From Monterey area to Morro Bay you could drive the 101 or the 1. We took the latter so we could enjoy the scenic views of the coast line. It added an extra 1/3 the driving time, but we didn’t come this far to skip out on such things. The road was the most winding, harrowing, cliff side drive we had ever done… at least in North America and Europe. Then, add a travel trailer to the mix with a giant super duty truck. Every time I looked back up at the road I nearly lost my lunch, as we careened closer to each cliff on every hair pin turn. Even getting gas enroute cost nearly double because the semi truck can barely navigate the turns. Josh spent the better part of 3 hours shifting through first, second and third gear (on an automatic) as to not completely obliterate the trucks break pads.
But, don’t get me wrong, it sure was beautiful. There was a cool, thick mist coming off the water that swept all the way out to sea. It almost looked as though you were flying above the clouds in a plane, the way the mist settled way below us on the seaside cliff. I wish I could have taken more photos, but with Rylie sleeping I didn’t dare get out my SLR as it makes too much noise, not only that, but from the truck with giant towing mirrors there was no way I could get a clean shot of anything, and we didn’t dare stop (or roll down the windows) for fear of waking the mini-beast.
Who, by the way did very well yesterday. We drove 2 hours, stopped for 10 min for gas, and trucked on for another hour to the Hearst Castle. Once there, we had a dog walk/baby play near the trailer, then sans Nixon, we ventured into the main building of the castle. This is really just where you buy your tickets, and where you wait for your selected tour time/bus to take you up the scenic winding road up to the actual castle site. Don’t worry you will have plenty of time to eat, drink, and shop in their gift shop while you wait. Luckily, even though it was saturday, we only waited for 30 minutes for our tour to begin.
The drive up took 15 min by bus, where you were guided by the voice of Alex Trebec. He explained the Hearst family, the buildings, and some of the history behind the castle. We learned that he had a zoo (at one point with polar bears), and still has zebra wandering the many acres of land around the property.
The outside was quite Spanish looking, and the gardens were stunning. Once inside, there was an array of worldly imports dating back couple hundred years; and all the rooms were elaborately furnished with silver, intricate art pieces, and amazing wood carvings. The ceilings were all one of a kind; awesome. We pushed the limit on nap time for sure, but Rylie enjoyed the rooms via backpack and squealed with delight when she spotted the elaborate collection of books in the library.
We only saw the upstairs rooms (as you could be on 4 different tours depending on what you wanted to see, or what time was available for you to conveniently sneak into) but we definitely were impressed by this castle. We have a few to compare to, and I think Josh put it best, when he said it most resembled Versaille Palace. I think I might have liked the Castle better?
We both agreed we would be eager to come back for more of it, namely the main floor rooms, but with our tight schedule and already booked campgrounds for the next few days taking us to Oceanside we opted out. Instead we chose to hang out in Morro Bay and see what it has to offer.
This morning we went for our daily beach walk. It was foggy with the ocean mist so thick you wouldn’t know you’re in Morro, because the HUGE signature rock was completely behind it, unless you were right up at its base. It was sunday, and there were many surfers in the water, the waves actually looked pretty tame and inviting… then you remember a wetsuit is required and that urge suddenly gets a little bit suppressed. Lots of time to surf in Oceanside, we said.
The beach ends at the base of the giant rock, but opens on the other side to a bay with marina and a nice walking path; the embarcadero. A couple sea otter families were found there, playfully swimming along the shore. Nixon has shown no interest in the ocean when there are waves, but as soon as we approach a still bay or marina his interest is at an all time high. Here, he was interested.
After a long drawn out snack and a nap we drove in to town (which is actually really close) and walked the shops on the marina. We poked in a few galleries, had fish tacos at Rose’s Landing (we chose to eat outside on the patio because it was a little less grungy pub feel, and Rylie decided she was more keen on eating the lemons than her fish tacos), then headed to the skateboard museum (a skate shop with a neat side collection of retro skateboards creatively displaying their changes throughout the decades).
We found some art for our place at the lake in one of the galleries, a 5 ft long vintage reclaimed wood whale, before making another quick stop at the grocery store to stock up our mini fridge. Screw the veggies, we barely have any right now, we need to make room for milk and cheese. One thing is for sure, its a real chore to go to a different grocery store every time you shop, as it takes twice as long to find what you need or just decide to bail if you can’t.
Finding a place for the new whale in this cramped little space is another story, one that involved literally taking apart the dinette. Meanwhile, our little surfer girl was ripping up and down on the surfboard on the floor instead of having a nap. It was just too tempting to finally get to play on it instead of having it as a dining display or climbing apparatus behind her highchair.