Saturday, May 28, 2011
Partly because we had a couple of free flights to burn and partly because I'm a travel addict, Mr. Wonderful and I took a long weekend to hang out in California. I love California and when I say love....I mean LOVE. San Francisco is fun, LA has it's moments, but so far, Central California is my true love. First of all the scenery is gorgeous. Big Sur...Swoon. Charming coastal towns, fresh seafood, endless vineyards, cruising Highway 1? Well, it's almost too perfect. When it's a beautiful, clear day here in Texas and it's not too hot and not too cold, my daughter and I refer to it as a 'California' day. We flew into San Jose, which in my opinion, is a good starting place. I don't like to drive THAT much. To our dismay, Highway 1 was closed just North of Cambria, so we had to opt for Highway 101 and then do some creative looping to be able to drive some of 1. C'est la vie. Funny thing about Highway 101, even though it wasn't Highway 1, it turned out to be a beautiful drive. Farms as far as the eye could see. Palm tree farms (!), lettuce, vineyards, asparagus, neatly lined rows of orchard trees. Rolling hills of green and bursting with purple and yellow flowers. Grazing cows. The fields of dark purple lettuce were especially stunning. Town after little town passed and we got hungry. We stopped in a tiny town that was proclaimed 'Gonzalez' on the big water tower. There was a Mexican restaurant in the cute little downtown area that we thought might be worth a shot. You know, one of those 'this is going to either be really good or really bad' things. The decor was horrific, but it was clean. There was one person in the place and he was standing behind the bar, watching tv. There were no customers. Okay...it's a little late for lunch. I guess. 'Are you serving lunch?" I asked. 'Habla Espanol?' was the reply. I smiled big and said 'Muy poco' (I'm fluent in Faux Spanglish) He returned my smile and sprang into action, jumping out from behind the bar and throwing on an apron, while ushering us to a table. We were promptly brought menus and drinks and then....the salsa and chips. Jackpot! The chips were homemade and so was the salsa. Oh, Baby, I think we've chosen well. Gerald ordered a Chimichanga and I opted for tacos. Neither would disappoint. The chopped beef in the tacos was perfectly seasoned and topped with fresh onions, tomato and cilantro. I thought I was in Mexico. (I kinda was). The Chimi was wrapped in a delicate tortilla and deep fried. Not greasy and in so many thin layers, almost like a croissant. The food was inexpensive, delicious, and our waiter/cook could be seen through the kitchen door flying around working hard. We tipped well. On the road again... This stretch of Highway 101 is known as 'Camino Real' - The Royal Highway. Between 1683 and 1834, Spanish missionaries established a series of missions that were about a day's ride apart along this route. Legend has it that they sprinkled the route with mustard seeds, so it would be marked by yellow flowers. In 1892, a series of 450 bells that hang from tall Shepherd's Hooks were installed along the route. Although the original bells have been replaced by replicas, they are really cool. Back in the day, there were 21 Missions, four Presidios and two Pueblos along this route. We hit Atascadero and headed West...destination Morro Bay. The terrain turned hilly at once as we wound through avocado farms and breathtaking vistas of green. Morro Bay is a cool, hippie coastal town that boasts a rock. A huge rock. It was once a plug for a volcano, so they say, and it's as big as a mountain. Many different species of birds use it to nest including Peregrine falcons, seagulls, herons and sea gulls. We stayed at El Morro Masterpiece Hotel. Nice, clean, wine and cheese happy hour and b'fast included. Jacuzzi tub in the bedroom and a little balcony. Nice staff. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and walking on the beach and had a great dinner in a seaside restaurant. Surfers Tomorrow we visit Hearst Castle, my future home.