Northern California Road Trip

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

With the kids officially on summer break for the next six weeks, we decided to take a family vacation. Since there is so much right here in the beautiful state of California that we haven’t seen, we are dedicating the next eight days to the northern half of our home state. I have heard Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway,  is one of “America’s Best Road Trips” so we’ve decided to drive.

The plan is to break the nine hour drive up into two days, so we can enjoy the gems along the road; Monterey, Santa Cruz, Hearst Castle and Big Sur. We hit the road at a bright and early 7 a.m. and start with the familiar drive between San Diego and Los Angeles. Once we’ve come through Los Angeles, the views become brand new. Around Santa Barbara, we are finally driving along the beautiful coastline. Regardless of the fact I live in a coastal city, I don’t think I will ever get tired of gazing at the ocean. Unfortunately, I’m driving…so I try to keep my gazing to a minimum lest I plunge us all into that beautiful…and freezing… Pacific Ocean.

Lovely contrast

I’m surprised to see how drastically the scenery changes upon exiting Santa Barbara. Suddenly the dry hills, deserts, and sandy beaches of Southern California  have transformed into soft rolling hills, with bright green trees studded among the endless miles of golden grass. The contrast of the sporadic green trees on the gold grass catches and keeps my attention. I feel like I have ventured into another state since the landscape is so completely different, but no, I am only now in Central California. As we continue driving, I am reminded of back home, the Midwest, with herds of cows grazing everywhere. The memory stops short when I realize unlike the Midwestern cows that are corn and prairie-fed, these lucky Cali cows enjoy a view of the ocean, while they graze grass on hilltops under the sun.

After a quick lunch, we continue the drive along the coastline to San Simeon where Hearst Castle is located. I have been wanting to see Hearst Castle since moving to California, but didn’t realize how far north it was. We turn into one of the many view points along the road to admire the beach, which is rockier than in San Diego and the waves are bigger too! Turning up the road to Hearst Castle, suddenly we reach the sprawling parking lot, dotted with tour buses, and hoardes of people. Ah, yes…the peace and quiet of nature recedes as we suddenly become not road trippers…but tourists. I’m disappointed to learn that they are no longer accepting people for the remaining tours of the castle and we’re told we will have to come back tomorrow. More than disappointed, I’m irritated. Not only is it far too early in the day to be “full”, but they have no option to wander the castle on your own. *sigh* I resign myself to the fact we will have to take this longer coastline drive back home at the end of the week now instead of zipping down the 5 Fwy like I had planned.

I get over my frustration, when I remember that the gem of Highway 1, Big Sur, is coming up next.

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One response to “Northern California Road Trip

  1. Pingback: Favorites of 2009 « Dish on Hiatus…·

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