Monday, May 24, 2010

California Part 2: Our Road Trip Begins

After picking up the camper, Tom Tom led us straight onto a six lane motorway. OMG!! So scary!! Esp since we had to get used to the car on the right, driver on the left and a van with suspension so soft that it felt like we were floating and swaying all over the place.

One thing I was a bit nervous about, was where we were going to stay/park each night, getting a shower etc. After booking the camper, we found out that RV parks and other campsites were a minimum of $25 per night and anything up to $60!! And most of these are unpowered. The other worry was that as we started to look online for campsites, we discovered that many of the best ones were actually booked out months in advance. The night before we left LA we made a call to the national campsite booking service and I don’t think the lady could get her head around the fact that we were wanting a site for that same night! NOT HELPFUL! So…at that point I was reminded about the fact that we actually just wanted to ‘go where our gizzards guide us’. This was my opportunity to let go of control and RELAX!! I had a ‘moment’ – what was I actually trying to do? This was the exact thing we were trying to avoid! PLANNING!! What was the worst that could happen? Sleep in the camper on the side of a road somewhere? The possibilities weren’t really that bad. I am slowly learning (the hard way), that it is so much better to be excited about the possibilities of amazing experiences as opposed to worried about everything that could go wrong, which is usually so much less than imagined anyway.

Leaving the camper company, we drove through Santa Monica which we loved as soon as we arrived!! We bought the most amazing salad we have ever eaten (citrus pecan salad). The ingredients: chicken, lettuce, pecans, blue cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, apple and INCREDIBLE mandarin pieces! Mandarin here is nothing like in Oz…can’t even be compared! Yuuuuuummmmm! Who would have thought the best salad we have tried would be in America.

We were glad to finally get out of LA, we drove through Malibu (nothing too exciting) and came across a state park (like our national parks) which happened to have some available sites for the night. Perfect weather, beautiful surroundings, what more could we ask for. We breathed a sigh of relief….we were finally in the type of place that refreshes and energises us. Amongst nature. We did discover that night though that the clothing we packed and the blankets we were given were slightly insufficient for the weather we would encounter. We did expect Californian weather to be a lot warmer this time of year (the locals also tell us it should be). Sunshine yeah, but so far accompanied by some windy days and cold nights. Some warmer days and nights would be good. Still….we have had the opportunity to thaw out since arriving from the UK.

We rose early on Friday to make the most of the day, drove to Santa Barbara where we began our Californian wine tasting and encountered an amazing, buttery, oaky chardonnay! After umming and ahhhing, we finally went back the next day to buy a bottle. We are mindful that any wine we buy along the way we have to consume or give away before we leave the country (I know a few of you are thinking ‘that won’t be hard’) so we want to be very selective.

We left Santa Barbara and tasted some more wine in the Santa Ynez Valley about half hour from Santa Barbara. After the wineries closed for the day It was getting quite late and we were losing light….we didn’t yet know where we were going to park for the night. That was until we went to a random little bookshop in a random Danish tourist town called Solvang. We went there to access the wireless internet and got talking to the locals. We left there with an offer to stay overnight in the carpark across the road. So that’s what we did! Our first night ever of dossing! We woke up to tourists walking past taking photos of our van and of course of us! We were famous! Ha!

We also have to mention the ‘out of this world’ sushi that we ate in Solvang – OMG!! Spiced crab with asian guacamole and the whole roll was deep fried tempura style and served with an asian style seafood sauce. And the presentation was a work of art! So annoyed that we didn’t take a photo of it! Grrr! YES IT WAS THAT GOOD!

From Solvang, which was slightly inland, we made our way back to the coast. We stopped for lunch in Pismo beach where we had REAL Mexican food at a restaurant called Zorros!! We say real Mexican because it is nothing like we’ve ever had in Oz. So fresh and healthy! Yes….I’m raving about food again! It was at Zorro’s we met Judy and Larry, an older couple from Carmel further north on the coast. After talking with them for 5 minutes they invited us to their home and offered us a place to park the van overnight! Sweet!

Next stop Morro Bay, a quaint seaside town that didn’t feel so quaint because it was so bloody windy!! Honestly, we haven’t encountered winds like that since we left Oz! lol And of course the wind cut right through us like a knife! We definitely didn’t bring clothes to cater for this! Thankfully, the weather has got so much better since we left there. Anyway….in Morro Bay we met a random dude called Phil in a lil internet cafĂ© who shared his travel tips with us….like if a state park is full and you say to the Ranger that you have to stay in that town/place tonight with nowhere else to go, by law they have to let you stay in the carpark outside. Brilliant!

The bay itself was beautiful, particularly the absolutely massive volcanic rock on the beach. As we drove into the town, all we could say was ‘woah’. Adjacent to the rock we saw sea otters in the wild….much to Tim’s satisfaction – he has a bit of an obsession with them and has wanted to see them in the wild for a long time.

Although we had planned to stay in Morro Bay, after the wind almost flung the door off our camper (literally), we thought we better move on…next stop Paso Robles.


Anonymous said...

man you guys are so lucky, it sounds like an amazing adventure... good luck on your journeys and if you happen to be in new york or columbus ohio in july let me know and we might be able to catch up!


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