San Simeon to Sant Barbara (Big Sur part 2)

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

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What I did
Stopped in Cayucos
Watched a gopher excavate a new hole and fill it with dandelions
Ate sandwich and watched the sun set
Drove in to the foothills above Santa Barbara on East Mountain Drive
Watched a pelican and a California sea lion eat fish guts dropped by a fisherman
Loads of Pelicans standing on the decking
Walked along Stearn's Wharf
Drove to Santa Barbara
Got lost looking for fuel in Orcutt
Got sandy at Pismo Beach
Ate clam chowder and fish & chips
Walked on beach and pier
Saw a deer run out in front of us

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today we drove south from San Simeon to Santa Barbara. On the way we stopped in Cayucos and had a look around. The beach and coastline is pretty here. We walked on the pier and watched a man having a surf lesson trying to stand up - he made a fair attempt at it but always fell off. We ate lunch in a seafood place next to the pier called 'Duckies'. Lots of fresh seafood. Alison had fish and chips and Matthew had Manhattan clam chowder which came in a pot made of hollowed out bread. We got a taster of both Manhattan (red, tomatoey) and New England (white, thick and creamy) clam chowders. They were both delicious. 

Further down the coast before we got to Santa Barbara we stopped in a town called Pismo to see the beach. This place had big sand dunes and lots of wind! It was difficult to walk to the sea as sand was blowing in your mouth and eyes etc. It was also not that warm! We had a quick look at the beach then got back in the car and carried on

Again, we nearly ran out of petrol today. America is strange. There can be over a hundred miles between petrol stations but when you find them, they are always clustered together, three or four right next to each other! The strange thing is there are always people at all of them even though the prices vary massively. There is often a variation of about 50 cents between stations right next to each other.

We arrived in Santa Barbara late in the afternoon. It was really warm and pleasant. People were playing volley ball on the beach - they seem to do that a lot here. We walked out on to Stearn's Wharf. There are restaurants on the wharf and you can pay to drive your car up to the entrance and then pay a man to park your car for you - about 10 meters away. Valet parking seems to be a big thing in America. We chose to park for free on the road 100 yards away. 

We walked past the restaurants to the end of the pier and there was a big pelican stood in the middle of the decking. The pelican was very tame, he didn't mind having his photo taken by lots of people. We got within about 8 feet of it not wanting to scare it off but other people later went right up to it

We noticed that there were a couple of pelicans on the pier. They were hoping for fish from the fishermen. They have little legs for such big bodies so they look funny when they walk. Their necks look very soft and furry. They have beady eyes which look at you. There was a man sat looking over the edge of the pier so we went to see what he was watching. Just below in the water was a California sea lion and a pelican swimming around and waiting for something. We then noticed that right above them was a fisherman gutting his fish in the sink. He would throw the guts into the water for them and then they would fight for it. The sea lion really enjoyed sticking its head under the water drainpipe with the fishy water coming out. After a little while a sea gull tried to join in. The pelican got quite vicious and neary ate the sea gulls head. It was fun to watch and the sea lion was very nice. Watching the sea lion swim around in the water made it look very refreshing. He made a good noise whenever he came up. If there weren't fish guts being thrown in, Alison might have joined them. 

After watching this we wandered further along the pier. There was another pelican waiting for some food from a fisherman who was kind enough to give him one of his bait fish. It was comical watching this big bird sneak up to the fish and then gobble it down. It often looks like the fish get stuck sideways in their throats. One pelican seemed to yawn and opened its beak 180. It then seemed to turn its mouth inside out to clean it out. Very flexible. A woman who was also watching said that last year she came across an injured pelican. She managed to pick it up and take it to the vets. She said it was surprisingly tame. 

After taking a hundred photos of the pelicans (Matthew gets carried away), we drove around Santa Barbara a bit more. We decided to head for the hills and find a good view. It took a bit of driving to dead ends and turning around but eventually we found a road that wound around the hills called East Mountain Drive. The sun was going down and casting nice golden light over the city. We stopped somewhere along here and ate sandwiches. A little gopher stuck its head up from its hole to see what was going on. It had big yellow teeth. It seemed to be rearranging its home by moving around bits of mud and collecting dandelions. After dinner we drove down to Santa Barbara to find somewhere to stay. We drove past lots of very nice looking houses with great gardens and at a bend in the road we passed a nice deer. It ran away quite quickly. 

Stopped for the night in a very homely motel that has seen better days. Santa Barbara is home to Sylvia Sykes, goddess of balboa. Unfortunately we turned up on the one day of the week with no dancing on. Maybe next time. 
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