San Luis Obispo

CONTENT WARNING: Amorphous, overextended analogy; weekend-warrior worrying; culture wars

All weekend I debated whether I could live here. On the one hand, I’ve been in love with the place since the first time I saw it. It’s a playpen, like a mountain town without winter (which I don’t like anyway). The street signs are in an idiotic font. Downtown, I saw a sauntering policeman pause on the spotless sidewalk to converse with the owner of a toy store, and when asked, “How’s it going?”, he thew his arms out in an expansive gesture of contentment and announced, “I can’t complain!” I mean, Jesus.


But SLO is, in the end, Southern California—a point I was forced to concede after contesting it all the way down [the] 101. My argument was already straining under the sheer tonnage of eyeliner observed on ponytailed joggers when it collapsed completely in the parking lot of Morro Bay State Park. “Ew,” said a girl displeased with the generous cut of her own tank top, “I look like a hippie.” “That’s ok,” replied her Ken Doll rope-gun as he donned bro-shades and trad rack. “Um,” she countered, “no, it’s not.” And then they set off for the crag in matching Rainbows, leaving me to make fun of this confused bird, instead.

The climbing, too, was sort of absurd. Cabrillo could hardly be more idiot-friendly if the locals installed escalators—which was totally perfect for me because, as I remembered while failing to finish 5.8s on top-rope (…), I am Not A Climber.

  • Rock Land: Kermit Crack (THERE WERE ACTUALLY FROGS IN THIS!), Chimney Crack, Tan Streak, Secret of Foo (not divulged to me, alas)
  • Park Ridge Rock: Tips Ahoy, Red Dawn, Crespi Critter, The Slot
  • El Dorado: Black Gold favorite), Nuggets (haha, nope)

I cannot determine if my horror at the prospect of the sharp end of the rope is innate and irreconcilable or merely a failure of imagination. It exists, I suppose, in the same borderlands as SLO—which itself, before it was either half of California, was Mexico, was Spain, was Chumash in canoes on miles more of that estuary than we see now, singing songs we don’t know and fishing at dawn.

But anyway: