29 Mar

Sunday

Overnight rain made for a restless night, however neither of us can remember how long its been since we last had a rainy night so that must be good. We spent the morning watching the day dry out and making bread and pizza for tea, my first attempt at proper baking which worked out very well and it was great to have English style bread for lunch rather than the sweetish version the US supplies.

We had decided to walk the Sweetwater trail in the afternoon and wrapped up warmly as the wind was quite strong. The trail took us out the back of the campground towards the dam and we hoped for a good view of the lake as it turned out we were mostly walking between two high hedges of scrub and apart from the wild flower spotting it was not as interesting as we would have liked. We eventually decided to call a halt and turned back.

The wild flowers were the highlight and in a small clearing I counted 10 different plants in bloom, adding to that count on the return journey gave us a total of 18. My challenge was to be able to recall all 18 and write them down once we were back. Not knowing all the names was the first challenge of course and some of the descriptions were a little suspect but I knew which ones I meant and I am proud to say I recalled 14 without help, Robert managed to work out two more and then later we both remembered the rest. What this proves apart from the fact that there are lots of wild flowers blooming at present is neither of us has yet succumbed to total brain shutdown!

Monday

We had arranged a two night stay at Wine Country RV in Paso Robles to enable us to be close to Sky River RV for Tuesday, so set off back up the 101. This really marked our turn around, everything from now on will be north unless we have another change of mind. We do however need to be over the border by 2nd May and if we are to see Oregon as we want to need to start to make the journey back. We arrived at our destination mid afternoon and set about using their facilities to reduce our pile of laundry. It is a lovely campground with great facilities and looked very pretty as the blossom trees were in full bloom I even found a small pink rosebud on the climbing rose by the laundry room, this is when I have to remind myself it is late March and not late June which it feels like!

Tuesday

haRVey needed to be at Sky River RV about 8am to enable them the full 8hrs to change the cooling unit and get everything back together for us in the evening. This meant we had to be up early! We had to put the alarm on! We had to be out to a time! AHHHHH!!!!! We don’t do this anymore!!!! It was traumatic and put us out for the whole morning!

We had booked a Budget hire car and were collected from the gate at Sky River, taken to the office by a very pleasant young man to fill in the forms then, in our Ford truck we set off down the 46 for Cambria, San Simeon and the Elephant Seals.

The 46 turned out to be a good road and took us over the mountain range to the coast via ‘Middle Land’ and green rolling mountain tops. As you turn from the 46 on to Highway 1Cambria looks like an Alpine village with wooden houses perched higgledy piggledy on the hillsides. It took a while before I realised why they looked so unusual, they had 4 or 5 storey’s, most property is no more than 2 we presume because of the earthquake issues, so these high rise houses were very unusual.

We stopped of at San Simeon State Park to view for campground sites later in the week then drove a little further down the coast to Piedras Blancas and a large pull in for viewing the infamous Elephant Seals. We had so many times had the conversation ‘have you seen the Elephant Seals yet’ – ‘Oh! You must see them’ we felt were obliged to visit just to be able to give a positive response but were unsure what we would see as the females give birth Christmas through to February then, having mated, leave the pups to learn to swim while they go off and feed, they return to moult in April. So we thought we would be a bit in-between events.

There were plenty of cars in the pull in and just the other side of the fence below the bluff (cliff) we could see along the beach ‘bodies’ lolloped on it. A short walk along the top of the bluff led to a great view of mostly pups, some mum’s and one or two juvenile males all very lazy in the sun and flicking sand on themselves to keep cool. The resident docent told us we were lucky to see the males as she thought the last had left the day before. They don’t feed at all whilst in this area but travel North to colder deep water to feed before returning again for the moult. The pups once weaned also don’t feed and it’s the hunger pangs which eventually drive them to sea to fend for themselves.

We continued along the coast on highway one, this being the next part of our route we thought we would explore what it would be like for driving haRVey as we had conflicting reports on the road condition. It is narrow, twisting and steep but no worse than North California and plenty of pull in’s to allow passing. I am sure my hands will be gripping the seat, but, it will be fine!

We had a call from Janna at Sky River about 4pm to say all was finished and looking good, we eventually got back to base around 5.30pm after returning the truck and sat in the lovely evening sun to eat tea, a great end to the day.

Wednesday

Planning for two nights dry camping we emptied all the tanks, filled up with water, did a bit of cleaning and headed off to the supermarket for provisions. The fridge had held its temperature well overnight and all was looking good. We will see what happens when we run on gas which was just not working previously.

We retraced our steps of yesterday along the 46, today getting an even better view from our higher perch in haRVey. Just as we arrived at the junction of the 46 and the ! a beeping sound started up, the fridge warning! I got up to look but all seemed OK. Hopefully a false alarm. San Simeon Park has around 200 dry camp sites; we chose number 44 and set up. A nice grassy area to the rear housed a picnic bench just right for lunch in the sun followed by a walk to the beach all in all another happy day with haRVey!
Thursday

Out the back of the San Simeon campground we took a trail which led us initially through low scrub and grassland, again the wild flower spotting was good sport, rewarded when we came across a large spread of nodding fritillaria in a shady grassy patch, it still amazes me when I come across wild flowers we struggle to cultivate at home, however it becomes obvious why we struggle when you see where they are growing in comparison to where we try to put them! The information boards along the way tell of the people who used to live here, both native Indians and the settlers. A story of a family called Whittaker and how Grandma arrived on the wagon train makes me think of haRVey and how transport has changed! Whilst the climate would be good to them I anticipate it was a hard living they experienced.

We climbed a little higher and had great views back to the coast, then over a bridge and into the Pine forest; it was amazing how much warmer it was over the other side of the hill and away from the ever present cooling ocean winds. Robert was very pleased to find himself a wood mushroom to take home for tea and I spotted a Black Helvella which looks a little like a morel, edible but not good said the book, so we did not eat that one!

Friday

On the move again, Highway One along the coast and the twists and turns it holds are well worth the effort for the views. The road climbs from just above sea level to points that are often 300 or 400ft almost vertically above it. From these high points it is possible to see miles along the coast. There is a general haze but the blue sky and sunshine with the blue green waters and crashing foamy white waves mean every turn gives another spectacular view. The land looks so unstable in many places and evidence of recent rock falls confirms the feeling of being ‘on the edge’. We had heard several horror stories about how “difficult” the road was in a “big rig”, but overall found it much easier than Highway One north of San Fran. High up on the rocky mountains great orange patches of California Poppy glow in the sunshine, emphasising their place as a state emblem and huge areas of lavender blue ceanothus line the roadside. The rocky hills may look inhospitable but they are still able to sustain certain plants and wildlife which have adapted for the terrain.

We were headed for Big Sur and one of the campgrounds there, the access to the preferred site, Fernwood proved ‘tricky’ and whilst it was a lovely site and next to a river under the huge redwoods we decided the weekend entertainment (music festival until 1am each night) on a small site could prove a little too noisy for our liking. We renegotiated the entrance and drove the mile or so down the road to Riverside, accessed over a concrete ‘bridge’, which was not much more than a 2 foot high ford, they unfortunately could not take us so next along the road, Big Sur Campground proved to be our resting place for the next two nights.

Saturday

A day of rest, cleaning and making bread again. The campground is very busy, we think probably full and mostly with young people and families in tents. This seems to be a place to come for ‘proper camping’ and camp fires are abundant. We joined in last night turning ourselves into a pair of smokey Joe’s but enjoying sitting outside until well after dark, prodding the fire to coax flames from the smokey logs.

Sunday

We have moved just down the road to fernwood and I am sitting outside the ‘local’ for internet access to upload this. We have a great spot by the river here and plan to probably stay a couple of nights. Not sure when we will get to upload again but you should have pleny to keep you occupied above.

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