Oct 4, 2013
26.09.2013 - 13.10.2013
So we got up early (again) as we had a lot of travelling to do today. We decided the night before to skip the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey and head for Carmel. Carmel was one of those places I was waffling on whether to visit or not...I just thought it would be expensive boutiques and expensive houses....well, it was, but I wish we had more then a few hours there. We parked on the road and walked down to the ocean - the beach was amazing that early - some surfers, and lots of people with dogs. It was quite a steep bank/dune to get down (and walking up was pretty taxing). The sand was cool, the water even cooler, but it was very peaceful. After about 20 min we decided to head back up and check out some of the shops. One shop we went in - if I had jumbo luggage I could have bought so much, as it was I picked up these metal birds for the wall that are made from old oil drums in Haiti, they are fair trade, and a cute cow chalkboard for my kitchen - it was very much my style (not to mention the golden retriever who was in with his owner and got a belly rub from Darrin). Also hit a t-shirt shop and got a nice shirt with a black lab on it because it reminded me of my doggie. Also in Carmel there are all these little alleys leading to hidden courtyards - we only checked out a few, but I really wished we had spent 4 hrs there, not 2. So if you are trying to decide whether to visit Carmel, do it for an afternoon. But we had to hit the road to start the scenic coastal drive!
So...off to the coast! What a beautiful drive. We started off stopping at every look-off, but if you did that, you'd be two days doing it all. We had planned to stop in Big Sur, but we drove thru and there didn't seem to be much there...we kept waiting for a big town...maybe it's more about the beach/park there, or maybe there was a road leading to something more..we were feeling a bit of a time crunch to get to Hearst Castle, so we just kept driving. We of course stopped at the Bixby Bridge look-off - famous for car ads...lol. The drive reminded me a lot of the Cape Breton Highlands, except brown and cactus-y instead of green and pine-y. And the water is that gorgeous blue, well, not Caribbean blue, but def not Nova Scotia grey!
We stopped along the way at a beach where there are thousands of elephant seals - it was interesting to read about how 20 years ago there were a few dozen, and now it numbers in the thousands. I think it was San Simeon State Beach, as we were fairly close to Hearst Castle. They weren't doing much other then laying around. Not breeding/birthing season, just relaxing season. By the time we got to Hearst Castle, it was 3pm or so. The tours were sold out for the day, which kinda sucked, as I booked a room in San Luis Obispo, which was a 45 min drive away, thinking (hoping) we'd do the tour before continuing. But that was not to be, so we booked a tour for 9:45 the next morning so we would have to get up and go. We explored the gift shops and looked around so we wouldn't have to do that the next day, as after the tour, we had to head for Santa Barbara.
By the time we got to our room at the Rose Garden Inn (not much in the area, just lots of other hotels and the highway, but a really nice swimming pool/hot tub/waterfall if you like that kinda thing), booked the night before thanks to the power of wifi and expedia, lol, it was around supper time. I was reading reviews the night before of the hotel and people mentioned this 'Margie's Diner' right next to the hotel. We asked at the front desk, but she didn't mention - just told us where some fast food was, so back to the room and I was reading Darrin reviews of the diner...most saying...HUGE portions. Apparently they'll split meals...so we decided to go for it. Not too many other people there so we didn't know what we were in for. I ordered a hot turkey sandwich, half portion, and Darrin order beef au jus - beef on a crusty bun with beef juice for dipping. OK, I don't know how a person with a normal appetite could eat the amount of food we got. Darrin had what amounted to a whole bag of French fries, and I had enough potatoes to feed me three meals...but it was so good! Homemade potatoes, not instant, delish homemade gravy, I'd hate to see a full portion of the sandwich - I'm assuming double the meat. One strange thing was fruit on the side instead of veggies - like orange, melon...meh. I ate 2/3rds of the potatoes, they were so good and we both ate all the sandwiches. I even got a piece of apple pie to go as my evening snack! Back to the room, about 7pm by now, so we asked at the desk about any shopping nearby. We walked about 10 min to a Target store and picked up a few toiletries we were running low on and then back to the room. Then just sitting and watching TV and letting alllllll that food digest. Also managed to do a little bit of laundry.