This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 8 and 9 - Monterey and driving to San Luis Obispo

We left San Francisco on another beautiful morning after another great breakfast, a mix of what the hostel offered and oatmeal and fruit. After packing the car, we set off towards Monterey, 185 km down the coast. All the way down to San Diego we are planning to take Highway 1, a road that is following the coast all the way south. A much longer, but also much more interesting trip than taking the larger road inland.

The trip out of the San Francisco peninsula was incredible. There was fog over the water, the sun was up, and everything was so green! Helene caught a lot of good pictures, so check them out in Facebook. Here is one of them... We decided that it would be a shame to follow the straight road, and took a turn the GPS didn't exactly advice. So we turned down her voice and drove in what we believed was the right way. It turned out to be a mountain road twisting and turning up and down through a beautiful forest, and a good chance to play with the engine break.

On the way we took another detour to visit an outlet mall in Gilroy. I wanted to look for a backpack for my Mexico trip, but didn't have any luck. Helene on the other hand did find a bit of nice clothes at great prices. For the backpack instead we visited Walmart, where incredibly I found a backpack in the right size, and with a surprisingly advanced function to adjust the length of the straps to make it fit my back, which apparently is small, backpack-wise. Yeay!

Arriving in Monterey we parked the car and went for a walking tour around the old city, which the guidebook suggested. It wasn't really anything, but anyway it was a nice way of getting around to see the city. Afterwards we went to our hostel, in the newer part of the city. Or well, with the main road being Cannery Row, used to can sardines in the 60's, "new" doesn't really give the right impression of the area. Its like a small fishing town, with a laid back atmosphere. Probably in the high tourist season, it is completely different. I test-packed my backpack when we unpacked in our room, it seems to be a nice back. :) I don't even think it will be too heavy. We'll see how it goes - one week till Mexico departure! :D

For dinner we got a suggestions for a local fish restaurant, which turned out to be excellent. We had some white fish (forgot what its called) and salmon cakes with salad, rice, and coleslaw. After dinner we went for a short walk on Cannery Row, and then back to the hostel. In our room we met another Danish girl, Lene, who was traveling around US alone. She enjoyed some Danish company, and the next morning we mega-loaded the car, and drove her to the bus station. She was heading to San Francisco.

We however where continuing south, passing one of the most beautiful stretches of Highway 1. Taking the 17 mile drive (kind of a tourist trap, costs 10 bucks, but really is beautiful) we got to see some nice views over the ocean and we spotted a rock full of seals and sea lions. Was hard to see with the naked eye, but with the on-site (pay!) binoculars we got a great peak of the animals. Through Carmel we headed back to Highway 1, we were on our way to Big Sur where the Santa Lucia mountains rise up from the ocean. Yet another incredible landscape. We stopped to go for a short hike on the "Valley View Trail" and to see the Pfeiffer Falls in Pfeiffer National park. It was a nice little walk, took a little over and hour. The forest had some large red woods, happy we got to see them. When we came down around 2 PM, still not having had lunch, we munched some of the fruits, bread, and snacks from our car-stash, and then headed back to the main road. It did take a while till we found a place to get something to eat, and it ended up being two burritos from a convenience store that looked like it could drop into the ocean anytime. We enjoyed them nice and warm from the microwave, sitting in the car watching the ocean.
Helene in a red wood.

At this point we realised, that if we wanted to reach our day-destination in time, we needed to speed up a bit. The sun was approaching the horizon (Helene caught it on the camera of course!), and we had another 60 miles to go. And we were almost out of gas. One of these situations where the gas lamp comes on 1 mile after you passed the gas station, and really don't feel like turning back. It was all good though - there was a little town coming up and they had gas, the road stretched out instead of twisting through the moutains, and though it was dark we could easily see the way. We arrived safely in San Luis Obispo after shopping for groceries around 6.30 PM. A cute little hostel with a nice kitchen where we cooked pasta and meat sauce. Was popular among the people in the hostel, who came to get some of the leftovers. :)

We sat in the kitchen for a while talking with the other guests, who were a bit older than what you usually see in a hostel. Really cosy though, including a random sing-a-long incidence with a song in the radio! Then I went upstairs to take care of the 174 pictures of the day, while Helene showered. We slept around 10.30.

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