San Luis Obispo : Fun, Sun and…Gum?
By the time the Founders were signing their names on our Declaration of Independence, San Luis Obispo was already home to Spanish missionaries. Their decision to settle in the area is easy to imagine, due to its temperate weather, beautiful views, and fertile soil. Nestled in a lush valley in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the area which would become San Luis Obispo would have made an obvious choice for these early settlers. The mission they constructed in 1772 is still available for visit by the public in downtown San Luis Obispo.
In 1905, Fred Adophus Dorn, a wealthy lawyer, lost both his son and wife due to complications during childbirth. To honor them, he erected an enormous pyramid-shaped tomb on his property, with the inscription”DISTVRB NOT THE SLEEP OF DEATH.”
Bubblegum Alley is a 70-ft long alley in San Luis Obispo whose walls are completely covered in pieces of chewed bubble gum. Depending on who you ask, Bubblegum Alley is either a historic and fun tradition, or an unsanitary parade of germs. Its origins are mysterious, but the tradition is rumored to have begun as part of a graduation ceremony for local high schoolers. However it began, Bubblegum Alley was well established by the 1970s. The wall was cleaned twice during that decade and survives, as gummy as ever, to this day.
Bishop’s Peak, formely called Bishop Peak, is a 1,559-foot volcanic plug which is very popular with hikers and photographers, due to the picturesque views from its summit. Bishop’s Peak is just one of the “Nine Sisters,” a string of volcanic peaks that support a wide variety of animal and plant life. The peaks formed approximately 21 million years ago when magma welled up to the surface and solidified. Due to their age and magmatic nature, they are of great significance to geologists.
San Luis Obispo has also been host to a very popular weekly farmers market for 30 years. The market, held on five downtown blocks of Higeura Street, takes place on Thursdays and is widely attended. Visitors can shop for fresh produce, sample delicious cuisine, enjoy live music, and browse local shops. SLO is also home to around 30 wineries, most of which are operated using sustainable growing practices.
Founded in 1903, California Polytechnic State University calls San Luis Obispo home. The university is the largest land-holding public university in California, owning 9,678 acres. Roughly 1/3 of that acreage is represented by the Swanton Pacific Ranch, a 3200-acre university-owned ranch that provides hands-on educational opportunities for the university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental sciences. The school also boasts a sister campus, Cal Poly Pomona. Since the 1940’s, the two campuses have collaborated on floats for the Rose Parade. The floats are designed and constructed entirely by students.
When the original mission in San Luis Obispo was constructed, the ‘states’ out East were still colonies. When the Nine Sisters were formed, dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It is a place of old memories and long views. It is a place that holds fun in high esteem. Whether you’re walking the nearby beaches, climbing Bishop’s Peak, exploring the numerous wineries, enjoying live music, or adding your own sticky contribution to Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo is a city that lives for fun!
Leif Arne Storset – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Cerro_San_Luis.JPG