Don’t Be Out After Dark – or Racing the Clock on Pacific Coast Highway!

My apologies for such a long time since my last post – we’ve all had the flu in my house. Apparently the flu shots this year didn’t actually work on the strain of flu that’s going around. Ah, well – we’re better now and I have lots to tell.

I told you about our trip up to San Francisco. But, as promised, there is more to the story – the return trip. First, I have to make a correction to last week’s post. Highway 101 is not Pacific Coast Highway. California State Route 1 is and that’s what we decided to take on the trip home.

For those of you who don’t know SR1, it’s the crazy road that you see in all the Hollywood movies that twists and turns with a mountain on one side and a ridiculously dangerous drop into the Pacific Ocean on the other. We had great plans to take this amazingly scenic route which passes through so many places that we had only previously heard about – Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur. We couldn’t wait to stop and explore them all. We’d been told of a fabulous restaurant called Nepenthe, that sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean – we had to stop there!

We left San Francisco much later than we planned, so we phoned ahead to the hotel that we had booked for the night in Cambria to let them know we may have a late arrival. “Is this your first time on the 1?” the woman at the hotel asked. “If you are through Monterey by 3:00, you’ll be fine, but don’t be on that road in the dark.” Well, now, that was a little ominous.

Pacific Coast Highway SR1Off we went, stopping at various pull-outs to take some snapshots. As we went, we realized that we had no GPS, no cell phone service. What?!! How were we going to know just how far along we were? We hadn’t bothered to look at a map before we left – we were just going to rely on our technology. Oops!

Highway 1

Hubby on the Pacific Coast HighwayIt rained off and on, not hard, but enough to slow our progress down a bit. The day got later and we still hadn’t seen any signs for Monterey. That warning kept ringing in our ears. We needed to get through Monterey, but how far is it? Note to self – next time, at least glance at a map before you leave. Finally, Monterey – but it was 4:30. We rushed past Nepenthe – no time for lunch. We sped through Big Sur – beautiful, but no time to stop. Carmel – sorry, can’t wander – no time.

Tunnel of SR1At some point, the GPS started working again. It was pitch dark and there are no street lights out there, so I used it to warn my husband – hard curve to the right coming up, hard turn to the left coming up, a little bit of a straightaway – maybe we can make up some time. All in all, it was a hair-raising adventure and not at all the leisurely sightseeing road trip we had envisioned. Next time, we MUST leave San Francisco very early so that we can enjoy this trip.

Sundown on Pacific Coast Highway

Darkness on PCHSeeing the signs for Cambria was a relief. We made note of the signs for Elephant Seal Beach as passed, but that would have to wait until the morning. We pulled into the Blue Dolphin Inn around 6-ish in the dark, drizzly night. Hungry and tired, we stumbled into the office, looking for some comfort. And find it, we did!

We were greeted with such warmth and immediately escorted to our room. WOW! The drive may not have been everything we had hoped for, but this room was! It’s times like these that I wish I Toilet Paper Blue Dolphin Innwas a real writer so that I could convey to you all just how this room made us feel. It was full of those touches that make you feel spoiled and special, from the pretty little fanned out toilet paper (no boring little pointed tip) to the perfect cushy chair by the bed to the sliding glass door leading to the patio with the incredible ocean view. The room boasted an electronic fireplace that could have heat or just light for the ambiance, a comfy plush king-size bed, and a spa tub begging for someone to soak in it. AWESOME!

As the woman from the hotel left us, she gave us a menu to select our breakfast for the next morning and hang on the door. The next morning, it arrived promptly at the time requested in convenient little boxes so that we could take it out to the patio or the beach if we chose. By the way, they also supplied a blanket for the beach if we wanted to have a picnic. Another one of those “touches.” It was a perfect little meal with fresh fruit, fresh baked scones for me and bagels with lox for hubby. We ate on the patio, enjoying the sounds and smells from the ocean. Did I mention the great patio chair for curling up in? Oh, yes, they had that, too!

Perfect Patio Chair BLue Dolphin Inn Cambria

Patio View BLue Dolphin Inn CambriaAs much as we wanted to just hibernate in this room, the road was calling. Our little Dottie was being boarded for the very first time and we needed to get back to her. We also had to make time for Elephant Seal Beach – that was a must do on my list. We said goodbye, but we vowed to return here soon – perhaps for our anniversary in April.

We went back up the road about ten miles to see the seals. I had been watching the Seal Cam for weeks before our trip and had been driving Hubby crazy about it. What a cool sight this is! As soon as we got out of our car, we could see a seal swimming in the ocean right in front of us. We walked a few feet to a fence and looked down on hundreds of seals – sleeping, jockeying for position, fighting for their spaces on the beach. As we stood there, more were constantly coming in. Little ones, big ones, HUGE ones – they just kept coming.

Seal in Ocean Seal BeachTons of Seals Elephant Seal Beach

Adorable Seal on Seal BeachWe watched in fascination for quite awhile, snapped a lot of shots, attempted some video, and pretended that we were National Geographic photographers. It was so much fun and such an awe-inspiring place. From what I understand, these were just the males establishing their spots. Next will come the females and then there will be babies! Any doubts that I’m planning another trip soon?

So, that’s it. We know we missed out on a lot, but even with that said, what a great journey we had. And to think, it’s all just up the road and we get to do this again some time! AWESOME!

Odette

Odette

Odette is a 50+ optimist that is still discovering new things in life that excite her. After many years of admin work and teaching adult computer classes, blogging seemed to be a new frontier to explore.

AVAILABLE FOR TUTORING:
"I have 10+ years experience teaching computer skills. My students have included novices who have never turned on a computer, seniors who want to join the technical age, experienced users who need to learn the tricks to becoming a Microsoft Office power user. If you live in the Lompoc, CA area and are interested in private tutoring, feel free to contact me at aobradshawsheeley@comcast.net."
Odette

About Odette

Odette is a 50+ optimist that is still discovering new things in life that excite her. After many years of admin work and teaching adult computer classes, blogging seemed to be a new frontier to explore.

AVAILABLE FOR TUTORING:
“I have 10+ years experience teaching computer skills. My students have included novices who have never turned on a computer, seniors who want to join the technical age, experienced users who need to learn the tricks to becoming a Microsoft Office power user. If you live in the Lompoc, CA area and are interested in private tutoring, feel free to contact me at aobradshawsheeley@comcast.net.”

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3 Responses to Don’t Be Out After Dark – or Racing the Clock on Pacific Coast Highway!

  1. Sue says:

    Glad you are having an opportunity to see this beautiful country. The scenery was breathtaking along with being interesting even though it was a dangerous trip.

  2. Debbie Hoffman says:

    Sounds like another amazing adventure! I’m loving all of your photos. I’ve trained you well! I’m glad to hear that you are feeling better!

    • Odette says:

      We just bought a new camera – a Nikon Coolpix like you recommended. As soon as I can figure out how to work it, I’m hoping to get some really awesome pictures! Thanks for the well wishes – flu is almost gone.

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