Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Californivacation: Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de Oro. Doesn't that just roll of your tongue like melted gold? While exploring this state park I kept wanting to say it's name with the accent of the guy in the Princess Bride ("Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.")

But I didn't want to get into the bad habit of talking to myself, thus ensuring that I became that crazy tourist someone ran into on a path in Montaña de Oro State Park. It could all have spiraled out of control. Fo sho.

This was one of my favorite stops on a perfectly beautiful day. Lots of pics on this post so be sure go past the jump!

The ever appealing bend in the road.
This post has an undercurrent of surfers.
Admittedly not a good picture but look at the cute little animal. But what kind?

The avant garde shot.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Californivacation: Morro Bay

On my trip I was constantly catching places just as the sun was fading. Lack of planning? Or are the days too short to capture all of PCH's beauty?

I have to fess up. I'm pretty sure these first two are totally out of order and not so close to Morro Bay.
 I arrived at Morro Bay late late and was very interested in seeing the famous Morro Rock, so I stayed at Morro Bay State Park...driving in when it was already pitch black along somewhat curvy roads to find Morro Inn, where I had booked a room (an hour or so before!) My room had a view of the water, but I couldn't really see the rock until the next morning...
I think this is the ugliest rock I've ever seen.
Nice boat though.

Took a short hike up to see the ugly rock better. The air was so fresh and there was even a mountain bunny on the trail.

Shockingly, Morro Rock was just as ugly a hundred feet up as at eye level.
I'm sure there were other pretty things to see in the park, but I had to move on. Tomorrow, I'll bring you prettier pictures from Montano del Oro State Park, a few miles from Ugmo Rock.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Californivacation: Grover & Pismo Beaches

Made a quick stop at Gover Beach because I had to rush to try to see some monarchs at a nearby butterfly grove.

So where are the pictures of softly floating butterflies? 没有!A local guy walking in the area said they haven't been coming like they used to--before their pretty orange wings would coat the whole grove of trees. He said their main diet of milkweed is frequently bush hogged by local farmers. I was a little depressed at this news. Poor butterflies. Let 'em eat milkweed!

Seriously it was a bummer. I might have gotten a little teary because I really wanted to see them, but the nice gentleman showed me the way to Pismo beach a short walk away. Again, the sun is setting when I get to the good spots...but it does result in the warmest pictures and then driving in the dark.


What's that? Two pictures of the same thing at different exposures? You're welcome.

Did someone set this up as an alter or something? Curious. I saw similar formations on other beaches.

This is my Breakfast Club face.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Californivacation: Sickening Solvang & its surroundings

I took a slight detour from PCH, which I very much regret. When you travel alone in a car and have a limited amount of time, its hard to decide just where to stop. Imagine stopping too much and then not having time to see the good stuff, ie Big Sur. I had this fear during my entire trip. I tried to shake it, but it was the fear of missing all the good stuff, not spending time wisely, running out of money, etc etc. 

It was generally a relaxing, fun vacation but I did have moments of panic and doubt as to where to go and what to do. It turns out Solvang was my least wise stop.

While these pictures make it seem quaint, don't be fooled. This Danish 'village' is a sickeningly sweet tourist trap that only grandmothers and Dutch quilters should visit. Every building was made to look Danish because a handful of Dutch settlers moved there a hundred years ago...so there were windmills, bakeries with cardboard-like Danish cookies and shops that looked like houses with mean old ladies in them ready to shove unsuspecting children in ovens.

I wandered around the overpriced shops, thinking I might at least get some Solvang cuisine but thinking better of spending $20 on a Dutch sandwich, I shook the dust off my feet and munched on Smart Start as Solvang disappeared into my rearview mirror.

Safely out of Solvang, which is in wine country, I stopped on the roadside to take a pic of some grape vines.

I really like this one. I think Robert Mitchum or Brian Keith lived there.

The last picture show.

This was kind of a cute barn, don't you think? I didn't go in though...I'm pretty sure there were Dutch grannies with hot ovens in there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Californivacation: El Capitan State Beach, part II

It was so quiet at El Capitan State Beach. I don't think I ran into a single person while I walked on the beach. A lot of the areas I went to were largely deserted so I could traipse around taking pictures without interference.

There was a beautiful old train bridge at the exit of the park. When I stopped to take pictures of it, I discovered that dozens of monarchs had moved into the area. It was the beginning of monarch season so I was hoping to find some. They floated along so lazily in the sun and amongst the trees. It was beautiful and I watched them for a while before I got back to the bridge. They were so high up that I couldn't get a good picture or video of them (my video is laughably bad) and they never seemed to land within range of my zoom so alas here is the only picture...

The elusive Californian monarch
Under the bridge

On the road again.
Note: Highway 1 cuts in and out of 101 along the coast. Lest you think I wasn't truly on PCH.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Californivacation: El Capitan State Beach, part I

I had to pay to go into El Capitan State Beach, which seems like it would be more worth it if I were staying there for 2 or 8 hours but many of California's state parks are closed due to the poor economy so I suppose I'm glad I could do my park. It was a beautiful beach and nice to roam around for an hour or so.

I was obviously there in the off season.

I liked this one so much I took 4 ish pictures. Ooh wispy wintry branches.

More on El Capitan's less beechy side up next.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Californivacation: Santa Barbara

I spent the first night of my trip in charming Santa Barbara. Unfortunately I got there when it was already late and most of the shops were closing (it was Sunday). I did get to try my first Pink Berry even though my fingers were kind of stiff from walking in the cool night. I also had amazing legit tacos at a whole in the wall place. I was the only person there who didn't speak Spanish...it's hard to find authentic, delish places on your own. Thank you, Lonely Planet.

I stayed at a cute bed & breakfast and had an interesting convo with the manager, a Turkish man from NYC.

 Adobe style buildings were Santa Barbara's thing (but not like cloying Slovang, which you will see in a future post).

I didn't go anywhere without encountering palm trees.

 Very cute downtown area. Maybe a little touristy, maybe a little high end, but nice all the same.

 These eclectic pianos are all over town and people are invited to sit down to play them. Cool idea.


I've been scheduling posts like cra cra (Bev are you reading this?) for my 15 readers so look for some every coupla days until I run out of edited pics again. We're inching our way up to San Fran.