8 (June 13, 2008) Big Sur, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara
The target for
day is getting as close as possible of L.A.
wherever the place we’re leaving from. The best would be to reach Santa
Monica and spending the night in there. We don’t have any booked room,
though, as we don’t know where we’re going to end.
On our way will pass by the Hearst Castle, the
luxurious mansion built by magnate whose live is told in “Citizen
Kane”. We will stop in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Malibu. If we
end in Santa Monica, we could walk by 3rd Street Promenade by night, a
street with a lot of live.
I’ve read about some spots on the way by the coast
where can be seen sea lions colonies. I still don’t know where those
spots are but we must find them.
It’s 230 Km for this day which we should cover on
3 hours of driving
You cannot sleep quieter: with the sea sounds as
only thing breaking the complete silence of the night. In the morning
all is in peace as well and I want to enjoy the views to Pacific Ocean
I remember from yesterday but, when I open the door, I can see the
views have been gobbled up by a dense frog. We take breakfast in the
same restaurant than yesterday – obviously, as there is only one – with
one of those platefuls make you thing if could be possible to put
something else: eggs, bacon, sausages, etc… all home made at the
moment. Then we get baggage ready and put it in the car. When we’re
checking out the frog is clearing. That’s good, for a moment I thought
we would end this day with dozens of white pictures. It’s chilly, so
we’re wearing long sleeve. We get the gas tank full and leave to the
South for resuming our route from yesterday.
I can see on the map we’re still far from Morro
Bay, like 100 Kms, so our wish of ending in L.A. tonight is getting far
too, but let’s see how it goes. We meet the first Vista point of the
day soon. The difference is, as the ones yesterday have a clear space
for a couple of cars, this one has a big parking lot for more than
twenty cars. The views are not that spectacular, though. That must be
the reason for being alone here. As there is a display explaining the
fauna in this coast, we look further and, just in
the last corner, we can find a group of… – Let’s check the display-
sails, they’re sails. It’s amazing, we are just 5 meters above them.
They're laying on the shore, resting peacefully, and they’re only
moving their flippers, like if they were actually a hand, for whether
scratching their belly or picking their nose. We spend our time
fascinated by the animals in their wild until we take our car back to
the road, just for a few minutes, because another Vista point appears.
Only this time the car park – which is even bigger – is full of cars
and it seems crowded from the distance. So, if nobody was in the place
we’ve just being amazed and everybody is in here we can expect
something really special.
And it is indeed: at the right end of the
esplanade there is a path driving to a big beach with access restricted
by a tape marking the closest you can stay of a huge Elephant seal
colony, and the closest is like 2 meters. The smell perceived them
before the eyes do. It looks as a crowded beach, just with seals
instead of persons and no towels at all. The Elephant seals are bigger
than the other seals and have a touch of trunk in the snout. Some of
them are in water, but the most are laying in a nap. Just at our side,
we can see a couple of young elephant seals playing or fighting, we
cannot tell, but they’re the ones at picture at right.
The only preventing us of saving these two meters
for posing with the animals is, apart of the tape and the smell, a man
seated on a camping chair and doing the role of a guard. We leave that spot for walking along
the beach and watching the rest of the seals, but we meet the most
shameless habitants of this place: the squirrels. They’re constantly
appearing along the path asking for food. They’re extremely curious and
just by moving one finger I manage to attract a group to me as if it
was the monolith of 2001: A space odyssey. They’re examining my finger
by turns until one of them decide to go from “How does it smell?” to
“How does it taste?” and beats me. It doesn’t hurt as their mouths are
small and Eva wants to play the same finger game with them to get some
fun. She really gets a big group of squirrels, as if she was Alvin, as
you can see on the picture at left.
On the other side of the car park we’re alone,
but we can still see elephant seals and Californian seal, only with
smaller groups. From here is the picture at right: with a squirrel
eating and looking to the camera as the crown is at its business.
We leave the place with the feeling of have been on magic
moments which worth today’s journey by itself. Bur we have still a lot
of things to come today and, as all magic time, it was a long real
time. If there are more Vista points like this in front of us we’re not
going even to reach San Luis Obispo today. By the moment, I’ve already
discarded visiting Hearst Castle as we preferred the time spent in
nature than exploring the fantasies of a rich man.
After several minutes driving along the coast we reach the San Simenon
turning to Hearst Castle. We follow it just for checking what we can
see of the castle from outside, but the answer is nothing: just the
Visitor’s center entrance. So we go on with our route without leaving
When we reach Morro Bay the mount in the sea is almost entirely covered by the
frog. We haven’t stopped on the few Vista points we meet on our way to
here, the landscape could be clearly be seen from the car. We don’t’
want to stop now until San Luis Obispo, and we do so. We
drive for some streets until finding the mission, which we want to
visit, and since there we’ve been paying attention to the signs until
finding a parking. We’ve liked what we’ve been able to see of this city
and what we can see from the top of the parking building – where the
photo has been taken-. All the buildings are low here and, actually, we
can say this parking one is the taller of all of them. They use to be
whitewashed but looking different than the typical Mediterranean ones.
We walk to the mission exploring the streets full of shops.
Once in the mission we go in as there is a free
admittance and explore the rooms. Obviously there are the typical
objects and costumes of catholic liturgy, but some other objects of the
daily live in the period. Although this is one of the oldest buildings
in California, it is from 1772, so these are objects from the 19th
century. Europeans could be used of these things, but they’re very
proud of it and a plaque recalls this is the fifth of the 21 missions
Everything is clean, well conserved and very beautiful: the
garden, the facade, the rooms, the objects, the statue of the bishop of
Tolosa: San Luis. Enthusiastic about everything we’re seeing we decide
to purchase the 14 pieces of the nativity scene, mainly white, as we
still haven’t got any at home. We pay 40$ for it ion the gift store and
walk exploring the shops of the street as we’ve finally got spare time.
We’re going to lunch here and now it’s still forty minutes past noon.
We walk around and take Higuera Street for checking the
stores in there. We get into a pet boutique where you can find anything
you can imagine for dogs and cats, with a patisserie among them. The
picture shows their assorted of pies, canapés, cookies,… anything can
make your pet feel special on its
birthday. This is quite amazing as
these samples can beat the ones of a lot of patisseries for humans. I
can see pop corn for dogs by 5$ as the cheapest thing of the whole
store. Dogs earn a lot of money around here.
The window of another store shows decorative designs for home
all made with… military helmets!. Really, there are lamps and even a
ladybug, which is just a helmet in red with black points and some
little legs. I pay attention on a photo shop because they’re selling
mostly second hand repaired photo and video cameras with a guarantee
and incredible prices. We all have our digital cameras but it makes you
want to buy something just because the opportunity.
We finally get into a big tavern on which there are concerts
and dance some nights, but now is offering its daily look. Its name is Mother’s Tavern.
They do a lot of fine things with hamburgers, but Eva is a defender of
healthy food and, recalling yesterday’s dinner and the breakfast of
this morning, make me look for another kind of lunch. My sister is out
of it as she has gone to the car, where she has a sandwich saved from
the dinner. Finally, when we are already served our usual glass of
water with lemon and ice, we order a kind of taco with salmon and salad
inside and a couple of cokes. When our lunch arrives the taco is quite
bigger than expected, and there are two of them! And with those
delicious home made fries besides. We ask for each of our second taco
to be packed as we’re not going to be able of eat them now. It seems
quite normal in US to pack the spare food in restaurants. Trini appears
explaining how she’s lost her food: the last memory about it is putting
on the top of the car when we were getting ready for leaving Gorda, so
it seems her pack hasn’t manage to follow us until here. She has
lunched a sandwich somewhere. Our lunch is 20$ and we can say it
includes our dinner for today too.
We walk to the parking, but no rush, checking stores in Broad
St., Marsh St. and Garden St. Our will is not getting into the stores,
but we cannot resist when we see a big store with movies’ objects. They
have a real size Chewbacca with the Austin Powers mini-me wearing the
Lakers T shirt in its arms, which can make an idea what it is about. I
buy a Star Wars Jawa figure which moves the big head by 15$, but my
sister says in Barcelona has seen this same figure by 100€. It’s hard
We still go into another store, just besides the
parking: Sports Authority. As the hint in its name, it is a big outlet
of sport equipment. I’m amazed on golf section because of the big stock
and the prices, so finally I take a drive. I don’t play with drives
yet, just irons, but this costs 29$ and is of the brand Wilson.
value this same club by 150€ in Barcelona. I still don’t know what I’m
going to do with it in the plane, but I have several days in front to
working it out and it is worth the shot by this price, even if it
finally cannot come with me. Eva wants a whole club set with bag, its
price is 100$, which is cheaper too, but
that is going to be impossible to bring to home.
We finally leave this city. We’ve liked it and I didn’t read anywhere
this was a shopping place but my feeling is this is the place where the
shopping must be made. We still have a lot to see of California, but we
love the style of the cities of these last days: all clean, impeccable!
I think we are not going to forget California
From San Luis Obispo, Hw1 joins to 101, which is
highway across the interior. We leave the coast and are not going to
see the sea again until arriving to Santa Barbara. That means we’re not
going to have Vista points in our way, so we can drive directly and
covering the 150 Km of distance in a good time. It’s a few minutes past
16h and I still can see chances of being in L.A. tonight.
After one hour and a half we get into Santa Barbara and soon
find the parking signs driving us to the top of a building. The views
are beautiful, one more time, the sea at one side and the mountain on
the opposite. This mountain is full of white houses which I guess
they’re mansions due to the level of life I could feel in this city. It
is like the expensive version of San Luis Obispo. We walk around to
check how it is, indeed, impeccable too. Everything looks new, that’s
it is recalling San Luis Obispo for us, it’s just the houses are on the
next level of luxury and there are palm trees all around, which is
another difference. We’re talking about such level that the typical
street musician playing for coins in all the cities is a pretty woman
with a night dress and playing a harp. Is the one in the picture at
left. What a difference with the ones banging an accordion in our metro!
There is a network of trolleys as public transport
around the city, they’re in pristine condition too. Just one hour of
walk because we don’t have time for more, we can feel how the sun is in
rush for hiding today and I still want to stop in Malibu. I’m relieved
because I can see that in the case we are not going to end tonight ion
L.A., we will do it quite close of it. So, visiting Santa Monica
tomorrow morning is going to be feasible. I think we’re going to spend
the night in Malibu.
The road is along the ocean again and the views of
the coast are beautiful too, but we prefer the wild touch from the Big
Sur ones as here there is not a single area without urbanizing. Even a
small island is accessible by a very long gangway over the sea. The
quality of the picture is quite poor because it is taken through the
window of the running car.
As you can see the sun was almost gone and we are in a
frenetic race to as far as possible. When there are more dark than
light the signs make us think we’re arriving to Los Angeles city and
then I wonder “Malibu?”. It seems we’ve left it behind but, as my goal
of spending the night in L.A. at hand, we’re not going to see Malibu.
We are now within one of the biggest cities in the world, but
feel like if we were driving by an intercity highway instead. We can
trees – palm trees mainly – at both sides, but we can barely see a
building. The highway network in the city is kind of complex and we
soon get lost in it. I know we must take the 10 to reach Santa Monica,
and I do it, but when I realize we’re going to the wrong direction and
leave the highway to turn round I get into a mess of highways where we
waste one hour before being back to the 10 one in the right direction.
We arrive at dark night but it is easy to get oriented
because you can feel where the sea is, but our priority now is getting
some lodge. I’m driving directly to a Travelodge I chose before
travelling because it was close to the pier and the beach. We soon
reach the pier, which we can see with lights and pretty crowded by
night and we finally find Santa Monica Beach Travelodge (29), although
not as easily as I though. But it results not being vacancy in there,
it’s completely full. They give us this map with all Santa Monica
lodging for helping us in our search. This Travelodge’s situation was
not that good as presumed because, it is indeed close to the beach, but
between them there is a highway and some buildings, which makes the
beach near, but difficult to reach. Actually, you can’t even see it
Anyway, looking at the map I choose the Comfort
Inn Santa Monica (7) because the hotel in Philadelphia belonging to
this franchise was superb and it is several streets up next street, but
when we arrive we just receive another no-vacancy answer. It’s 22:30h
and we can be losing chances with every minute, so this is becoming an
emergency. As we could see a Best Western Hotel (5) in this same street
we go there, as it is the closest option. It’s also full, though. They
even tell us the last free room was just delivered a few minutes ago.
Ok, I remember reading very good reviews about a Travelodge in Pico
Boulevard (31), the only problem is it is far from the beach, but as
we’ve got a car this is a minor problem for us. I stop on the
Travelodge we first stopped and ask them for the address and even the
phone, as now we’re going to stop going around and look for a bed by
phone. The man in the desk of this Travelodge calls and tells us there
is only one room available, but they can make it for three by 169$. I
immediately agree and take note of the address.
We get the place quickly once we know it is in Pico Boulevard
with 31st St., so we go up the boulevard paying attention to the
streets names – or numbers -: 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st, here it
is. There is only one free space in the parking lot, which is enough
There is a guy at the desk playing a guitar that stops as we came
in. He treats us friendly… a lot… it’s like if we are his surfing pals,
but it is nice. Our triple room is ready and with a lot of space. It
even has a room with a coffee machine and table with chairs. We like
the Travelodge Pico,
but we will enjoy it later as we need to go out for dinner quickly. We
want to go to 3rd Street promenade without knowing what we’re going to
find in there at midnight. Our new friend writes down indications about
how to get there and where to park in our map.
park in the building in 2nd Street, which you can find following the
“P” signs even with no indications. The live seems to be ending in the
promenade as it is so late. We still can go into an open place, like
the typical American bar but with music. It’s name is Trastevere. There
is no problem for dinner at this late time and the man attending to us
speaks a perfect Spanish. We order three pizzas with cokes and my
sister even go for some shots: 50$ in total. We’re tired and go to