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Trip Report Briefly, our 8 May nights in CA

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Since it had probably been at least 10 years since we were in San Francisco, I was feeling overdue. We flew in on May 25, arriving around 2:30. Fodorites were spot on with the slightly over 2 hours drive time to Carmel. However, due to riding the little monorail thing to the car rental, etc, it was closer to an hour before we got out of the airport. Guess I'm used to those PacNW airports where you can pick up your luggage, then car, and be on the road in 20 minutes.

It appeared there had been some widening and straightening on the route since we had taken it last. Still, arrived in Carmel after the stores closed, but I hadn't planned anything specific there anyway.

We stayed at the Best Western just a block or two off the main street. Everything was an easy evening walk. Although old, the building had been obviously recently updone and service was good. We had a small baclconey that actually had some ocean view.

The original plan had been to drive down the Big Sur coast. I have not been to the part south of Nepenthe. However, due to the possibility of the military closing the detour that runs through their base, we backtracked out to 101 for the long drive to Santa Barbara. I didn't find the drive from Salinas to Paso Robles particularly interesting--in either direction.

Santa Barbara was as beautiful as I expected We stayed at the Inn of the Spanish Garden and I would give it and its staff very highest ratings. It was a lovely place to spend 3 nights. The location was just 2 or 3 blocks off the main shopping area, lots of restaurants and the courthouse. Although we are somewhat oldies, we did walk all the way to the beach one day and took the little bus shuttle back.

One morning we drove along the scenic Alameda that runs along the lip of the hillside. All the gorgeous gardens were in bloom. We almost ended up at San Ysidro. I had wanted to find the antique shops in Montecito but had the wrong map info with me. Must have just missed them. Oh well, shipping some $500 item to Alaska only to move it south again in a year would have been stupid.

Our interim night on the way north was near Cambria. For lunch (going both north and south) we stopped in Pismo Beach at a restaurant perched on a cliff over the water. I've forgotten the name but it was next door to a Best Western. It had a scenic location and good food and wine.

Cambria was a cute little town. The ambience reminded me of Julian. We stayed at the Best Western Fireside out on Moonstone Beach Dr. Again, courtesy of Fodorite recommendations. It was acceptable although if they are going to advertise as 'Fireside' they should be willing to let the 'fireplace' flame be seen and felt a bit. Although our window was right under Hwy 1 it was very quiet. Actually ALL of our rooms on the trip were quiet, which is really important to me. Enjoyed the boardwalk.

I had hoped to visit Hearst, but decided the trip timeframe was just too short. We drove the 14 miles north and visited the elephant seal colony. Again, thanks for telling me about that. They were funny, noisy, and unusual. Plus there were several hundred (smelly) and the viewing area was close.

The drive from Cambria over to Paso Robles was gorgeous with occasional peeps of ocean. We didn't stop for wine tasting although we had lots of wine on the trip.

The taxi from SFO into the Embarcadero area in San Francsico was $36 and took around 25 minutes.

I had never seen the Ferry Building so picked that area. I knew if we stayed near Union Square I'd be using credit cards in Nordstrom and Saks. Neither of my 2 states have sales tax, so I sort of having something against that expenditure!

We did end up paying $40 for a 3-day Muni pass. The next day the cable cars closed, and I learned that a senior bus pass was only $.75. So, basically, we paid $40 to take the cable car down to Buena Vista for our Irish coffees.

I had also mapped out some walking plans based on being able to use them. Buses we discovered took REALLY long.

On my map Vallejo Street WAS a street. In reality it ended at the Vallejo Steps which DH would not climb. So did not see the planned small garden. However, I did coerce him to walk MacCondry (spelling) Lane. He said I destroyed his knees, but it had just rained on the slippery cobblestones, and there were many, many flowers along the way. A beautiful memory.

I had also wanted to go closer to the Coit Tower, and see the gardens on the way down the hill there. Too much static from my travel partner!

I recognized the top of Lombard Street as the Hyde line went by. In 1977 we drove our brand new LeMans down it.

We had some good $5 handheld breakfasts from the Ferry Building.

We spent one morning riding the bus clear out to the Cliff House. It was beautifully sunny, and some great ocean views during a long lunch there. We walked enough of the Coastal Trail to get around the corner for some scenic (and SUNNY) pictures of the Golden Gate. I climbed the stairs to the memorial of the USS San Franciso. After all, it was only a day or so after Memorial Day.

Once again, my map showed me just a line, which I took to be flat, but turned out very steep. On the way back, we bus detoured to Hayes Street, and walked to Alamo Square to view the Painted Ladies. DH decided he'd rather walk than bus so we did the steep downhill back toward Geary.

It was something like my 7th trip, and once again I enjoyed San Francisco.

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