Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
16Trip End Jul 22, 2011
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Day 6 - 12 June 2011:
After our nice relaxing night in Pismo Beach we had a nice long sleep in to recharge our batteries. We had breakfast at the hotel which included cook your own waffles which were fun to make but offered absolutely no nutritional value.
After brekky we went for a walk out along the Pismo Beach pier. The sun was shining and it was a really nice day except for the freezing cold wind coming off the Pacific. We would find out that this type of weather is actually quite common right along the west coast. We spent some of our hard earned cash on two Pismo Beach jumpers. They would look crap on other people, but they look awesome on us because we are very attractive.
We strolled around the town and had a look in a few more shops then we decided to head up the coast to a place called Hearst Castle built by an excentric millionaire. Unfortunately, we hadn't booked a tour and the last one just sold out. You weren't able to drive yourself up to the castle so the closest we got to Hearst Castle was a few K's away.
"Oh well, they say every cloud has a silver lining. I wonder what is around the corner?" - Shelly Nowland
Well it turns out that Shelly is a fortune teller. If we'd stayed at Hearst Castle we probably would have missed what was to come next. Just down the road we came across an elephant seal rookery with, funnily enough, stacks of elephant seals. The beach was just off the highway and there were lots of other tourists about. I'd say there was close to a hundred seals of all different sizes lounging around on the beach. They were awesome to see. Stumbling upon this is definitely a highlight of our trip to date.
We continued on our trip up along the coast on the well-known scenic route, Highway 1. This was by far the most picturesque driving leg so far with great views everywhere we went. The drive took a lot longer than it should have because we stopped at all the "vista points" (lookouts) to take photos and soak up the serenity.
By the way, Shelly did have a go at driving during this stint and she went really well for the first time driving on the right-hand side, although scary at some points along the windy cliff roads! All I can say is that I am a terrible passenger (I think I am scarred thanks to Josh Q), so I took over the reigns again shortly after. Shelly doesn't seem to mind too much anyway.
"I don't mind if you drive because I think men are much better at driving than women." - Shelly Nowland.
"Hmmm, controversial." - Ross Merchant.
As nice as the drive was we were very happy when we finally pulled into Aunty Barb's place in the suburbs of San Jose which we had a bit of trouble finding. When Aunty Barb's husband Mal originally moved to San Jose the population was around 50,000 and the area where they live now was all orchards. The population of San Jose is now over 1 million and the urban sprawl has definitely taken hold.
It was nice to meet Shelly's extended family. Aunty Barb is one of Nanna Nowland's many siblings. We had dinner with Barb, Mal, Francis and her boyfriend Chris. It was good just to stay up and have a good ol' chinwag before hitting the hay.
Aunty Barb and Mal had given up their room for us and also provided mini soaps, shampoo and conditioner ala the full 5 star hotel treatment. They were very generous and hospitable, this was much appreciated and it was really nice to be staying with them.
Day 7 - 13 June 2011:
We woke up and were treated to a proper coffee made for us by Francis. We met Anne, an Aussie friend of Aunty Barb's who she went to nursing school with many years ago, who was in the US for a wedding and flew into San Jose to visit Barb for the night.
We discussed what we would do for the morning and, since I was outnumbered, it was decided we would go shopping. I'd suggested going to Hooters, drinking beer and watching baseball but was outvoted.
Anyway, since we'd arrived we'd been joking about a chain of stores we had seen. They were all over the place. The sign on the store read "Ross - Dress for Less" which we both thought was humorous since I don't like to spend much on clothing.
It turns out that "Ross - Dress for Less" actually buys up all the surplus brandname stock from other stores. Shelly and I were pretty impressed. We both bought stuff but Shelly got the best bargain with a $2 Calvin Klein top. Way to go Shell...
"Ross might not look like much but Ross has everything I'll ever need to keep me satisfied." - Shelly Nowland.
After that, we went to another store called Marshalls but Shelly didn't buy anything. I took that as a compliment.
Shelly spent the afternoon relaxing by the backyard pool, reading and photographing squirrels. I finally started the blog (a week late and still catching up!).
We had dinner with more of Shelly's family including Chris, Elouisa and their three kids Brendan, Alison and Deanna. It was great to meet everyone and we got some very useful tips about San Fran and Yosemite our next destinations. It was a lovely evening.
What's that, you want more blog? No way Jose, but tune in later...
Uncle Ross and Aunty Shelly.