Seal on Beach, CA

June Road Trip

In June we took a two-week road trip to explore more of Southern and Central California. We took Dusty with us, so we knew we wouldn’t get to see some of the indoor attractions, but there was plenty to see and do outside.

The first leg of our trip was in the LA area. On the way up we stopped in San Clemente for lunch and a brief stroll. We stayed in Beverly Hills at a funky mid-century modern hotel. We drove around some of the ritzy neighborhoods and visited Rodeo Drive. In Hollywood we drove up to view the famous sign, and searched the stars along the Walk of Fame. It was a hoot to also find favorite stars’ hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese theater. By now we were used to hordes of people around us so we hit the Santa Monica Pier, Malibu, Venice Beach and the Venice canals. The canals really held our interest; it was so peaceful to walk along them and admire the charming houses and landscaping.

We spent a day in Manhattan Beach where our niece, Amy and her husband, Don recently relocated from NJ with their triplet sons. We had a fun and frenzied visit with all of them!

Carmel-by-the-Sea was our next destination and our favorite stop on our trip. We stayed at a delightful B&B called the Vagabond’s House. They welcomed Dusty with a comfy blanket and a personalized placemat for her bowls. The town was shady and hilly and full of interesting shops and dog-friendly restaurants. It was chillier here than elsewhere, so we appreciated all the outdoor heaters at dinner. The 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove was interesting. We passed mansions and golf courses and scenic vistas. We could see why friends and family who love golfing would be taken with it. Monterey was a quick stop up here too. Our 100 mile drive along Big Sur was special. The weather was very changeable that day so we had periods of sun, clouds and thick fog. Luckily the fog didn’t roll in until we neared Nepenthe, because at that point we couldn’t even see the water over the cliffs. Nepenthe is where a friend of ours danced with Kim Novak during his military days. The fog cleared by the time we reached the Elephant Seal beaches. The seals were just molting at this time of year, so there wasn’t any fighting or posturing by males out to impress females. We spent 6 hours driving along this stretch of Highway 1 and another 2.5 getting back up to our starting point. Another day in this area was spent in San Luis Obispo. There we saw the “famed” Bubblegum Alley, where thousands of wads of chewed gum are plastered along the walls. Ewww!

The final leg of our journey was Santa Barbara. We stumbled across the Summer Solstice festival and parade here. What a great tradition for this town. The parade limited floats to only those powered by people; no gas or electric. They encouraged participation by all and the groups danced and performed to music as they marched through the streets. Our visits to Montecito and Goleta were much tamer than that. The wineries in Solvang and Los Olivos called to us and we enjoyed some wine tastings on our last days in the area.

The road trip covered about 1600 miles. It took us through the Salinas Valley, the “salad bowl of the world”. We passed by fields of nut trees (walnuts, pistachios, almonds), lettuces, pimentos, strawberries, cherries, alfalfa, avocados and grapes, to name those we could identify. Part of our trip took us along the historic “El Camino Real”, along which 21 missions were founded while the Spaniards colonized California. Replicas of mission bells are placed as road markers all along the way.

Perhaps our next road trip will be Northern California....

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