The coast road from San Fransico to Los Angeles





We set off early with only a 2 hour drive through some really pretty countryside. Monterey was decided on as our first of two overnight stops along the way. Monterey was is just outside Carmel by the Sea which is a very exclusive place to visit and the quaint little shops were interesting but certainly on the high end price-wise and if you didn’t have a dog on a leash you felt positively underdressed. Each of the stores had a dog water bowl on the footpath for the pooches. We wandered for a couple of hours and then headed back to Monterey for an early dinner at Chilli’s before retiring to the hotel. The food was great as was the hotel.

Day two we headed off down highway 1. The weather was clear and the drive again was very scenic. Today we were headed for Ventura which is only two hours north of LA. This is certainly worth doing and I would recommend this drive to anyone. The driving was not too difficult and there are lots of places to pull over to take pictures and a break.

A highlight was a stop off to view the elephant seal colony, although they were not what you would call energetic.

Tomorrow we fly to Abilene where we will stay for Christmas. Bring on the West Texas BBQ.

San Francisco

As mentioned in previous post the rain as forecast was coming down, although it was easier throughout the middle of the day. We headed to Fisherman Wharf and parked the car in a nearby carpark. We decided given the weather to catch the Hop on Hop off bus around the downtown area and some of the main sites. We will take the other route across the Golden Gate bridge tomorrow. The bus ride was very informative and I didn’t realise this was where Levi jeans were first made and remains the world head quarters for this company.

After the tour we headed for Pier 39 to check out the shops and the seals snoozing on the docks. Not so many today but enough to make the walk worthwhile. After spending time taking photos of the seals and of Alcartraz which could be seen easily from the end of the pier. We decided on lunch at where else but Bubba Gumps and yes we all had shrimp but I also had the clam chowder, I can never resist a good chowder. After a very enjoyable lunch, our table overlooked the bay, we head back to the pier for a wander through the stores.

The rain was starting to get heavier so we decided to call it a day, collect the car and head back to the hotel.

Day 2 saw the weather improve a little but still showering heavily at times. The sun tried hard a couple of times to put in an appearance but not successful. The day started for us after parking the car again near Fisherman’s Wharf the catching the Hop on Hop off tour over the Golden Gate bridge and in to Sausolito. We donned the rain ponchos provided and proceeded to top of the bus, Sharpie declined and stayed downstairs and dry. Not sure why he wouldn’t want to ride around in top of open double decker bus in the rain ducking rain soaked tree branches.

It was so worth a bit of moisture and cold to experience driving across the Golden Gate in such a way. The views of the city and the bay were ourstanding and the guide commented on the views as often in good weather fog or smog blocks the view. The next part of the journey was to the quaint, very exculusive and expensive Sausolito. This was interesting and on a fine day it would have been fun to wander around and catch the ferry back to the city, not for us given the weather.

After a hot chocolate and drying off a bit we headed to Union Square and visited Macy’s, very crowded with shoppers so we didn’t hang around long before taking a drive around some of the steep streets for a look before heading back to the hotel, it was teaming with rain by this time and Ian was doing well with the driving especially through the main part of the city in such conditions. We had a very early dinner or late lunch at Denny’s which was located next to our hotel. A wet but enjoyable visit in San Francisco tomorrow we head back towards Los Angles via the coast road.

Driving from San Diego to San Francisco

We decided to drive right through in the day to allow us extra time in San Francisco. San Francisco is 502 miles (800 km) north of San Diego and we traveled on the Interstate 5 (I5) for the entire trip. Until we passed LA the traffic was a bit steady but not as slow as the M4 on a good morning. It was truly amazing how the countryside changed along the way there must have been at least 150 miles (maybe more) of nut trees and they had ripped a lot out due to irrigation restrictions.

Today we saw the most cattle any of us had ever seen before in one place, they were in a big feedlot that went on for miles and miles. They were all black cattle and I would hate to think of the volume of feed they would consume in a dayThe feedlot (Harris Ranch) can process up to 250,000 head cattle annually. At any given time, seventy to 100 thousand head of cattle are present at the lot. Cattle typically spend twelve to sixteen months grazing before arriving at the feedlot at 650 to 750 pounds. Once there, the cows spend three to four months fattening up to an additional 400 pounds before they are slaughtered at Harris Ranch’s Selma plant. Now the largest cattle feeder on the West Coast, Harris Ranch produces nearly 200 million pounds of beef a year but is still considered a moderately sized operation. The nation’s largest operations located in the Midwest and Texas feed can feed over 400,000 head of cattle at one time. Mega-feedlot operations such as these pose significant human and environmental health threats including surface and groundwater contamination and air pollution including emission of greenhouse gases. 

We arrived at our hotel a few minutes after 4pm and were settled into our room a short while later. Ian and I duck across the road to Panda Express to get some take away Chinese for dinner. It was a long drive but very interesting just the same. The little red ford focus ticked over the 2000th mile since we picked her up in LA.

The rain started about 200 miles out of San Francisco and it looks as though our visit to the bay area will be wet. According to weather reports, there is substantial rain on the way.

San Diego and Sea World

San Diego turned on some beautiful weather for us to explore San Diego. Day one was spent wandering around the downtown in Gas Lamp district. We visited Westfield’s and checked out Macy’s and Norstrom’s department stores in the complex. We wandered along the waterfront and visited Sea Port village which was well done but obliviously designed with tourists in mind. Lots of quaint little shops with oodles of souvenirs and nicknacks.

Dinner was just up the road from the hotel at Japanese restaurant Fuji Steakhouse and SushiOur Teppanyaki Chef was fantastic and to quote Sharpie “The best calamari’ he has ever eaten and complimented his streak perfectly. Mum and I had the steak and shrimp and we all had chicken fried rice as a side. All prepared in front of us in teppanyaki style.

Day two we took a drive out to the San Diego zoo and took some pictures at the entrance but decided we would go to Sea World as it would be less walking and the shows looked good. Good, they were great, we watched all three shows and each one outdid the previous show. The sea lions and the otter were funny and the show on how the dolphins and whales are being trained for the new show opening in 2010 was terrific and informative. Our day was capped off with the Shamu show which was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and I’d have paid the entrance fee just to see this half hour show. There were so many highlights but I really enjoyed the penguin display as well.

On the way home we headed to a jewelry outlet, Sarah you would go nuts here, I made heaps of purchases and it looked like I would need to get a second job to pay for my haul but no it only tallied a couple hundred dollars. I have 10 pairs of earrings, 10 or 12 rings, a ruby and silver bracelet, and a pendant. I will have to hide them when I get home or lose them. Mum made a couple of nice purchases as well and Sharpie kept the car company in the car park for an hour and a half. Glad he didn’t come in I would have probably bought even more. 

We decided on dinner at Denny’s back near the hotel, although no one was really all that hungry we had only had a coffee since breakfast and still didn’t feel like much for dinner. Chicken fried steak for me, Ian had the fish and mum had scrambled eggs and sausages. 

Tomorrow we set off for San Francisco all looking forward to sitting for the day. All leg weary from all the walking