8-11 May 2015 California - Morro Bay, Pacific Coast Highway, Carmel & Monterey

Friday 8th May

Moved along the coast this morning to Morro Bay and booked into an RV park about a mile out of town. The town is an old sea port with wooden buildings lining the water front. There is a board walk that passes lots of seafood restaurants, shops and galleries. A fishing fleet that operates from the port was lined up at the quay opposite the towns landmark, Morro Rock, a volcanic peak jutting out of the sea. In the bay we could hear and see a group sea lions sunbathing on a wooden pontoon. We spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around the shops, it's a shame about the power plant with the tall chimneys at the end of the dock. In the evening we went into town for pre dinner drink at Stax Wine Bar and then The Galley restaurant for dinner. We were just in time to see the sun go down over the ocean and Morro Rock. This is a nice unpretentious town that has the feel of an old fashioned fishing port.

Saturday 9th May

Today we got back onto Highway 1 and headed north up the coast to Big Sur. Here the coast road gets more rugged and the two lane highway has plenty of bends and turns. We travelled past San Simeon and Hearst Castle and stopped at Elephant Seal Rookery. On this beach there are hundreds of seals playing, sleeping and fighting. At this time of year it is mostly females and juveniles that are on the beach going through their annual moult.

Later the large bull seals come along later. This seal colony started in the early 1990's with one or two seals arriving because the nearby Channel Islands colony had become full. The cove is ideal because it is sheltered and has plenty of kelp just off shore that keeps the great white sharks away. In the winter the seals come to breed. There was a volunteer from 'Friends of the Elephant Seal' who stopped to talk to us and gave information on the seals and their behaviour. It is easy to spend a long time here, the seals are fascinating to watch as they interact with each other. The coast north of here is truly breathtaking with hairpin turns winding through some of the most dramatic coastal scenery we have seen. There are sheer cliffs plunging down to the ocean and every turn brings a new scene. We were impressed with how unspoilt this coast is with pristine beaches overlooked by grassy hills full of spring flowers. There are some buildings along the way with impressive looking homes built into the cliffs and overlooking the ocean. We came to Ragged Point Inn perched on the edge of a cliff where there is ocean view accommodation There are also some state parks and beaches with camping areas but being the weekend and Mothers Day tomorrow all were full. As we came to the Los Padres National Forest the coast line got more rugged and the woods thicker. We stopped off at Bixby Bridge (concrete single arch span bridge built in the 1930's) to admire the view and take some photos.

We reached Carmel late afternoon and headed for the Carmel by the River RV Park in Carmel Valley. To reach the park we travelled along a single track road down into a steep lushly wooded valley where the park was located at the side of the Carmel River. This is a small very pretty park, deep in the valley surrounded by trees with scrubs separating each camp site and lots of roses in tubs. After our wonderful 90 mile journey along the Pacific Coast Highway we relaxed in the sun for the rest of the afternoon and had BBQ ribs for dinner.

Sunday 10th May

Busy morning in the 'office'. Dave doing a report for work, Tony updating the blog, Chris catching up on emails, me writing the daily log.

We sat in the sun to eat our bacon and egg sandwich breakfast before going into the lovely town of Carmel by the Sea. The town is perched on cliffs above the ocean and we walked down the tree lined main street to the sandy beach. The town is dog friendly and there were lots of dogs off the leash playing on the beach. We walked along the bay with the famous Pebble Beach golf course on the grassy headland at one end and Carmel Point at the other.

Sandy had a wonderful time running in and of the surf. At the campsite in the valley the sun was shining brightly but in the town the weather was cloudy with mist still lingering over the hills. After the beach we strolled around the town looking at the shops and galleries. The place is very picturesque with small hotels set amongst the shops, houses and restaurants. We stopped in a small plaza for coffee and cake.

We went back to our sunny valley and sat outside planning the next leg of the journey to Yosemite. As soon as the sun went down it got chilly and retired inside the RV for dinner.

Monday 11th May

Went back into Carmel today. Tony and Dave took Sandy to the beach for a swim in the surf.

Chris and I went around the shops, after yesterday we decided all the boutique shops were too good not to go back for a second look. We then did '17 Mile Drive' through the Del Monte Forest and Pebble Beach. This is a private toll road of luxury homes that runs along the coast and tree lined roads. We passed Pebble Beech Golf Links and stopped at Pescadero Point to see views of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove.

The road wound along the coast past the nature preserve of native pine and cyprus trees to Fanshell Overlook, this beach is closed in the spring when harbor seals return to give birth to their pups. We passed two more golf courses and saw large houses overlooking some of the fairways before leaving the drive to follow the coast road around to Monterey. On arrival we headed to the waterfront via Cannery Row where the old sardine cannery buildings now contain shops, restaurants, galleries and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For lunch we made our way to Fishermans Wharf which was once the centre of the fishing and whaling industries but is now known for its sea food restaurants, shops and markets. We eat at Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria and sat outside on a sheltered patio overlooking the harbour. The staff were extremely welcoming particularly to Sandy. They had a dog menu with chicken and hamburger dishes on it. Sandy chose hamburger on a frisby, taking the frisby home with her.

The humans had various fish and seafood dishes, including rock fish, calamari, shrimps, cod, mussels, clams and crab claws, we even managed a pudding. It was lovely sitting out in the sunshine over a relaxing lunch.