Sunday, 3 January 2016

California to El Chorro Regional Park

Highway 101 south in California is very interesting, and somewhat confusing. You drive on a 4 or 6 –lane divided Freeway
multi-lane divided highway

on excellent roads, and then for no apparent reason, the highway becomes 2 lanes wide, not divided.
or only 2 lanes...

It does make sense though where there are groves of redwood trees, which the highway has to weave around.

especially around the redwoods.
The next night we stopped in Richardson Grove RV Park, right off Highway 101. It is a large wooded area, and a smaller open space. We had a pull-through in the open area, with full hook-ups. We were right close to the washrooms too. However, this is a bit of a grand name for what we found. One small white wooden building was divided in half - one half or women, the other for men. Inside a rather grubby room, is one small toilet stall with a ¾ door, and one shower with a wooden door- except in the Men’s, John opened the door to check it, and it fell off in his hand!

Just after we pulled in, another Airstream pulled in behind us.

2 Airstreams in the rain and puddles
The owner and his black Lab, Kaley, of the 19ft. Bambi was returning to Sacramento from a fishing trip up in Crescent City. It poured rain all night from about 7pm on. When we got up, there were puddles everywhere, and to unhook the electric, John should have had the wellies he didn’t buy in Tofino!

On the way out we saw the One-Log House across the highway, and decided to check it out.


It is amazing that a 7ft high room could have been hollowed out of one 32ft log. There were even roses outside the store.
The water drops are rain!

We couldn’t stay though as we had to keep heading south.

Passing through Willits, but not stopping this year

and into wine country of Sonoma

We stopped for two nights in Santa Rosa. We chose to stay in the Fairground RV Park.

Fairground RV Park, Santa Rosa

This turned out to be a large gravel parking lot, with full services, a few trees and a cold grubby washroom. The next day we decided to drive around the Sonoma area to the coast on a winery tour.

There were miles of vineyards

Lunch was a small town of Forestville

with a huge decorated tree in the parking lot on Main St,
where there will be a Town Square next year
It turned out to be an interesting drive through wine country, but no winery visits. We drove through the canyon to the coast as we missed the turn off to more wineries.
Through the narrow canyon to the coast

The coast was cool and foggy but interesting.

Pampas grew wild everywhere along the roads and on the sides of the hills
The very small town of Jenner is right on the coast

Jenner's pier and restaurant

Further along the road ran above the coast
with crashing waves on the cliffs

Further along we drove into a beautiful Golf Club community.
All the houses were unique 

 The next day dawned sunny and clear, so we continued south towards Monterey. We drove across the Golden Gate bridge,
Lots of people were walking and riding across the bridge

and through San Francisco, past lots of California-style homes – pastel, Spanish influence with tiled roofs.

Part of what makes this coast different from the Oregon coast is that in Oregon, the mountains are much closer to the coast, and towns are strung along the highway, while here, in this part of California, the towns along the coast are on both the ocean [west] and spread out on the east side of the highway. Valleys are much wider, and the hills are domed, barren and sculpted.
Driving along the coast

The road goes through the mountain rather than over or around it

A few sparse trees

or high cliffs to the ocean, with roads cut into the base
We drove to Monterey to enjoy the Laguna Seca Recreational Area Campground again. We had really liked this campground two years ago. We decided to drive along the coast on Highway 1, but will never do it again. Scenery was beautiful, but the traffic was terrible, especially in Santa Cruz.
Bumper to bumper and slow for miles

Big open sites, level with beautiful views of the valley, or, on
 the other side, of the racetrack- these were full though...
A beautiful view over the valley

The next morning, John saw 2 large transport trucks drive in to the Race Track paddock. We decided to drive into Monterey

The tunnel goes under the road and homes in the middle of the city

Crosswalks by Cannery Row were unusual
and see the Aquarium.

It is an incredible experience. The ocean-view decks on the back offer a great vantage point to watch the tidal pool and to spot wildlife in the bay.


We arrived just in time to see the feeding session for the sea otters. They are adorable. They train them to increase their trust in humans. Otters [like Labs] will do anything for food! So they are relatively easy to train.

Otters rocket around the pool on their backs!
We went through the Kelp Forest, a huge 2 storey round tank aquarium.


The Rocky shore, the amazing Giant Pacific Octopi,

Our first sight of the giant Octopus

Interesting fact!

Life on the Bay
Beautiful Anenomes

Stalk Anenomes dig 2-3ft into the ocean floor

Live Sand Dollars

Anchovies swim in schools for protection
and the Shore, and the Jellies

Moon Jellyfish

Crystal Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Purple-Striped Jellyfish

Stinging Nettles Jellyfish

. There is a section for a Special exhibit- the one right now is Tentacles, the lives of octopi, squid and cuttlefish.

It is incredible. There are explanations of all ocean life. For kids, both big and small, there are several hands-on Touch and Splash Pools.

Then we walked along Cannery Row, wandering in and out of shops.

The hotel on Cannery Row

An excellent stop for a fast delicious burrito for lunch
We went to dinner celebrating our 25th Anniversary at PF Chang’s in Monterey. Across from our table a man made a comment about driving all day. We asked if he had been at Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway, and discovered that he had been at an Allen Berg Race Driving School, and raced with Allen Berg’s team. Allen, and another team member joined him, and invited us to come to the paddock and watch the next day.

When we woke up the next morning, we could hear cars on the Mazda Raceway track. John went to investigate. The cars were on the track running training sessions, with the pace car leading them. 

Allen Berg's Formula Renault cars on the track at the Andretti Hairpin
[Taken from the campground!]

We drove down to the Paddock,

Lunch Break, but the cars are ready...

Drivers in, ready to go
and drove up to the Corkscrew.

Top of the Corkscrew
It was amazing to watch folks who knew what they were doing in going around the track. Allen has sophisticated analysis software, to help drivers improve their techniques. After each session, each driver gets a debriefing on what they are doing well, and areas they could improve, with specific instructions. It was fascinating - even when it started to rain.
Allen and his crew just after the start
It rained off and on, so we left the track and headed for Pacific Beach to watch the waves. We had been told that the surf was running really high because of the storms. It wasn’t as high as we had seen, but was really impressive crashing on the rocky shore.

Waves crashing
We walked for a bit, then drove to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the prettiest town. We parked in a lot on Third and Jaquinto, and walked to the downtown centre. The stores are beautiful.

Many have the half door, and lots had the top open.


We walked down one side of Junipero St. and up the other, stopping to ooh and aah at the galleries and jewellery, and marvel at the house prices. We found interesting little back courtyards with unique shops.

Cottage of Sweets

Next door to the candy store

The courtyard behind

A place to relax in the centre of the downtown

Another courtyard of cafes and homes

A covered entrance to a courtyard
The next day we were to leave. John, on his early morning walk, saw a lot of interesting cars on the track. He drove down and discovered it was Track Day, where anyone’s car which passes the safety inspection can drive the track for the day. There were Mustangs, Corvettes, even Mazda MX-5's, RX7’s, Toyotas, BMW’s, Porsches and Mercedes.
The top of the Corkscrew
and down to the bottom of the Corkscrew
He came back really excited, and as we were only driving a short distance south towards Hearst Castle, we went down and check it out. It was interesting to walk around and see the different cars and seeing into the pits where drivers were working on their cars.
When we left, we drove across to Highway 101 past huge fertile fields through 
Miles of fertile fields
and through a beautiful avenue of threes

the San Joaquin valley. Along the road we saw some unique bells, spaced about evenly apart, some with plaques attached. This was the original El Camino Real, Spanish for “The Royal Road” which was the California Mission Road between Sonoma and San Diego. In 1906 the California Women’s Club unveiled the first of 650 roadside bells to commemorate the historic trail. Cast metal bells are hung on shepherd’s crooks or “Franciscan Walking Sticks” I tried to get a good picture while we were driving, but finally got one when we stopped at a Rest stop.
Unique bells marking El Camino Real

Travelling further south through the Salinas Valley, we passed huge fields of “donkeys” drilling for oil, San Ardo’s “black gold”.

We continued south to Paso Robles, but as it was still early, we decided to carry on to San Luis Obispo. We chose to stay at El Chorro Regional Park just north of Morro Bay on Highway 1. There are three loops, with sites of varying sizes, some with no hookups and some with full hookups. We had a fairly private, level site in Romauldo Loop, with full hookups. From here it was a relatively short drive to Hearst Castle and to see the Elephant Seals.
The site next to us

Our private site


No comments:

Post a Comment