Welcome to the West Coast

The next few days mainly involved driving. My parents had to be in San Francisco for the 4th of January, giving us two days to work our way across there. We left that morning from Sequoia valley, climbing an incredibly steep mountain pass as we began around a 4 hour drive west. This is one of the only times since installing the new cooling system that I thought our engine might overheat. Climbing steadily for mile and miles of hairpins, then engine was definitely working. Although I’m happy to say she kept at a steady 108 degrees, and we never had to pull over. While not the quickest route, it was definitely the most scenic, which is nice to enjoy when you know you will spend most of your day driving.

Mountains crossed, the landscape changed again and we drove past groves of orange trees and then on into large oil fields, everything now completely flat.

This middle section was not the most interesting, but the final hour or so then changed again and we were in rolling green hills that were very reminiscent of the English countryside.

It was slightly odd to be driving through such an English looking landscape, especially with it looking so green for the time of year! The other noticeable difference is the lack of people. While you definitely get these rolling green hills back home, they’ll be covered in farms and houses. Out here, you could drive for half an hour without seeing any signs of human life.

Eventually, we arrived in Cambria, just in time to enjoy the last of the days sun and take Aimee for her first walk on the west coast. This was actually a big moment for us as we had officially crossed all the way from east to west. Aimee on the other hand was not at all sure about the sea, and it’s going to take her some getting used to with all these new sounds and smells. We managed to persuade her down enough of the boardwalk to see the pretty sunset, before she dragged us back to the van.

There wasn’t going to be much luck in staying anywhere around here tonight. The hotel had already said we couldn’t stay in the car park and all of the parking down the seafront was signed as no overnight parking. We resorted to driving back out the way we had come about 15 minutes to a pull out on the side of the main road we had driven down earlier. It wasn’t actually too noisy, and it did have a fantastic view.

It was just the two of us for dinner, as my dad wasn’t feeling too well and they had both stay in the hotel room. We bought a bottle of bubbly from the shop to celebrate making it all the way from east to west in our little van! Tomorrow was another big drive up the coast road to San Francisco.

The next morning we were ready to leave the hotel by around 10.30am, having driven back down to make use of their coffee machine. After throwing my first cup all over the front of the cab, my second cup was ready to go and we set off. We wanted to drive down route 1, which is the scenic way to get there down a coast very similar to that of Cornwall back home. In order to break up the drive we stopped off first at Ragged Point, to have a look at the views.

Look at the colour of that water!

The best thing about this for me was seeing another hummingbird, and this time actually getting a photo of it!

Ragged Point is definitely picturesque, especially on a lovely day like this.

In need of some fuel we stopped at the mini mart nearby and were horrified by fuel prices, nearly $6 a gallon! Although it must be said that we stopped again at another fuel station near Big Sur and this was $7 a gallon, the moral of the story is do not try to get fuel on this road! Resentfully putting a tiny bit in our fuel tank, we carried on. We drove for another hour or so enjoy the pretty coastal views of which there were many.

We pulled over for lunch, and my dad found a free fishing rod, which Lee now has. He is adamant he will catch, kill and cook salmon in Canada. We continued for a little while longer before stopping just past Monterey to swap drivers and fill up for a reasonable price. Now off this coastal road, the fuel price is less than half just a few miles away, it’s crazy!

The final drive up to the city was not really noteworthy. We arrived around 5pm outside their hotel. After they had checked in we then had to contend with what to do with the cars. We had found free parking about 15 minutes away, but they still needed to park their hire car and figuring out the rules for street parking was something of a challenge. Eventually, we figured out a plan and we set off to park up for free, where they would join us for food later. We ended up here, in this free car park by the marina.

It wasn’t until we were sitting in the camper enjoying our food when someone shouted, “Hey, VW guy, you know you have to move by 10pm right?” I had just been looking on my phone, and this confirmed what I thought, we couldn’t stay here overnight. At first we though there was no way the large fleet of RV’s we were parked next to would be moving that night, but sure enough one by one they left and moved over to Safeway’s car park just across the road. As we found out over the next few days, this is how you free camp in the heart of San Francisco!

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