On a visit to California, a few years ago, we had to travel to San Diego from San Francisco and decided that it might be fun to drive down the coast using the PCH rather than fly between the two cities. So from that decision a little road trip was born.
This is the first section between San Francisco and the lovely town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Distance: 133 miles via Halfmoon Bay, Santa Cruz Time: 3 hours without stopping
The PCH (Pacific Highway) is one of those iconic drives that should be done in a pink Cadillac convertible with the top down making the most of the azure blue skies and brilliant Californian sunshine with plenty of Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas CDs on board. In reality this was February and an open top car was not an option. We ended up with a Chevvy, but a poor imitation of the Chrysler PT Cruiser with black tinted windows; the skies were gun-metal grey. Not the ideal start, but hey it felt good to be on the road.
We began our journey in San Francisco and immediately headed southwest on to the Cabrillo Highway at Pacifica to follow it south to Monterey and Carmel – our first stop. This is not a long section, but it can take a long time, as there are plenty of scenic viewpoints to stop off at on your way down the coast and in the summer there are several roadside food stalls to entice you.
The section between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County is prone to periodic landslides and road closures and one stretch is known as the Devil’s Slide*. This particular stretch of road reminded me of Chapman’s Peak Drive in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, as it hugs a similar steep promontory with equally stunning vistas. We stopped at Half Moon Bay to admire the surfers and the beautiful beach until the rain sent us scudding back to the car.
*(This stretch of the Cabrillo Highway has since been replaced by a road tunnel).
Don’t forget to stop at the family run Duartes Tavern in Pescadero which is a little further south and only 2 miles off the state road; it is still run by the 4th generation of Duartes and home to the worlds most divine Olallieberry Pie, world-famous Cream of Artichoke Soup, and Crab Cioppino. We, on the other hand have had a full breakfast there and no complaints. In this small town you can also find interesting craft shops, artichoke bread and a goat dairy. If you have the time a stroll along the Pescadero State Beach back at the junction with Highway One may bring you into contact with harbour seals among the sand dunes. Continue reading Flashback Friday #21
Distance: 280 km via Muizenberg, False Bay, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Hermanus, Botrivier and Sir Lowry’s Pass.Time: 4 hours without stopping
Originally posted in 2013 this is a post about our road trip from Cape Town to Hermanus in April 2008.
On our final day in Cape Town we decided to drive around the False Bay coast eastwards to Betty’s Bay and on to Hermanus (a good spot in the winter months for whale watching from land) and it turned out to be one of the best drives of the trip. Our first stop was in Muizenberg where I had lived for several years in the 1970s and 1980s well before it went through a period of crime and deprivation which almost ruined it. Now it appears to be on the up with lots of investment in the region including new housing developments around the village and the beach which is very popular with surfers and the longest and most spectacular in the peninsula.
Even the iconic Victorian beach huts have been spruced up and rearranged into uniform lines so hopefully tourists will be encouraged back here. And although it lacks the turquoise waters and dramatic boulders of Clifton or Llandudno it is one of the best beaches in the peninsula with its sugar soft white sand dunes to the eastern edge and child-friendly rock pools to the west and warm waters to swim or body-surf in. Wandering around this little village you will see examples of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architecture. The lovely Edwardian-era red-brick railway station which opened in 1913 with its arched sandstone entrances and beautiful teak clock tower is reminiscent of the golden days of Muizenberg. Continue reading Flashback Friday #18
This was part of an amazing road trip around some of the canyons in the USA in March 2014 setting off from San Diego and finishing in Las Vegas.
Sedona via Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon
Today was a much shorter drive, though very different from yesterday as we were driving through the snow that had fallen overnight. After a lovely breakfast and snapping a few shots of Steller Jays and Dark Eyed Juncos who were breakfasting outside on monkey nuts we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. Would it live up to the hype I wondered? Or would the reality fall flat.
(please click on an image to enlarge)
Black Eyed Junco
We continued along 89A through Oak Creek Canyon weaving its way up and around the mountains. At the top we pulled into a viewing place to take a few photos of the canyon and the road on which we had just driven. I am so glad that they clear the roads in this part of the world!
By noon we’d arrived at Tusayan the town just before the south entrance to the park and we stopped to visit the IMAX theatre to watch a film about the Canyon which is well worth doing if you haven’t been there before. Though I must be the only person on earth who suffers travel sickness whilst watching these films! I have to close my eyes to stop myself from feeling dizzy.
The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison – beyond description, absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. Let this great wonder of nature remain as it is now. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s’ children and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see. Don’t let them skin this wonderful country – as they will try to do” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, May 6, 1903
Now we were in the park and following the one-way system to our hotel – El Tovar – where we had booked for the night. It is a National Historic Landmark and is right on the South Rim with views of the canyon from rooms on the northern wing.
The hotel is made from native stone and Oregon pine and the design is based on European hunting lodges and has a world-renowned restaurant along with canyon views.
The remaining leg of our road trip south to San Diego unfortunately took us through the enormous sprawl which is Los Angeles. I was not looking forward to this part of the trip and if I hadn’t been the driver I might have kept my eyes firmly shut. However, we did have a treat in store – an overnight stay on the Queen Mary which is berthed at Long Beach.
I managed to miss the turn off to the PCH which would have taken us through Venice Beach, and instead found myself on the vast network of freeways that encircle and cross this city. I wasn’t going to try and find my way back though.
And after a lovely night on board this wonderful old liner we had a pleasant drive down the coast to Dana Point in Orange County where we had to join the Interstate 5 freeway into San Diego. At this point we were driving on fumes so I didn’t attempt to take the longer route into the city along the coastal road.
So if you are not already car sick, then please join me on the last leg of this road trip into San Diego where you can have some free time. The Final Leg of the Journey
Our next stop along the PCH road trip was in Santa Barbara. Located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles (City of Angels) the stretch of coast along the southern stretch of Santa Barbara County is often referred to as “The American Riviera” presumably because its climate and geography are similar to the north Mediterranean coast in France known as “The Riviera“.
We set off amid blue skies wishing we could turn around and head back to Carmel to see those incredible views we had missed yesterday. But we had no time to do that as the OH was due in San Diego in a couple of days time. So once again we delayed breakfast aiming to visit the little town of Cambria and find some of the olallieberry pies we kept hearing about.
Keep your eyes peeled along this stretch of the PCH as it runs very close to the ocean. The American Riviera