It was time to leave awe-inspiring Yosemite and head to the California coast, our target was the Monterey Peninsula. We arrived at the Monterey Fair Grounds, a great facility with RV slots that are available when large events are not going on like horse shows. It is funny when you see a sign “Don’t Wash Horses Here”, where there is water for an RV site. They have horse stalls right behind the RV sites. It was a very convenient location and the camp hosts could not have been nicer.
The weather was rather nice but the temperature hit a high of 64 degrees, we were a little concerned since we had a tee time at the Bayonet Course the next morning at 7:50 am. We headed out to Monterey for a walk around town. The last time we were there was before we were married at a Citrix Systems conference. They had a magical dinner at the Monterey Sea Aquarium as part of the conference, so it was a little walk down memory lane. We did a little shopping, purchasing some chocolates but avoided the tourist items. Of course we were always looking for items for the grandchildren. Night was coming so we headed back to the fair grounds. We met a gentleman in the slot next to us and joined him for a drink and some conversation. He told us about a great seafood restaurant called Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Creek and decided to have lunch there after golf the next morning.
Golf was at 7:50 am, there was no marine layer to our surprise and the sun was out as we hit our shots off the first tee at Bayonet. The PGA played their championship there in 2012 so we knew it would be a good challenge. Of course we always find the local animals as we did on this hole as we were ready to putt. The course was a good test of golf and it had some glorious views down to the bay. By the time we finished the marine layer came in and the temperature started to drop. Glad we had an early start to the day. We put the clubs back in the RV and headed to Moss Creek to find Phil’s Fish Market. Off the highway, down around several corners, across a bridge, back into where the fishing boats unload and we found the restaurant.
We cannot say enough about the food, it was fabulous and very reasonable. We had oysters on the half shell and split a fresh snapper sandwich, that was so big we couldn’t finish it together! Just incredible! Not only was the food wonderful but you can sit outside right on the water when the weather is good. We would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone passing by the area!
After lunch we headed down to Carmel to walk around town and make a stop at the Hogs Breath Saloon. The stores in Carmel are very interesting and we found a children’s store and picked up a few gifts for the grandchildren. We then headed over to the Hogs Breath only to find out that Clint Eastwood no longer owns it and had opened a new place down the road a piece. Disappointed but happy we saved ourselves from drinking all afternoon at Clint’s!
We then headed over to the Lodge at Pebble Beach and sat down for a glass of wine in the bar and took in the view of the famous 18th hole looking over Carmel Bay. One of the great experiences in golf and enjoying a drink is at Spanish Bay on 17 Mile Drive. The outside patio has benches around gas fire pits, the temperature is in the lower 50s, the fire kept you warm. We ordered a bottle of wine and waited for the arrival of the Scottish bagpiper, he starts playing in the fog. You could only hear him and then he would walk closer, continue to play and then move closer where you could finally see his image through the fog. The experience is hard to describe because it is a combination of golf, weather and the Scottish heritage of golf. As he arrives near the patio, he continues to play and both the adults and the children enjoy a wonderful and memorable experience. On top of that Phil Mickelson had just won the Open at Muirfield Scotland the day before.
The next morning we headed down the Pacific Coast Highway thru Big Sur, towards San Simeon State Park and Hearst Castle. The California Big Sur coastline is beautiful, the marine layer moves in and out, you never know when you will get a view in the clear. Janice saw an elephant seal, could not stop, then all of a sudden a sign for an area where you could view the seals. These are northern elephant seals and during June and July they come onto the beach to molt and need the heat of the sun and beach, it is called a “haul-out”. We watched them come out of the water and work their way up on the beach, lumber around on the sand, find a place to sleep use their front fins to push sand on their large bodies and occasionally a few would get into a slight territorial dispute. We stayed for a while it was fabulous watching these animals. We headed over to the state park for a quiet evening.
First thing the next morning we headed over to the Hearst Castle for the tour. Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranch land. William Randolph Hearst spent his youth camping on the property, inheriting what had grown to more than 250,000 acres. He had spent much of his youth traveling thru Europe and visiting many castles. He envisioned building a castle of his own and hired architect Julia Morgan to help him build the castle. They completed the majority of the work together in 1947. It had 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to house his specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection. His empire of entertainment, newspapers and magazines was legendary. An invitation to Hearst’s home was honored by many in sports and entertainment including Winston Churchill, Calvin Coolidge, George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Lionel and John Barrymore, Clark Gable and so many other famous people. Marian Davies became his constant companion and confidante. During the depression Hearst Corporation was in heavy debt and she gave Hearst $1,000,000 to save the company. Hearst also had a zoo on the property but when those financial difficulties came in the late 30s, he sold or gave away most of the animals which took until 1953. Closing the zoo they caught most of the animals, the real survivors were the zebra herd that occasional can be seen grazing by the highway. all the animals to local zoos and closed the zoo.The Hearst Corporation still manages cattle on much of the property. The remainder is part of the California Parks system. When we walked thru the reception area we asked a gentleman at the information desk where some of the good local wine was in Paso Roble, California. He suggested Adelaida Cellars. He happened to be a weekend tasting room host.
Off to Adelaida Cellars Tasting Room we went. It was probably an hours drive and worth the trip. We entered the tasting room and handed the card given to us by their colleague for a free tasting. Not a problem we enjoyed al their wines and purchased a few bottles of rose and four bottles each of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for the RV wine rack! Having enjoyed their hospitality and wonderful wines, we made some sandwiches and enjoyed eating on their terrace. We joined their wine club and look forward to receiving some fine wines at home. We than drove to San Luis Obispo about 30 miles away for the night.
We made the long drive down the Pacific Coast Highway through Santa Barbara and then into Malibu. We were excited to see this community of the “rich and famous”. There was a great campground just up the hill off the Pacific Highway that overlooked Malibu beach.
They had wonderful picnic areas and we headed down with our cocktails to watch the surf. Asking about “what to see?”, they said it was just a residential town with little access to the large homes and of course the famous people. Oh well, we can now say we spent the night at Malibu Beach!
In the morning we took a beautiful drive over to Simi Valley for our visit to the Reagan Library. (Reagan Library Post) The experience was exciting, memorable and educational. The library is a “must see” if you have the time in the Los Angeles area. Leaving the Reagan Library we were surprised by the number of cars parked along the road leaving the library. It opens at 10:00 and that is the best time to get there. Being mid day we thought taking the “405” through Los Angeles would be easy, well by local standards, it may have been, but it was more like rush hour on the Long Island Expressway driving into New York City. The only one that could drive fast on the “405” was OJ Simpson!!
Arriving in Long Beach later in the afternoon we had made reservations at a city owned park, literally downtown and a few blocks from the harbor with the Queen Mary. We got set up and John cooked dinner on the grill.
Having made an appointment at the local Mercedes dealer for early Saturday morning we headed over to get the brakes replaced, getting 70,000 miles on one set wasn’t too bad. Thinking it would be a half day, problems came up that caused it to take all day. Fortunately we had made reservations for a two night stay.
Sunday morning we drove down and looked at the Long Beach Pier with views of the Queen Mary and all the boats in the harbor and then worked our way down the Pacific Coast Highway to Huntington Beach (Surf City). When we arrived in Surf City, there were giant crowds everywhere for the final day of the US Open Surfing Championship. We now understood why we were not able to get a campsite and had to make reservations at a Marriott Courtyard.
Janice was going to qualify for the USGA Senior Women Amateur at Sea Cliff Country Club in Huntington Beach on Tuesday. Since John was the caddy it was important that we both played the practice round that afternoon, the course being closed on Monday. We had a nice afternoon of golf and returned to the hotel for the night. It is comical about traveling in an RV, you get so use to preparing your own food, seldom do you eat out. We stopped at a local Safeway and picked up a cooked chicken. Our room had a sliding glass door out to the parking lot, so we pulled the RV next to the room for any needed item, sort of the best of both worlds. Monday morning we met Gigi Kimball for breakfast at Ruby’s at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier for breakfast. Gigi was visiting family in the area and was also going to qualify for the USGA event.
After breakfast we headed out to Yorba Linda for the Nixon Library. Like the Reagan Library, this is a great educational experience which we wrote up (Nixon Library Post).
Tuesday morning Janice was the first group with two other golfers to play the qualifying round. She played beautifully until the 17th hole where she took four putts on the par 3. This caused her to be in a playoff with 6 other players for one qualified position and two alternate positions. A great par on the first hole, a par five, unfortunately three players had birdies and went on to see who would be the last to qualify. Worst for her it was the second year in a row that she lost on a playoff hole.
Not to worry, there is still the USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur qualifier in early September!
Next destination: San Diego. We made wonderful friends on our Alaska trip and then again in Canada last year with Ann and Ruth. They live in Ocean Side, just north of San Diego and we were looking forward to stopping and seeing them on our way to San Diego. We arrived in time for the cocktail hour and witnessed a beautiful sunset from their lovely home right on the beach.After cocktails we shared some wonderful wine with a steak dinner. They asked if we wanted to spend the night, which we did, leaving early in the morning for our round of golf at Torrey Pines. What a wonderful evening with two outstanding people from our Roadtrek world!
We had plenty of time to make the drive to Torrey Pines for our 8:30 tee time. This was a special day ending our time in California, having completed over 1,600 miles driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. The beauty of the pacific coast is striking with mountains most of the way along the coast. Ending this portion at Torrey Pines was a special thrill. Both of us have always wanted to play the course going back to when celebrities had their names associated with the annual events. This was always the Andy Williams San Diego Open played here from 1968-1988 and now known as the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods won the only US Open played at Torrey Pines in 2008 which also was his last major championship victory.
The morning was perfect for golf, slightly overcast and a comfortable 60 degrees. We were paired up with two gentlemen from the local community. Torrey Pines is actually a San Diego Municipal golf course and is very reasonable to play for local residents. We teed off on the first hole of the South Course. The course is a great test of golf with breathtaking views. The course is above the ocean with cliffs down to the beach some of the holes butt up right on the cliffs like this par 3 below, quite majestic. John had a great time and was in good form as can be seen from this shot!Golf at Torrey Pines finished, it is time to start back east with our first stop in Arizona to see Lelia and her mother Betty Lou. Lelia has bought a lot in Flagler Beach and is in the process of building a home. We look forward to them becoming our new neighbors in Florida.