We left Cayucos and drove the short distance to Morro Bay, which was more of a tourist resort, albeit not by large Californian standards. There is one large rock off the shoreline and Morro Rock stands out for miles. Along the front of the resort of Morro Bay were a variety of individual shops – no major chains here. There was also quite a large number of small sailing boats in the bay.
We left Morro and drove through the Morro Golf course, passed Los Osos onto Pismo Beach.
Our first stop at Pismo was Shell Beach, a residential area overlooking a cliff top with various rock formations housing pelicans and cormorants. We had a little stroll around this nice residential area and thought what a great place to live.
Then to Pismo Beach and the Pier area, which was the first reasonable size tourist place we had seen on the Coast since Monterrey, although it appeared smaller. They had built some three and four storey apartments on the front, but in a tasteful style. It looked a nice resort, but wasn’t on our agenda to stop, so a quick drive through to appreciate it and we were back on US1.
We drove past huge sand dunes into the Pismo state park. After which the US1 seemed to head inland slightly.
We then drove for what seemed hours passed miles of agriculture (vegetable and fruit) land. A lot of it covered in the plastic poly tunnels similar to what we have seen in the ‘greenhouses of Spain’ in the Almería region. Although this was less of an expanse.
We passed an Oil refinery and some huge sand dunes. For once were not in a tourist area of the Pacific coastline!!
We then drove past a number of strawberry fields – being in the open top car we could actually smell them! A bit later we passed a few miles of cabbages again we could smell them, not quite as sweet as the strawberries!
We came to a market town called Guadalupe and felt we were in Mexico, the farmers had Mexican flags flying and a lot of the restaurants were Mexican. This seemed a busy farming and railroad town. Again, not a tourist town.
We carried on driving and were beginning to wonder where the coast had gone! We saw more farms, large sand dunes, some vines and a large Air Force Base Station.
We stayed on the long straight road heading to Santa Barbara. We were hoping to find a place to stop for a break, but there was nowhere to stop and nothing to see!
We came across a road called Hapgood Road which was surrounded by vineyards. We thought of our friend Colin, with a very similar surname who loves his wine! If we had had more time we would have tried to find if there was any wine of the same name, but alas on a tour like we are doing we cannot stop for everything that interests us, so sorry Colin, we didn’t get any wine!
We passed another farm, this time an Ostrich farm, this area really does seem to be farming almost everything! We also drove past ‘Ken’s corner’ and thought of my Dad, we wondered if they sold his favourite ‘banana split ice creams’. – Dad I know you are reading this blog, so this photo is for you!
The US1 took us inland for a long way, there was no coastal road for much of this journey. We expected to pick up the US101 where it merges with the US1, but it was closed. The detour took us to a place called Solvang, a lovely town for wine tourists. A lot of mock Tudor buildings, wine tasting and a micro brewery. We saw so many Danish influences selling things like Copenhagen liquor and a Hans Christian Andersen museum. This town is a mini Denmark and is known as the Danish capital of America. There is even a copy of the little mermaid statue.
Driving onto Santa Barbara we drove through another national forest and passed Lake Cuchuma with the Santa Ynez Mountains on our left and more forestry to our right. One of the Lakes we passed was virtually empty – another sign that California is desperate for more rain and water. I was surprised that our appearance hadn’t brought the rain the farmers are so desperate for! (For those who know us, we have a reputation for travelling to places and taking terrible rain with us! More of that in a future blog)
We were making our way back to the coast and as Santa Barbara is surrounded by the sea or mountains, coming down from the mountains we expected a spectacular view. Whether it was a sea mist or a heat haze the view was partially obscured which was a shame.
We checked into our hotel, opposite the beach by the pier and enjoyed a short walk along the front. Not for the first time we passed comment about how the coast line even in a fairly major resort had not been spoilt. There were no high rise buildings, no rows of beach umbrellas and loungers and no beach bars with loud music. Apart from a few beach volleyball nets, the long beach was left in a natural state.
After a short walk and watching the boats coming back into harbour, I thought it was time I went for a swim. Although the Pacific Ocean looked inviting, I preferred the comfort of the heated hotel pool and sun lounger and a soak in their very hot, hot tub.
Between 5-7pm the West Beach Inn serves complimentary cheese and wine. We sat by the pool for a couple of hours with other guests just relaxing as the sun went down. It was nice to just ‘chill’. After a couple of drinks on the terrace overlooking the ocean and the pier, we decided to order a take away via ‘Uber Eats’ and had a lovely meal, a fish and chip dinner – except It came with coleslaw rather than chips!! We didn’t mind, it was a bit more healthy.
I decided to go for ‘just one more’ not a drink but another soak in the lovely hot spa before bed. We are lucky enough to have a spa in our place in Spain and I was missing it!
Tomorrow we head on down south, by-passing Los Angeles as we have visited it in the past. We will be making our way to San Clemente, a place where I think our Spanish will be required again.