From the West Coast with Love – LA to San Fran
I am going to try to make this post short and sweet. To be honest, I found these few days quite difficult. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I guess I really struggle without routine. You know, I am used to working a 40 hour week, I know when I fit my workouts, cooking, study and social time into that. When on holidays, that structure is lost. I coped well in Queenstown because we still had summer light, so I was waking up early and felt like there was heaps of day to do things, and then because we went tramping, that in itself had routine and purpose. This week hasn’t had much routine.. we have been waking up later, the days are shorter and its getting cold! I actually thought I would have lots of time to workout, read, journal, blog.. but my days are just disappearing so quickly.
The past few days have also been a big transition into another part of the world. Coming from a most pristine and untouched part of the world, it has been difficult not to judge what I am seeing now against that – I will fill you in on this as I go. Oh, and being in the car all day.. I have discovered this isn’t my favourite way to travel – I much rather stop somewhere and actually have time to explore, find the cute cafes, the hidden secrets of a city/town. Travelling the way we have up the coast didn’t really give us time to do this. But we did get to see some pretty cool stuff along the way!
LA – Santa Barbara
LAX. What is that – its hardly an airport, not like the others I have flown in & out of. You literally walk through customs, get your bags (by the time we got here they had been taken off the carousel and just dumped on the ground), go through security and exit onto the street. No shops, no “Welcome to LA” or anything. In fact it’s quite dirty. I often think that Sydney could do with a little upgrade, but after this, arriving in Sydney you feel like royalty!
I had some grand plans for our first day in LA. I wanted to go and hang out in Santa Monica.. go to the farmers market, a health food shop and just enjoy the little warmth we would have before driving north into the cold. First issue: It was only 15’C – not actually warm in my books, however, I imagine if the sun could shine through the smog it would have felt warmer. Second issue: customs took way longer than expected, picking up the hire car had its own issues and then a combination of Reg relearning to drive (opposite side of the road & the car) and not having a GPS or decent map meant that by the time we actually got to Santa Monica the markets were over. Third issue: I was HANGRY! and tired. So rather than attempt to find anything in Santa Monica we headed up HWY 1 for Santa Barbara.
We drove for about 45 minutes and got to Malibu. We stopped there to find somewhere to get a sim card and data (mainly so we can use maps). While we were unsuccessful in that area, we found somewhere cute to eat – Marmalade Cafe. Not sure how “clean” it was, but I had a Chicken Fajita Salad with fresh Guacamole. Rookie move – I forgot to ask for my dressing on the side, so there was some through my salad. As expected the serving size was massive. My salad served me for lunch, dinner and Reg snacked on it too. That food made my afternoon much cheerier.
We didn’t get to explore Santa Barbara much, I was pretty excited to stop in a Wholefoods and stock up on some salad, breakfast and snack food for our road trip! I found so many treasures – totally want to have something like this in Oz! In the morning we managed to find AT&T and get Reg’s prepaid sim sorted then headed off up the coast. I know we didn’t explore Santa Barbara at all, and therefore may have missed out, but found some cool spots along our way.
Santa Barbara – San Luis Obispo
We made sure that we stopped along the way, mainly because we didn’t have a long day of driving, only a couple of hours. Our first stop was not far out of Santa Barbara. Refugio Beach was nice, however, we still couldn’t see the horizon due to the smog..
We continued on up the coast road until we got to Lompoc, spotted a Starbucks and decided we would mooch their wireless so we could set up the data on Reg’s phone. This took about an hour an a half – which I was okay about, gave me time to check emails, upload some pictures and talk to family online. And with the success of Reg outwitting the Apple software set up, we then had data, which means we had maps, which made life so much easier! And eliminated many heated arguments that would have been!
We stopped off at the Premium Outlet stores in Pismo Beach mid afternoon, and out shopping began. We went to the Nike store as I had been planning to buy new Free Runs, but they didn’t have what I wanted. Got a couple of shirts, singlet and a jersey for mountain biking. Reg got some nice shirts for workouts too. Also went to Levis and I scored a new pair of jeans for just $25! I have established a new rule though. Unless prices are ridiculously cheaper, don’t shop in places we have in Australia. And only buy it if you LOVE it! Luckily, everything I have purchase so far I have loved!
Before we got to our destination, we took another side road and stopped off at Avila Beach for sunset. So quaint and beautiful there. I imagine that it would bustle in Summer, much like Forster. But it was quite on this cool evening.
San Luis Obispo – Monterey
Again, we just stayed in San Luis Obispo, we didn’t explore it. We were finding by the time we got up and happening in the mornings, we just wanted to get on the road. So off we went up the coast road, first stop – Hearst Castle.
There is so much history to Hearst Castle. In short, it was built by William Randolph Hearst on his family ranch property. He had travelled the world earlier in his life, post WWI and collected a whole lot of art, sculptures and antique collectables that were circulating at that time. This was his dream home. There was the main house, 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms and 14 sitting rooms. There was even a massive a theatre for movie screenings. Additionally on the Castle grounds were 3 guest houses which are mansions in their own right, the outdoor Neptune pool and the indoor Roman pool (located under the tennis court) and a private Zoo. Seriously – a Zoo.. although animals have been relocated, many donated to other California Zoo’s, there are still decendants that wander the grounds with the Hearst Cattle, such as some African Goats and Zebras.
I was concerned that Reg wouldn’t like it, being that it is a monstrosity that is over the top. So it is those things, but the design of this place is not to be questioned. The architect who worked on this with Hearst for 28 years (it is actually unfinished due to Hearsts’ sudden death at about 80), Julia Morgan, articulated the vision for the work perfectly. Contemporary (for its time) but with so much history encased in the work. You know what – my words are nothing compared to these pictures.
After Hearst Castle, we got back on the coast road, its was totally lunch time and I was starving. I had bought salad stuff the day before and whipped it together with the plastic knife I had – brilliant! This was at the Elephant Seal Vista Point – they are odd animals!
Big Sur was the next highlight of the trip. An amazing stretch of road that wraps around the coast. Spectacular views, saw a massive pod of whales too!
The end of Big Sur saw us to our night stop over at Monterey.
Monterey – San Francisco
We got up early in Monterey to go for a run! We both bought new minimalist runners and wanted to give them a try – only a short 1.5km’s and then we headed off early to get to Santa Cruz. I was actually a little disappointed when we got to Santa Cruz, it wasn’t as great as I expected. As Reg and I walked the boardwalk we discussed why and my conclusion was that I was making judgements on locations based on what I had seen and experienced in Queenstown/Milford. I realise that this is super unfair, and will lead me to not enjoy my holiday – I was a little concerned we had made the wrong decision about what to do for this holiday. Through our talk I realised that I like to based myself somewhere and have time to explore – I don’t like to just do the touristy thing, but to really experience a place, find the sweet little cafes to cozy up in and the little boutiques that have items you won’t find anywhere else. So obviously this road trip style of travel isn’t really conducive to that exploration. But no fear – San Fran is near!!
We hung out at Santa Monica Pier for a bit before we made our way to San Fran.
I hope you have enjoyed this instalment – a little longer than I planned. Keep an eye out – I hope to have our San Fran adventures up in the next couple of days!