches stacked in the shelves without too much regard to subject or author.  When hunting for something to flip through, you may find yourself awkwardly leaning over other patrons or digging next to diners trying to enjoy their lunch.  If you are serious in your quest for a book, it might be best to arrive when the cafe is quiet during the mid-morning or early afternoon.

Nan’s Pre-Owned Books (1328 Grand Ave, Grover Beach)- With over 55,000 books Nan’s Pre-Owned Books is bound to have something to strike a bookworm’s fancy.  Specializing in “hard-to-find” paperbacks, Nan’s takes a special interest in collecting classics, war history, philosophy, and self-help literature.  Located off the main drag in Grover Beach, the store is easy to find along the wide streets and strip malls.  Beware of trying to read the frequently updated witty quotes on the store’s display board while driving or trying to park.

With these great stores, you can find a gently loved book to take with you to the beach, gym, or cafe without fear of damaging a new glossy edition.  You can save a tree and a little cash at the same time, and support valuable local businesses.  Go ahead, browse around!  But be careful,  whole afternoons have been known to fly by amidst the stacks of a used bookstore.

Situated on the edge of the San Luis Obispo creek, Bambu Batu has some very interesting neighbors.  We see ducks, hummingbirds, phoebes, butterflies, frogs and finches on a regular basis.  On a good year, we are fortunate enough to witness the return of a celebrity species around these parts, the steelhead trout.

These fish are an Endangered Species, and are protected by the Federal Government.  Through their complex life cycle, the Trout utilize several different types of creek habitat that are currently threatened by development, pollution, and barrier construction.  The fish that live in San Luis Obispo creek are reproductively isolated to their area, which makes them a unique population to their territory.

Steelhead trout are anadromous, meaning that they lay their eggs and begin their lives in freshwater streams and then migrate to the ocean where they live for 1-5 years before heading back to their place of birth to spawn and repeat the cycle.  Females can lay up to 2,000 orange pea-sized eggs that eventually hatch into small “alevins” 6-8 weeks after fertilization by a male.  The alevins feed off of their yolk sack until old enough to swim freely as “fry” and fend on their own for insects and plankton.  Once they reach at least 3 inches long, the small fry graduate and adopt a new name —  either “fingerlings” or “parr” — and display vertical camouflage markings along their sides.  By this point, the fish dine mostly in aquatic and flying insects.

Eventually, something in the trouts’ biology compels them to move out towards the open water.  As “smolts”, they undergo many transformations to make the journey from a freshwater to saltwater ecosystem.  Not much is known about where the fish live after they make their way to the ocean, but studies have noted that smolts tend to gather in shallow waters near the continental shelf during their first year of life.  If they survive predation by larger fish, birds and sea mammals, they migrate towards deeper water where they increase in size.

Once mature, the Steelhead venture back in the spring and summer to their home creeks and rivers, aided in their navigation by what scientists speculate as a combination of magnetic fields, a highly developed sense of smell, and celestial orientation.  On average, a steelhead will live to spawn 2-5 times before dying, unlike salmon who only spawn once.

For a chance to glimpse Steelhead fingerlings in the creek, travel to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and make your way down to the creek.  About 3/4 of the way north of Broad street where Bambu Batu is located, you can spy on the juvenile fish as they grow and prepare to head out to the Pacific!  Let us know how many you have seen!