Great friends - & amazing friends of friends.....

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 01, 2010

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And so it is time for me to write the penultimate blog of my 'around the world in 162 days' trip!
Following SLO, my next stop was Monterey via Big Sur. Eric had put me in touch with a friend of his Jenn who lives in Monterey and she seemed more than happy to put me up for a few days. Before getting to Monterey there were a few beauty spots to stop off along Route 1 which included an Elephant Seal colony which was completely fascinating. Bang in the middle of mating season these mammals were giants with the males throwing their weight around putting their stamp on their harem of ladies who really didn't have any choice when it came to the actual mating antics. There was also a young pup who unfortunately couldn't move out the way quick enough from an approaching male who would let absolutely nothing get in his way of him getting to his next female victim. The outcome was not a pretty site and the noises these mammals made were just incredible. Nature is an amazing thing it really is.
My next stop off point was Julia Pfeiffer State Park and a short trail to a very famous waterfall which flows out directly onto the beach - one the most photographed scenes along this California coastline and rightly so. Unfortunately the beach cannot be accessed although this keeps it in a state as nature intended which is just beautiful.
I then continued to Big Sur which is a national park encompassing a small village along Route 1. I had arranged to meet Jenn at the wonderfully quaint bakery in the village. As you can imagine it wasn't a busy place so it was easy enough to spot Jenn when she arrived and she had bought her friend along - Kaylee - and suggested we go for a hike through part of Los Padres Forest before heading to Monterey. Again I had the privilige of having a local (well 2 locals) taking me around this wonderful area. We did a 9 mile hike through woods of 'simply huge' Secoya and Redwood trees and up into the mountains. Much more lush compared to my hiking in South America and a different kind of beauty and wonderment altogether. Jenn and Kaylee were really nice girls and we seemed to hit it off with plenty of chat and laughs en route and of course I got to hear all about the area first hand. Even those these girls live so close to Big Sur it really doesn't stop them appreciating how beautiful it is. They are very proud of this area and I could see why. If I lived here I would too want to show it off
We finished the hike close to Ventana Inn & Spa (if you want to spoil yourself sometime in California this is THE place to come - We decided to treat ourselves to a bottle of wine, a cheese plate and seafood and relaxed here for a while by a big crackling fireplace set outside amongst the forest whilst the sun set - it was truly dreamy and I could easily spend a 2 week holiday just here alone. At a price of course!
My next treat was a visit to Jenn's boyfriends house which was bang in the middle of the forest in Big Sur. The three of us arrived at Andres' magnificent wooden abode where he and Jenns housemate Jeff were already cooking up a wonderful meal for us all. It was so so dark here and the stars were amazing. A small stream ran through his 'garden' which was just gorgeous filled with Secoya's and wonderful plant life and delicate lighting throughout. Dinner was superb and was followed by a relaxing few hours in Andres' hot tub outside - we sipped wine and chatted between a bit of stargazing. Who needs hostels when there are wonderful people like this to make your travels so so memorible.
Jenn and Kaylee went home later that evening and Jeff offered to take me to a great little pub in Big Sur where we sampled a few local beers to finish off a fantastic day along the wonderful Route 1 before heading to Monterey where Jenn and Jeff lived.
That weekend Jenn was visiting some friends in San Francisco so Jeff offered to spend his weekend with showing me the sights of Monterey. Walks through the town, a picnic on his boat, a night out at a very 'locals' pub and a fantastic bike ride along the world famous 17 Mile Drive. Monterey was a great town and Jeff had been accomodating and seemed to enjoy sharing his knowledge with me of the history of Monterey - I had had a ball!
My next stop was Santa Cruz. As luck should have it, Jeff had a friend, Victor, in Capitola which is a small town just outside of Santa Cruz. So a phone-call was made and I was heading to Victor's where he was also happy for me to crash for a few days. These Californians are just so lovely!! I said my farewells to Jeff - I was going to miss Monterey - and headed to Capitola. Victor lived in this huge house - which he had inherited from his Dad - with his girlfriend 'Chicken'. I never did find out what her real name was but Chicken seemed to suit her somehow! Victor and Chicken were in the process of decorating the entire house to sell on and had a few friends over to help with a lot of painting, furniture arranging and the like! So to earn my keep I got stuck in with a pot of paint and a paint brush - although not before Victor and his friend took me for a bite to eat followed by a beer just to welcome me to Capitola. What goes on. There are nice people in the world then there are Californians. I love them!
Back at the ranch everyone painted and painted until the early hours. Victor had photographers coming in from the estate agent in a few days time and there was a lot of work to be done prior to their arrival. The following day was grey and raining so I decided to stay in the house and continue helping with the decorating. Music playing, beers flowing - it was all quite theraputic! Take outs ordered in to keep the workers happy. It was all good fun!
I had to have one day out as my reason here was to visit Santa Cruz. Now I'm a big Lost Boys fan as some of you will know - and my reason for visiting Santa Cruz was to see the Big Dipper and 'that bridge' from the film so I took myself off further along Route 1 to surpress my excitement of seeing the town where this 80's classic movie was filmed! It didn't disappoint! Well apart from the fact that the fairground itself was closed so I couldn't even go on the Big Dipper! Rubbish! But hey ho - it was still pretty cool to have a good wander around.
I continued with the painting when I got back to Victors that night and the following morning we all went for breakfast before I had to depart - to my final destination San Francisco! These guys had been wonderful and I had really enjoyed staying with them. And yes Victor had a friend in San Francisco whom I could have stayed with. But unfortunately I had booked a hotel for my last 3 nights to give myself a bit of comfort and would not have been able to get a refund. A great shame as I had really enjoyed staying with friends and friends of friends, along the way in California.

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