Cruising in California

Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End May 18, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, April 20, 2007

Wed 18th - Leaving San Fran

The time had arrived for Ian to pick up the dreaded hire car, something that Liz hadn't been looking forward to, the streets were so busy! Ian opted to go an collect it on his own, on his return he was as white as a sheet! When Ian looks scared we all know its time to worry! In Australia and New Zealand he only had to get used to the vehicle but here its all on the wrong side. Well we finally plucked up courage to venture out of the Comfort Inn's car park and head out of San Fran. We tried to navigate an easy route but were thwarted at every turn by one way streets! Our intention was to go down one of the busiest roads in San Fran, why I don't know, cable cars and streetcars everywhere, not to mention the taxis going at a zillion miles an hour,but our plans were changed at every corner. In the end we circumnavigated San Fran but did see some sights we hadn't seen so it wasn't all bad. Just like the song goes, we left our hearts there and vow to come back one day, there is so much we haven't seen yet. Its such a beautiful city and unlike any part of America that we have seen, an identity all of its own, go there and see for yourself!
Our first trip in the car ended in Santa Cruz after a couple of sight seeing stops along the way. The weather has changed and its quite cold at the moment so venturing out of the car wasn't very appealing. We see from the weather forecasts back home that you are having warmer weather in good old Blighty than we are!. Oh well we have had our fair share of hot climes in the past few months, hope you are all enjoying it! On our arrival in Santa Cruz we found a hotel and then made for the beach. A cup of tea was in order, something we are finding difficult to locate, while sitting at the café the sun came out and we enjoyed sunning ourselves and watching Josh make a sand volcano, happy days.....

We are taking the Highway 1 south in order for Ian to drive the Big Sur along the coast. Its meant to be a spectacular drive with the road winding its way around cliff edges and over bridges that span very deep ravines, sounds great doesn't it!!??!! It worries Liz to know it was built by convict labour and not by proper road builders.

The next day we left for Carmel, visiting Roaring Camp narrow gauge railroad on the way. Yes another railway but it was a chance to see some Redwood trees at the same time. Roaring Camp had the look of an old pioneer town with a sheriffs office, school house and trading store and some of the people were dressed in period costume. We soon boarded the open-sided carriage and felt glad we had put our coats on, we only wish we had gloves and scarves too. The train winds its way through some smaller trees and actually up a very steep hill ! then we get sight of the redwood trees, they are huge! It was difficult to see the tops from the carriage, although you could lean out it was a bit dangerous to do so. Inside the woods we came to a clearing (Bear Mountain) and had a talk on the redwoods, which was conducted inside 'The Cathedral', a collection of very old trees (about 900 years old) which surround the stump of the 'Mother' tree which in turn was around 2500 years old. Redwoods drop their seeds and their 'off spring' grow all around them forming a family tree circle. While we were there we noticed many trees with black or burnt patches on them. Some were caught in a forest fire, probably around 300 years ago but they didn't die, the tree gradually grows over the affected area. Redwoods don't die easily and in fact one of the things that kills them instantly is hot water, you are thinking how on earth do they die from hot water there aren't you? Let me tell you, they have massive roots and draw water from deep down in the earth and can hold 75 gallons or more in their system, and being so tall they are prone to lightning strikes, hey presto hot water! The lightning literally blows the tree apart by boiling the water, an event the trees can't recover from. We saw many victims of that fate in the woods.
The train made its way back to the station with many many cold people on board. We jumped off the train and literally ran to the café to get a hot drink, Ian was actually turning blue. Back in the car then to venture off to Carmel, yes Clint Eastwood's old town. Again not at all like any of America that we have seen, its so pretty and quaint and walkable! It truly is lovely here, all the streets are planted with flowers everywhere, shop fronts are surrounded by creeping plants and the shopping malls are literally dripping with colour. We do feel a little out of place here, us Brits in our shabby looking travel gear. We sense that we don't have enough money to live here! But if we did I would move here in an instant !! It just joins the ever increasing list of alternative abodes to Letchworth.
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