Tuesday, 23 May 2017

San Francisco

For us, highway 101 ended in San Francisco. I would have loved to go on and I am sure I will one day but for this road trip, we had gone as far as possible (even though San Francisco was not our last stop, but that's for later).


After quite a few days with relatively calm freeways, it was intense to arrive in San Francisco. All of a sudden we were again on one of 7 lanes and it was so busy. Then we had to get off the freeway and were right in the middle of the city. We only had to follow Van Ness Avenue almost to the end, but somehow I found it very challenging. I was so relieved when we found our hotel. Unfortunately our real troubles only started then: After almost two weeks of faithful service, my credit card seemed not to work. The clerk told me in a rather unfriendly way to either give him another card or to leave right away. Thing is, in Switzerland most people don't have different credit cards (we have money though ;-). But the guy wasn't impressed and almost knew no pity. Finally he gave in and told me to call my bank. Which I did and a friendly Swiss guy told me that it was neither my nor my credit card's fault, but the hotel's / clerk's which had tried to use my outdated (stored) credit card details instead of the credit card I'd given him. Even now I can remember that stupid feeling of arriving somewhere without knowing how to go on...


 

We calmed down and then we went out for a walk. It was only a few minutes to get to the water and the piers. The kids loved being in a city again and I had fun watching other tourists. We walked and walked, took the cable car across town and then we walked back for pizza in North Beach. On our way back to the hotel we enjoyed a beautiful sunset while climbing up and down towards our hotel.




On our second day in San Francisco the sun had disappeared and it was foggy and grizzly. Ideal weather to take the boat to Alcatraz. Everybody loved the tour around the prison grounds, even though we were glad that we were free to leave at our own desire again afterwards





The next day the sun was back and so we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and just enjoyed the view of the bridge and the surfers for a while. San Francisco is definitely one of the cities I could imagine staying for a while, at least I hope I'll be back sometimes in the future...





Sunday, 14 May 2017

Monterey

When we left Cayucos we knew that we would have to miss most of the beautiful highway #1 between Cambria and Monterey. Due to heavy rain and subsequent mudslides last winter there are several closures that can't be passed for the moment.

The road is open till a bit further north than Cambria where you can stop at the Elephant Seal Vista Point close to San Simeon. Even though we had to drive back south for a bit afterwards we didn't want to miss that and I am glad we didn't. The animals we saw were amazing, they seemed fat and lazy and were rather loud and smelly, they didn't seem to care at all about all the tourist staring at them and taking photos.





We got to Monterey in the early afternoon. At first I didn't quite understand what our Navi tried to tell me but then I realised that we were indeed going to stay right in the middle of these beautiful dunes for the next two days. The position of the Monterey Tides is stunning, wherever you are in that hotel you will hear, see and feel the pacific and it was really just a small strip of beach that separated our room from the waves. It was a fantastic place to watch the sunset. Right before the sun disappeared into the Pacific, the water was so intensly teal, it was incredible.



On our second day in Monterey we went Whale Watching. The weather wasn't very promising but we stayed mostly dry and what we saw made more than up for the missing sun. I've been to a few Whale Watching tours but never have I seen close to as many animals as this time. It started with otters and harbour seals while we left Monterey. Then we encountered this huge group of seals and dolphins. Our guide estimated that there had to be about 300 dolphins and they were all around our boat.



Next the captain tried to find whales. It took a while but then we were lucky and got to observe two groups of orcas. They had killed a baby grey whale and were feeding on it while it's mother was still swimming close by. We didn't actually see the whole gruesome thing happening but we could smell the dead whale. We stayed there for about 2 hours and were able to see the orcas again and again. Sometimes they were further away but then they actually dove straight underneath our boat, so we could hear them breath. It was very cold on the boat and we were frozen through but it was such an intense encounter.

It seems that we were really lucky because this is not what you usually see. This film was taken by the same crew we went with just one or two days later...




Back on land, we had to get our laundry done and then we decided to see a bit of highway #1 by driving to the south. We got as far as Bixby Creek Bridge which I had been dreaming about since watching Big Little Lies. 


Sadly the next day it was already time to leave again. I wished there had been more time but this means we have to go back another time and explore more. At least I got to knit a bit in that beautiful lobby of the hotel right before we left for San Francisco.



Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Cayucos

From Santa Barbara we followed the Freeway 101 and it was interesting to see how far it would be to our final destination - San Francisco. Fortunately it was still a long way off and there was lots to discover. Before we got to our hotel, we stopped at this cute little town: Avila Beach (one of many excellent tipps we got from a couple from Los Osos that we met at Twentynine Palms) and hung out at the beach. The colourful houses were so pretty and we each chose one to live in forever.


We arrived in Cayucos in the afternoon where we stopped at the Shoreline Inn at the Beach for three nights. Staying there was kind of a coincidence. I read this article about driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles and they mentioned Cayucos as a nice play to stop and then I googled for a place to stay and fell in love with this hotel right next to the beach and the pier. I had no real idea what to expect, but my gut feeling was very good again, it was totally the right decision.





We didn't even have to leave our room to watch the sunset. I am glad that we watched the sun disappear behind the pier and then hills every single evening we were there and I am sure I'd never get tired of watching it if only I could.


The next day we drove a few miles to the Monta├▒a de Oro State Park. We hiked along the coast for a while. It was really windy and cooler than we expected but it was so beautiful. After our hike we found a warmer spot at the beach at Schooner's Cove were we all caught too much sun, we looked quite a bit like lobsters by the time we got back.






We had smoked salmon tacos at Rudell's Smokehouse in the evening. Everybody told us to go there and it was totally worth it ;-)


Yannick and Antonia had enough and needed a bit of Netflix time but I just couldn't stay inside in this beautiful place. So I took the car again and drove back to Morro Strand State Beach. I just walked and walked and took so many photos. When the sun had almost set I drove back, just in time for the sunset.



We started our second day at the Kayak Shack at Morro Bay. We did a tour with a few other tourists and a guide. It was our first time kayaking, so I was glad that we got a good introduction. It wasn't all that difficult to get the kayak to go where we wanted, especially in the single. The double was a bit trickier, I only realised that on the way back when I shared with Antonia. We were able to get really close to a big and very loud group of harbour seals and then we paddled to the the sand dune on the other side of the bay. It was a bit of work but we saw so many interesting things that the effort didn't matter at all.




We took a break at the hotel in the afternoon but I couldn't stay inside for very long, I was just too curious. So I got back into the car and drove a bit further north to the Harmony Headlands State Park. I almost missed the entrance because it was so hidden but by the second time I passed it, I found it. I hiked for about 1.5 miles through green hills that kind of reminded me of the highlands of Scotland before I got to the edge of the pacific. I only met very few people and most of the time I felt like the last person on earth. I met a few rabbits, lots of birds and then I almost stepped on a snake which was rather shocking. I had never before seen a snake in the wilderness and there it was, stretched all over the path I was supposed to walk back to my car. I did the only reasonable thing I could think of, I took a picture of it. I imagined that whoever would find me all dead would at least know how I'd died ;-). The snake was far less impressed with me and only stayed on the path for a moment before it dissappeared into the grass. I met one of his family a little later but that one seemed more scared of me because it turned around very quickly.




So Cayucos was definitely one of my favourite stops on this roadtrip and I would love to go back there sometimes.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Santa Barbara

Our third stop on our roadtrip brought us to Santa Barbara. Again it took a lot of driving and I had to pass Los Angeles for the second time. Fortunately managing the sometimes seven lanes freeways already felt easier and we had fallen into a good rhytmn of driving, listening to music and stopping for coffee every couple of hours.

I was happy to be back at the Pacific, I love the sea and it's such an essential part of being on holidays for me. We got our first glimpse close to Ventura. It was drizzly and rather grey but together with the yellow-green hills it looked so beautiful.



When we got to Santa Barbara the weather cleared up and there was the most amazing light, so bright and happy. Yannick and I were fit enough to go for a sightseeing walk while Antonia needed a rest at the hotel. I was really impressed by all the palm trees and the style of the houses, so different from Switzerland.


The next day, some serious shopping happened. Everybody tried on lots of clothes and we were all successful but poorer by the time we got really hungry. We went for Italian at Patxi's and I wished we could there again, because we really liked the food.


In the afternoon we drove to the Arroyo Burro County Beach park a few miles outside Santa Barbara. We tested the water (it was definitely cold) and I went for a walk along the beach. Again there was this beautiful mix of blue and yellow mixed up with palm trees.

 


In the evening we walked to the pier, watched the sunset and had crab rolls and ice cream for dinner.