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Down the coast 21st April 2012

We left our Days Inn Hotel around 9:30pm, the sea mist was still there. Headed back down Highway 1 to Hearst Castle. Rayls, Cath and Chris took the tour whilst I pottered around in the car.

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts about one million visitors per year. Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds. One highlight of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool, located near the edge of the hilltop, which offers an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house. The Neptune Pool patio features an ancient Roman temple front, transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site.

We left the castle around noon and headed the 100 K's to out=r overnight stay at a Motel 6 in Arroyo Grande.

We did a Wal-Mart stop before heading to the hotel for a rest.

7:00pm we headed to the Clark Theater and the Winter Dance Party Show which is the official live and authentic re-creation of the final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper before their untimely deaths in a plane crash in 1959. Winter Dance Party is the only show endorsed by both the Holly and Valens estates and features the Big Bopper’s son, J.P. Richardson, Jr. This critically acclaimed national touring production features a dynamic live concert at every performance and includes over two hours of unbridled, high voltage entertainment featuring all the hit songs of the 50's era such as “That'll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy,” “Rave On,” “La Bamba” and “Chantilly Lace,” proving that the music did not die in that infamous plane crash. 

A great show and Rayls and I even got to meet the stars after the show. Cool

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Down the coast 20th April 2012

It was a long day down the coast today as we head back towards LA for our last few days in the USA. 374 K's, much of it on winding roads along the coast. As usual some sensational scenery spoiled a lttle by a coastal fog that hung around for much of the day.

The California coastal fog is ocean-driven, resulting from the temperature difference between cool ocean water and warmer air. The Monterey Bay region is particularly foggy because of the Monterey submarine canyon, whose deep, cold waters are flushed to the surface during seasonal upwelling. When spirals of warm wind coming over the Pacific hit the cold water in the Bay, the air chills and condenses to form fog.

So we left out hotel near San Francisco around 9am and used the car pool lane to great effect as we eventually crossed the Oakland Bay Bridge and headed just a few K's out of town to San Mateo. Chris had family live and work in San Mateo many years ago and so it was just a sort of sentimental journey for him to see the area, which has probably changed much since his family was here.

We eventually found our way to Highway 1 at Santa Cruz - an arty sort of town where we had an early lunch and browse.

Back onto Highway 1 and onto Monterey, a very scenic town, which has some significance to the hippy era of the lateish sixties. It was where the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was held.

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Monterey was the first widely promoted and heavily attended rock festival, attracting an estimated 55,000 total attendees with up to 90,000 people present at the event's peak at midnight on Sunday.

The festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Ravi Shankar, the first large scale public performance of Janis Joplin, and the introduction to a large, predominantly white audience of Otis Redding.

The Monterey Pop Festival embodied the themes of California as a focal point for the counterculture and is generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the "Summer of Love" in 1967, along with the smaller Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival held at Mount Tamalpais in Marin County a week earlier. Monterey became the template for future music festivals, notably the Woodstock Festival two years later.

We visited the marina with its numerous wildlife including seals and the largest seagulls you have ever seen, not sure if they are a different variety of seagull or just well fed!

After our stay we moved onto Carmel, just 15 minutes away. Clint Eastwood did a term as Mayor of Carmel back in the late 80's and even today it is where numerous notable people live. The town is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. The one-square-mile village has no street lights or parking meters.

The town is known for being dog-friendly, with numerous hotels, restaurants and retail establishments admitting guests with dogs. Carmel is also known for several unusual laws, including a prohibition on wearing high-heel shoes without a permit, enacted to prevent lawsuits arising from tripping accidents caused by irregular pavement (and probably the lack of night lighting).

We spent a couple of hours in Carmel before heading further south along Highway 1 towards LA. For about 140 K's the road winds and hugs the cliffs of Big Sur, passing various coastal parks in the area. Very scenic with numerous photo stops.

We ended up in San Simeon, not far from the Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built by William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century that is now a tourist attraction. The area is also home to a large elephant seal rookery.

We stayed in a Days Inn and had a very pleasant 2 hour dinner at the Big Sur Californian Cafe next door. We enjoyed the service and humour of our server Chris Dorsey and eventually walked back to the hotel at 9pm for a much needed rest.