I didn’t really know what to expect from the drive from San Diego to San Francisco, but we got a lot more than we bargained for.
We set off from San Diego at about 5:30pm last night, figuring we could get through L.A. after the traffic died down and then bed down for the night at a Walmart, saving a few bucks and getting a headstart for the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway today. We were pumped full of McDonalds muddy coffee and on the road by 9am so had the whole day to work our way up to Monterey. We split the driving between the ultra-scenic Highway 1 and the less scenic but way quicker Highway 101.
Rumbling tummies encouraged us to pull off the highway and we ended up in Morro Bay. A huge dome of volcanic rock at the end of a natural peninsular dominates the skyline as you drive into the town, and then a fugly power station takes over the skyline as you drive out. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would spoil such a pretty area with such a blot, but as we got further up the coast it started to make more sense.
Our second stop was at the aptly named Elephant Seal Vista. I knew there were seals along the coast as we’d seen some in San Diego but this was something else altogether. Literally hundreds of seals were packed in along the beach, some sleeping, others vocalizing, swimming or generally showing off. The weather was pretty wet but the optimist in me says it made it feel more like we were visiting their environment and hence added to the occasion.
After changing into dry clothes we headed on up the coast. We branched off the highway to get gas and totally chanced across a sweet little town called Cambria which was chock full of cute shops, eateries and galleries. The owner of the gas station was apparently a bit of a Datsun fan as the forecourt was rammed with old 240Zs and 280Zs, most of which could politely be described as “projects”. The highlight of Cambria was the village pharmacy that doubled as a rubber duck nesting ground. I know I’m a grown adult and I only bath about twice a year, but nonetheless I picked up an eco-duck and a surfer duck to add to my explorer duck from Manitou Springs.
Back on the road and the scenery kept getting better whilst the weather kept getting worse. The section of road through Los Padres National Forest was probably stunning, but the lack of visibility, heaving rain and occasional rocks littering the road made it pretty hair-raising. When the brakes on the truck started getting hot and our nerves finally wore through we did the sensible thing and abandoned our plans of getting to Monterey. As ever it worked out for the best and we ended up in a National Park campground at Big Sur. As we set up camp the skies started to clear, I found a bag of wet but salvageable wood, and before long we were sat round a blazing campfire. Another day on the road draws to a close and I’m shattered and stinky (this time smelling primarily of smoke)…