Death Defying Driving with the Beast.

Trip Start Apr 19, 2010
Trip End May 20, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thanks for all the comments guys, we read all of them, and love to hear from you.  Its the first thing we check when we get to the hotel each night.

 Today we drive to San Simeon, which began with going to get the hire car.  Of course we were running a little late, but I got out the door at a respectable time of 9am.  Well respectable if you are starting work ( Har Har) but not on holidays by god.  In hindsight at the end of the day , all agreed having the extra hour and a half we had planned would have been perfect, allowing a couple of detours to see interesting things.  Anyway, back to the morning.

I caught the same cable car as last time to Union Square, and went looking for a AT&T store to finally get my American phone sim.  Of course when I got there at 9:30, it didnt open until 10am !  What the .... I was thinking.  This is the US of A people.  How can a major telco outlet not be open at 9am in a major city ?!?!?!?  Still cant work that one out.  Anyway, since I was keen to get away, I walked to Hertz Hire Car rental a few blocks away. Still no US phone number to gove my parents.  If anyone has to call me I get to pay 2.65 per minute in remote charges !  ( I will send you a bill if you try it ! )  Getting the car was easy and fast the staff there were fantastic and chatty.  Maybe its true they all like Aussies ?  I found out the day before that Tourism is SF biggest industry followed by finance so perhaps everyone knows how important it is to make tourists feel comfortable and wanted.

So Im talking to the guy, and I ask if he thinks all our luggage will fit.  
 "Hmmm, probably he says." (not the answer I wanted to hear)  
 "You sure I ask  - I wouldn't want to get all the way back to my hotel, and find that out."
 "I can upgrade you to a SUV ?"
 "Hmmm, I suppose .. " masking my delight with my best fake poker tell.
 "I can do it for only $30 per day - a %50 discount ?"
"Well, Ok then" - mentally doing a fist pump into the air !
So I end up getting a 2010 Model SUV - that make and model escape me right now.  I will take a photo of it for tomorrows nights blog. Anyway its a massive Gunmetal grey behemoth , that handles like its on skates. Only 2k on the clock and it has all the mod cons, which some of my school group friends are already familiar with in their own cars ...  And speaking about baptism by fire.  My first journey in it ( as you know we are going to be driving down Highway 1, cliff top driving, with the hundreds of meters drop only just there ..) was a nightmare of the utmost nerve wracking test of my driving skill I have ever faced. Precision control and lightning reflexes were called into use.  Moves that I hadn't seen used since Tom Cruise in mission impossible ( you know the hanging upside down wire scene ?) were routinely put into practice.

Yes people, I am talking about the drive to get out of the hertz Hire company parking lot.  It was in a dense multi-level parking garage, and my car was parked on the 4th floor. Driving out of this thing was like moving house, and two men carrying a over-sized prized glossy table around corners without scratching it. Juust designed to fit with no room for error. When they cant see the other end of the table, or know where to hold it.  Wearing grip-less cloth gloves.  And the table is covered in Vaseline.  So Ive had like 4 minutes sitting in the car, and I cant find the parking brake.  There are about as many controls as in the Space shuttle on this thing, but none of them read brake.  So I try slowly going forward,  Hmm resistance.  Maybe my imagination,  try again a bit harder. Bit of a load groaning creaking sound as well.  Hmm.  I spot a hertz employee starting to move another car, and ask for some help.  Either it was my Aussie accent confusing him ( he was Mexican) or he couldn't believe that a person could be so dense.  I will choose the believe the former. :)  So off I go finally, only to be confronted with a spiral exit ramp, just the width of the car, going all the way down to the ground floor - 4 stories down !. Hertz must have a dedicated exit, because there was no way to get off this thing, or go back up, I was commited before I knew what was going on.  So after taking like what felt like half an hour, I make it onto the right sided US streets for the first time !

To be perfectly honest, it wasnt too bad at all.  It needed %100 concentration of course. lol yeah I know - only for special occasions right ;)  but you know what, hours later, half way to San Simeon, It already felt natural, and to make sense.  You can find some pics of the views from the drive down the coast.  It was the most amazing scenery I have ever had the pleasure to drive through. Char took some great long video of the drive.  But its true, in some parts, the road doesn't even have a thin crash barrier separating you from the drop.  You come around a left hand corner, and the barrier wither starts or finishes late, and if you dont make the turn, you WILL drive off into thin air and theres nothing to stop you.  

Char was of course terrified during the trip, and I felt sorry for her, as her side felt at times to be too close to the edge, and the massive drop.  I lost count of the number of times she urgently asked me to move over.  ( I am being VERY diplomatic here ... )  The photos don't convey the feeling the drop gives you and the almost magnetic pull of steep drop you think you can feel in your guts.  I wouldnt recommend this drive heading south for a first timer to be honest, as one slip and you and your entire family is gone.  I am so glad I did upgrade the car, because our original car as basically an american version of my car, a Toyota Camry.  
 It would have been overloaded with baggage and 4 people with a weak engine and handled very poorly.  Our SUV had great big tyres with awsome grip.  The road was dry and clean - no recent rain and oil issues,  The weather was clear and not windy.  If any of this had been different I would not have done the drive, and been disappointed greatly.  My god, the americans heading north, passing us on the left just fly around this thing, and it was a constant fine judging effort of not getting dangerously close to the center line when passing them and the white edge line.  Most of the time, there was a slim median strip on the right,  which gave me some valuable tarmac real estate to use. At one time on a windy road, we passed a sign "Windy road ahead" ! and on what we back home would call a slim road, just fitting our SUV onto we passed another sign "Road Narrows" !  What are they going to make us drive on, the yellow center paint line ?

The kids were obliviuos to the whole beauty  of the place we were in.  They had their faces stuck into their DS's and mobile phones, and Sean in particular was driving us crazy, he was full of energy and never was quiet.  Until we took his DS off him, and forced him to look out the window and appreciate the view.  As if death inspiring cliffs arn't enough for an 8 year old boy !
Lauren got into the spirit of it more than Sean, but not by much.

We also came across a new seal colony just before San Simeon, must of been several hundred of the huge smelly creatures.  You can see Seans reaction to the smell in the photo lol.  he didn't stay long looking at them.
Anyway thats enough about the drive - but it did take 7.5 hours I think. At least 7.  Then we arrived at our mid point stop, had dinner in a nice resturant and went to bed.  I had a 3 Tip and Point Steak, which was 3 pointy pieces of New York Steak - Medium rare to perfection and super tender.  Kids had some salad and fish and chips, Char a Fresh Salmon fillet.

 Nite all - cammo.

P.S. Char is going to do a blog soon, she just keeps on falling asleep !
PPS The Beast refers to the Car, not Char on the drive down lol
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Trev on

love the descriptions and the pics.. I bow to your bravery all of you !
keep up the good blogging and Charmayne...cmon where is yours!!!
take care guys and really enjoying sharing the adventures with you
xo Trev and the mob

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