gear up for tons of photos below...
09.26.2011 - 09.29.2011
our rv tour:
1. santa cruz: when we went it was a bit ghost town-ish, but i'm sure at night the boardwalk and carnival attractions are fun, not unlike coney island. i really really want to go back someday and ride the old wooden roller coaster there. there were tons of surfers in the waters there and some caught some decent waves, despite the rocks and kelp everywhere.
2. capitola: a really charming village on the sea right by santa cruz with brightly colored stucco buildings with some shops and restaurants and a nice beach walkway area replete with kids taking after-school surfing lessons. i ate a DELICIOUS slice at pizza my heart, a northern cali chain. i had one of their award-winning slices called "the figgy piggy" = garlic sauce, mozzarella and feta, figs, bacon, and fresh sage. and normally i don't really do bacon, but the the combo of ingredients was so very delicious. i'm going to have to try to recreate it on my own at home.
3. monterey: another touristy fisherman's wharf, and although cannery row (famous from john steinbeck's novel of the same name which i just read) is also majorly touristy now, it's still fun to visit. the aquarium is mucho famous and i did enjoy it, though maybe my expectations were set too high based on all the hype. at the aquarium, i also picked up a pocket guide to choosing which types of fish are best to eat in order to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. they have a regular version and a sushi version - find out more info or download your own guide here. i wish we had time to visit the historic old part of town but we enjoyed 99 cent tacos at el torrito's taco tuesday!
4. 17 mile drive: we rented bikes for the day outside the aquarium (company is called blazing saddles haha). we rode through serene pacific grove, down 17 mile drive along the coast with gorgeous coastal scenery, by the famous golf club pebble beach and finally through the village of carmel-by-the-sea. if we had taken a car through this route, we would have had to pay a $9.50 toll, but on bikes it's free! it was a lot of biking though, it was worth it.
5. big sur: this basically entails everything after carmel and to about san simeon (near hearst castle). the coastline here is simply stunning. it really is amazing that this is in the u.s. the cliffs are so dramatic, the water is so aqua, there are redwoods and forests, pretty wildflowers, precarious bridges and windy roads. if we had more time, we would have camped and done some hiking (also ryan hurt his ankle the day before). so we just stopped for scenic photo opps and a couple short jaunts: 1. partington cove (thanks lonely planet!) involving a wooden bridge, creepy wooden tunnel and awesome up close views of aqua kelp beds and massive waves in the cove that used to serve as a landing spot for run runners during prohibition. 2. julia pfeiffer burns state park to see a coastal waterfall and just more amazing coastline.
6. point piedras blancas: we stopped here to see the herds of elephant seals that laze about on the beaches. it was interesting to watch them for about 15-20 mins. they basically just laid there, some spread some sand on themselves, and a couple of them would neck fight, though no blood was shed don't worry.
7. morro bay: we drove through main street on our way to moñtana de oro state park to see spooner's cove. we climbed some rocks pushed up due to long-ago seismic activity and enjoyed the tidepool areas and utter seclusion of it all. to get to it, there was even this enchanted (or creepy) forest, however you deem it, that we had to drive through making it even more magical.
8. san luis obispo: we didn't see much more than a swath of the downtown area where we ate dinner at the slo brewing co. (wed. wing special $0.35/wing!). on the way we walked by bubble gum alley, an alley where the walls are completely covered by ABC gum eww. i tried to find the moon tree - a tree whose seedling was aboard one of the apollo shuttles that went to the moon and back - which is planted by mission plaza, but it was dark by that time and i couldn't find it slo seems like a fun place - they also have a drive-in movie theatre and the us's first solar powered cinema!
9. pismo beach: this is where we planted for the night at the pismo coast village rv resort. from what we saw driving through, pismo seemed to house many a rv-resort and/or mobile home park. the downtown areas seemed like a slice of picture perfect mid-20th century americana, though slightly updated. from here we wanted to visit some of the large coastal sand dunes, but didn't have time this journey.
10. solvang: we made it to our homeland! well, sort of. we visited the solvang bakery (take my advice and skip the danish waffle. stick with a regular danish) here and took some pictures in this kitchsy danish village of windmills, danish flags and danish-themed buildings with street names like copenhagen road. if we had more time, we would have putzed around some more and maybe visited the nearby ostrich and emu farm (huh?)...
11. los angeles: this place is huge. it's just so widespread. we entered la, and an hour and a half later, we're still trudging through highways through the valley and all the glorious la traffic. we reached our destination of rv rental return and made our way back to our brother brent's place in venice beach ahhh. ryan and i celebrated by taking the beach cruisers out for a spin along the wacky boardwalk for some grub.
we had to get the rv back by 3 pm on thurs, or else we'd be charged lots of $$, so we had to skip santa barbara for now, but figure it's close enough to la we could even go for the day this weekend perhaps. our journey here in la will continue this weekend as we hope to visit the getty, the griffith observatory and hopefully squeeze in a hike. then i will be heading to china on tuesday!!