Tuesday 19th June
19 Jun 2012
|Our second to last day here in the USA dawned very grey and slightly foggy in Salinas. Yet another hotel breakfast and we rolled our suitcases out to the car. We’d brought them all in last night and had a bit of a rearranging of stuff to distribute the weight evenly. Hamish repacked most everything and I think he found some more space as he mentioned that we might be able to call into a Walmart on our way to the airport!!
We decided to head south via Highway 1, the coast road which runs more or less from San Francisco to LA. It was the first time we’d seen the sea since we’d landed almost five weeks earlier. The road was cut a couple of hundred metres above the coast into the cliffs for a lot of the way, and there were lovely views of the ocean and the rocky coastline. However, because the sun was hidden by the light fog, it wasn’t as spectacular as it would have been on a sunny day.
We stopped at the River Inn café in Big Sur for morning tea. I had a latte which was okay, but I’m still hanging out for my first flat white back in New Zealand!! It was a lovely place, with lots of trees and gardens. There were some lovely birds which weren’t scared of us, turns out they are blue jays (thanks Mr Google).
Onwards and we stopped at San Simeon for lunch, in the shadow of the Hearst Castle built mainly during the 1920’s by William Randolph Hurst for his lover Marion Davies. We didn’t go to the Castle as we didn’t have time (there’s several different tours and to see all the buildings would take half a day), and the tours are often sold out days ahead. We could see it from the road though. Our lunch spot had a lovely view over the Pacific ocean. By now the sun had broken through the fog and the sky (and also the sea) was a beautiful blue colour, though the temperature was very comfortable, about 18 degrees.
Very soon after our lunch stop, there was seal colony we stopped at. The seals were Elephant Seals, which are very large animals. Apparently the southern hemisphere elephant seals are much larger, but I’ve never seen them. These ones today were big enough for me!
What a day it’s turned out to be for wildlife. While watching the elephant seals, there were lots of squirrels running around everywhere. They weren’t at all scared of us humans, as you can see from the photo of the wee chap sitting up begging. Then blow me down, shortly after leaving the seal colony, Hamish said “I’m going to do a u-turn, I’ve seen some zebras”. Yeah right I thought. But he did a u-turn, and sure enough….see photo. I seemed to recall in the recesses of my memory that WR Hearst had some kind of private zoo at his castle, and I thought the zebras must be a legacy of that. Sure enough, thanks to Mr Google, I discovered I was right.
Highway 1 is a beautiful road, just made for motorcycles. It’s one lane each way, not freeway, but the views are really spectacular and there’s lots of places to pull off for photos. Going from north to south means we were on the sea side, and most of the pulloff areas were on our side of the road.
Just a useless statistic for you: I’ve realized that we’ve been to five bike racing race tracks while we’ve been over here: Miller Motorsports Park (Utah); Road America (Wisconsin); Indianapolis (Indiana); Barber Motorsports Park (Alabama) and Laguna Seca (California).
We headed inland soon after Morro Bay and once we got to Santa Maria the traffic built up and it seemed take forever to get through, even though we were on freeway. It eventually cleared though, and we got to our hotel around 5.30pm.
So much for me saying “we’re staying in a little place north of LA” tonight…200,000 people live here!! We couldn’t be bothered going out for a meal so we ate in at the hotel restaurant.
Tomorrow’s our last day here…in some ways I don’t want to go home, but five weeks away is a long time and it’s probably about time we returned to normality. We'll be spending tomorrow having a lie-in, then heading to the airport with lots of time to spare before our 9.30pm flight home.
Hamish’s Mum and Dad are picking us up at Wellington airport on Friday morning. We don’t want to drive after a 13 hour flight, as we’d probably forget which side of the road we’re meant to be on!
During our 33 days we'll have clocked up very close to 10,000 miles (almost 16,000kms), and been to 21 different States, some twice:
Phew...I think we'll be coming home for a rest!
The highlights for me? Well, obviously the bike racing, because that’s why we came over here. Apart from that, probably the one highlight that stands out is the Barber Museum. It was fantastic. We’ve also enjoyed the spectacular scenery in a lot of places (Utah and Colorado stand out in particular), the Corvette factory, the visits to Laguna Seca and Indianapolis race tracks, and above all the friendliness of the American people. And have I mentioned the food? The brats and spare ribs at Road America, In-N-Out burgers in California and Utah are at the top of the list but we've had lots of nice food.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these journals. I've enjoyed writing them, and it's given me a record of what we've done. Thanks to those who've emailed me during the journey. If I haven't responded I do apologise, but I always enjoy hearing from home.
We have our jackets ready for when we get off the plane, as the temperatures will be somewhat cooler than we've had for the last five weeks...