Trip Start Nov 01, 2010
48Trip End May 01, 2011
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We checked out of the hostel and drove over to the Twin Peaks. You can get a really good view of the whole city from there. The weather was a bit miserable, so it wasn't that clear. We could just make out the two towers of the bridge and the island of Alcatraz. It was still worth it. Then we wanted to go to the Golden Gate park as we had heard that it was good. But could we find it - No! We nearly ended up going back over the Golden Gate bridge again!! We found it on the way back, but decided to give up as it had really started to rain and we wanted to move onto either Santa Cruz or Monterey for the night.
We stopped off in Santa Cruz for about 30 minutes and decided we didn't like it! We parked the car and put money in the meter and went for a walk along the beach front (it had stopped raining!)
We drove onto Monterey to stop for the night as they have a really good aquarium that we wanted to see the following day and that Santa Cruz was a dump! We drove around for over an hour trying to find the Days Inn that was in their catalog. Eventually Martyn went into another hotel to enquire and to half-inch a couple of maps. After that we managed to locate the motel district without any problems!
We did some research online about cheap eats in the town and it came back with a little Mexican restaurant. We thought we'd give it a go. OMG the best burritos we've had this trip. I know we're not burrito consigneurs (after one in NYC), but they were very good! I couldn't finish mine, it was huge!
Monday morning we got up and headed to the aquarium
We continued around the aquarium and saw all of the exhibits, it took us about 4 hours in total. We particularly liked the jelly fish, sea horses and Monterey Bay tank which was exclusively for sea life found in the bay. There were sharks, aquatic birds and all manner of others. There was also a 'touch tank' where you could touch sting rays, crabs, star fish etc... We had a little play but couldn't bring ourselves to touch the sting ray!
Having seen some of the life on offer in the bay we then went and stood outside and spent quite a while looking through telescopes out into the bay, we managed to spot some sea lions, pelicans and a load of birds that we couldn't identify!
After this we decided to stay for a second night in Monterey so that we could visit the burrito place again for dinner
We had a lie in on Tuesday because I had dragged Martyn out of bed to get to the aquarium early. We drove along highway 1 to Morro Bay through the Big Sur. The views were brilliant and there were little pull-ins so we could stop and take lots of pictures.
We stopped at a beach in the Big Sur. It wasn't a swimming beach as the currents and waves were too strong. It was a good beach to take pictures of and chill out at. We stopped for lunch along the way in a little cafe overlooking the ocean. It sounds nice doesn't it? The food was terrible!
We stopped at a pull-in where we saw loads of cars. To our surprise, it was a elephant seal reserve. We heard them before we saw them! There were loads of them. We were talking to a lady who was part of a charity that looks out for them and she was educating us on the seals. The seals on the beach were males getting ready for the breeding season which would start in February. The males don't eat for 5 months! They were fascinating - grunting and fighting
We stopped for the night in Morro Bay. A cute little town that is famed for it's "rock". The rock is a volcanic mountain that juts out of the sea in the bay. It's all you can see when you look at the beach! We couldn't find any cheap eats here, so it was another Burger King for dinner.
After making the most of another free breakfast we continued South along Highway 1. We'd heard about a little grove of trees to which a colony of Monarch butterflies come each year. We parked up and there were a couple of dozen people there listening to a presentation, we nearly missed the spot. Anyway, in the trees (there were only 30 or so of them) there were thousands of butterflies. The estimate was of 17,000 of them, this is pretty low, some years there are over a hundred thousand! We couldn't make any out so it was a good job that there was a telescope trained on one of the trees, as soon as we looked through it we worked it out. There were so many of them on some of the trees that they gave the impression of being leaves!
We wondered around for half and hour and some started to fly around. It was a really surreal place and well worth visiting
We continued heading south. Stopped off at a beach and then at an enormous sand dune that has been the setting for loads of films (being only 2 hours or so North of Hollywood) most recently Pirates of the Caribbean.
Next up we stopped off for a Chinese in a 'drive through gourmet Chinese restaurant' it was actually pretty nice. Then we drove to a little town called Solvag. This place is a Danish village complete with windmills and loads of classic European architecture. Originally it was set up as a kind of colony with a Danish language college. Now it is 100% tourist! Was a really nice place though, we walked around and had the best Danish pastries we've ever had. We went into second hand book store and got chatting to the owner a really nice man for absolutely ages about our trip, England and the US. We both bought books and he insisted that we chose a postcard each to use as bookmarks in our books and to remember him by! There are a lot of weirdo's in the US but the vast majority are really really friendly.
We liked this place but were planning to stay on the coast again. There were no chain motels but we asked in one about rates and he sorted us out with a little room for not too much money
Anyway, having discussed our trip to Asia with the bar man in the first place over an exceptional glass of pinot noir we headed to the next bar... About 45 minutes later we realised we'd lost the bag! We rushed back to the bar but it was all shut up. We then spent about an hour thinking through the evening and decided that it was definitely in this bar. We went back, knocked and scoured the yellow pages to find the number. Eventually we did get a number but it was voice mail! We went to bed terrified that all of our stuff was missing and didn't get a good nights rest!
We woke the next day still worrying about what had happened and feeling very stupid! We checked out and went and left a note by the door of the wine bar so they would find it when they opened up. The opening time was 1!
We went to have breakfast in a little cafe nearby so we could stake the place out. Martyn had a massive American breakfast and I had a pancake breakfast. It was really yummy, but I felt so sick after because I'd over eaten! We went back over to the wine bar and there were lights on! We knocked and waited..........
A lady answered the door and asked "are you the bag people?" Once she said that we were relieved and she bought the bag over! We could finally relax! All our important goods had been returned to us unharmed! It's a good job it happened in this sweet little town and not a big city!
Now we had all of our belongings, we could concentrate on our last day with our little car. We drove to a scenic outlook and took some pictures of us mucking around with it! We had laughed at it in the beginning, but it had become our friend after 5000 miles and 5 weeks.
We found a motel that was about 40 miles from LAX, where we had to drop the car off. In the afternoon, we sorted through the car and made sure we didn't leave anything in it. We went for dinner in a Dennys. They're similar to our Little Chefs. Dinner was tasty and we even let ourselves have a dessert!