We left the Best western Casablanca hotel in San Clemente after a much needed relaxing few hours by the hotel pool. It was only the second time I have managed a swim on this trip, in many places it was just too cold. Not that this was expected to be a sunbathing holiday anyway!
We joined the Interstate5 San Diego freeway out of San Clemente before splitting off onto the Pacific Coast Highway US1 or the 101 as it seems to be known as down in this last part of California.
We came to the town of Carlsbad, famous for Legoland, and stopped off at another state beach park. Whilst there were facilities like toilets, waste bins and some volleyball nets, once again there was nothing else to spoil the natural beauty, no restaurants bars or shops – just lovely blue ocean and fellow beach lovers. Over our picnic lunch right by the Ocean we got talking to a SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) guy who was local and asked me if I thought people in the States were friendly. I said we have met so many friendly people on our travels, especially in the numerous small towns we have been to. I said that like so many places generally we have found the cities less friendly than the smaller towns we have visited.
The SUP boarder told us that he would love to tour Europe on a train and said his favourite band was Depeche Mode, from Barking in Essex – he knew more about the band than we did! But he was impressed when we told him we had been listening to their excellent version of Route 66 on our USA playlist.
We continued on this historic road and came to another Spanish sounding town of Encinitas. Another quaint seaside town without any high rise buildings. We were enjoying the open road once again as it hugged this spectacular shoreline and we were enjoying our last day of ‘topless’ driving.
Our next town was “Cardiff by the Sea” – a little bit smaller than the one in Wales, and without sheep! Apart from a large campsite on the beach and a couple of ocean front shops, this Cardiff seemed more of a regular town rather than a seaside resort.
Next was Sótano which was a small surfing resort followed by Del Mar, which seemed much larger. The Pacific Coast Highway was lined with lovely trees and provided nice greenery after the open ocean road.
After Del Mar, we entered the edge of Torrey Pines which was a small forest area. Once out of this we found ourselves on the outskirts of San Diego. We saw some skyscrapers in the distance. We kept hugging the coastal road and went through the lovely suburb of La Jolla, and then met the rush hour traffic. San Diego seems to built around the ocean and various inlets and a spectacular harbour, with bridges allowing the traffic to flow around the city. Being later in the day commuters were leaving work and we did get held up in traffic over the bridges.
We made our way to North Harbour to our hotel which was situated close to the airport but opposite a lovely marina with some seriously large fishing boats.
After checking in, we went out on foot and found a great micro brewery selling some excellent lagers. Well we didn’t have a long drive tomorrow so we had a couple before having a ‘take-away’ dinner from the largest fish and chip shop I have ever seen, right on the coast. They sold lobster, crab, tuna, and so many other fish, it was fantastic. (From Chris: also a great selection of draft beers, I had yet another blonde!!) We had a great view as the moon came up over the horizon.
So today we have finished our drive on the US1, Pacific Coast Highway. We left San Francisco and arrived here in San Diego after seeing yet more stunning scenery. We have driven 630 miles on this section of our journey in the Mustang convertible. It had been a fun drive and one we will never forget, but in a way I did miss ‘Abby’ the big 4×4 GMC Yukon we had earlier on the trip. Whilst the Mustang was great for open top driving, the visibility was not as good as the higher up SUV.
Apart from the trains, planes and boats we have driven (well Chris has driven) a total 4,421 miles from Salt Lake City to San Diego. I am feeling a bit smug as I estimated the journey at around 4,500 miles!!! Adding the miles on the train from Chicago to Salt Lake we have covered approx 6,000 miles over land in the US. What a great trip (so far – here we come Hawaii!)
Tomorrow we leave the mainland onto our last State – Hawaii.