Trip Start Dec 27, 2011
40Trip End Apr 27, 2012
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So our final morning in San Fran was spent going to pick our rental car up. As with any rental car they can never guarantee you the car you booked but having booked a Convertible for a month we were determined to make sure we got one so even getting Hannah up at 7 proved to be easier than normal. Ignoring the sales talk from the bloke behind the desk: Him - you should take additional insurance out on top of your fully comp one (we had learnt from Oz btw we finally got the money back last week - only 3 months later!) in case something happens. Us - but we're fully covered what are we not covered for. Him - well in case you lose your keys/drop your keys anything can happen. Us - you mean we're not covered if we lose our keys, but we are for anything else. Him - yes that's right anything can happen. Us - JUST GIVE US OUR KEYS.
Well he finally did and confirmed it was a Mustang (a bright white one at that) and after another 20 minutes chatting to a gent who had spent a lot of time in the UK we finally got on the road, all set to put the top down...........until we saw the cold grey skies above us that is. Hmpf.
Rob did his best to get to grips with the 10 lane highways and driving on the wrong side of the road whilst Hannah got together a play list ready for when we managed to get the top down. Luckily a couple of hours down the road the skies parted, the sun came out, and despite it being freezing we wrapped up warm and enjoyed the wind in our hair (well Rob did - Hannah had her woolly hat on!).
Rest of the day was spent speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway which had stunning views over cliffs and out to sea. Couple of stops on the way to take photos but pulled into our stop for the night in San Simeon just in time for happy hour on Margaritas and to watch the sun go down and to sample the clam chowder. One of the best days of the trip so far.
Next day we had a short trip down the coast to Pismo Beach to hop on a California Wine Tour. Turned out we were the only people on it so was another private tour - hooray, more wine for us! Was nice to be driven to about 5 wineries and sample a number of very good wines - when we returned at 4pm we were feeling the effects and after a quick nap we found an outlet shopping place on our doorstep. Our plans of walking to the beach were shelved as we found cheap Levi, Nike, Vans and general cool stuff at silly prices - we now need to find another bag to carry all this stuff back again as our rucksacks are already overflowing. Caved in and had the first McDonalds of the trip as it was right next to the hotel (c'mon it's cheap and quick) and Hannah was horrified to find McDonalds over here don't serve Fanta - cue much hands on hips and huffing at the drinks fountain.
Next Day we drove down to Santa Barbara and Rob took advantage of a whale watching trip leaving in 10 minutes, Hannah eyeing the calm waters decided to give it a miss as she had seen a whale before and doubted whether the water would be quite so calm out to sea. Rob spotted another couple of dolphins (boring) and after much sailing around finally saw a glimpse of a shoot of water going into the air and saw a grey whale breach the water and dive down waving its tail in the air. Pretty cool and another thing to tick off the list. Had a wander round the really nice town and had fish and chips on the pier watching the sun go down. We've realised it's going to be challenging eating well over here, to have something nice and freshly made costs quite a lot, we can't cook for ourselves as no kitchen facilities so we may come back having put on quite a bit of weight (well Rob might - Hannah can seemingly buy as many Nerds as she wants and it have no effect....).
Drive in the dark to Ridgecrest (nope we had not idea it existed either) on the edge of Death Valley for our next adventure. Quite a basic motel but it did have an ice machine. In fact everywhere seems to have ice machines over here, but no fridges in the room, what do people here use it all for? By the time the morning comes it's melted, very odd. Really enjoying having the freedom of our own car especially such a fantastic one which goes VERY quickly when we have a clear road, although the speed limit of 60 on some highways is a pain. Having a Sat Nav is a must have though, especially as nowhere sells maps - we couldn't find any bookstores in SanFran, just a lot of empty Borders - shame really.