Pacific Highway -One of the most scenic highways in the world!
This was our second trip to the “west coast” and we had decided to do all those things that we missed out on, last time…
The one road trip I was looking forward to was California Route 1, the Pacific highway from LA to SF.. We planned on breaking our journey in two places before reaching San Francisco..
My initial choice of Paso Robles, was shot down by DW saying ” we aren’t again going to some wine country.. We have got to think of something beyond wine!”..
So the next best way station was San Luis Obispo, the so called “happiest little town in America”. One of our friends cautioned against staying there, saying it had a near 100% caucasian population, & that they don’t take too well to Indians.. Our experience, was thankfully very good..
We started our road trip with the mandatory fight between the navigator and driver (DW& me).. Our GPS was trying to take us to San Luis Obispo through highway 101, a more interstate like road and boring.. We finally hit on the solution, of asking for places we knew were on highway 1 including Malibu.. If we weren’t in a hurry to reach before sunset, we would have stopped for a drink!!
Our route wound through the wine country of the Central Valley (DW finally smiled n said… one more trip through a wine region!!)
We rushed to catch the sunset on the Pismo beach…and managed to reach, just in time..getting directions from a helpful lady, park warden!! what a spectacular site…, DW had some creative photography ideas and made me jump about a hundred times to catch my silhouette..
We stayed at the Quality Inn suites, a spacious, two room suite, and would probably enjoy travelling with family here.. They had a reasonable breakfast including hot items (eggs, waffles, sausages etc), and a wine cheese hour..
We got a very good recommendation for dinner from the reception, at a fine dining restaurant called the Novo http://www.novorestaurant.com/. In fact we spent Christmas eve at this restaurant.. loved the creekside seating with tables interspersed with heaters and lamps.. DW had a Thai curry, while I had a lavender lamb chop with local ale.. Pretty good experience..
Next morning, again set out towards Pismo beach, but for the Monarch butterfly grove.. To see the annual migration of butterflies..
At first look through the provided telescopes, we saw what looked like dry, brown leaves..
That, with the kiss of the first rays of sunshine, opened out to the brilliant orange and black of clusters of butterflies..
We had apparently been seeing the dull brown undersurface of the folded wings, mistaking them for leaves!! We spent a good one & half hours at the grove before moving on to our next destination, Morro rock.
The Morro rock was named so by the Portugese, due to its fancied resemblance to the top of a Moors head. A volcanic plug, one of the nine sisters between Morro bay and San Luis Obispo, we wanted to visit it because of its picturesque vista, and because volcanic plugs, are the closest to dangerous pimples.. They are solidified volcanic rocks IN the vent of an active volcano.. This pimple can sometimes lead to enormous, build up of pressure of magma, and an explosion!! The Salinan & Chumash tribes are the only people allowed to climb it, so we took pictures from afar and drove on..
Our next stop, just happened to be a a very picturesque cliff side place, called the Rocky Point restaurant http://www.rocky-point.com/. Initially a pit stop, we wandered through the gift shop, had a coffee, soaked in some awe-inspiring vistas….and then…chanced upon a beautiful humming bird close to the parking lot.. Actually DWs sharp eyes spotted the bird..That made our day..
We next made our way to Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park.. saved some bucks by parking on the road side (weren’t the only ones..), and trekked to an impressive view point.. Looking out to a beautiful water fall ..on a beach..
After the mandatory photos, we proceeded once again on the scenic, Pacific highway, headed towards the destination for the day, Pacific Grove, our second stop over on pacific highway! here we were booked into the Seven Gables Inn- ..this was THE most beautiful B&B we have ever stayed in..
This b&b is a converted manor, with the carriage house, main house and the bath house made into separate room clusters..
All rooms have incredible views of the ocean, situated on the coast, along a scenic trail and right next to the Lovers point.. INCREDIBLE!!
Probably the most romantic breakfast as well.. Some of the other guests apparently sited some humpbacks, from lovers point! Well, we had no such luck…also we did not really spend time looking!!
When we first reached the b&b, in the evening.. the instructions were set out like a treasure hunt. Being Christmas, everyone in the b&b had left.. We found a note at the front door to go around the house to the office, where we found a packet addressed to us.. Then we trekked all the way around to the front door.. Lugged our luggage upstairs and settled into the cozy room, soaking in the vista!!
…Dinner turned out to be a sad affair…as we made a big mistake choosing a Thai restaurant called the “Thai Bistro”on the recommendations of Tripadvisor, and against that of Yelp.. Plastic chairs, fishy smells, and average food.. obviosuly the very short drive back was dark & gloomy..
The next morning, I woke up at sunrise, to a BIG hug from DW.. I was her hero!! She loved the room and the views..
.. Warned by the previous nights experience, we went to a “Yelp” recommended bike store, “Adventures by the sea” rather than Blazing Saddles recommended by Tripadvisor .. got some unexpected help with parking from an elderly gentleman, who lent us dimes for putting in the parking meter..
We started biking along the 17 mile scenic drive. This first runs through the city and passes by multiple turn-outs and view points.. It was cold and windy, and hence we didn’t realize how much we pumped our muscles, we ended up doing a respectable 9 miles, and then turned back at a steep hill.. but all of it was worth it!!
We then went to the “outlets” (had to appease a, by-now tiring, irritable DW), bought shoes for DW, socks, and a cute loose change purse in the shape of a sock, had lunch, and headed back.. In time for the Wine cheese hour at Seven Gables Inn.. DW was initially reluctant to come, but once there got into the spirit of it.. Partly the wine and partly good company had her become the center of conversation..
Shortly after, we left for dinner at a recommended restaurant.. “Fandango” http://www.fandangorestaurant.com/.. This turned out to be quite a good meal.. We shared some delicious dishes including a pasta, and an incredible bottle of wine, Pinot Noir, recommended by the manager.. Paraiso Vineyards, Sta. Lucia Highlands, 2007!
Probably because of the exertion during Biking plus the suuperadded effect of wine (? dehydration, metabolite disturbance), DW had a very scary episode of calf and thigh pain, that night! So bad that we had to put the suitcases and bags on her legs to compress.. somehow the phase passed, after pain killers n water.. n we were thanking god!!
Next day we met up with a good friend, C, who picked us up from pacific grove..n then we drove off to SF with him.. He enjoyed the wine of the dinner past, and the ambience of the inn.. It was nice being with a nice friend on a trip..