Day 22 – Pacific Coast Highway San Francisco to Monterey

Day 1 of our Pacific Coast Highway route

We had one last family breakfast together before we went our separate ways.  Over breakfast we added to the USA car playlist with tracks appropriate to the Pacific Coast Highway. Ash and Jo gave us some more suggestions which included, ‘Hotel California’, as big Eagles fans, we were amazed we had missed that one out.

After breakfast we walked a couple of blocks (note getting the US lingo in) and picked up our next set of wheels.

For the Pacific Coast Highway, Chris wanted something a bit different and a convertible. We picked up a blue Ford Mustang and went back to the hotel to load the luggage. Despite travelling fairly light for a 34 day trip, we were worried if it would all go in the trunk (boot) of the Mustang! The hotel staff helped us load the luggage and we said our ‘goodbyes’ to our son Ash who was making his way to Las Vegas on a ‘boys’ weekend!!! I can only imagine the state of them in a couple of days time!

Jo asked to be dropped off at her friend’s house on 4th Street and wanted an excuse to go in the Mustang! On the way, we saw some more of the city passing a nice park and a local market. San Francisco was looking quiet and peaceful this Saturday morning. We said our ‘byes’ to Jo who was off on a tour of the ‘Nappa vineyards’ with wine tasting through the day, the journey was in a Limousine which served more alcohol. Again, I could only imagine the state she and her friends would all be in later. Beginning to wonder about how we had brought our kids up!!

Jo was leaving San Francisco the next day to visit Yosemite, which I know she will love.  After dropping Jo off we rearranged the luggage in the car and put the ‘roof down’, ‘well it just had to be done’ as we made our way to the Pacific coast.

We made our way to Half Moon Bay and saw the first of the lovely beaches on this drive.  There were so many little sandy coves on this bit of the journey, it was a bit like Cornwall (a place we love in the South West of England), with lots of people surfing in wet suits out in the sea, I guess with it being a Saturday it was a popular day for the locals. The sky was very grey and we were wondering where the Californian sun was?

A bit further on the coast we stopped at Dune Bay to see the rugged sand dunes. A completely different setting to the flat sandy beaches we had seen earlier. The sun started to come out as well which was what we had hoped for.

Giant seaweed!

A few miles later , we stopped for a ‘picnic’ lunch at San Gregorio state beach, a lovely unspoilt beach of sand dunes, cliff walks and a lagoon protected by a sand bar.  This lagoon is a natural partition of the river of fresh water and the sea. It is used by the fish as a breeding ground before the young then move out to the sea in the winter when the tides are higher. People at this state park (more locals than tourists) were enjoying barbecues and picnics using the built-in facilities. After a short walk on the cliff top and the lagoon area, we got back into the Mustang (topless of course!) to head down US1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

After pulling in to a view a number of ‘vista points’ on the way, we pulled into Santa Cruz. What a lovely seaside resort. We walked along the Pier and after hearing a load of ‘barking’ noises realised that under the pier, resting on the wooden beams was a whole ‘colony’ of sea lions. Every little bit of wood under the Pier was covered by these lovely mammals basking in the sun. There were a few ‘playing’ in the water and others , especially the younger ones, who were trying to jump up to get on the beams. It was delightful to watch these sea mammals in their natural environment and not in a zoo.

We drove passed the old fairground attractions and Santa Cruz reminded me of a seaside town of my childhood days in the 60s and 70s. Despite its fairground attractions in one small area, Santa Cruz was not at all brash and seemed to offer something for all generations.  There were many people of all ages enjoying the beach and the pier.

After Santa Cruz we made our way to Monterrey, to check in for the night at our motel. A simple, but practical motel which offered everything we needed including a microwave and fridge.  Having checked in, we drove to the wharf area and found ourselves in a “London Pub” having a beer. We met some fellow Brits who were with a lady friend of theirs who had lived in the US since 1975. She had hardly picked up an accent in all that time!  We left the London pub behind to have a ‘quiet night’ in our hotel room with a microwave dinner.  We needed a break from the restaurant meals we had had in San Francisco.

So tomorrow we set off further on the Pacific Coast Highway, US1.

Ax