Leaving L.A. passing Santa Monica we headed out to Malibu, sounding exotic, and famous it was a bit of a let down, yes the road was by the ocean, but the ocean was out of sight because of all the beach houses. Being Sunday it was also heavy traffic so we did what we do best…. headed for the hills. After a brief stop at a designer outlet we ‘just happened to be passing’ for lunch, we rejoined the coast road and got occasional glimpses of what everyone raves about. Just as we started getting excited with seeing the ocean, the cars parked at the side of the road changed to huge RVs parked nose to tail, stopping any sightings of water for miles.
The sat nav then started taking us off the freeway and onto weird small roads, then back onto the freeway. After a few of these Amr decided to reset the settings on it and found it was on ‘avoid motorways’, so it was! Eventually we got to Santa Barbara, I had been looking forwards to this as I had read about it a lot. Maybe we were tired, maybe the best bits were hiding from us…. but after driving round it in squares (no circles in the US!) we decided to give up and head for our hotel for the night.
After a leisurely start to the day, we headed off to our first stop, Pismo Beach.
I had read about the Scoop Ice Cream Parlour and it did not disappoint. The lady was just opening up and we said we would come back later, she was in a flurry of activity and determined that we, as her first customers of the day, did not leave empty handed. The ice creams were enormous and every bit as good as promised! After leaving I remembered something about Japanese culture and first customers being important to the success of the day.
The small seaside town was undergoing quite a lot of renovation, particularly to the pier which if I remember rightly had been damaged, either by fire or the seas. It was decidedly chilly and I felt for those trying to get a suntan on the beach.
Next stop was Moro Bay, dominated by a huge rock, apparently named Moro as some guy at the time thought it resembled a Moors turban, (I think he may well have been sampling over much of the local wine at the time!)
After watching the boats, and seals in the harbour the smell of cooking fish was too much for a hungry man to resist.
The remainder of our route, (inland now as Route 1 is closed due to huge mudslides which are still moving and so can not be repaired, a huge disappointment as the road was to have been a highlight of our coastal trip) we passed vineyards and a huge (we think) oilfield.
Today’s route took us up to Carmel, passing through miles and miles of vineyards, and scenery more reminiscent of Tuscany than anything we have seen in USA yet. Then driving south along route 1 to see the Big Sur, reputed to be the most beautiful road in the world. Well, it has beautiful views, pretty roads, beautiful flora and fauna, but THE most beautiful, hmm I can think of a few roads which would challenge that!
Heading back north after a peaceful lunch by the riverside, we stopped in Carmel. What a pretty town. Such unique and varied buildings, a wide white beach, many individual and upmarket, shops and galleries.
Continuing north we stopped at Monteray, more lively, less sedate than Carmel but with a fun feel about the place.
We could hear the seals crying loudly over the bay, caught sight of a few more swimming or sunbathing in the harbour, colourful jellyfish gliding past, and watched the pelicans flying above us.
Making our way a short distance west we checked in at our ‘lodge’ before taking a walk to the beach and enjoyed an evening walk watching the waves crashing and the sun going down.
Amr was too hungry to wait till the sun actually set for me to take some pictures though!
After a hazy start the day got brighter as time passed. We left Monteray and headed north to Santa Cruz. The scenery more fields of agriculture than I have ever seen close to the sea. Acres upon acres of artichokes, and many other things I didn’t recognise, the fields full of workers toiling away. The areas we passed today were natural, unspoilt and beautiful.
Stopping at Santa Cruz, which boasts the oldest funfair rides, we resisted! Walking along the pier we could here seals bellowing and spent ages just watching their antics in the water. At one point, one of them had a fish, the seagulls we’re trying no desperately to steal it from him, as were another couple of sea lions, in the end it looked like daddy sea lion got the fish and none dared to contest him!
The beach was full of volleyball pitches, a source of entertainment for Amr as the girls were playing!
As we continued the scenery became more beautiful, sandy beaches, rocky shores with breaking waves…. the wildflowers so colourful and pretty, this road is growing on me!
We came to a lighthouse at Pigeon Point which was set stunningly among the rocky shores, and colourful fields of wildflowers. The area is famous for migrating whales, sadly we have yet to spot any.
Almost too soon we arrived at our hotel in San Francisco and hit civilisation again. In the hundred miles we had travelled since Santa Cruz we passed no habitation, no commercialisation, to even a coffee shop!