For Part 3 of our California vacation Hubby Tony and I were on our own. He has has always wanted to drive along some of the iconic stretches of the state's Highway 1. On this trip he got to cross that off of his bucket list.
This was the shortest of our vacation segments, but the most jam-packed. In two days we went south, then turned around and headed back north to end up in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow along if you'd like.
The last thing we did before exiting Pismo Beach was to check out the
drivable beach area. We had no interest in potentially getting stuck in the
sand, so after a brief stop in the parking lot we were on our way.
- I was driving so I got to choose the route. Even though most websites said that this stretch of Highway 1 was mainly farmland and not very scenic I did it anyway. Just because. The road soon veered inland. We passed through several small burgs with three-block main streets and saw fields being tended by busloads of workers.
We passed by
Vandenberg Space Force Base. For some reason that change from Air Force to Space Force made me
- This area of California has quite a few Spanish missions. When we saw a sign for La Purisima Mission State Historic Park we stopped in to see what was there. However, when we found out it would take several hours to do justice to the park we used the bathroom and got back on the road.
- When we got to Buellton we stopped for lunch at Pea Soup Andersen's and had their specialty in a bread bowl.
- Our next stop was Solvang, which brands itself as "The Danish Capital of America". The town did have some lovely architecture, but the weather was very hot and there were a lot of people to contend with. After purchasing a pastry and coffee we got back on the road.
We took the most direct route to Santa Barbara, where we toured the
Old Mission. About this time we realized that we had tried to cram too much into the
day so instead of exploring Santa Barbara we headed north.
We stopped in
Morro Bay for
a little sightseeing and dinner, then navigated to a hotel in San Simeon, our final destination for the
- The Hearst Castle is the flagship thing to do in that area, and the thing that was on my bucket list, but it was closed because of road issues. (BUMMER!) Instead, we started off the day getting a good cup of coffee at a roasting company then heading north toward Big Sur.
The 90-mile stretch of the highway through Big Sur was a little stressful
to drive through. For the first hour of the trip some coastal fog obscured things, including the ocean
views. The narrow road hugged the sides of hills and had lots of twists and
turns. Around just about every one of those turns there were cars
pulled off to the side to enjoy the scenery. I lost count of all the times
we pulled off ourselves and saw things like this:
Halfway through the area we stopped at a taphouse for a surprisingly good lunch. My
caprise panini was a work of art, with thick slices of tomato and mozzarella
placed diagonally on toasted sourdough bread slathered with pesto.
- After Big Sur we ended up at Carmel-by-the-Sea. So did hundreds of other people; we had to drive around for five minutes to find a place to park and ended up about a half mile from the beach. We strolled down a shop-lined street, stopped for coffee, then continued toward the ocean. Once there I took off my shoes and got my feet wet, then we walked on a beach bluff path until we got to a street that would take us back to the car.
- On the other side of the Monterrey Peninsula from Carmel by the Sea is the city of Monterrey. We have been there a couple of times, so we just continued on our way north. We passed through a series of small towns and farm fields until we eventually reached Santa Cruz.
- Our plan was to go to mass at the mission church, but we arrived an hour early and killed time walking around the downtown area. After mass we returned to eat at a restaurant we had picked out, then walked back to our car for the last leg of our trip, ending up at Son Brian's house. We got there just after the grandchildren had gone to bed. After a short conversation with Brian and DIL Nicole Tony and I headed to bed ourselves.