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California - June 2022 - Day 6

Tastes like strawberries On a summer evening'

It was time for the big drive of the trip down the famous Pacific Coast Highway. Now most people take their time doing this but due to our tight schedule we were planning to do most of it in a day.

The car was packed by 9am and we hit the road albeit in the wrong direction to fill up with petrol first. Then we hit the road.

Crossing the Monterey peninsula there was not much to see. Then it changed as we hit the coast. The views were spectacular both along the shoreline as well as inland. I don’t know which I preferred. Whenever we stopped and got out the air was so clean and fresh. For some reason I would describe it as blue.

We could have stopped hundreds of times but we were conscious of the time. In the end we use the indicator of how many other people had also pulled over as to whether we should as well.

For a while whenever we stopped, we saw the same people each time as though we were all in a procession.

It was a remarkable achievement for the road to have built all those years especially as it required the likes of the Bixby Bridge to have been constructed to enable some of the passes to be crossed. We stopped for a while at both of the big bridges to admire the view.

The weather was changeable with some cloudy patches that would then be quickly blown away to reveal blue sky again. The colour of the sea changed with the cloud cover and was beautiful. The inland view brought back to me why I love the National Parks here so much and renewed a hankering to revisit some of them. To me the views did not look real, more like something someone would create as much of a railway model mountain. Something that actually looks too perfect to exist in real life.

The driving was hard. Lots of inclines, corners and twist backs. The speed limit at times was down to 15mph. It took much concentration not always helped by the back seat driving advice I was receiving from the current Mrs Clare. Neil offered to do his share of the drive, but I was keener that he enjoys this first part of the drive admiring the view as he had not been along this route before.

After a few hours we stopped at Ragged Point for a break. We used the rest rooms and got ourself a hot drink. Neil then took over the driving. Considering he hadn’t driven in the USA for a while and wasn’t used to the car and considering some of the hairpins he had to immediately navigate, he did very well.

The road then flattened out somewhat as we approached the San Simeon area. We were now already for some lunch but couldn’t find anywhere suitable selling sandwiches and the like. We went off the main route and headed to Morro Bay where we navigated ourselves to an Albertsons. Neil and I were sent out to buy lunch. Needless to say, Karen was not happy with my choice for her despite us confirming her first choice and second choices were not available.

We decided to head to somewhere overlooking the coast to sit and eat the food and headed to Plismo Beach. My choice for Karen and I was fresh rolls into which we put some flavoured tuna were in fact delicious. There were hundreds of pelicans gliding over our heads as we sat eating in the car.

With Neil still driving we headed through some more beautiful inland countryside covered with vineyards towards Solvang. We passed an ostrich farm on route.

Solvang is known as the Danish capital of the USA. It has grown from a few Danish settlers to a full Danish town complete with windmills and a number of streets that are lined with Danish buildings and shops. It was all a little strange but picturesque at the same time. We counted four windmills along the main streets.

It made for a lovely stroll and hobble along the streets. Karen & Neil just had to sample one of the many Danish pastries on sale as we went along. We found a statue to Hans Christian Anderson and went in the Christmas shop where I bought apparently a traditional angry Danish Elf.

Karen decided that she wished we were staying here for the night, but as we weren’t we pushed on for the remainder of the drive. Neil commented not for the first time about the number of Tesla’s passing us. It does seem to be the car of choice in California. At least we haven’t seen any more of the driverless Waymo Jaguar Ipace cars that were on the streets of San Francisco and worried Karen considerably.

I took over the driving for last part and we hit a 20-minute delay for roadworks south of Santa Barbara. Our destination for the night was an Airbnb in Ventura. We were very impressed with this large city that we knew nothing about other than its location as well as the apartment itself which large, clean and airy.

We settled ourselves in and then headed out to have our first steak of the trip at an Outback some 10 minutes’ drive away. As ever the first Outback of any trip is special. We all really enjoyed our meals. After filling up with petrol for the second time today (which was not surprising as we had driven over 300 miles today), we headed back.

It was still quite early and as the apartment had free Netflix, we all sat and watched another episode of the latest series of Stranger Things. I am still not sure I really understand what is going on but I am sticking with it. Karen and I polished off a nice bottle of wine that the thoughtful owners had left us before retiring for the day.

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