The Road Trip officially began today as we left San Francisco to drive South along the Pacific coast.
Highway1 has had problems this year after flooding caused a bridge to be put at risk and land slip has meant we can only drive part of the road. What a shame for all the hotels and businesses when tourists, their main income, cannot come. Shame for us too. Oh well.
We’ve loved San Francisco with its laid back ways. All those tech millionaires on the doorstep mean the city is ranked the most expensive city in the United States and stands third in the world so we probably won’t be buying a house here. .
Leaving the scorching heat of San Francisco we were told by a man who seemed to know everything, not that we asked him, that LA has been devastated by fires and terrible storms. We will be there in a few days. G was not impressed by old know all misery guts, but when we saw it on the news… anyway, we go on.
This is Labor (US spelling) Day Weekend and it is hot so everyone wants to get to the beach. Highway 1 is all beaches so we travel slowly, but there’s still lots to see. We stop at a Safeway and buy bananas. A woman asks if we are English and we say we are. She turns to her friend and says, ‘told you,’ the friend didn’t look very convinced. Where did she imagine we were from, Mars?
When we reach Salinas, after a few stops to look at surfers, G says ‘we need to go to Monterey’ as Salinas is the hometown of John Steinbeck so we need to see Cannery Row, the title of one of his books.
We get to the Waterfront, eventually, and try to park. Very, very difficult. Eventually someone decides to move on and we dash into the space. A man who tells us he is from Saigon asks G where is the best place to park. Fancy asking us as we’d just spent 25 minutes looking for a space. The man points to the back seat where there are three little children and mimes that they all need a wee!
G says ‘follow me’ and takes them to a place with a parking meter. You can only stay 24 minutes, very odd time to pick. The man parks the car, takes the three children and his wife off to the toilet and leaves both back doors of the car open. As the parking attendant is on his way, we close the car doors and put 50 cents in the meter so they won’t get into trouble. Kind and helpful Day!
Cannery Row in Monterey was just so interesting. We walked along the boardwalk, down by the sea, (think there is a song there, or very close to one). We sniffed them even before we heard the barking. What a noise. Hundreds of sea lions, sunbathing, fighting and swimming. Never realised how huge they are. Their flippers are hand shaped with nails. Loved them. There was a picture of one on a golf course! You certainly wouldn’t tell it to clear off.
We walk behind a lady with a bottom at least as big as a sea lion’s. She’s wearing track suit trousers in a size I never knew you could buy and they were so stretched they were nearly transparent. Just looked like a sea lion had climbed up out of the water and was walking along in front of us.
We find the hotel we had booked ages ago when we realised it was a holiday weekend now and the girl on the desk said if we hadn’t booked it would cost three times as much and every room was full. It was a Hilton with the best artificial log fire I’ve ever seen in the lounge. Outside it was roasting but there were people sitting next to the fire as if they were cold. I went right up to it and couldn’t tell it wasn’t a real fire, but there was no heat coming off it at all. Brilliant.
At night we sat in the lounge, near the fire, and read Kindles. There was free drinks and cookies in a table so didn’t bother looking at the menu even though we’d only had a couple of bananas each all day. Perhaps seeing that lady with the sea lion bottom has had an effect.
Set off very early the next day to do the 17 mile drive along Pebble Beach. Had to pay 10 dollars to get in. Huge houses and little ones too. Just lovely. The sand on the beach was pure white. Lots of exciting stop offs, so all in all well worth it. The highlight for me was a large squirrel creature making a nest. I was looking on a notice board to see what type of squirrel it was, grey and very fat, and the man next to me pointed at the squirrel and said to his wife, ‘look at that pesky little critter over there’ so I stopped looking and decided ‘pesky little critter’ would do very nicely.
We stopped at the Lodge at Pebble Beach Golf Club and went inside. Fab views of the 18th green, but breakfast was incredibly expensive. There are at least three famous golf courses on the 17 mile drive which is a private road owned by the people who built the golf courses. Even a tiny house on the estate costs millions of dollars and the residents were either playing golf, the courses were all full, or walking along the trails, very fast, in designer outfits. Another place we probably won’t buy a house.
We left the 17 mile drive at Carmel which was a bit twee really with lots of antique and gift shops. Judging by the shops and people a really rich area. G said as we drove around ‘its lovely here’ and it was, We had brekkie in a diner. I had eggs Benedict on an English muffin, bacon and fried potato. G had corn beef hash, eggs and fried potato. Both lovely. We were starving so snuffled it down.
Walked and walked, got a bit lost and eventually found our missing car. Very difficult with a hire car as I always forget what type or colour it is and have called it a Honda twice now and it is a Nissan. Fortunately G has a sense of direction so we always find things. Left to me I’d still be traipsing up and down streets for days. Carmel is a very clean, litter free town with quaint buildings and a nice ‘vibe’ as we hippies say!.
Back in the road, we had to get our first tank of petrol. What a performance. First of all wouldn’t take the credit card as we don’t have an American card, so we then had to go to the shop to buy it before we put it in, which is fine, but there was a huge queue in the shop. G was getting very frustrated, so I kept my head down and sucked a mint.
Anyway, while we were waiting to pull out a lovely hillbilly lad called Rick pulled up with his dog chained up in the back. It was a pitbull called Bruiser and Rick’s job was delivering ‘dog chow.’ He had rescued him from people who trained fighting dogs and wanted to use the puppy as bait to teach the dogs to kill so he asked them if he could take him and Bruiser was saved.
Teaches you not to judge by appearances as Rick was driving a really rusty old pick up, looked like an extra from Deliverance and had a pit bull chained up in the back of his truck so looked pretty scary, even if G seemed to like the look of his girlfriend when she went off to buy ice as she was only wearing her underwear.
G was happily stroking Bruiser and Rick asked me if I wanted to stroke Bruiser as well. I thanked him but said I would rather lie down in the middle of the highway. He laughed and waved as he left with his girlfriend looking cool, in both senses, sitting in her bra and pants in the back with Bruiser.
We went onto late bookings and are now at The Historic Santa Maria Inn, in Santa Maria. Really old and rustic. Reception said would we like The Marilyn Monroe room where she always stayed. I said is it more money and she said no, it’s available. Anyway, here we are. G said do you want me to be Arthur Miller or Jack Kennedy. I said as long as you aren’t Hitchcock I don’t mind. We had a little giggle.
Turns out M M went to school in Santa Maria, when she was still Norma Jean Baker and every time she came home she stayed there. Many celebrities have stayed here, mostly because it is close to Hearst Castle and is halfway between San Francisco and LA. If you ever get here, ask for room 258. It’s miles along the corridors, last room in the hotel, but worth it for the little terrace with views over the garden.
Just off to the piano room for a tinkle now before bed.