From Me & CJ to You: Merry Christmas

Written by Judy Salamacha

December 16, 2021

Photo of CJ Salamacha taken by his favorite trainer and BFF Mike Nelson, owner Second Chance Dog Training

Dearest EBN readers, Gratitude has been on my mind this holiday season. So before 2022 passes by as fast as 2021 is winding down, please, indulge me while I say as, “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU” — along with a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you and my family and friends who have brought joy into my life. Indeed, blessings found targets to touch my heart even during these never-ending years of worldwide pandemic.

A first thank you must go to Dean and Shari Sullivan for investing in the Estero Bay News when we almost lost our community newspaper. As soon as The Bay News announced its last issue, the Sullivans stepped up and announced their intention to continue the “good news” format under the banner, Estero Bay News. Where else do we find in-depth information about our communities written by professional journalists like Neil Farrell and my editor Theresa-Marie Wilson. A note for those who might not know or remember: the Sullivans originally developed The Bay News many years ago and trusted it would be missed by local residents, community groups and business owners. Support was instantaneous. Every other Thursday, we can find community news about Morro Bay, Los Osos, Cayucos and Cambria in printed copies picked up at high traffic locations or online at

Another thank you also goes to Dean and Theresa-Marie (we fondly call her T), for encouraging me to come out of retirement during the early days of the pandemic. My goal was to celebrate the many small businesses “Surving COVID:” Then in 2021 my column morphed into “Moving Forward:” I rediscovered the joy I experience each time I share someone’s untold story. Frankly, I’m over-the-moon-pleased when I discover something new about someone I thought I knew, someone the community knew. It’s like finding buried treasure, suddenly rich with information I can share with my readers. 

Who knew Linna Thomas at Morro Bay’s Coalesce Book Store and Carroll Leslie, owner of Volumes of Pleasure Book Shoppe in Los Osos even open in March 2020 for online purchases with store pick-up and a delivery service? Who knew Patrick Bietz was an Oscar-nominated Hollywood sound editor for several of my all-time favorite movies before he and Suzanne decided to roast and create Rescue Me Coffee plus serve unique menu offerings at Top Dog Coffee Bar? Who knew Jeremiah O’Brien was a top-notch professional snow-ski instructor before he was a fisherman and articulate advocate for the fishing industry? Who knew Casey Kelso, once a county parole officer, doggedly collaborated with neighboring restaurants to serve food outside her corner saloon Legends before she was allowed to stay open? And who knew the Morro Bay White Caps Band was playing pop-up rehearsals at various Morro Bay locations? Or who knew I would spend almost three hours talking dual former careers with Morro Bay High School’s favorite English teacher, Bruce Badrigian, and that wasn’t even the topic for my column? Who knew my fellow Bookshelf Writers would publish together at EBN? So many stories I never would have written or been able to share without EBN to publish them.    

Another thank you is for my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Morro Bay Rotary. In April 2020 businesses were required to provide hand sanitizer for customers if they intended to stay open, but it was impossible to find. Our team of Rotarians received so many smiles and gratitude for delivering the donated decorative bottles of hand sanitizer President Jeff Jones sourced locally to every business in Morro Bay we could find open early in March and April 2020. And, Readers, watch for it this spring! During 2020 our Rotary sold and sailed 500 yellow duckies down the bay when the tide was perfect, but we couldn’t invite the public out to enjoy their yellowness bobbing in clusters to the finish buoy. Also many thanks to the Rotary BBQ crew for cooking up Spencer Market’s yummy Tri-Tip barbecues at Carla’s Kitchen Restaurant to help fund needed community projects.

And flying totally under the radar CEO Erica Crawford, “the little engine that could” continued to do her impossible job throughout COVID-19 to keep the membership alive and active at the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, including bonding regionally and with the Morro Bay city staff and council leadership to help business stay alive and then move forward during these trying times.  If there is anyone that modeled Morro Bay’s theme of “we’re in this together” it is Erica Crawford and the chamber board of directors led by Steve Peck and Tim Cowen in the past two years. Many, many thanks!

This past weekend was the 2021 Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade, which showcased over twenty decorated boats to the applause and awe of close to 10,000 bayside viewers. Kudos go to presenting sponsors Morro Bay Rotary Club and the Morro Bay Harbor Department. When I emailed my congratulations to Morro Bay Rotary President Tim Olivas, he concisely expressed my New Year’s wish for all of us, “Yes, it was a great showing for the Lighted Boat Parade! Good to see some semblance of life returning to semi normal.”  

Even columnists have a mandated word count or I could continue to thank so many more who make a difference in Morro Bay. I hope you all know who you are. Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to 2022, to finding my joy writing your stories.

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