Sanlinas - San Simeon

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Aug 16, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, March 4, 2006

Another day where I was awoken early by the sound of rain and wind lashing the windows of our hotel room, it was still bucketing down a couple of hours later when I bravely ventured from the room to get the complimentary coffee that Motel 6 offer between the hours of 6am and 10am. I'm not sure that this is completely out of the goodness of their hearts though, I'm sure it's a ploy to get their guests out of bed and get them to check out early (although that particular trick hasn't worked on us yet because I just take the coffee back to bed!).

As we set out the sky still looked as black as coal, however it took us about a hour to work out how we got out of Salinas and on the road towards Monterey. As a result by the time we reached Monterey about thirty minutes later, we were bathed in sunshine and under clear blues skies.

After some photographs of the harbour and realising with a sigh that Monterey didn't have the greatest selection of restaurants in America, we headed down California's Route 1. This is a road that is apparently historic and tightly hugs the Pacific Ocean all the way back into Los Angeles, giving spectacular views pretty much all the way along it. We were constantly pulling over into vista points to film and take photographs and it took awhile for us to realise that we'd have about 100 miles of these views, so we could probably skip a couple of the viewpoints.

As we were about five miles from our hotel, there was one pull in area that I'm very glad that we didn't miss. We saw a car park with more cars in than we had seen at any point previously, so we parked up and found a viewing point that stood directly over a beach that was jam packed with elephant seals of all shapes and sizes. Ranging from young cubs that had only just been born in the most recent birthing season (February) to absolutely massive male seals who looked like they were 90% blubber!

Apparently when they are at sea they are diving for food 24 hours a day, which allows them all to store enough fat to spend a couple of months on the beach during mating and birthing seasons. As well as another period of time where they shed the skin (molting is the technical term) that they are in, to reveal a brand new one underneath.

The majority of the seals were huddled up next to each other, fast asleep but there were a few hardier souls who were brave enough to venture into the icy looking ocean. I was surprised (and a little jealous!) of how fast the larger seals could move, if they knocked into you, then you would have been sent spinning down to the ground faster than a bowling pin.

After about thirty minutes admiring the view and snapping as many photos as we could manage, we jumped back into the car and drove the few remaining miles to yet another Motel 6. This was obviously an existing hotel that they had recently taken over because it had its own restaurant and bar (which none of the other Motel 6's have had). San Simeon looked like a tiny seaside town, which was obviously jam packed in Summer, but looked equally dead in Winter.

As there was a bar and restaurant en-suite (or as close as we were ever going to get), we decided to spend the night at the hotel. We had a pre-meal drink in the bar, then a couple more drinks with dinner, before hitting the bar afterwards to do some serious drinking. Whilst we were eating our meal, a karaoke machine and been set up and various locals were crooning away. Some of them were very good singers, with only a couple of them murdering some classics.

Lynne and I flicked through the book to see what songs were available, but I have to say that the selection was biased towards the Country genre. I always think that if you're going to get up to sing, armed only with a microphone, you need to know the song really REALLY well, otherwise you might find yourselves suddenly floundering at a unexpected lyric and horribly exposed as a result. I always try to avoid karaoke situations whilst drinking, because alcohol can make you braver than you'd be normally and you find yourself getting up, singing and making an arse of yourself.

Still by 11pm the place was almost empty and the owner of the machine kept having to get up and sing songs himself to keep the bar from being silent. By then the alcohol had overridden any shyness that I might have normally so I got up and treated the bar to my rendition of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen. It seemed to go well (no bottles hit the microphone stand anyway) and I managed to stay in tune (according to Lynne). At this point we felt it advisable to go back to our room before any locals told us exactly what they thought of my performance, so we retired and stayed up into the early hours drinking cheap and pretty vile wine.
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