I promised Maggie I'd share some stories and photos from my drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, and since I've now been home for more than two weeks I guess it's about time.
The trip started in San Francisco. We stayed in the tourist ghetto of Fisherman's Wharf, checked out the city on a bus tour and a boat tour of the bay. We didn't get to Alcatraz as all the tours were sold out, but at least I've seen it from the tour boat circling the island.
We cheked out downtown San Francisco and Haight before we headed north to Marin County and Muir Woods. After being in crowded areas for days it was great to head into the woods and look at the redwood trees.
The redwood trees were slightly bigger than the ones in my forest back home.
San Francisco was colder than expected, but fun. Our next stop was Santa Cruz, one of my favourite places on the trip. We stayed at a wonderful hotel by the beach, the Dream Inn. Pricey, but highly recommended.
We found a great mexican place called Las Palmas Taco Bar (family owned and operated since 1955) with a huge selection of veggie items on the menue. You know you're at a good place when the local cops stop by for their lunch.
Highway 1, somewhere between Monterrey and Carmel.
Highway 1 twists its way along the coast, alternating between fog and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The farmland surrounding Santa Cruz gave way to pristine beach in Carmel where we watched the wealthy inhabitants walk their dogs. No sign of mayor Clint Eastwood though.
After a few hours we stopped in Big Sur, a few houses surrounded by the forest. I bought a book on 1940's dating advice from a small shop that sold tarot cards, scented candles, jewlery and some amazing photographs.
Made a quick stop at Hearts Castle and found an outlet mall near our hotel in Pismo Beach. Had a great dinner at The Cracked Crab.
In the morning we fought for a seat at the breakfast buffet before heading down to the beach to watch the surfers.
Surfers. Pismo Beach.
We detoured to Solvang, a Danish city in the California desert. It seemed like a popular tourist destination, but apart from the novelty factor it seemed overpriced and kinda like Disneyworld without the rides. They did however have a nice little museum.
But the best thing about Solvang was what we found when we left. I saw the sign "Flag Is Up Farms" and made Andy turn around so we could check it out. For those of you who don't know, Flag Is Up Farms is the home of horse trainer Monty Roberts.
At Flag Is Up Farms.
After a quick stop at Flag Is Up Farms we headed to Carpinteria, our last stop before reaching Los Angeles. We didn't know where to go for dinner, so we asked at the hotel and the receptionist recommended Clementine's, a purple house just three minutes down the road.
It was a great place, almost like having dinner in someones living room. I was so full I could barely walk back to the hotel after finishing my slice of peach pie.
Our next stop was the city of Angels. We stayed in Marina Del Rey, a fifteen minute walk from Venice Pier.
We did the tourist tour of LA, and saw Rodeo Drive (smaller than expected and rather boring), Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Mulholland Drive. I thought I'd enjoy checking out the stars on the boulevard and the hand- and footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but it was way too crowded.
I shopped at My Baby Jo, met Jimmy Shine at the So-Cal Speed Shop in Pomona (if you're not into hot rods, you're not gonna be impressed by the fact that we toured the shop and saw the original belly tank, a race car).
Also checked out Chip Foose's shop, Retro Row and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Retro Row was full of quirky little vintage and rock n roll shops. We also stopped by Skratch's garage in Sun Valley, checked out La Brea Tar Pits and went for a swim by Venice Pier. And I got to eat at Taco Bell, but not as often as I would have liked.
But I didn't realise how huge LA is. It took us more than an hour to drive from Pomona to Marina Del Rey, and we didn't even hit that much traffic.