Day 2 of our USA road trip, like most days to come, started early. We were up at 6am and ready to hit the road soon after that.
We had been given $5 off vouchers for the restaurant next door to the hotel (Best Western Black Oak) but J had eaten there before and definitely did not recommend it, plus getting something ‘to go’ was a better option for us anyway. So off to Starbucks it was (also next door to the restaurant).
Fruit and sandwiches were purchased and J got a coffee.
The sandwiches aren’t too bad for something quick and easy but they really need the condiments that come with them (mayonnaise and mustard) as they tend to be a bit dry.
We then headed south. Yes, south, in the direction we had come from yesterday. This was only for a few miles though, we made a right turn onto Highway 46 which would get us onto PCH 1 and the coast line, which is where we wanted to be.
After a short drive through pretty scenery such as the above, we reached the turn off for PCH 1.
As much as a town named Harmony intrigued me, we made another right-hand turn and went north.
There is some stunning coastline on this drive and I was impressed by the amount of vista points along the way. These were scenic lookouts where there was space to pull the car over and get a pretty picture.
Our first stop was to look at the elephant seals just past Hearst Castle. They were massive and moved in short quick bursts (when they did bother to move). This group appeared to be just waking up for the day. I found them quite fascinating and could have watched them for hours.
At different points throughout the drive, we would find ourselves driving through sea mist. Sometimes it would be light and airy, other times it would be really thick and totally obscured the view.
Another stop was at McWay Falls, where a waterfall drops straight onto the beach (or into the ocean depending on the tide). If you walk along past the waterfall you get views of the coast and can also see the remains, and read the history, of a house that used to be perched on the cliff.
A bit more driving along the windy narrow road and and it was definitely time for morning tea! This consisted of an excellent ham croissant (shared), tea for me and a coffee for J at the Big Sur Bakery. This is the view from the patio.
The tea was made into a bag from the multitude of different varieties stored in jars lined up behind the counter and secured with a wooden stick.
As we had been tootling along we had noticed a lot of classic cars going the other way. When we finally got to Carmel there were a lot more parked in the streets and there were signs advertising a car show.
Carmel is a pretty town but it was super busy so we had a quick walk around and decided to move on.
As J is a golfer he was keen to check out the famous Pebble Beach course. To access the course you need to get onto the scenic 17 mile drive. This is a private road and at each of the five entrances onto the road there is a toll booth and you have to pay to go any further.
We headed to the entrance in Carmel, only to be greeted by a sign announcing that the road was closed to through traffic. B*gger.
We thought we could still get down to the golf course but when it was our turn at the toll booth the guard told us that the car show was actually on at the course and we couldn’t get down there unless we had a ticket to the show or a reservation at one of the restaurants. We had neither so turned around and wondered what to do.
We ended up driving to Monterey and then onto Pacific Grove as we needed some lunch and somewhere to sit and discuss our options.
Lunch was had at Tillie Gort’s Cafe, which has a good reputation for its vegetarian and organic fare.
Neither of us had a vegetarian dish but what we had was good. I had half a jive turkey sandwich (sliced turkey, melted jack cheese, bacon and tomato in whole wheat pita). All sandwiches come with tortilla chips and homemade salsa.
I did not get a photo of J’s B.L.A.T (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato on whole wheat toast), but he is still talking about how good it was!
We discussed our options in regards to Pebble Beach, the car show and where we would spend the night. We had a reservation at a hotel in Napa that night but as it was such a long drive we knew before we even left Australia that there was a chance that we would decide to forfeit that accommodation if we ended up doing more stuff along the coast.
The car show was ruled out when we discovered it was $250 per person (ouch). I have since found out this is one the biggest car shows in the world.
We figured that accommodation and restaurants in the area would be either fully booked, extremely busy and probably super expensive due to the car show so decided to push onto Napa.
We did make a brief detour south of San Francisco to check out Google HQ. Google has many buildings and around them there were rows and rows of these brightly coloured bikes. Not locked up or anything and it seemed quite OK to take one for a spin, so I did.
(yes, they are supposed to be for employees to get between buildings but I wasn’t the only tourist taking a ride – helped that it was a Sunday as well)
We saw lots of other tech companies and as we were about to hit the highway again I spotted this sign:
After bypassing San Francisco we finally made it to our accommodation, the Napa Hilton Garden Inn, at 6:20pm (another hotel J stays at regularly).
Check-in was at 3pm but our room still wasn’t ready, which neither of us were impressed with. We parked the car and unpacked everything and put it outside the room. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long.
There was quite a nice looking pool area but I didn’t get a chance to use it as we headed straight back out again to get dinner at Oenotri.