Has it really been 5 days? I hope you're all keeping well, and the early end of the British Summer hasn't cone as too much of a disappointment.
On leaving LA I started pottering along the Pacific Coast Highway. Malibu was pretty but quite dull, but Santa Barbara was a bit more fun, and I hit the pier and then worked on my tan beneath the fog (which was only on the beach, not out at sea or inland at all).
I followed that up with a visit to the restored mission buildings of La Purisima outside Lompoc which was well staffed by re-enactors pretending to be Spanish priests and Indian peasants. I kept on the PCH stopping for brief walks at Point Sal and Pismo Sand Banks State Parks before stopping with Dawn and Charlie in Morro Bay. We took a trip to the brilliant Hearst Castle. First up was a stroll along the cliffs above beaches carpeted with swathes of Elephant Seals, honking and jostling for the comfiest position on the beach. Back down the road, Hearst Castle was plonked on top of a hill with great panoramic views. It hosted many silent movie stars of the early 1900s whilst Hearst added to it with bits of statuary acquired from across Europe. What's left is a slightly odd collection of Mediterranean influenced buildings, all lavishly decorated, amidst extensive grounds. Sadly there was no sign of the Zebras which still roam the hillside after the dissolution of the private zoo.
The afternoon was spent wandering amongst some amazing classic American cars, original and custom spec. Mustangs, Cadillacs, Model-Ts, Thunderbirds, Corvettes, GT40s and more. A dazzling array of chrome.
For dinner we headed to a Luau for roast pig and hula dancing. The best advice I received from one of the other attendees? Invest in gold, guns and bullets. I have yet to take this action.
After a hike around the Montana de Oro park this morning I set off for Monterey. Due to some landslips I was forced off the PCH onto the inland 101. However, the detour took me back to the PCH through a military area (think Salisbury Plains) then on some excellent driving road, twisting and turning on narrow tarmac up and down the hillsides, before descending back to the Pacific. Back on the road of choice there were some great panoramic lookouts, where I watched the reflections of clouds on the sea, and time for a hike of Point Lobos Coastal park before hitting the hotel.
Hopefully whale-watching and aquariumming (I think I've just invented a word) tomorrow.