Despite how tired I was, I still awoke at 02:00, and then just dozed until I got up at 07:00. At around 05:00 there was shouting down the corridors – not the quietest of places I’ve stayed in. The breakfast at the Arena hotel however was a good one, and had a selection of hot and cold food.
Upon ordering a taxi it arrived pretty quickly and as it happened it was a very short drive to the Hilton Hotel where we needed to pick up our rental car from Avis. We got there a little too early, but didn’t have to wait too long. The whole process for hiring the car seemed overly long, collecting details from us both that we’d both previously provided. Oddly, although it was being paid for on one car we both had to provide credit cards in case of any fines. Although the UK Government said I’d need a special code for car rental places to confirm the status of my license, it was not needed.
We were then led to the car to inspect the Nissan and before long we were out on the road at the start of our road trip. Our first stop of the day was in a small town called Capitola where we stopped at a bakery that had been recommended to us, called Gayles. From here we bought some lunch to take away which we could then eat somewhere along the coast. I went for a steak and blue cheese sandwich with a bearclaw for afters. Judging by how busy the place was, and that they use a ticketing system, it’s fair to say that it’s a very popular bakery.
We’d decided our lunch stop would be at Point Lobos, however along the way we came across some good views and found we could pull off the road at a place called Marina Dunes Preserve. This area was quite sandy, but allowed us to get down on to the beach and to the sea. Whilst there a biplane passed us overhead, one we’d later see again when we got to Point Lobos.
The drive from Marina Dunes to Point Lobos wasn’t too bad, and the entry for the state park was $10 but once you’ve paid for parking you can spend the entire day there if you like (we later found out that park entry tends to cover multiple parks too). To start with we took the farthest route and headed out with cameras and food. After a while taking photos of Cypress Cove we paused for lunch overlooking the cove. The route then carried on around to where we could see otters, sea lions, and harbour seals in Pinnacle Cove and Middle Cove.
There were a couple of park rangers there that had set up a couple of spotting scopes and were talking about the wildlife that could be seen here. Apparently it used to be possible to get down to the sea here, but that was before they found some seals were starting to move further ashore and so they closed the path to protect them.
Although we didn’t have that long we also walked along the North Shore Trail for a while before turning back and driving farther along the road inside the park to Whaler’s Cove. We stopped there for about 10 minutes and photographed the scenery and the wildlife. In terms of wildlife, there was a heron, an egret and a number of cormorants.
We then left the park and drove on, next stopping at the historic Bixby Creek Bridge. Prior to the building of this bridge the locals would often be cut off during bad weather due to the trails that flooded. At this bridge there are plenty of places to pull off the road to park up and take photographs, and that was exactly what quite a few people were doing. As usual I went the extra step to try and get a better photograph and partially climbed down into the ravine where there were some flat areas I could stand on.
Continuing on along highway 1 we eventually got to Big Sur, but did not go any further than the first State Park, which would also have cost $10 to enter. It seems that there is a common charge for state parks along this area, so potentially the next day could mean quite a few $10 entrance fees. A lot of people were parking up on the roadside though to avoid this. As we were about an hour from sunset we instead drove back to Monterey and Seaside.
As we arrived back in Monterey we first stopped off at Target and bought a few bits for breakfast on Monday – the day we’d need to head off early to get to Santa Barbara for surfing. By the time we left there it was dark, but only a short drive to the Magic Carpet Hotel where we were staying.
When we arrived at Tarpy’s, the place we’d gone to eat, we were told that there was a 45 minute waiting time. As we said we’d try somewhere else they then offered an outside table under the heaters where we could eat instead with no waiting time. This seemed like a great idea so we went for it. I decided to try their Angus Sirloin steak, and it wasn’t that bad – but despite the heater it was actually quite cold still outside. Quite a contrast to the weather we’d had during the day. This meal with non-alcoholic drinks cost us $86 with an 18% tip between us.
We got back to the hotel at around 20:15, but I was so tired I didn’t really get ready fully for the next day and instead decided to get some sleep.