♪ Everybody be surfin', like Californ-I-A...

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
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Trip End May 05, 2011


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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Post-San Francisco was characterised by coastal scenery à la Cornwall. Unfortunately our bad luck from the Yosemite experience followed us and a large stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was closed due to landslides.  Still, though it was rather cold and windy, it was nothing compared to the snow of Yosemite!  Driving down the sun-drenched Californian coast we passed plenty of people surfing but also a new phenomenon known as "sup boarding" (stand up paddle) or “gusu” (get up stand up).  Essentially it's exactly what it says on the tin, i.e. you stand up on a surfboard, and navigate the waves with the help of a long paddle.     

We stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf at Monterey, which was a more authentic version of Pier 93 in San Francisco, and tried 'taffy’, a kind of salted chewy sweet the consistency of a chewit.  We drove on to Cannery Row, a former working area (canning fish) immortalised by John Steinbeck in his novels.  Nowadays it’s rather more upper class, full of interesting shops which we spent an hour wandering.  I bought some presents in the ‘Bubba Gump’ shop and another selling otter-related movie parody T-shirts such as “Hairy Otter” instead of “Harry Potter”.  We regrouped for lunch: an extremely windy picnic accompanied by lots of seagulls.  Paul tried to look on the bright side by saying “it’s good it’s not warm, as there are fewer tourists around.”  I think the rest of us would have taken a couple more degrees for a handful more tourists!

After lunch we went wine tasting, a great extra to make up for the fact that we were missing a great chunk of the PCH, supposed to be the highlight of this part of the trip.  The tasting was a bargain $5 for several wines, and I surprised myself by feeling in the mood for white.  Lots of broadening of horizons alcohol-wise on this trip!  It was a fun afternoon and we arrived at the campsite after dark, something we were getting used to.  By this time we knew the end of our trip was nearing: Jo was leaving the next day, so it was with some nostalgia that we expertly put up our tents at Morro Bay and enjoyed a stir fry dinner.

When we woke up the next morning we realised we’d obliviously spread out over three sites, but since we were leaving anyway the ranger wasn’t too upset!  It was a lovely campsite, sandwiched between woods and the weather was pleasant – shame we were leaving so soon really. 

Before we said goodbye to Jo, Seth had scheduled in a surprise activity which turned out to be a visit to the Madonna Inn, a superkitsch hotel: Laura was in her element!  The artificial flowers and multicoloured fruit, padded furniture and bright pink tablecloths were nothing compared to the highlight of the hotel, the urinal in the men’s toilet which was fashioned as a waterfall!  Unfortunately we weren’t able to see inside any of the themed rooms, but it was a great stop nonetheless.

After leaving Jo, we had our usual picnic lunch this time at Gaviota Beach, underneath a fantastic iron railway bridge.  At Santa Barbara we got an hour and a half’s parking and intended to rent bicycles but ended up losing each other.  I got engrossed in a secondhand/antiques shop selling all sorts of random stuff I love, so when I couldn’t find anyone else, I just spent the next hour and a half wandering similar shops, of which there seemed to be many.  In fact I didn’t even reach the beach, which was much further away than I thought!  When we regrouped we got ice cream: a necessity on such a hot day! 

Our campsite was really nearby, so we set up relatively early for us, then walked down to the nearby pebbly beach for sunset.  We went back to Santa Barbara for a delicious dinner and beer at a small in-house brewery, followed by the most amazing trip to ‘Yogurtland’, a genius concept where you take a tub and fill it yourself with a whole variety of different flavours of frozen yoghurt, and toppings including chocolate, sweets, fresh fruit and hot toffee sauces.  There’s no limit on what you put in, so it suits an indecisive person such as myself, and you pay by weight rather than ingredient.  I think I literally tried a bit of everything! 

Our last day was rather sad.  We began by throwing away most of our food supply, including a huge jar of gherkins which had been donated to us by a neighbouring camper earlier in the trip.  We intended to get a morning coffee at Malibu, but discovered that rather than a place it’s actually a 27 mile stretch of coastline, mostly residential (of the very wealthy) and the few cafés we did come across were closed anyway.  We drove on therefore to Santa Monica pier for our much-awaited coffee.  With its funfair on the pier, complete with rollercoaster, it’s one of those places you recognise from long-forgotten TV shows or films, a previously unidentifiable icon of the States.  It also marks the end of Route 66, so was fitting as our final stop before we all went our separate ways.
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