Last week was vacation for us as we flew into San Francisco to start a week long visit in California. I guess with there budget problems it was our way of helping out … ha ha. The plan was to take a few days and head down Route 1 through Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, Carmel, Big Sur and Santa Barbara making it to San Diego on Wednesday afternoon. We have some friends there that we try to see ever couple years. Kay had lined up all the arrangements ahead of time so we knew how far to go and where to stop each day.
Saturday we got into San Francisco just after lunch and headed out deciding to jump on Route 1 as soon as we could. Traffic was a bit heavy on 92, that would be common as days went on, but we made it through and hooked up at Half Moon Bay. We stopped at the Davenport Roadhouse for lunch before making it to the Holiday Inn Express in Monterey Bay. That was our Saturday night stay, a block or two off Cannery Row. Nice place and excellent mattresses. We did a little sight seeing in the evening but not much more.
Sunday we headed to 17 mile drive though The Links at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, and Spyglass Hill. It was $9.25 for the drive and worth it, who knows if we’ll ever go again. Beautiful scenery, calm and peaceful. There’s even a seal observation area that could be mistaken for driving down a resident’s driveway. We pulled off 17 mile drive early to go to Carmel and stopped for a while to wander through the shops, but it wasn’t our kind of “shopping”. If you looking for art or jewelry that’s your place, we moved on. On the way out of Carmel we stopped at Safeway to pick up some groceries, snacks, beverages, and a cooler to keep it all cold.
On the road we twisted our way down to Big Sur and the Lucia Lodge. Before getting there we did a stop for lunch at Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn. This is a great place. Pay attention as the turn comes up quick, we had to double back as I missed it. Once on the side road you’ll come to a small hut that resembles a security guard shack where you have to “give your name” to pass. Just up the hill is a couple small parking lots and what appears to be an entrance to a large home. I say that cause it’s a single wood door and inside, which is the main desk / lobby, is no bigger that a large living room. From there it’s up some stairs, outside and up more stairs to the first building on your left. I recommend sitting outside as the view is sweet… even for those who are challenged by heights. !!! It’s a five star place so the service will be excellent, but not quick. I’d recommend it and if you can afford to stay the night even better.
Back on the road we made it to Lucia Lodge early afternoon. From the road the place doesn’t look like much but that’s not the point. No phone or TV in the room and no cell signal. The view from the room down to the ocean is excellent as well as from the top of the hill, just a short hike up the narrow path above the rooms. It was foggy so no sunset but we sat and had a beer or two with some snacks. The room came with a space heater as it gets kind of cool at night but not to worry as the bed was like sleeping on pillows and the down comforter was plenty warm.
Monday morning looking out the window the fog was thick, couldn’t see but maybe 25 feet out. We took our time getting things together as the fog burned off. The lodge provides a continental breakfast so we stopped in for before making our way out of town, next stop Pismo Beach. On the way to Pismo there were a few stops, one for the Hearst Castle. We didn’t take the tour, $24 per person, but wandered around the gift shop and donated 50 cents to look through the telescope. Shortly after that we were surprised by a California Parks elephant seal observation area that had a lot of visitors. Park personnel were on site to answer questions, got some decent pictures too. From there the road settled down as the terrain was flat. We cursed into Pismo Beach only to find our directions were slightly off to get to the Kon Tiki Inn. But it was vacation, we had time. Kay picked another excellent hotel as this one was right on the beach. The water was still cool but we walked along the beach down to a Pier about a 1/2 mile away and back. We saw a few surfers and walked through some shops. Back at the hotel we hung out at the pool for a while, I could only take an hour. Kay stayed a while longer and that gave me a chance to catch up on work. That wouldn’t last though as the laptop died, must have been a sign. Dinner would be at the Cracked Crab. Nice little joint where you can order a bucket of “stuff” and have it dumped on your table. We opted for something more traditional, it was excellent.
It’s Tuesday now and we’re heading down to Santa Barbara for our last night before meeting up with friends in San Diego. This is a short drive but what’s in between is Cold Spring Tavern, Wine and Neverland Ranch. Kay is the wine person and I was never that huge a MJ fan but none the less it was on the way. The stop at Cold Spring Tavern for lunch was a great choice. However the directions on the web are coming from Santa Barbara so if your coming the other way, as we were, you can still turn on Stagecoach road just make sure it’s after you go over the bridge. Turning (left) before the bridge it’s narrow and up and down for a bit. Of course we had to have the “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale” onion rings, Kay’s favorite beer. Well worth the stop.
With lunch out of the way it was off to Neverland for what I hoped would be quick. It is out in the middle of nowhere and all you could see is the gate the estate is off the road so far you can’t see it. Interesting when we pulled up someone had parked in the middle of the road, got out and left the car in park and running, priceless. Lots of flowers and notes, music was even playing. A few minutes later we were on our way with that one scratched off the “to do list”. It was on to wine and we found that many of the wineries only have tasting for certain hours, most in the afternoon. We were able to stop at three. I did not have much, haven’t acquired that taste yet, but Kay was all about it. Rolling in to Santa Barbara we were staying at the Inn at East Beach. A trendy place a block or two off the beach that still uses “real keys for the rooms”, a throw back to the old days. After unloading everything we set out for dinner and caught the Tuesday night farmers market down town, it was just wrapping up. Lots of people so we caught a beer with some chips-n-salsa and headed back for the night.
Wednesday morning we were up earlier than other days. Kay couldn’t talk me into running so we walked to the Pier and back, a mile and a half maybe more? We grabbed some continental breakfast and headed out. Not knowing what traffic would be like through L.A. we didn’t want to get caught there around rush hour. It got heavy on the 5 but not the “10 mph average” that it could have been. We did see a car on fire along the side of the road others were already stopped to help and the people were out. That was our excitement for the drive. With traffic light we got to San Diego early afternoon, our friends (Melanie and Dane) live in Oceanside close to the beach and not far from down town San Diego.
Thursday was heading down town San Diego with a stop at Hertz to return the car. Dane’s sister has an apartment near Little Italy that has a pool on the roof. With Melanie and Dane’s two little girls hanging out at the pool would be a fun afternoon. We realized after getting to down town it was Comic Con and that would make congestion a little heavier. But it was entertaining looking at all the people dressed up. Dinner would be at a trendy spot on India street called Buon Appetito. They have a small area outside we were lucky to get a table at and had an good dinner. Plenty of choices on India street for a few blocks there, many places have outside seating.
Friday was beach day as we headed down to Carlsbad. You could tell by it was the start of the weekend, tough to find a parking space and the beach was packed. A storm off the coast was kicking up some pretty good waves and the lifeguards where working hard keeping people out of the rip current. Where we sat was next to a pier and sometimes the waves were almost as high as it. We’d end the evening hanging out in the hot tub and grilling out back in Oceanside.
Saturday it was back to reality as our flight was at 3:45pm PST getting us back to Nashville at 11:30pm. But it didn’t work out that way. Coming back we went through Las Vegas and got delayed. That put us into Nashville after midnight. By the time we picked up luggage and got home it was 2:00am CST. Good thing we had Sunday to get back to normal. All in all the trip was excellent it was nice taking our time driving down from San Francisco. With it being cool there and warmer south that was the way to go. I know now why Route 1 gets a lot of traffic, especially motor cycles, it is a fun road to drive with lots to do. That is our California fix for a year or two, but we will be back I’m sure.