Friday, 30 April 2010

Up in the mountains: part 2

Apparently Cold Spring Tavern has a number of springs on its land and I had a go at taking pictures of one of the small creeks. This wasn't as easy as I thought.

The light was a little tricky to work with, lots of dark and very bright spots as it was a sunny day but in the woods, but the worst part, as I found, was trying to hike over the rocks with my dodgy knee!

At one point I almost got stuck. The only way out was to go up but my knee wouldn't allow it, the other way called for a quick swim. Fortunately I found a way back but it was close for a minute or two!

Just a little further along the road is a nice spot for pictures - the Cold Spring Arches Bridge.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Up in the mountains: part 1

Towards the end of the California road trip we drove up State Route 154 or the San Marcos Pass north of Santa Barbara. I kept hearing a reference to Red Rock (I think) but am not actually sure if that's the name of the mountain we drove up or something else, but it's very beautiful nonetheless!

On the way towards the summit we even saw a view that reminded me of the Big Island, a very obvious extinct volcanic crater although the views were spoiled a little by the haze.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Cold Spring Tavern which I believe is very well known in the area. It's a fun place and certainly somewhere I'd love to visit again for a good night out but a designated driver is definitely required!

Although I don't have any pictures, there were a few memorials along the road to the tavern. It seems a lot of people drove off the road on their way to or from the tavern. There are some pretty steep drops of the road and it isn't a place to drive if you are even the slightest bit off form.

Lunch was nice and not too expensive for a change although as usual everywhere we visited in Central California likes to give you a meal that'll feed a large family for a week, but this place wasn't as bad as some I could mention!

More pictures to come of one of the springs in part 2 and click on the pictures for larger versions if you want.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Some calming sunrise pictures

I need to calm down a little. My PC has died and it serves me right for buying a complete piece of cheap crap from Walmart and HP, but it was an emergency at the time. As I've just discovered, the hard drive has failed and it would probably cost about the same as the useless pile of rubbish is worth to fix it, so I've just finished ordering a new computer. This would happen just a couple of days beyond the warranty of course...

It was always a machine I was looking forward to throwing off a cliff (of course I won't do that, what with the environment and all that kind of stuff). It replaced a PC I bought in 2002 which had ten times less memory and nowhere near the processing power, yet was hardly any faster. Good job, HP, you've lost a potential customer for life.

Anyway, I was planning to post a few sunrise pictures taken from a small beach just off Cannery Row in Monterey this evening, and guess what, I actually backed them up! So here they are courtesy of a laptop on which I've finally managed to install my mobile internet thingy. Hope you like them and as ever click on them for a better view.

Time for a beer or two...


I might be offline for a bit so please don't think I'm ignoring comments or have jumped off a cliff somewhere. My home PC appears to have died.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Time to go fishing

Dawn - my favourite time of the day. If I'm awake that is.

Another Pacific View: part 2

The next few photos are all in the Big Sur region where the coastline is simply spectacular. Although it was a beautiful sunny day it was surprisingly cold and very windy and the surf down below was tremendous.

A zoomed in view of Big Creek Bridge and the PCH running along the coastline.

Somewhere in the Big Sur region.

Somewhere else in the Big Sur region. We didn't stop here for long as I think we had a family dispute happening behind us and a possible jumper. There were enough people there not to feel bad about leaving.

I believe this is a view of the coastline around Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong. but on the next visit I intend to spend a little time here because the pictures I've seen of the place are stunning.

Bixby Bridge and coastline, Big Sur.

As we approached Monterey Bay it was time for another pit stop and a view of these structures:

Well, I know I was a few thousand miles closer to home than I usually am, but I didn't expect this! As ever, you can click on the pictures for larger versions.

Another Pacific View: part 1

For those of you that haven't driven California's Route 1, or the Pacific Coast Highway, I highly recommend taking a trip along it one day, especially in Central California and the area in and around the Big Sur. The scenery is simply breathtaking although I promise one day to return and take some pictures at sunset when the light is so much better for photography rather than the middle of the day, because I don't think my pictures do it justice. Still, I hope you enjoy them and remember to click on them to see larger versions.

Just a few miles north of Cambria where we set off after lunch.

Still not much further north and we were stopping a lot - I'd planned three or four hours for the trip to Santa Cruz but at this rate we wouldn't get there before midnight!

High up on the cliffs, the view to the south.

Pit stop!

Big Creek Bridge I think and the surrounding coastline.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sunrise stroll on the beach

I had no idea Canada geese liked beaches let alone taking the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed stroll while watching the sunrise.

Early morning flight

The lone cypress tree

Apparently this is often used as the symbol of California, or at the very least it is used as the symbol of Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. There are millions of pictures of it on the web but few in black and white so thought I'd be different!

I'm sure I'll be posting a colour version of it in the next few days along with other pictures from the beautiful 17-Mile Drive near Monterey.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Ugly duckling


I've enough problems keeping the jungle out of my yard, but even on my more energetic days with my weed whacker fully fueled I don't think I could cope with these Californian weeds.

Noisy guy

We drove northwards from Cambria to Santa Cruz, CA, on the Pacific Coast Highway after our stays in the Santa Barbara and Moonstone Beach areas. I'd checked with the hotel and several other people if this was something that could be done in a few hours and everyone said yes, so off we went. An hour later we were about ten miles north of Cambria having stopped several times to take in the views. This was a tad worrying as further north I knew the views would become magnificently beautiful rather than just marvelously stunning - we'd be driving the 100 miles or so for a week at this rate.

Anyway, we did finally reach Santa Cruz, but those initial stops included visiting this particularly noisy seal albeit from a clifftop a couple of hundred yards away. Despite the distance and the high winds, you could hear this guy a mile away. There were seals all over the place except for his small cove and I can understand why. He whined at us up on the cliffs...

...then went silent while watching if anyone was left, and a few seconds later... he went out to sea making more noise than a 747 jumbo jet.

I'm sure his vocal abilities might be impressive in the seal universe, but I bet his neighbours have been complaining like hell recently.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Education these days

This is a picture of the entrance to the Santa Barbara Court House. I have no idea what it says above the door because I don't have an Oxbridge education. My best guess is "Discuss justice monthly" or "This site for justice if you have money".

It's a fascinating place though, Pam and I even watched a medical malpractice case for a while which I realised, after a few minutes, was about a young and athletic woman who allegedly suffered a screwed up surgery on her knee after a skiing accident. It was a little ironic because I could hardly walk at this stage due to, er, my knee. Actually, walking wasn't so bad but having to straighten it out every so often was. Sitting down listening to the testimony in a hushed court room with the resulting "crack" from my knee joint every time I moved was a little embarrassing.

I'd love to know how the court case went. I'd also like to thank the court sheriff who was very kind to us and explained the US legal system to me in a couple of minutes.

The halls of justice.

Another hall of justice. It looks quiet but there were cases going on. I used my knowledge garnered from Boston Legal to figure out what was going on and who was who although the judge was easy to spot.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Carpinteria beach

Firstly, I have to apologise to Pam and others in California for continually calling Carpinteria "Carpet Interiors" but it was the only way I could remember the name. I booked an hotel there because it was very near Santa Barbara but wasn't as excessively expensive as some of the places in Santa Barbara itself.

The town had a beach, a couple of restaurants and bars and the hotel had both a bar and restaurant which usually meets my very simple criteria for selecting hotels. So apart from the toilet fiasco, I have to say Interior Carpeting is a rather nice place.

The town's beach, Indoorfloria or something like that, is a beautiful place to visit at sunset and there are enough places to visit close by to keep someone like me happy in the evenings!

Hope you enjoy the pictures (as usual, you can click on them for larger versions).

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

This is a place I will return to. The beach itself is beautiful although it's clearly swept by storms each winter as there is so much debris on the sand, including some very large trees and lots of other odds and ends. We didn't do much exploring especially as Pam can't walk too far at the moment, and the sand was very heavy on the foot. It was quite a workout just walking a couple of hundred yards!

Moonstone Beach at sunset

There was someone watching the sunset in the distance, so I tried to zoom in a little.

The village is wonderful as well. We stayed at the El Colibri Hotel & Spa which is almost right on the beach and you can stroll along the boardwalk, which starts at the hotel, to the beach and much further if you're energetic. The village of Cambria isn't so accessible from the hotel but the centre of town is only a mile away or so with some great places to eat and drink. This is my kind of town!

Our hotel for a couple of nights. I recommend it, especially after our Fawlty Towers experience in Carpinteria!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Ooh, lovely!

Even in California it seems there are some decently civilised folk. Here's a nice cup of tea and they even thought to use a tea cozy. Definitely my kind of place. Even better, the owner played cricket in his youth so we had a long and very interesting chat about the game. I'll definitely go back!

"...Mrs. Gubbins came in with a tray of tea things and a plate of biscuits of the sort that I believe are called teatime variety, and everyone stirred friskily to life, rubbing their hands keenly and saying, 'Ooh, lovely.' To this day, I remain impressed by the ability of Britons of all ages and social backgrounds to get genuinely excited by the prospect of a hot beverage." --Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Back to work...

The last two weeks have gone too quickly. I wish I was still back in California for various reasons (I think Pam does so too!) but it's time to go back to work. All I can say now is that the Central California road trip has provided the best memories and I can't wait to go back. Wonderful beaches, great food (even if they tend to serve enough to feed four people with every meal), utterly spectacular views and the company of someone very special to me. You can't beat that!

I do apologise for not responding to comments in my blog for the last couple of weeks, but as you might imagine I've been busy vacationing. I will get back to all of you soon and I should have some more pictures from the road trip to post in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Ball and chain

This guy seemed to be very proud (and noisy) about his new-found buoy in Monterey Harbor. Maybe he was just relieved to get out of the water though, as the orcas were vacationing in the bay. Just how he managed to get up there, however, is a bit of a mystery to me.