California here we are!!

Old Jan 16th, 2022, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Probably did mlgb. It wasnít my first! Still got the tee shirt from my first one when we were in Thailand for the Boxing Day big one!
Wow, me too! Had planned to visit the Thai islands for Christmas but fortunately switched to Laos - was on the night train to Bangkok right before it hit. Where were you? Glad you were (obviously) OK.
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 11:43 AM
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The other day I read that there were over 20,000 butterflies in the Pismo Grove this year. That is still down from historic highs but better than the last few years. Would be worth checking out especially if it's a warmer day, as Michelle noted.

Also, the Elephant Seal rookery north of Cambria will definitely be worth a stop.

Do you like malty, dark beer? You should find Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Porter en route.

Great TR, enjoy the rest of your trip.
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 02:45 PM
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"Do you like malty, dark beer? You should find Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Porter en route." absolutely not! I must be the only Englishman with an Irish heritage that doesn’t like Guinness🤪

Did see teh seals though - more of that later.
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 02:54 PM
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Monterey Peninsula



What to do on our first full day on our mini road trip down California Highway 1?



We are sitting down for breakfast in the bay window of Green Gables Inn which is right on the Pacific Ocean we read of a Tsunami in Tonga, on the other side of the pacific which could be heading this way! Despite the press hype, it doesn’t and there is no need to vacate our breakfast table!



The decision was easy, borrow a couple of bikes from the Inn and cycle around the Monterey Peninsula. With the aid of my starred places on Googlemaps , a cunning plan was quickly hatched…

We cycled the 15 mins around to the grove where the monarch butterflies hang out before heading off on their migration to Mexico in February.

Sadly there was only one solitary butterfly on view. His friends were all huddled together at the top of the trees pretending to be dead leaves. The resident expert told us "you guys should have been here yesterday they were all over" Incredible to think that these delicate creatures fly all the way to Mexico covering 100miles per day at heights of up to 10,000ft! We were in Morelia in Mexico three years ago and again, just missed the migration there too!

We said our goodbyes to the solo monarch and continued our ride through suburbia to the Pacific Grove gate of "17 mile drive" one of the entrances to the private gated enclave of Pebble Beach.

Apparently this is where the rich and famous have their beach homes and some of them are truly incredible! It is also home to the Pebble Beach golf course ,famed for its pro celebrity golf tournament. Certainly an incredible place to live but we shall have to be content with cycling through it.

What a bike ride this is! Aside from the wonder home, the actual route takes us along the Pacific Ocean with its fantastic beaches. Blue skies, sunshine and the surf is up. I can see why Brian Wilson wrote some many songs about California!

As an aside, all the music we are hearing around and about is very evocative of the late sixties and early seventies, my formative years in so many ways, but music especially. The summer of love didn’t really hit England until 68 -69 by which time I was very much a wannabe hippie in tie dye and flared Levis😎.

As a teenager I recall watching a double bill at the midnight movies Easy Rider and Monterey Pop, my first sight of Hendrix, Joplin, Redding etc. That one film pretty much set my musical tastes for the rest of my life. Never imagine way back then that I would be here one day.

This ride is amazing! We keep stopping along the way at beaches, veiw points just to absorb the sights and sounds. So far the ride has been easy but halfway through it begins to dawn on us that it may not all be level going all the way to Carmel! We soon have to start climbing back up those hill on two, not very lightweight or efficient bikes! We end up walking some of the steeper stretches. Eventually, we arrive at the end gate of 17 mile drive on the Carmel city limits.

We head down to the beach and soon see why this is one of the prime real estate areas in California and why Clint Eastwood made it his home - simply stunning!

The town itself reminds of us a few places we have been on our travels mostly in Chile and Argentina but also in South Africa. Very much an elite area with very upmarket shops and restaurants, manicured streets etc. A very pretty town.

By now we are exhausted and are not relishing the ride back and more of the same! Carolyn asks a cop if there is an easier route and he points her to the bus stop. All the buses around here have bike racks on the front so we wait for the next bus, pop the bikes on and sit back and enjoy the 20 min ride back to Monterey. Easy!

Arriving in Monterey we cycle back from they very touristy Fisherman’s Wharf to our hotel via the petty harbour and Cannery Row, the old sardine packing district brought to life by John Steinbeck in his novel of the same name detailing the lives of the outcasts and eccentrics living there during The Great Depression. A great book from a great author. Must get around to reading a few more of the American classics.



The one and only Monarch

Pebble Beach wildlife

17 mile drive

So beautiful

The smallest but funkiest house we saw..






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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 07:44 PM
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> "I must be the only Englishman with an Irish heritage that doesn’t like Guinness🤪"

Hah! And here I presumed it was a given you would like dark beer. Glad you are having a good trip.
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 09:00 PM
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One of the things I enjoy doing in that area is kayaking in Monterey Bay. The kayak company has all the gear you need and a guide. You will see many birds, otters, sea lions and guide gave us of the history of the area too. Another place I enjoyed kayaking is a bit north of Monterey- Moss Landing. After kayaking you can visit Phil's Fish Market. It is a market and a restaurant. Try a big bowl of cioppino.
I had the same experience with the butterflies that you did- they were all clustered up in the trees. My SIL used to live in PG and he would have them fly into his apartment sometimes. Such a beautiful area!
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 04:42 AM
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It sounds like the start of a fantastic trip. I am remembering past trips in the area with pleasure. Thanks
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 06:27 AM
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Big Sur

We are big fans of road trips and have done some beauties over the years including;
  1. Circumnavigating the north and South Island of New Zealand by Camper van
  2. Most of the Panamerican Highway in South America by bus and car
  3. The length of Vietnam by train (north to south and south to north
All were excellent in very different ways and this one is shaping up to be up there with any of them! This Road-Trip was suggested to us by our American friends as something we would enjoy. They were not wrong, a couple, of days in and it is already proving to be one of our all time favourites! For us at least, travel is as much about the journey as the destination. This stretch from the Monterey peninsula to Cambria was beyond expectations!We started off early with a short side trip out to the wine region out in the Carmel Valley. Too early as it happens as everything was closed! Never mind, it was a nice drive!

Back onto California Highway one we were hugging the coast once again and again , the scenery just got better and better and then we reached BIg Sur and it just blew us away! Like many others we just stood and gawped for ages at the Bixby Bridge, surely THE iconic emblem of Big Sur, if not California itself! We were especially lucky as the weather was close to perfect. This coastline is just entrancing.






I think it took us 4-5 ours winding around the seemingly never ending curves and hill before we got close to our destination of Cambria and our home for the next two nights the Olallieberry Inn. To be frank, the drive was longer than anticipated and, given the number of curves and narrow stretches of road in some places, the fact that I am driving on the right (i.e. wrong) side of the road and perhaps still a touch of jet lag, the last stretch was a little intense. We took a brief break at the Elephant seal sanctuary but more of that later as it was so good we returned for a second look.
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 07:52 AM
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Wow!! I love your trip report and your photos! I have been to San Francisco, Monterey and Carmel many years ago, but I have not done the drive on California Rt.1. Will have to add that to my bucket list! And I love your writing style!
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 08:03 AM
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Really enjoying this lively trip report -- and the photos. I've only been to California once and you have me thinking about a road trip there this spring. Thanks!
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 08:28 AM
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Biking in Monterey and Pacific Grove is such a wonderful ride . . . I've done it more times than I care to admit, and still love it! Glad you were told to take the bus back after the 17 mile ride. We have bike racks on buses here in L.A. as well. You lucked out with the weather!

Lovely shots off Highway 1!
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Old Jan 17th, 2022, 08:49 AM
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If you're in need of a good sandwich or salad I highly recommend Bridge Street Cafe in Cambria. Take your sandwiches to Leffingwell Landing for a picnic overlooking Moonstone Beach. Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a good hike along the coast.
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 04:05 AM
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Thanks all for your kind comments and suggestions. Much appreciated. Really are loving California. Already wishing we had longer - always a good sign!
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 10:45 AM
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Looks great! Checking in from Cabo San Lucas. Only 1100 passengers on board out of 4000 max
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 10:53 AM
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Outstanding photos! You are really getting lucky with the weather, hope it continues. Looking forward to the seal post.
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 07:45 PM
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I hope youíre stopping in Santa Barbara! If youíre looking for some fabulous places to eat, I can recommend two: Corazon Cucina in the SB Public Market for a-ma-zing tacos, etc, and Olio et Limone (or its companion restaurant, Olio Pizzaria, was only open after 4:00 last month). Both off upper State street on Victoria.

have a wonderful trip in my state! 😎
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Wow, me too! Had planned to visit the Thai islands for Christmas but fortunately switched to Laos - was on the night train to Bangkok right before it hit. Where were you? Glad you were (obviously) OK.
We were in a hotel in Bangkok when it happened. First thing we knew about it was when my phone started ringing people asking if we were ok. Switched on teh TV and all was unfolding! Stayed in Bangkok for a while, donated some blood and changed our plans to head down south to Khao Lak ( which was decimated ) and headed off to Laos - must have been there at the same time!
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 04:59 AM
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CambriaCambria is not what we expected, though I am not exactly sure what we were expecting! It is a small town that essentially runs along a Main Street off of Highway One. Unashamedly tourist orientated, it seems to marry that with being a bit of an upscale place to eat, shop and stay with an arty feel to it. Fifty years ago I can imagine it was a bit of a hippie enclave - lots of tie- dye, flare wearing people selling cow bells and joss sticks . Oh how I miss the smell of incense and patchouli oil!


Olallieberry Inn , Cambria


The Olallieberry Inn where we are staying is blue clapperboard place right on the Main Street. Named after the berry which is farmed in the area. Apparently a cross between a raspberry an blackberry, we would call it a loganberry.as Churchill once said "two nations divided by a common language" - eggplant = aubergine, zucchini = courgette… once again it is a nice example of a "typical" American B&B. On our first night we settled into their small lounge for the wine and snacks happy hour. An added bonus was a turntable and a rack of 60/70s vinyls which could easily have been taken from my own collection. I played DJ for a while, some Stones, Jethro Tull, Neil Young, then, just as I played my final tune we were joined by another couple.

The man, well into his seventies was armed with his guitar and said "mind if I play a little, I’m a bit rusty" Not at all we replied. Not rusty at all, in fact a great player with a pretty good voice to boot. It’s moments like this that make travel such a pleasure.

Dinner tonight is at Linn’s. Linn seems to have places throughout the town . Cafe, diner, shop… We choose to dine the main place and are greeted by a lady who I can only assume is Linn. A formidable lady well into her seventies. "Are you ok with the stairs? She asks. Of course, I reply (thinking do I look that old and decrepit? Still on the American comfort food kick, it is a choice between burgers or their speciality pies. The burgers win out. An excellent choice Clive! They are superb. Despite the proliferation of expensive burger places in London burgers just aren’t the same back home.

A shame that Hearst Castle is closed, I assume due to covid restrictions, but we do drive out to the William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach, have a walk along the pier watching the Sunday morning fishermen seemingly not catch anything.





Then it’s on to the Elephant Seal Sanctuary at Piedras Blancas. Very busy both with people and with seals. I didn’t count them but there were certainly hundreds of seals packing maybe 500m of beach. We have seen Elephant Seals before on Peninsular Valdes in Argentina, but only at a distance and only a handful. To see them this close up and in such numbers, we feel so privileged.
















We spend ages just standing and watching the goings on. Lots of pups, one or two arguments and more than a little sex! Fascinating creatures but boy, do they have bad breath. I could be wrong on this, but the big males, when trying to woo a female seem to raise themselves up and make a series of belches! Whatever it takes I guess but the belching certainly doesn’t help with the smell.



On the way back to town we stop off at Moonstones Beach to do a bit of beach combing, picking up some pretty pebbles which we will take back and put in a glass vase in our new home.





We had planned a long leisurely Sunday lunch at a nice sophisticated restaurant in Cambria. However when we parked up to take a look at a few of the many shops lining Main Street we happened upon a large diner that looked a lot of fun. Inside it was packed with football fans watching San Francisco 49ers playing someone , Denver maybe? I have only ever played the game once many, many years ago back in school. I am not sure I understood it then and after an hour or so watching, I am even less sure now! So many advertisements breaking up the play! I can’t imagine how long it must take to finish a game!

Anyway, cheap and cheerful though this place undoubtedly was, the beer was cold and we had the most amazing ribs ever there!
Next stop Santa Barbara..
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 07:12 AM
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Santa Barbara is cloudy this morning but supposed to be sunshine for the next week. I take visitors to SB Courthouse, voted one of the most beautiful buildings in America and hopefully you can go inside to see stunning tile work and views from rooftop. Also we have an historic Mission that was rebuilt after big SB earthquake in 1923 and across the street is nice rose gardens and place to picnic. SB historical museum is also very interesting and in a nice part of downtown. You can get coffee at Handlebars or breakfast or lunch at Alesia Patisserie. My favorite beach to walk on is in Montecito. Park on the street in front of still closed Biltmore and walk on Butterfly beach to Hammonds to Miramar beach (south ward). Beautiful scenery and stunning houses. Make sure the tide is low.

The main shopping street, State, was closed to cars after Covid hit and you can stroll up and down. Lower state is more for the twentysomething drinking crowd, we prefer farther up and recommend Sama Sama for Calif fresh Indonesia food, the aforementioned Corazon at the Public Market and we also love Empty Bowl, Thai place also at the market. Down at the funk zone is lots of wine tasting and Loquita is a good Spanish place. If you want coffee Dart in the funk zone has a lovely garden across the street from their store to enjoy your cup. Bettina’s in Montecito has my fave pizza. Enjoy.

Last edited by macdogmom; Jan 19th, 2022 at 07:24 AM.
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
We were in a hotel in Bangkok when it happened. First thing we knew about it was when my phone started ringing people asking if we were ok. Switched on teh TV and all was unfolding! Stayed in Bangkok for a while, donated some blood and changed our plans to head down south to Khao Lak ( which was decimated ) and headed off to Laos - must have been there at the same time!
Yes indeed! Checked my journals and I was still in Laos Boxing Day, but no TV or wifi. Arrived in BKK the next day, checked into the then Menam Riverside (definitely upmarket for me!) and finally found out what had happened. I was in BKK until the 30th when I flew to Yangon to meet up with a nurse I had met in Vietnam in 2002. She had virtually adopted her driver so I was using him to try to limit the money going to the government.

Love your photos - those are some seriously lazy-looking seals!

I was flabbergasted the first US football game I went to - so much time, so little action! I found that if you watched the quarterback at least you knew where the ball was.
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