It all started here...

It all started here...

Monday, October 9, 2017

San Simeon and Solvang

2017 Eclipse Road Trip Day 13 - August 26, 2017
Hearst Castle, Elephant Seals View Point, Solvang

Hearst Castle, San Simeon
This is the last day on this wonderful road trip. The first place we visited was the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Unfortunately, we were not able to get tour tickets that morning so we just went around the museum and checked out the displays. It was quite fun spending time at their gift shop also.

Entrance to the visitor center

Elephant Seals Vista Point
A little north of Hearst Castle on Cabrillo Highway is a place we like to stop every time we are in this area--the Elephant Seals Vista Point. It had turned from a little unknown spot to a huge parking lot in the last ten years with many visitors stopping for the incredible sights of elephant seals. In the month of January, when we used to drive up north through this part of the highway on our way to the conference in northern California, there would be hundreds of elephant seals basking on the beach. There weren't that many this time around, only a small number of seals were found on the north side of the beach. A little disappointed! Volunteers of Friends of the Elephant Seal are doing a great job keeping and expanding this site.

Playful squirrels begging for food. Sorry!

So cute!

There were a lot of grey pelicans also.

Only a few left this time around.

Look at that baby!

A lone baby trying to get up to join the group.

Gray pelicans

William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach, San Simeon
After our visits to the elephant seals we headed back south and stopped at the William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach for a walk out to the pier. It is right across from the entrance to Hearst Castle. It happened that there was some kind of fair going on at the park with several non-profit, nature conservation organizations setting up booths there, including Friends of the Elephant Seal and Parks and Recreation Departments.

San Simeon Pier


Arroyo del Puerto

Cabrillo Highway (Highway 1)

The hungry turtle.

Buelton and Solvang
On our way home we stopped by Buelton and Solvang and spent a couple of hours exploring these towns. Lunch was at the famous Andersen Pea Soup Restaurant in Buelton right off the freeway to Solvang. It was kind of late so there weren't that many people there. I am not a pea soup person but the rest of the group enjoyed their soup quite well.

ChC's pea soup in the bread bowl.

MOR had the travelers special--all you can eat pea soup, bread, and drink for $10.

I was happy with this delicious Monster Burger.

Gift shop at the restaurant

I thought it would be fun to have BIL and SIL visit Solvang, which is the little Danish village here since we just visited Copenhagen in May. We also wanted to see if the antique shop that we got some good buys a few years back is still open. It turned out that Solvang was very busy that day because of the antique car show in town. It was fun seeing all these well-kept oldies on display.

Windmill, the iconic landmark of Solvang.

We also found the antique shop which had moved to a new location but we didn't find anything that we wanted but had fun browsing through the shop.

Driving home was uneventful other than hitting a little traffic. Before getting home we stopped by the Super Bowl Pho in San Gabriel for some Vietnamese food as a nice ending of this amazing trip. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

17-Mile Drive, Morro Bay, and San Simeon

Eclipse Road Trip Day Day 12 - August 25, 2017 (Friday)
17-Mile Drive in Monterey, Morro Bay, and San Simeon

Almost coming to an end of this road trip. Leaving the Motel 6 Monterey at Seaside early in the morning after enjoying our Chinese 'pineapple buns' that we got from Napoleon Super Bakery in SF Chinatown and coffee in our room. The weather was again gloomy and I was just hoping that it won't affect our trip through the 17-mile scenic drive.

The entrance fee for the drive is now $10.25 per vehicle. We just followed the given map and the route painted on the road making whatever stops along the way as we pleased. We stopped at almost all the designated areas since we started early and had plenty of time to explore. Since we have been here many times, we knew what to look for and the sights were mostly familiar places which we just wanted to show our visitors.

Spanish Bay

Point Joe

Spy Glass Hill Golf Course

Bird Rock

Birds and sea lions

Cypress Point

Lone Cypress

Pescadero Point

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

After our drive through 17-mile drive, we had to get back to Hwy 101 instead of going down Highway 1 because of the road closure in Big Sur. This made our trip a bit longer than necessary since we had to back track around Morro Bay and then up north to San Simeon on Hwy 1. But then it was nice that we can visit Morro Bay again. We kind of felt in love with this little town since our trip here from last year.

Morro Bay

The iconic Morro Rock at this fishing village.

Morro Bay T Pier, this is also the otter viewing area.

Playful otters

Anchor Memorial Park with the Stacks in the background.

Marilyn Monroe somewhere along the Embarcadero.

Brickhouse BBQ
After several seafood meals on this trip, I thought it would be good to enjoy a BBQ dinner. We have been here at the Brickhouse BBQ the last time we were here and looking forward to return for another delicious meal. This is a small restaurant and it's like a self-serve type of place. You place your order at the counter, find a table, get your own supplies and wait for your food. 

When we got there the place was packed and we had to wait for someone to leave before we could sit down. We ended up sitting next to this family who were finishing up their dinners. The gentleman struck up a conversation with us and asked where we were from , etc. etc. After learning of our eclipse experience, he said his boss (they were locals) also drove up to Oregon for the eclipse and he was stuck in traffic for hours. He said it took him 9 hours to make 150 miles southbound on the 5 after the eclipse. Good thing we avoided that mess and went west on the country road that day, totally missed that traffic nightmare.

A repeat of another delicious dinner at Brickhouse BBQ.
This one is a 3-meat combo with chicken, tri-tip, and pork. Loved those tender pieces of tri-tip.
We decided that the 3-meat combo would be good enough to share between the two of us.

This one is with the ribs instead of the chicken.

ChC's 2-meat combo.
Their self-serve BBQ sauce came with several flavors. I enjoyed the mango sauce the best.

Brickhouse BBQ--939 Main Street, Morro Bay.

Courtesy Inn, San Simeon
Driving up from Morro Bay to San Simeon was pretty straight forward on the 1 and quite scenic too. It was still light when we arrived so we hurriedly checked in and went out for a view of the sunset.

Our rooms were on the ground floor in the back of the motel.

Indoor swimming pool

Seemed pretty nice but we did not use the facility.

Front of the motel

We just had to cross Hwy 1 (Cabrillo Highway) to the other side for the most beautiful sunset by the beach.

Stairs to the beach.

Pico Avenue

Back to our motel for the night.

Pretty spacious room.