California Road Trip 2010: along Highway 1

Ok, so after veering off track for a detour to Seattle and IFBC and some back to school preparations, we’re back on the road in the second half of my California Road Trip.  After our few days in Napa, we headed to San Francisco for a couple of days and in a move that will completely surprise you, A-type Mardi is going to blog the second half of the trip out of order.  {Gasp!}

Yes, I had been editing my pictures during the holidays and for some reason wrote this post before the SF ones.  I had grouped all my SF pictures together, planning to write the posts over the long weekend. Alas, I have done something odd to my right hand and am supposed to have it in a brace and completely immobile for a couple of weeks. Yes, because that’s realistic in the first weeks of school and grad school. Buttering toast hurts, so bear with me and read my blog out of order (much as it pains me…).  San Fran posts coming right up, slowly…

After San Fran, we headed south, down Highway 1.  The weather was not so cooperative and it vaguely felt like we were crossing the English moors and that the Famous Five would pop up brandishing “lashings of ginger ale and some scones”.  If you don’t get that reference and have never read Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, get thee to a library!  In any case, the mists were a-rolling in from the sea…

Our base was Monterey, from where we explored the coast to the south.  One cannot be *this* close and not visit Hearst Castle, right?  It’s a super organized affair with online ticket purchasing and tours of varying lengths (love that they list how many stairs you have to climb on each trip so you can decide for yourself how active you will be!) and it felt a little Disney-esque but the whole thing ran like clockwork.  We had a very knowledgeable and personable guide, “Chuck” (of COURSE!) who made our nearly 2 hour tour pass enjoyably and quickly.

William Randolph Hearst inherited the 250 000 acres of land on which Hearst Castle now stands from his mother in 1919.  According the the website, his simple instructions to famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919: “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something”

Far from being “a little something”, Hearst Castle is possibly the most ostentatious thing I have ever seen. I mean, it’s beautiful and all but just SO lavish.   Below is one of the “guest houses”:

Fancy a little swim during your stay?

And each staircase leads to another even more impressive room/ building…

And if you didn’t like the first pool, how about this underground one?

It’s really lovely but just oh so over the top.  If you are down that way, you definitely need to take one of the tours – you really have to see it to believe it!

Also along the famed Highway 1, is Bug Sur. Home to the acclaimed Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant.

It’s a fairly unassuming type of place  – from the outside, looks more like a cute truck stop…

Inside, however, it’s charmingly rustic.  The Bakery is open daily at 8am with baked goods for sale and consumption, whilst the restaurant  serves:
Lunch: Tues – Fri 11:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Tues – Sat 5:30pm
Brunch: Sat and Sun  10:30am to 2:30pm

We were not there at any sort of meal time, so we all had one of their excellent coffees…

And I managed a simple but tasty toasted tomato and cheese sandwich on sour dough with fresh basil.  Sometimes simple really is best.

Unfortunately, since we were staying around an hour away in Monterey, we never made it back for a real meal. But it’s definitely on the list for next time.

Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant
47540 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-0520

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Not at all food related but to be filed in a list of “Must Visit” locations, especially if you have kids (or even if the youngest in your party is 40!) is the Monterey Aquarium.  My parents and Neil and I were absolutely and utterly mesmerized by the exhibits, from the jellyfish…

To the absolutely unreal “Secret Life of Seahorses”…

to the Hot Pink Flamingoes...

We were in there with the best of the kids, pushing to get a better view and waiting for a picture perfect moment!

This one is my favourite…

She kinda fell for Neil 😉

We certainly kept ourselves busy the couple of days we spent in and south of Monterey and we really could have spent a whole lot longer there exploring (the story of this road trip, actually!).  It’s an interesting little corner of the world with breathtaking views, cultural experiences and good food. I mean, what more can you ask for?

38 thoughts on “California Road Trip 2010: along Highway 1”

  1. Lashings of ginger beer, tee hee! Have you watched Five Go Mad in Dorset?

    That indoor pool looks nice enough, but you only ever see such places when someone gets murdered in them in a movie or on tv. You wouldn’t catch me in one doing a few leisurely laps after a snifter of brandy with a generous life insurance policy out in my name, that’s for sure.

  2. Wow, Mardi, it seems like each leg of your trip was more exciting than the last! The pictures are just stunning! That first one is beautiful! And Hearst Castle? Breathtaking! I do absolutely love your animal pics, the turtles and flamingos. Wonderful trip!

  3. The castle is crazy! A bit ostentatious, no? Amazing how people live like that…. The Big Sur is more my kinda place. I agree with Jamie – the jellyfish, the seahorses, the flamingo – breathtaking!

  4. Went on a road trip last year through California and stopped in Monterey. Your pictures are beautiful and take me back to the wonderful California coast… looks like you had a great time!

  5. Your beautiful photos brought back memories of our trip to the Hearst Castle a few years ago. As gorgeous as your photos are, you are right, you really have to see it to believe it.

  6. Oh this takes me back to my many trips along hwy 1 and visiting all these great locations! Your weather was typical actually, there are some areas that always seem to look like english moors, but the weather is always great at Hearst. One of my favorite stops, although the Monterey aquarium might beat it out for best place to go! Love love love all your photos, thanks for sharing this with us!

  7. Although I’ve done this trip many times, I still never tire of the photos or reading about someone’s experience. Last time we were at Hearst Castle we saw zebras along the road!!!

    BTW, looking at your photos I truly don’t get what the “food porn sites” problem with them is!!

  8. The drive from San Francisco to LA is my favorite. The first time I saw it, we drove up, stopped at every scenic overlook (we were two people with newly acquired cameras and we went nuts), camped out inside a fire-damaged redwood tree, walked on Pismo beach because of Bugs Bunny and had a great time. I’ve got a bit of a redwood fetish. We didn’t have the money then to tour Hearst Castle, but we did visit the gift shop at the base. Oh, and as far as the aquarium goes — that’s why I love scuba diving. You get to see all that (sans penguins) and be weightless!

  9. What a fabulous post Mardi, I loved the Hearst Mansion (oops, Castle); was that inside pool featured in a movie, it looks familiar – Oh Well…, its a tad over the top, but great to get a look through your lenses 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed your holiday & sad its coming to an end. Where are *we* going next?

  10. Great post. The photos bring us much closer to your experience. I’ve read so much about Highway 1. Perhaps I’ll take a similar road trip one day.the Bakery is so famous. Love the quircky sign.

  11. Ooooh, I love the little penguin-like animal making googly-eyes at Neil. God, ostentatious is right about the Hearst Castle- can’t believe I’ve never been given being in proximity several times a year, but now I don’t have to because I’ve seen it through your eyes and I think we’d have much the same take.

  12. Sounds like a family vacation made in heaven… did you get to Carmel? The walking tour with Gail W is sensational. It breathed more life into that already thriving and lively must see cottage town. Your photos of Monterey really surprise me as they are so reminiscent of our time there, too! But, the Hearst Castle will be on the list for next time. It does look interesting.


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