American Adventures: Californian dreams...

Published: May 7th 2018
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A brief inspection of the Ford RV. Brett's was to falter just down the road.
" For the born traveller, traveling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding it's victim's time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort." Aldous Huxley.

Having mastered the intricacies of tram and rail travel in San Francisco, it was with a degree of ease and smugness that we found our way on the Bart line to Newark where Cruise America staff eagerly awaited this motley bunch of South Africans. This was a significant milestone as our RV campers were due for collection.

Now, this was not one of those car hire pick ups where a tired agent hands you the keys and waves you farewell. Having negotiated a fairly lengthy check in process, a big smack for "liabilities" loaded on credit cards, two Cruise America agents then took us through a detailed demo of the "do's and "don'ts" of our mighty RV's. Mind you this was on top of their request that we viewed, prior to collection, their 26 minute video providing more or less the same instructions and information. We had hired the "babies" in the stable of RV's and Winnebago's available but believe me, they have everything required for a 5 week jaunt

Settling back in the spacious interior waiting to be driven to Monterey.
across California and Oregon. Quick overview: on board are a fridge and freezer, shower and toilet, gas stove, seating area, water tanks,cupboard space and a double bed with limited maneuverability (plus a lot of other stuff). Anyone interested and check out the C19 Compact RV.

Apart from the really good fittings and comfort factors, this not so little beast has some proper horses under the bonnet. A V8 engine with auto transmission has a serious growl when engaged and if one listens carefully, the gurgling sound of fuel being consumed thirstily can be heard.

Right, enough of the wheels. More important, where were they taking us to.

Routing. Highway 101 to Santa Cruz, Monterey and Pismo Beach. Distance: 390 km.

GPS's duly set, three slightly apprehensive drivers eased onto a three lane highway. And then the first "testing" moment struck. Brett's RV had other ideas about the journey with a serious tendency to veer right and reluctance to exceed 40 mph. Back to the depot he went where they sorted the problem and he ventured forth about an hour off the pace.

After a brief visit and drive through Santa Cruz, a sleepy little

Picturesque small craft harbour alongside the promenade.
seaside city, we continued further south in California which is undoubtedly the bread basket of America and nowhere was this more evident than this region. Vast, flat manicured fields of fresh produce being grown on a massive scale to feed a hungry nation. HW 101 was mostly two lane with lots of traffic rushing in both directions and triggered a thought about the huge numbers of auto's one sees. Get your mind around 2015 there were 263.6 million auto's registered in the USA.

Thankfully, we managed to avoid all of the vehicles encountered on this first short journey which ended at Moss Landing RV Camp located alongside a small fishing harbour. "High fives" all round as we acknowledged a successful first trip. Apart from checking in, there is a sort of RV "routine" on arrival which involves plugging in electrical and water supply. Pretty tiring stuff but always rewarded with a cold beer and glass of wine. Misty and chilly weather ruled out any thoughts of Bobby launching into his first braai ritual ( he is very good and Brett and I will stand aside for the rest of the trip). Being a fishing harbour, a delightful seafood

Cannery Row where sardines were last seen in the late 1940's.
restaurant close by provided the ideal setting for the first night of this American tour. Due to food servings generally being large and budgetary warnings from the girls, an order of fish and chips adequately fed two and ensured there was surplus cash in the kitty for the vino.

Moss Landing was a good launch pad for Monterey located about 20 km's south and that was our heading the following morning. Monterey has a familiar ring to it but is probably best known for the writings of John Steinbeck of "Cannery Row" and "The Grapes of Wrath" fame. He won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Importantly Monterey was the center of a massive sardine fishing industry where between 1936-1946 some 2 million tons were caught, processed and canned. This drew people seeking work from all over the World but this rampant pillaging soon resulted in the collapse of the industry as sardine stocks were wiped out. So, there is evidence of what once was with dilapidated canneries in evidence. A wonderful waterfront walkway makes it's way to the Aquarium which is exceptional and was well worth the visit. Having put some distance on tired legs walking along

Golfing heaven.
the promenade with it's picturesque ocean setting and old wharf now littered with rows of eateries and tourist shops, Brett led us into a bicycle shop. A few minutes later we walked out the proud owners of 3 vintage bikes costing $100 each. A very good move and given the massive amount of biking one sees, these will be put to good use.

We had heard about the "17-Mile Drive" south of Monterey and off we set to discover a spectacular coastline flanked by stunning houses and a number of golf courses which had Brett and I salivating. Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Peter Hay Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay and then the the crowning moment, Pebble Beach Golf Links. For the non golfers out there, this is as close as one gets to golfing heaven. This was a must stop moment and we were amazed at how easy it was to stroll in off the street, walk through the Club and then drift down to admire the magnificent setting and in particular, the layout of the 18th hole. Gob smacking stuff! Did a little check up and including a golf cart and two caddies (one in front

Spectacular cliff side roadway with cliffs plunging down to the ocean far below.
to apply the 3 minute play rule), a round will cost $743 (in SA currency, R9287). Unanimous decision...No!

A truly spectacular first full day of RV touring. Back to Moss Landing where Bobs took control of the braai tongs for a braai on a far warmer evening sitting alongside our Ford chariots.

Pismo Beach was the next destination and is a small, sleepy holiday resort town which hasn't quite kicked on from the 60's which fitted neatly for us young "Baby Boomers." Having done our homework, we set off on coastal HW1 to experience the Big Sur in the knowledge that there had been a landslide along this route a year ago and we would need to deviate inland at some point. A brief sidetrack...we are using a book entitled "Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip" and the authoress describes wonderfully the entire Californian coastal experience. The Big Sur is like nothing I have ever seen. It trumps the beautiful scenic drives around Cape Town which says something. For a second I will resort to plagiarism and this is what said authoress has to say: "Big Sur twists around mountains and clings to rocky cliffs as it navigates the

The girls about to set off on a scenic cycle.
rugged coast between Carmel and San Simeon. The natural scenery and breathtaking vistas make this stretch one of the highlights of the entire Pacific Coast Highway". Even those fine descriptive words don't quite do this amazing scenic drive full justice. Inevitably we arrived at the deviation and trepidation set in. This route over the steep mountains was in fact a military road opened because of the rock slide. A sign at the entrance proclaimed very steep and dangerous curves. Had we gone to the vote we may have turned around but the typical SA call was "let's do it". Thank goodness we did! It was scary and slow but the climb up away from the coastline was a trip to savour.

The Pismo Beach RV Resort proved beyond doubt that our Ford RV's were definitely in the "little league". We had three parkings alongside each other and were dwarfed by some of the biggest Winnebago's on the planet. The longest of these is about 40 ft (ours 20 ft). In this case size didn't count as we consoled ourselves with the fact that our beasts contained everything one needed. Importantly we had far easier hook up chores than the

No finer way to end the day and a special stay than with a beer or glass of wine firmly gripped in hand.
monsters alongside which meant sundowners were served far quicker. This stretch of coast seems to have a cold, misty end and start to each day and there was distinct chill sitting outside regaling about our brave summeting of the mighty mountain earlier in the day.

The bikes were put to good use the next day with endless cycling lanes taking one through a quaint but visibly older town. By mid day the mist had cleared and on a beautiful, warm evening, obligatory sundowners were supped on a sand dune gazing out West to a late setting sun. Bobby, the fireman, had purchased wood and a fire in the firepit provided the sort of warmth needed to share little moments of the trip thus far. Also a lot of discussion about what lies ahead.

The next day would see Sue and I heading for LA to see Sue's family relative. The rest of the crew were to spend another night in Pismo Beach so as to visit Hearst Castle.


7th May 2018

Ah, but you really are making the most of every moment in that ruggedly scenic part of the world! I am surprised that it is still so chilly in the mornings and evenings, otherwise your weather seems very kind indeed! Lovely photos, excellent descriptions. Any evidence of drought? When we were there, California, like the ?Cape, was in the grip of an ongoing, debilitating drought. Must have improved?!
7th May 2018

Ah, but you really are making the most of every moment in that ruggedly scenic part of the world! I am surprised that it is still so chilly in the mornings and evenings, otherwise your weather seems very kind indeed! Lovely photos, excellent descriptions. Any evidence of drought? When we were there, California, like the ?Cape, was in the grip of an ongoing, debilitating drought. Must have improved?!
7th May 2018

Hi Megs Still very dry & evidence on coastal route before Santa Barbara. Loving every minute. On way to San Diego today. Take care.
8th May 2018

Big boats on small roads
The coastal roads must feel a bit narrow at times ...the detour sounded scary. Keep the stories coming . Don't forget Disneyland. Knott's Berry Farms
8th May 2018

San Diego
Skipped Disneyland as I have been to one in Florida. Toured LA with family relative & took in Santa Monica, Malibu & Venice. All stunning & will be covered in next blog. Hope all good there in paradise.

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