The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes area is a little-traveled patch of California that Huell Howser loved and "Wow-ed!" about. The PBS TV host visited the 18-mile coastal stretch from Pismo Beach to Point Sal several times, filmed it for his "California's Golden Coast" series and helped campaign for a museum on the site.
The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center in Guadalupe became a reality in 1999, and now the center will pay tribute to one of its biggest fans with a memorial hike on Feb. 9. Howser, 67, died of prostate cancer Jan. 7.
"He organized fundraisers and gave some speeches," Lindsey Whitaker, education and administrative coordinator for the Dunes Center, said Tuesday. "We organized a member hike when he came to visit, so this will be a kind of flashback."
The center, a nonprofit organization that educates people about rare coastal dune habitat, sponsors the hike starting at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at Oso Flaco Lake Road in Nipomo off of California Highway 1 ($5 for parking).
Participants are encouraged to share stories about Howser on the three-mile hike along a boardwalk at Oso Flaco Lake near the coast. The hike, which will last about two hours, is free to the public; a $2 donation to the center is suggested.
Howser isn't the area's only connection to Hollywood. It's worth stopping at the center to see bits and pieces from what's called the Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille. In 1923, after the filmmaker made "The Ten Commandments" here, the set was buried in the sand. Now unearthed artifacts such as a Pharaoh's arm and a lion head are on display along with information about the dunes' role in the classic film.
Contact: Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes Center, (805) 343-2455