Headin’ down the highway

With my move-in date set at 14 August, I decided to leave Berkeley two days earlier as this may be my last chance to take a roadtrip until I accrue vacation time.  Objective: drive down Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

12 August – My tiny Fiat 500 holds a surprisingly large amount of stuff. I’ve got a giant box of games; all my casual clothes; several (smallish) boxes of books, electronics, and momentoes; bags with laptops and dance/running shoes; pillows and sleeping bag and yoga mat; posters and random stuff I could throw in at the last minute. And I can still see out of my rear view mirror and check blindspots. Have I mentioned I love my 500?

The start of the trip is smooth. The added weight does not seem to be lowering my mileage that much. I turn onto Highway 1 and catch my first sight of the Pacific as I approach Monterey. First stop: Monterey Aquarium, which I haven’t visited before, can I you believe it? How long have I been in Berkeley? (Don’t answer that.) Highlights:

* There was a bird in his own little puddle swimming in smalls circles. It reminded me of a dog chasing his tail.
* People were very amused by the tunnel in the tidal zone which gets water dumped on it periodically, creating white curtains of foam. As far as I can tell, this serves no purpose for the exhibits, but it is entertaining.
* Penguins! One little guy likes kids and kept swimming against the glass toward them.
* There is one coral tank with several Pacific regal blue tangs and a clown fish. They were referred to as Dory and Nemo. There were also a couple Moorish idols, but no one seems to remember Gill’s name.
* The jellyfish exhibit involves lots of jellyfish, colored lights, psychodelic designs, and groovy 70s music.
* The sea otters spent most of the day resting. When they came out for feeding/training, it was very hard to take a photo.

It was getting late by the time I got through the aquarium, so after checking in at the motel (both batteries on my camera were pretty much dead, so I needed to recharge) and getting dinner, I went to Carmel River State Park, walked the beach, and climbed some rocks. So on Day 1, I got about 20% of the way to San Diego. Good job, James.

13 August – It seems I’m stopping at every other scenic turnout and vista down the northern stretch of the PCH. I have to say the PCH is pretty awesome, with the ocean on your right and hills on the left, wending your way down a winding road. The bits not hugging the coastline were through forests and parks. My one problem was the constant hills; given how small my engine is and how much stuff it was lugging, I made turnouts frequently. But I was going to take pictures anyway, right? Then burn more gas to get up to speed only to break for the next stop. I thank the gasoline molecules that gave their lives to allow me to make this trip.

After stopping at an elephant seal beach, I reached Hearst Castle a bit after noon. In one word: epic. The attention to detail is flippin’ amazing. The guest houses are amazing. The pools are amazing (and looked very inviting in the heat). The kitchen is amazing. I’ll leave the pictures to tell the details. I took the tours, walked the grounds, used up my batteries taking pictures, and learned a lot about W.R. Hearst and Julia Morgan. And not one joke about Rosebud.

I left pretty close to closing time, but since my camera batteries were pretty much dead, I just drove straight out to a little past Santa Barbara. Two days to cover 325 miles. I grabbed a torta from a deli/liquor store that was open. The torta had tartar sauce on it. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be sour cream or not, but it works.

14 August – SoCal. The fog is gone, and in its place are bright blue Californian skies. And lots of sun. The a/c comes on and stays on. ¬†Not many pictures today as the highway is further from the coast and there aren’t many good places to take pictures from. Eventually, the highway veers inland. I pass through LA, managing to avoid rush hour, and arrive at my new home in the early afternoon.

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