A video from our roadtrip in California in September
GORMAN, CA (on the I-5) – We’re headed north to Sequoia/Kings Canyon national park and have stopped for the night. As it’s dark outside, we’re not really sure where we are. There was a sign saying Gorman when we pulled off, indicating some kind of town, but all we’ve seen are a couple of gas stations, fast food restaurants and the motel we’re staying at. The motel room is fine, but the surroundings are weird. Lots of trucks pulling in and out (the I-5 seems to be a big north-south link), but a very deserted feeling to the place. It’s a bit like the roadhouses (gas stations) we came across in western Australia, only bigger and with more neon signs.
Next to the motel lies a Carl’s Jr restaurant, a burger/mexican chain I hadn’t tried before. We had to eat something (duh…), so we picked up some food there: Helga got a taco and I got a two different burgers. Lina wanted to order one of each item on the menu, but we strongly suggested she’d stick to her formula. Not expecting anything, the burgers were absolutely great. The first one was an “Original six dollar burger” (curiously priced at $4.49+tax), with black angus beef, fresh greens and some mix of ketchup and mayo. The pickles on that one were probably the best I’ve ever had (as usual I removed them from the burger and ate them separately. Still don’t know why all chains bother with them). My second burger was of the “western cheese” variety, featuring “normal” beef, bacon, onion rings, bbq sauce and no cheese. In both cases the bun was a bit boring (having made my own buns recently, based on a scientific recipe, I’ve become even more anti the typical burger chain bun), but the taste of the burgers came through. The bacon/onion rings combo had the best taste, but the more luxurious meat was obviously the quality option and was really, really good. A nice surprise and as far as value for money goes, a real winner!
CAYUCOS, CA – Big Sur may very well have been the ultimate coastal drive. All in all you could do it a few hours, but there are so many vista points you want to stop at, so it takes a while longer than the sat nav suggests (not that you need sat nav there; there’s just the one road). Add in a couple of shorter walks/hikes and some longer stops at beaches and we ended up spending the better part of two days there, heading back up to our Monterey motel for the night in between. The beach in Carmel (Clint-town, perhaps not officially Big Sur), was perhaps the prettiest we were on. Lina played in the giant sandbox and Helga spotted two dolphins swimming by.
Many of the sights in Big Sur (which is an “experience” rather than a place) are hard to describe, so I’ll post some photos later, but here’s a summary: the roads are winding, the bends are everywhere, the redwoods are tall and provide welcome shade, the beaches are generally very pretty and completely off limits for anyone but the owner, and sometimes the cold fog rolls in from the sea blocking all views and creating an illusion of flying with the car. Like I said: photos coming up.
South of Big Sur lies a coastal town called Cayucos, where we again met up with our Califonian hosts. They’d rented a condo there which we could share with them. Cayucos was overcast today, so together we went a bit further south to a farm where the kids could pet and feed various animals. Lina is getting really good at animal sounds now, which provide for great entertainment in the car as well. And last night (she was awake until after 11pm, all excited from seeing our friends kids again), before collapsing across Helga’s legs on the bed, her last words were “quack, quack, quack”!
To finish off a great family outing, our friends took us to The Habit, a local burger franchise. We made a big order for the two families. The good thing about ordering together is that you can choose many different sides and then share them all. We had regular fries (really good ones!), sweet potato fries (really greater ones, especially with a bit of ranch dressing, which was supposed to go on the garden sallad, another side) and onion rings (best ever! A special batter, with crumbles I really enjoyed. We ended up ordering more as we got a second round of burgers). The burgers were also really good: fresh and made to order. The kids also enjoyed the place as they could drink a much ice water with a straw as they could manage and Lina got her first taste of sweet potato fries (she had seconds of that as well!).
All the kids arw asleep so now it’s time for some local pale ale!
CAYUCOS, CA – It appears Top Gear got it wrong when they named the winding roads of the Stelvio the best highway in the world. I think Highway 1 along Big Sur beats that, thanks to having the ocean next to it.
A great drive with stunning views. Just turn up Hootie and the blowfish and head out. (Audioslave works great as well)
MONTEREY, CA – So, one week in and no burgers yet, you think? We did hit Burger Kimng the other night, but that doesn’t really count. There haven’t actually been any good oppurtunities so far. (Except for this one place on Cannery Row we wanted to try tonight. But they couldn’t microwave Little Big Lina’s food for us and Helga said she couldn’t have a hamburger, so we gave her pizza instead.) To be fair, this seems to be more of a seafood region so I have been enjoying clam chowders and California rolls instead. But Helga’s promised we can go to the In-N-Out burger when we find one.
In the meantime, we’ll be hanging out in what is basically Clint Eastwood’s backyard.
MONTEREY, CA – Roadtripping with a toddler is definitely different from when it was just the two of us. But less time spent driving and more time spent in parks or on beaches aren’t necessarily bad things. We’re moving at a slower pace, but that just means more time to enjoy things: views, airplanes, sand, dogs… Our daughter’s precence has so far also meant less time in restaurants and early nights at the motel.
After visiting our friends in Walnut Creek, Calif., we’ve now been on the road for two days. We did however experience a false start before we got moving: our rental car was packed and ready, but wouldn’t start anymore. We got a replacement car after a few hours and some bad words in various languages. Not sure what was wrong with the first car, we forgot all about it as soon as we started heading south.
We hit the beautiful coast of Cali in Santa Cruz, where Helga surely would’ve gone surfing if her center of gravity would’ve been at its normal position. There’s always next time!
Now that we’ve gotten the hang of this new way of travelling, we’ll ben enjoying this vacation even more than previous ones.
When looking at our previous visits to the US, I realised I’d missed a state on our list: Arizona, where we went to Grand Canyon, of course.
We’re heading back to the states again next week. We will be driving around some, but I don’t expect us to stray outside of California, so no new states to add to the list.
One for the road:
So it always seems to take me a week or more to finish off whatever blog entries I should write to conclude a recent trip. I think it’s down to needing time to decompress after any holiday. The last one was a bit special though, as I wasn’t due back at work for another month, but I still didn’t get around to it in time. The reason this time is pretty obvious though. She’s got big blue eyes, an intoxicating smile and takes up most of my time when she’s awake, for which I can’t blame her.
But Lina does need her beauty sleep, so now I’ve taken the time to go through the photos from Portugal and I’ve posted them here.
We really enjoyed the little piece of Portugal we visited, so we’ll be sure to return soon. That time we’ll probably turn it into a proper roadtrip!