Farewell to Highway 1
Trip Start May 27, 2009
18Trip End Nov 14, 2009
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Since my last entry I continued to follow Highway 1 south to San Francisco and finally leaving it to come inland today 1 July at Cambria which is just south of San Simeon where William Randolph Hearst had Hearst Castle built. I didn't visit it as I thought that the nature on display would be much more interesting than an opulent display of things gathered by a super rich megalomaniac.
After Gualala, I stopped at Bodega Bay where the film the Birds was filmed , and not that I am an aficionado of the horror genre but I think it is the scariest film I have ever seen or was it the Fog, which could easily have been filmed in this part of the world too? Anyway I trekked around visiting the site of the schoolhouse, gas station etc but the big news was that Tippi Hedren herself was to be there on 4th July weekend
Took a wee detour in to wine country, Russian River and Napa Valley, tasted some Californian Champagne – didn’t know there was such a thing and apparently they get to call it champagne having successfully won a court case in 1996 against the French. Don’t think the French need to worry though. I wanted to visit Calistoga in Napa Valley as there is a restaurant named after it in Edinburgh. The drive was the usual narrow, twisting, hairpin bends and it was baking hot, 90ish and it seemed to consist only of restaurants and art galleries so didn’t stay. Found really nice spot in Guerneville and would you believe it, I discovered later that it is also a bit of a gay resort. It was a real town and the Fern Grove Cottages where I stayed were my favourite overnight stop so far.
And so to San Francisco and what I didn’t realise was that my entry to the city would be by way of the Golden Gate Bridge – that was a wow moment, undiminished by the fact that it was shrouded in fog. Eventually found way to car rental drop off after being well initiated in the one way system, the very steep hills and having to navigate around the cable cars
The main visitor centre had loads of useful information but the most helpful was the brochure on free walking tours organized by the San Francisco Public Library. The guides are all locals who do it for free because they love their city and want to share it with others – I took 2 of these tours, one of t5he Golden Gate Bridge and one behind the scenes at Fisherman’s Wharf – both were excellent and I would recommend these to anyone visiting. I also did the usual tourist stuff Chinatown, cable cars, crooked street , Alcatraz and spent hours in the Golden Gate Park. Did some other arty stuff too.The city is full of 'off the wall’ people all year round mostly of the scare in the community kind but this was also Pride weekend so that brought its own colour to the city. The main parade on Sunday went on for hours and was a bit of a mixture of a platform for various political groups and those just up for a party but overall a very strong and influential alliance. Even Louis Vuitton had their window display in rainbow colours
I enjoyed the city but perhaps for the first time I was aware of being on my own – you can easily become invisible I a big city like this. But no I am not looking for sympathy so put away your hankies.
Another car hired – all facilitated by Trailfinders after a very late night phone call to catch them first thing on Monday morning so thanks to them.
Next stop was to be Monterey to hook up with some contacts of my sister Elaine’s but ion the way I stopped off to visit the Santa Cruz boardwalk, home to the oldest amusement park in California and it was literally step back in time as the prices on Monday and Tuesday were at 1907 levels even then hotdogs and drinks and no I didn’t know that before I stopped. I tried a couple of rides but must be getting a bit wimpy in my old age as I found them of the white knuckle dry mouth variety.
Monterey was a great spot, it is a very pretty town but it is real and not entirely aimed at tourists. I am becoming a bit of an aquarium junkie and the one here is the best yet. It is in a converted cannery building and some of the display tanks are enormous but the best was the exhibit of Secret Lives of Seahorses – it was magical. It was good fun to meet up with Betty, Di and Tommy who have a fab life here. They were really kind to me and as they agreed that I should not go home without having visited Yosemite so here I am having travelled inland and back north a bit today, stopping on the way to visit Carmel which was OK but too pretty. Highlights of the day were seeing elephant seals on one of the beaches and wine tasting on route 46 near Paso Robles selected one called Ms Behave! The scenery changed dramatically inland to dry flat scrubby brown punctuated by the greenery of wineries, almond trees and blueberry plants
After Yosemite off to real desert country – the Mojave just as it is heating up – my dad’s cousin says it should be over 100 degrees when I get there on Friday