Monday, March 8, 2010
San Simeon to San Francisco

Good morning, world!

Following a meager breakfast of toast and jelly, coffee, and orange juice, we left the Days Inn at 9:00 a.m.

Since we finished our drive in the dark last night, we backtracked about seven miles this morning to take in a few sites we missed. Originally, we'd intended to return north on the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to San Francisco, but we didn’t want to get delayed for hours at the rockslide again.

Southern Big Sur

San Simeon sits beneath Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst’s 90,080-square-foot hilltop retreat, built beginning in 1919 and continuing through Hearst’s death in 1947. Prioritizing our limited time, we didn’t take a tour of the place. We live only a couple of hours from America’s largest home, the Biltmore, in Asheville, North Carolina, and we haven’t made it there yet either. Anyway, the Hearst Castle looks pretty spectacular from the outside, and you can’t beat their view.

Hearst Castle

Our main reason for backtracking was to see the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas. Seals are good guys! You can view the seals from a bluff above the beach. There were hundreds of them!

Baby seal

Play time!

After taking an excessive number of photos at the rookery, we drove again to the south, turned east on the 46 just past Cambria, and headed for the 101 north. The 46 weaves through beautiful green hills and vineyards. We passed a number of wineries but didn’t stop. After all, it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Plus, someone had to drive!

The verdant hills of the Santa Lucia Range

We eventually stopped for lunch at Taco Bravo in King City. Their grilled beef quesadillas and excellent salsa washed the flavor of last night’s “Mexican” dinner out off our mouths.

From the 101 we turned west on the 68 to Monterrey, where we took the scenic “17-Mile Drive” along Pebble Beach and Del Monte Forest, where the rich folks golf and live. It seems like a poor location for a golf course, on a peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean, frequently battered by strong winds. The owners of this private drive are very proud of their 9.6-mile-long "17-Mile Drive" and charge $9.25 per vehicle for access.

Jana and Tom on the Monterrey Penninsula

Pacific coastline from Cypress Point Lookout

Continuing north on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), we stopped at Scott Creek Beach, north of Santa Cruz, to watch some kitesurfing, a much more reliable pastime in the coastal wind than golf, and bound to be more fun! I found out later that this is a nude beach. Darn the chilly afternoon!

Kitesurfers at Scott Creek Beach

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

South of Half Moon Bay we drove through some rain, but consequently then enjoyed some great rainbows!


At 6:30 we returned our car to Enterprise at the San Francisco Airport. We’d driven 528 miles on our two-day road trip.

We caught a BART train to San Francisco and got off at the Embarcadero stop. Since we hadn’t yet figured out the city’s public transportation, we then caught a taxi to our hotel, the Best Western Tuscan Inn at Fisherman’s Warf.

Too tired to explore, and with the concierge gone for the night, we ordered in a pizza from Gino’s Pizza and had dinner and cocktails in our room.

Continue to March 9, 2010

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