Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hwy 1 Pacific Coast

1. The Mighty Pacific
2. Sea Elephants
3. Hearst Castle
4. Kayacs at the ready
5. Morro Bay

After leaving Solvang, I drove through miles and miles of vinyards. Then it changed to truck farm produce. Then back to orderly row upon row of grapevines.

I was passed at one point by a Ladybug – a red VW beetle with black spots painted on it – really cute.

At San Luis Obispo, I joined Hwy 1, and at first opportunity, headed for Morro Bay state park. This is really a nice park. It’s got a golf course, beaches, campground, marina, and restaurant – very heavily wooded. It’s just gorgeous. I mean, all these beautiful places. The wildflowers are so pretty (I have to find more adjectives) I woke up this morning in a hot tent, but here along the coast, it is breezy and cool.

I can see the big Morro Bay Rock from here, I think I’ll get closer. I found something I don’t see in Virginia Beach – a parking space right off the bay. I walked around the little village of Morro Bay – Interesting little place. Not very big, just comfortable to walk up and down the street. Breeze is still blowing. I’m headed back to Hwy 1, but not before I admit to buying another chunk of fudge – this time dark chocolate with coconut crème center. (Oops, do I have to admit to the bag of salt water taffy I got, too? )

There is a lot of kayaking here by the looks of all the rental signs. Unknown to me – the day before, Carol and Ken were kayaking in this very spot!!!

I pulled off at another beach to watch some guys doing what I learned later was Kite Boarding. Standing on a short surf board, being pulled along with a kite. One kite looked like it had broken loose, it was so far out, but by n’ by, I saw the surfer riding in-shore, until he up-ended.

Hearst Castle: I got here too late to take a tour. Well, I guess I have to save something for next time. I really wasn’t pushing it cause I know how expensive it is to tour Biltmore in NC – but I learned you can take a tour of Hearst Castle for as little as $20. But that’s OK, cause next weekend, when I am long gone to Chico, they are opening a winery on the grounds, and a wine tasting room, and all that good stuff…… Definitely next time! At least I got some post cards and could actually see the castle way up there on it’s mountain perch.

I stopped at an Elephant Seal viewing area. OMG they are huge. The females get to 1500#, and the males up to 5000#. They are fairly new to this area, or rather returned to this area and are highly protected. You can’t get down on the beach with them, but who’d want to???? The first group I stood above, I thought were dead and washed up on the beach, but upon watching for a few minutes, there was a twitch here, a wiggle there, and I realized they were just sleeping. One looked as though it’s head had been chewed off, leaving just a red stump (you know my eyesight is getting worse) But it was a male with his great red proboscis (Nose, people, nose!)

Oh-oh, it’s 5:30, and I’ve got to find a campground! I’m not even going to make it to Carmel today (another short 200 mile jaunt from Solvang) I drove along Hwy 1 north – passing a sign that warns of high surf – caution – another that said “floods during storms”, It’s hard to believe, but I can imagine the storms that would cause them.

Well, I kept climbing and climbing up this raggedy road, and while trying to steer and record, I nearly hit the mountainside – lucky it wasn’t the Ocean side. It’s at the point where the road is just above the surf, so all the vista turn-offs are on the mountain side. It is so beautiful!!!

This snaking, winding, up and down road – we’ve come about 650 feet from sea level – no – we were up to 740 something. It is hard to believe my sister-in-law, Carol – took a bike ride down hwy 1 last year – and saying “down” doesn’t make it easier – what goes up must come down. Up and down these hills, my God. I can’t imagine it. It, If I remember correctly, was a 100 mile ride. I cannot even imagine it.

Well, there were no spaces at the first campground I stopped at. It was a National campground, so with my “America the Beautiful” I could have stayed for half price - $11.00.

The second campground slipped by before I caught sight of the drive, and I was on a high curve, and in traffic – so I missed it, but it would have been great! Colorful tents on the ocean side, covering the “cliff” and hills – like mushrooms sprouting.

I couldn’t get back to it without travelling quite away to the next available turning possibility. The third campground, Limekiln, which is the one I had planned to stay at, was closed. Structures and roads unsafe. They must have had a slide or something. So, on I went - it was 6:50 and I hadn’t found a place to pitch my tent.

Must have been quite a few rockslides along here, I’m now down to 1 lane of traffic - for both directions. I’ve seen a lot of road construction – repairs along here. I guess it’s been a pretty rough winter.

I spotted the sun setting just above the horizon. I tried to get to a view point for a photo, but by the time I found a stopping place, it was below the water - it only took about 3 minutes!! Well, I’ll be back on the coast in Northern California later.

I stopped at another campground – Big Sur – I’d love to stay here – the smell of wood smoke, the river flowing nearby, but they want $50 for a tent site. They have some $35 sites, but they are all reserved. I decided to start looking for a motel, cause it was too dark to pitch a tent without difficulty.

I finally found a Motel 6 in Monterrey – It was $70 – only $20 more than a tent site – and had internet service – so I posted my San Bernardino post, and had a good nights sleep.

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

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