Californian Road Trip, Highway 1, 10th - 16th June 2010
We had just over a week between San Francisco and our stay in San Diego, so we decided to hire a car for a week and have a little road trip. :) Highway 1 is probably the most scenic road in America as it hugs the Californian coastline from San Francisco all the way down to LA.
They say if you can drive in San Francisco you can drive anywhere. It is insane! Every other street is one way so you quite often you to drive round in circles turning randomly until you can get on the block you want and in the right direction. This takes so much calculating / pot luck that I think they must send world championship rubix cube contestants here for real life brain training! Lol. There's also the issue of when going downhill, more often than not you can't actually see the road in front of you, as it's so steep you can't see it until you're on it. We were going down one road whilst trying to find Lombard Street, I drove over the edge and just slammed on the brakes as even with leaning forward over the steering wheel I still couldn't see the road! We just laughed the whole way round, figured it was a hire car and we had full cover if / when anything happened to it.
So after picking up our 'sub compact' car which they nicely upgraded to a Dodge Calibur - oh yeah, we headed straight for Lombard Street in San Francisco. You may not recognise the name, but I'm sure you will recognise it when you see the pictures. It's famous for having a steep, one-block section that consists of tight hairpin turns. It's actually really easy to drive it, and thankfully when we got to the bottom we didn't have the chore of walking back up to the top! :)
Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Next stop was Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a couple of hours south of San Francisco. It's a working Lighthouse and the keeper's cottage has been turned into a hostel - very unusual. :) As I'm sure you can imagine being at a Lighthouse there is absolutely nothing around, cross that with the fact that we got there an hour before check-in, and that we were both very hungry and that will explain our lunch. We brought some food with us from the last hostel but with no cutlery there wasn't a lot we could eat except for a very dry bagel (not even a bit of butter in sight) followed by a boiled egg each. Yep - bland, slightly nutritious, and hopefully never to be repeated again!
Life at the Lighthouse was very simple yet comfy and both of us realised how much everyday life depends on technology that you don't actually need. That's coming from someone who works, lives and breathes technology, but it really made us appreciate the slower pace of life. They had the comfiest beds, hot showers, a really good but basic kitchen and a living room with a Piano. There was no TV or radio, our phones couldn't pick up a signal, and there was very basic and sporadic Wifi via Satellite, so we didn't bother with that much either. It was so peaceful, and we went to sleep every night listening to the waves. Hostels are typically very friendly places as everyone's travelling around, whether locals getting away for a few days or someone on a round the world trip like us. The living room had big sofas and as there was no TV it forced people to be even more social than normal. The first night we were there the whole house was talking to each other. There was a mum and daughter there and the daughter was playing on the Piano. We also got chatting to a couple from San Francisco and she recommended we look at a place called Surf Divas which we're gonna check out when we're in San Diego. :)
One thing the hostel did have that can only be described as an absolute luxury was an outdoor hot tub overlooking the Pacific Ocean!!! We managed to book the sunset slot and it was absolute bliss. It was freezing when we first got there, but the water was so hot we soon forgot about it. It was just like getting into a hot bath when it burns at first, but it wasn't long before the two of us were floating around the tub. We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves that there we were in one of the most romantic settings, watching the sunset, and just pissing ourselves laughing that we were like a married couple!
We stayed here for a few nights throughout our road trip - 2 on the way down and the night on the way back before we had to drop the car back in San Francisco.
One night we got chatting to some Research Scientists who came down from San Francisco for the weekend, and so we thought we would ask them the meaning of some of the still baffling road rules. First there are the people going through red lights, they laughed and said it's because you can turn right even on a red if there are no pedestrians crossing. Excellent - one mystery cleared up. Secondly when at a cross road (I've only seen 1 round about over here, they have cross roads everywhere instead) do you give way to your right or your left? They said you're supposed to give way to your right, but actually you just go when you want to. Ok, that kind of explains things, and our philosophy of flooring and holding on for dear life whenever at a cross road seemed to be proved right. Our third and final question was what on earth does "Xing" mean? We'd seen this everywhere like "Yield to Xing" we wondered if they'd started writing their signs in a different language?! It took them a while and then they nearly pissed themselves laughing whilst announcing it meant "crossing"! Seriously, where is the hyphen "X-ing" I can't tell you how confused that's had us over the past 6 weeks!
About 30 mins south of Pigeon Point was Santa Cruz. We came here to watch England vs USA in the World Cup. As anyone who knows me would testify, I am not a football kinda gal. Rugby more so, but let's face it, it's never going to be for the actual sport! ;) However as England were playing the USA we thought we would find a pub to watch it in, to support our boys and allow us to sufficiently gloat when we smashed the Yanks 10 - 0.Well, what an absolute disgrace! As my Dad said, could you imagine if we'd played them at American Football, we would have been annihilated. After the game was over the TV was showing all the Americans going mental because they managed to draw with us. As far as I'm concerned if they can't beat the USA they might as well get on the bus and go home now. I shall also be boycotting every game from now on in the rest of the World Cup (that's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it - one game is more than enough for me!) Anyway, hope you enjoyed that little rant cos that's the longest I have and ever will talk about football in my life. :)
So after the abysmal game we thought we'd hit the beach to do some serious sunbathing. We actually only managed an hour as it was so hot, so we went for a walk along the boardwalk and found an ice cream stand. They have a different variation of our 99, and rather than put a chocolate flake in it, they turn the mr whippy ice cream upside down and dip it into chocolate ice magic which starts setting as soon as it comes out - Awesome! I managed to get myself into quite a mess as it was dripping everywhere, and thankfully the photos will not be making an appearance! :)
We left Pigeon point to continue our road trip and we headed down to a pretty little seaside town called Monterey. It had a massive beach which swept around the bay, and we chilled on the beach for a bit before heading down to Carmel. The smell of BBQ was overwhelming as it was the weekend and the beaches here are set up with picnic benches, and BBQ areas for everyone to use, so there were lots of people having birthday parties and chilled out Sunday afternoons.
Carmel is a beautiful little seaside town with white sandy beaches, turquoise blue water, boutique shops and a quaint high street full of very expensive shops. It was nice to stop off to grab a coffee and do some sunbathing (although getting changed into our bikinis in the back of car was quite an event). However, it's more for the older person with a lot of money, rather than us two. The shops did make us laugh though, and as I've always said 'money does not buy style', and if you'd seen some of the "fashion" on sale here you would definitely agree. They were also hosting the US Open, so was full of the 'special' Golf types walking around with an even worse fashion sense than the local residents! PMSL.
Big Sur National Park
We decided to stay in San Luis Obispo which was about 100 miles away, most of which was the Big Sur National Park. This is still on Highway 1 and it took us through a red wood forest and through the National Park.
The biggest problem was that we didn't set off until mid afternoon when a fog started creeping in over Carmel and by the time we got to the Big Sur it was a really thick fog. This fog went on for over 100 miles and we couldn't see further than 40 ft. That meant no sea (we could hear it, we just couldn't see it) and hardly any scenery, just like being in a giant cloud.
We also started to get a bit travel sick as the road winds back and forth along the coastline and we were going up and down, up and down, left and right, left and right, up and down. Mix that with not being able to see anything and you can understand why we felt sick. Even the bits that could have been straight had curves in it. There were also no radio stations out that far and our 2 CDs we had wouldn't work in a car stereo so we started playing eye spy. "Eye spy with my little eye something beginning with F." For some unknown reason we decided to stop playing the game as the only options seemed to be road, car and fog.
We decided to break the boredom with our picnic dinner, and we parked up at what would have been a beautiful vista point had we not of course been sat in a cloud. Dinner consisted of half a tuna sandwich each, some flatbread crackers and a yoghurt. As a lot of you know I have a highly over active imagination which is only made worse when thinking of serial killers, so sitting in this isolated location with the wind making strange noises did nothing for my sense of well being, and we quickly left :)
San Luis Obispo
We found a place to stay in San Luis Obispo which is a gorgeous Spanish missionary town, although it looks far more Mexican to me.
We decided to have a chilled night and got Dominos delivered to the hotel and we layed in our queen size beds (I'm going miss the American version of a twin room), whilst watching Forest Gump. I'd wanted to see it since we went to Bubba Gump Shrimp so was well pleased when it came on. I forgot how much I love that movie - must get it when I'm back. :)
We then started heading back up the west coast to San Francisco to drop the car off. Along the way we stopped off at a beach which had Seals and Elephant Seals all over it. They come to warm up and sunbath during the day, and they were all there sleeping or flicking sand over themselves.The Elephant Seals and huge and they're pretty ugly too, but it was a certainly a sight to remember.
We stayed just outside of Carmel, and Selena had a go of driving the Dodge around the car park as she'd not driven an automatic before.The driving was going swimmingly until she reversed it into the space directly outside our room. I was shouting Halt, Halt, Haaaaaaalt. The car was stopped not by the brake pedal, but by being bounced forward by the hedge. Just as well it was there really otherwise it would have taken a guys head off who was walking down the stairs and then probably landed on top of him! Never mind, that's the beauty of fully comp! :)
The radio was pretty appalling on our road trip - must remember to buy some decent CDs for our Thelma & Louise style road trip through the Grand Canyon. However in between all the white noise, Country and the Mexican music we have managed to claim some 'normal' road trip driving songs; Taio Cruz - Break your heart (this is currently at number 1 in the States - how long has that taken them!), Kesha - your love is my drug, B.o.B - Nothin' on you (Beautiful girls), Usher - OMG & Drake - Find Your Love.
So we're back in San Francisco now, and I'm slowly but surely catching up on all my Blogs and sorting my pictures. I will start uploading them all soon (especially after being asked by my mother if I thought I was on holiday, as I hadn't included the Blog with my last batch of photos!) ;)