Day 20 | Driving the Pacific Coast Highway

This morning we checked out of La Luna in San Francisco and set off south. We had the complimentary breakfast at the Inn which was a really busy but it got us out the door.  This is a long freeway labyrinth of that goes past the tech neighbourhoods of Palo Alto and Cupertino before becoming cherry trees and countryside.  

Finally we leave the US101 which is the major north-south route in California to drive down CA‑1, the Pacific Coast Highway.  The route is famous for the soaring views of the Pacific and the amazing wildlife and bridges since it was build in the early 1930s.  We had a sunny day for it but it was a little hazy.  

The road winds along and for us, going north to south on the right (we're on the sea-side), has great views of rock outcrops in a deep blue swell.  The haze made it a little difficult to capture some of the views certainly added to the sense of scale.  

Angus was quick to mention that there are a number of historic reinforced concrete arch bridges.  These span these deep creek gullies taking the road across spans of almost 100 m.  The road also travels up through a State Park with some quant camping and cabins and lots of coffee opportunities.  

On one of the many stops to take in the views there were a couple of dolphins and perhaps a couple of hump-backs.  There was a bit of "it’s a shark!", “No, it’s a seal!”, etc amongst the onlookers.  Given the distance it was difficult to follow them too far.  There must be a lot of feeding for the dolphins around this coast.  

Approaching the Hearst Castle turnoff we stopped at the Seal Rookery at a place called Piedras Blancas (white stone?).  There were hundreds of elephant seals on the beach doing nothing.  At least these were easier to identify.  But then we saw the squirrels and I don’t mean that metaphorically.  Although there were no trees there was scrub and lots of fencing to keep the people away from the basking seals and squirrels pop in and our past the 'don’t feed the squirrels’ signs and take food from the tourists.  They are cute little critters and very gentle.  We couldn’t help ourselves and had to give them just a little tit bit and they then seemed to know to pose for a photo.  

Heast Castle was our next stop.  The story is here that this unfinished mansion was donated to the state who now run various tours through it.  It is full of amazing and different styles and collected pieces built up over a number of years.  Many of the items require maintenance and protection from the huge numbers of tourists that come through here – you MUST stay on the carpet or get yelled at by the security guards positioned throughout the castle.

Once we had completed the inside tour (no flash photography allowed) we could wander the grounds at our leisure – it was a shame the outdoor pool was empty due to the drought – although still quite majestic.  

To exit we had to walk under the tennis courts to the indoor swimming pool which was truly amazing.  As we boarded the bus we saw a fox stroll along the hedge line.  Mr Hearst had a great love of animals and at one stage had the largest private zoo in America.  Some of the non scarcy descendants still roam the grounds.

Finally we got to the motel and needed to get some dinner.  A Chinese Restaurant called the Golden Moon sounded good.  We had Moo Shu Beef (beef, mushroom, cabbage and a black bean sauce wrapped) which was a yummy first try for us both.  All the other dishes were also great.

What could be more satisfying than finishing the evening with a trip to the laundry?  Perfect.