Nine hours on the coastal road

Trip Start May 07, 2011
Trip End Nov 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
What I did
Drove through Manchester
Watched pelicans at a lighthouse
Ate a picnic on the coast
Stopped to watch some seals and birds in Tomales Bay
Drove through Sausalito in the sunshine
Drove across Golden Gate bridge with the top down
Ate mexican food in Santa Cruz
Stayed in a "ghetto" motel

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Woke up early due to the noise of the sea lions and wild turkeys. Broke camp really fast and set off for our second day down the pacific coast highway. Today we drove way too far. The views were so good we just kept driving... for nine hours. 

The first town we passed through was called Manchester! With a population of just 462 it was a little bit smaller than our home town. We took a photo next to the sign for fun. Carried on along more pretty rugged coastline. We drove most of the way with the top down but the wind chill is cold so even with the heater turned to max, we needed warm clothes on. 

Just outside Manchester we had a near miss with a turkey vulture. In its haste to escape, it spilled blood, guts and entrails all across the road. The vulture was lucky the mustang has good brakes or he'd have been his friends next meal. We stopped the car and watched and about 6 of these big birds came out of the trees and mopped the ground clean. They would be really handsome if they didn't have heads like turkeys. 

We stopped and ate our picnic in one of the many coastal view car parks dotted along the coast road. We watched sea gulls and pelicans flying around over head. When the pelicans fly together in squadrons of about 8 they look like military planes in formation. We had been so excited about seeing one pelican in Miami but it turns out they are one of the most common birds to see around here. Big groups of them fly along the coast all the time. 
We carried on down the coast along the winding road for another hour or two before reaching Sausalito. I was surprised we'd reached it so quickly. Time flies when you are enjoying the ever changing view. On the way, we saw a big group of seals sunning themselves on a sandbank in Tomales Bay. Spent a few minutes watching them do nothing before heading on.

Without stopping, we drove through Sausalito, over the Golden Gate bridge (in the sunshine this time). We didn't stop in San Francisco either since we'd been here only a few days ago. The coastal road south of San Francisco to Santa Cruz is no where near as pretty as the road north of San Francisco. It's mostly made up of large highways that are often nowhere near the coast. Whilst the road is fairly fast flowing, there is pretty much nothing to see for the most part.
We eventually pulled up to Santa Cruz where we ate a Mexican meal and booked into the cheapest motel we have stayed in yet. Just down from the motel, we spotted a good looking wooden roller coaster on the sea front. Matthew asked the manager if it was any good but he didn't know what a rollercoaster was! "You mean tour bus?" he said. No amount of description and arm waving helped.

After checking in, as we were getting our bags from the car, another guest - skinhead, hoodie, walking with a swagger walked past and said 'Its Ghetto but it'll do'. His wife was annoyed they didn't have shampoo. Nice guy. Looks can be deceiving! We thought the room wasn't bad actually. 

Even if the manager doesn't know what the great big wooden thing is just down the road, we are definitely doing it tomorrow!
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