Driving to the Pacific Coast

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
Trip End Apr 15, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Today we left the National Parks to drive to the California coast. It was a very interesting drive across different terrains within 3 hours. We started in the foothill mountains this morning and started down to about 700 ft. At this level we saw grape vineyards as far as the eye could see and some orange and lemon groves. There were many vine tasting facilities in this area. We stopped at Eberle Vineyard to tour the caves. We do not particularly like wine so we did not participate in the wine tasting. The tour started with the grape crushing machine which was outside and then we proceeded into the caves. The wine is then sent to vats were it sits until transferred to oak barrels, this is the fermenting process. Then the last step is the clarifying process, this is were they mixed different types of roasts to produce the desired taste, which according to Kevin is all nasty and we should just drink grape juice. There was a VIP room where you could reserve a private wine tasting party in the caves and there was also a reception room where they bring in chefs to prepare special dinners. From the wine vineyards we drove through the coastal range mountains to the Pacific mountains. At some point we crossed the San Andreas Fault Line but we are not quite sure where that was located as it was not marked (Kevin said he felt the earth move but I just said it was gas). We arrived in San Simeon on the coast around 4 pm. We unpacked the car at the hotel and started driving up the coast on Hwy 1. Driving down Hwy 1 we came across an Elephant Seal viewing area. We pulled over and took all our camera gear and started snapping pictures of these interesting animals. There had to be hundreds of them on the beach weighing between  200 - 1000 lbs. Some were barking, snorting and fighting over their space. This was odd because they all grouped together laying on each other. It was about 50 degrees out but the wind was blowing around 40 mph, which made the temperature quite cold. We got back in the car to get warm and drive further up the coast. We pulled over to look at the great views of the ocean and Kevin spotted a sea otter. The otter was smashing clams on its belly while floating on its back on the waves. Kevin took some video of this playful otter, while commenting that it would be cool if a shark would come up and hit it. We then stopped at the San Simeon Beach to take a few photos. Tomorrow we made reservations to tour the Hearst Castle. We are in a pub to get some internet access enjoying the karaoke.
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