Hot on the heels of our Route 66 experience, we decided to do a road trip from LA to San Francisco, along the coast in a hire car. Our younger daughter Carly had joined us and we were in high spirits. We took it nice and slow, following Highway 1 as much as possible to take in all the great coastal views.
Day 1: We called in to see our friends Jane and Richard in beautiful Santa Barbara (see previous report.) We had breakfast at a cafe on the beach and even found the crazy hippy kombi again for Carly to see.
From there, we made a number of little stops and detours along the way, including the Channel Islands with its lovely harbor, Los Olivos and Los Alamos. Los Olivos is a quaint little town with lots of wine tasting and interesting vineyards.
In Los Alamos we even happened upon the historic hotel, the 1880 Union Hotel, where Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson recorded ‘Say Say Say.’ While we enjoyed a refreshing ale and toured the property, our host even showed us the video. We spent the night in Santa Maria.
Day 2: Again we hugged the coast as much as possible. We called in to Pismo Beach and saw many of the coastal beaches with surfers showing their skills. Hereford was another stop and then the famous Madonna Hotel. This hotel is amazing! Well worth a visit for its crazy themed rooms, over the top 50′s décor and interesting toilets!
We also stopped in San Luis Obispo (Famous for its ‘Bubble Gum Alley’ – YUK!) and Cambria, before staying the night in San Simeon.
Day 3: After breakfast we headed for the famous Hearst Castle. This place is a must-see for anyone travelling up the west coast of America. There are various extra tours you can do, but the basic tour is more than enough. It includes a shuttle up to the castle, a tour with a guide and a movie. After the tour we were free to wander around the grounds. What an amazing place! Millions of dollars were spent over many years and it had lots of world-famous visitors from many fields, including presidents and Charlie Chaplin. Google it!
Day 4: Another look at the elephant seals (lazy & fish-filled ) and we headed further north. More beaches, more surfers, more crops (the Yanks have stuff growing everywhere!), more small coastal towns. The major place we spent time in was the town of Carmel. It’s a very touristy town with narrow streets and little parking, which must be a nightmare in the middle of summer. We also called in for a squizz around Monterey, a fairly large metropolis. Spent the night in Santa Cruz, which is a town frozen in time. It has a huge fun park by the beach but being a week day the place was closed. So we missed out on all the old-style roller-coasters, but we did get to see all the 60’s style residences, hotels and motels, one of which we spent the night in.
Day 5: This was the final day of our coastal road trip. We meandered up the coast for a while to check out a few of the surf beaches and some roadside stalls. Then we returned through Santa Cruz and headed towards Oakland on the opposite side of the bay from San Francisco. We did a stunning scenic drive which took us through the ‘Big Basin Redwoods National Park.’ Some of the trees in the park were absolutely huge! The road was carved through the massive redwood trees and was only wide enough for one car in many places. It was stunning! When we finally emerged from the forests, we stopped for a coffee in a quaint little town.
We then completed our final leg into Oakland, making one wrong turn which had us heading across the newly completed Oakland Bay Bridge. However we had amazing views. A $6 toll and a U-turn half-way across on Treasure Island soon had us arriving at our final destination, Dolli’s apartment on Piedmont Street, Oakland in the heart of the action. We booked this through Air B & B. The owners rented us their cool apartment complete with all their possessions and used the money they received for a trip to China.