Quote of the Day:
“Whose college major was lunch?”
Anne Robinson, “The Weakest Link” on 05.28.01
Looking at the trip agenda I see that my dad and I spent six nights in California and that’s more than a third of the time we spent on the road. Looking at the things we saw I can say that this amount of time was justified. From the Nevada border to the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles most of the state is incredible.
Originally Reno was the place we intended to stay on the night of May 19 but it was a weekend and all of the hotels where we tried to get a reservation were full. After that Lake Tahoe was our second option but all of the hotels we called in that general vicinity were also booked. So we ended up in a Best Western (our favorite hotel chain considering the number of nights we spent in one) in Truckee, a small picturesque town north of Lake Tahoe in California.
Now I know what the fuss is all about – Lake Tahoe is a magnificent sight to behold. The California side of the lake has been developed almost its fullest extent while the Nevada side is practically desolate. My dad and I had dinner in Tahoe City, California on the night of May 19 and there were very few lights on the side of the lake opposite us except for the ones from the casinos right on the other side of the Nevada border. I guess some people feel it is too much of a hardship to drive “all the way” to Reno or Las Vegas in order to gamble. Anyway, we drove around the west (California) side of Lake Tahoe the afternoon that we arrived and got a look at the incredible homes and scenery that line the road. I can only imagine how much it would cost to live there but after I saw some of the views that appear just around a bend in the road I can see why people would spend their money on it. At one point I turned around in my seat (I wasn’t driving) and saw what looked like a painting. The mountains were snowcapped, a waterfall was spilling down towards the lake, and an overlying mist made the whole scene look almost unreal. It was beautiful but of course there was no place to pull over and still have a good place to take a picture. The next morning we drove over to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe to take some pictures at Sand Harbor State Beach. This was the only place I got any good shots of the area with the mountains and rocks in the water. It was a different perspective from the Nevada side of the lake and maybe even more beautiful. My plan is to make another trip to Lake Tahoe before the first major winter snowfall so we’ll see if that really happens.
Before my dad and I left Tallahassee I insisted that we go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the way south from San Francisco. But on May 22, the day we went there, we saw more than just that. Of course we picked a day to visit the aquarium when busloads of school children were there on a field trip. At one point we were looking at some eels when a little kid brushed past my leg and, having the thought my eels in my mind, it felt like one of them had done it instead. Creepy. The aquarium is a beautiful place, however, and I enjoyed seeing it for the second time (the first being about six years before). After we left Monterey the first stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You wouldn’t know that there was anything of note there from highway one but, about a quarter mile from the parking lot and along a wooden walkway high above the water, there is a waterfall that spills right onto the white beach. It’s quite a unique spot and we took some pictures there. Mine are on the roll of film that isn’t finished yet so I don’t know if they turned out but my dad says his look great. It’s really a lovely place. Farther down the road toward Morro Bay, where we had decided to spend the night, we suddenly passed a beach with a few seals resting along the shore and thought it was rather unusual. A few minutes later we pulled off at Piedras Blancas State Park where dozens of seals laid about and tourists scrambled for a glimpse. It was quite bizarre to see so many of them relaxing next to one another and getting in the occasional skirmish with their neighbors. This is the real “Seal Beach” – I don’t care what the signs say near my apartment in Los Angeles! I don’t know how my pictures turned out from here either but let’s hope they are better than my dad’s which he said we unprintable.
The quaint little town of Morro Bay has a huge rock in its harbor. It was a very foggy day when we were headed there but nothing could keep the sight of this rock from our eyes. The word “rock” scarcely does the monolith justice, however – “mountain” would be more accurate. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen and I would have taken a picture except for the fog. We could see the Morro Bay Rock from the window of our hotel room along with the shops and restaurants along the shoreline. The next morning, however, the fog was so thick in the city that we could hardly see the buildings across the street. Curiosity got the better of us and we drove out to the Rock before leaving but we had to be right next to it to be able to see any part of it. If we had known about it beforehand my dad and I would have stayed in San Simeon that night instead of Morro Bay because it is very beautiful and the closest city to Hearst Castle. One of the famous residences of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst is located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean on a hilltop that overlooks the area. When we first drove past the first time and caught a glimpse of it I thought it wholly embodied the spirit of California with its tall palm trees and Spanish tile roofs. Despite the size I expected we could just take a look around the next day (May 23) but instead I couldn’t believe what a tourist attraction the house had been turned in to. The word “house” scarcely does the place justice – “mansion” would be more accurate. There are four different tours in the facility so we took the one recommended for first time visitors. Except for the fact that it is much hotter on top of the hill that near the coast I wouldn’t mind living there myself.
Those were the most interesting things we saw in California. I didn’t think it would take me that long to describe them all but they were all incredible and deserved every word. It’s too bad I won’t be seeing nearly so many beautiful things on the way back to Florida in December but I have six months to spend in the state I have spent five paragraphs describing so let’s hope that’s enough.