Right now it’s raining in the desert! Zion National Park to be exact, but let me take you back a whole very busy month to our drive from LA up the scenic Highway 1. Highlights only otherwise we’ll be here all day.
We spent two nights in the very curious and quaint town of Cambria, which is pretty much one fairly long road. Arriving in the evening we were welcomed by an alarming display of imaginatively dressed scarecrows all along the street. Turns out the town has a scarecrow festival in October which they pull out all the stops for.
Close to Cambria is Hearst Castle which is what we wanted to see. For those not in the know (as I wasn’t), it’s a mansion built by William Randolph Hearst in the 1920’s and is a truly spectacular collage of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his travels around Europe. In it’s heyday Hearst would invite the Hollywood and political elite to the estate where they could amuse themselves as they pleased during the day and were expected to attend formal drinks and dinner in the evening.
The estate is absolutely incredible. We spent most of the day there enjoying and photographing the stunning grounds, not to mention the grand and sparkling Neptune Pools.
Just down from the castle along the shores we saw our very first wild sea otter which was a real treat getting to observe him up close, diving to the bottom of the ocean for shellfish and then coming up to swim on his back, cracking the shells on his body and feeding himself.
Next on the itinerary was the drive along the Big Sur which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years and boy, it didn’t disappoint. Not only is the scenery breathtaking but the way the road hugs the coastline with just a sheer drop off the edge is like nothing we’d seen before.
Our stopping point was Carmel – a truly picturesque town full of wonderful little art galleries that we spent hours and hours in, as well as intriguing themed shops. The Christmas shops were our favourite – having spent two Christmases in Asia where they don’t really celebrate, it made us realise how we’ve missed it. The decision was made to remain in the US for Christmas in an attempt to make up for the two years of absence.
Changing pace completely, we headed to San Francisco where we well and truly walked the city- oh those fabulous hills filled with stunning houses!
We were in San Francisco for Halloween and couldn’t help feeling a little confused about all the crazy people on the streets, not sure if that’s simply how the city is or if they took Halloween to another extreme. Most disconcerting was a guy walking the streets in his birthday suit wearing a woolly hat to keep one head warm and gold foil for the other. Returning to the city a week later, we can now confirm that it is indeed full of ‘crazies’.
Five hours north of San Francisco and still on the coast, is the Redwood Forest. Oh I could get lost in this enchanted forest where we felt like we’d walked straight into a Disney film. The majestic grandeur of these 2000 year old Redwoods is simply magical. We felt like little elves tip toeing amongst the green, lush forest floor, surrounded by these old and wise trees – a very special energy there!
As we all know, road trips can start to get a bit long and tedious at times. Driving through California a source of much confusion/conversation/ entertainment for us was the intermittent and strong smell of grass (I’m not talking about the stuff that makes up ones lawn). California laws are very relaxed around the stuff and we were absolutely convinced that someone must have put a stash somewhere in our car. We ran the fantasy that perhaps we were ‘moving’ it for someone…hey, let’s not pretend that all the driving doesn’t make you batty. We eventually found out there is a tree in California that grows everywhere and smells a lot like marijuana. Oh well, allowing our imaginations to run a little wild passed a lot of time :).
With all this moving around, my job of travel agent and healthy food finding is keeping me well and truly on my toes when combined with our adventure filled days. However I’ll leave you there for now while we go do a bit of exploring around Zion National Park.