America Roadtrip Part 3: Pacific Coast Highway, a set on Flickr.
After Yosemite we drove back to the coast aiming for Monterey. After setting up shop in a motel just outside town, we got taxis to Cannery Row. Our friendly Mexican taxi driver recommended a couple of spots, one of which had a cool live band we enjoyed.
I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside
The next day we went to Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was very impressive. I particularly liked the jellyfish exhibition, watching them propel themselves around the tanks, and was stunned by how large bluefin tuna are.
Next we went to the Monterey Mirror Maze, which I thought would be a little lame but was actually great fun! As you may guess, it’s a maze made of mirrors. The lights are brightly coloured and always changing and you wear glasses which make it harder to tell what’s real and what’s a reflection.
After a Ghiradelli sundae we hopped in the car and drove round the 17 Mile Drive of stunning coastal scenery to Carmel. It’s a pretty town but there’s not much there – we had a quick look around the Mission, a wander on the attractive beach and a drink before driving back to Monterey.
Heading South on Big Sur
The following day we hit Big Sur which is rightly called one of the best drives in the world. It hugs the coast for most of its length leaving views of cliffs and crashing surf for miles in each direction. At our lunch stop I was amazed to spot a hummingbird in the flowers and even more amazed to be able to get some decent photographs of it! We ended that night in Morro Bay, where we went out for cocktails and Mexican food and ended up playing shuffleboard in a saloon bar.
In the morning we climbed back into the cars aiming for Santa Barbara, stopping off at Pismo Beach for lunch, where we watched the surfers and three of the group rode quad bikes around the dunes, which they loved. Most of the towns we saw in California were full of non-descript, squat concrete buildings, but Santa Barbara was completely different. Many of its buildings were destroyed by an earthquake in the 1920s and were all rebuilt in the same style, with whitewashed walls and terracotta roof tiles. It lends the town a lovely cohesiveness missing from almost everywhere else we went.
Santa Barbara is how I imagine a California beach town – it has a beachfront promenade, palm trees, and a pier as well as these Spanish-style buildings. We all really liked it there, probably helped by our motel being located as close to the beach as possible. In the morning myself and 5 friends went horseriding in the hills behind the town, which was great fun if a little uncomfortable for a while afterwards! There were fantastic views from the top of the hills. After arriving back in town I went to explore, walking up State Street and looking around the courthouse, which has a tower offering impressive views for miles around.
Then it was onto LA, but that’s another blog…