Highways 99, 65 and 190 to Springville led us past pumping oil rigs, fruitful orange and grapefruit groves and palm trees.  Some deciduous trees were bearing leaves, others weren’t, with no consensus on the season. Varieties of evergreens and grazing cattle were on our left and magnificent stands of giant Sequoia redwoods (the world’s largest trees) grew in the National Forest on our right.

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Snowcapped Sierra Mountains

  • Near Springville the land became hilly and spotted with boulders, trees and foot paths but was still green. It is beautiful countryside such as we’ve never seen before except on the Windows desktop background of our computers. The charming town of Springville is naturally endowed as a fantasy park.
  • We traveled a  winding road, past ranches and country homes, to a semi-ranch house belonging to long-lost cousins and their 12-year-old Labrador. Tom had located them on the Internet and this was our first meeting. They treated us like a king and a queen. She served wonderful meals while keeping the fire burning, and provided us with a supremely comfortable bedroom for the night.

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    Family Reunion

  • Kathy looks after songbirds and cats galore. Her bird feeders attract gold finches, purple-breasted finches, nuthatches and more. She’s not so fond of woodpeckers who eat holes in the house or blue jays who frighten off the songbirds. The feral cats feeding on the deck (she had eight that day) control the rodents who would otherwise attract rattlesnakes. Coyotes, mountain lions, wild pigs and bears also live in the area.
  • We had a good conversation with Norm about WW II, his family, the school district where he has had a long career as teacher, principal and consultant, the local Indian population, etc. In summer he climbs the nearby mountains/hills with friends and a pack mule to carry supplies and a gun. We gave Kathy a leaded-glass platter packaged in a plastic bag that looked like a striped Hudson’s Bay blanket and she loved both.

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    First View of the Pacific Ocean

Thurs. Jan. 28: Springville to Pebble Beach, CA

We traveled rtes 99, 198, 5, 156 and 101. First, much of the landscape reminded us of Ontario – grass, green crops growing, plowed fields, good-sized trees. Then signs posted along the road read, “Congress-created Dust Bowl” and “No water, no jobs.” We passed the large San Luis reservoir. A horrible sight on hwy 5 was a cattle station where hundreds of cattle were gathered with nothing to feed on. Marg was fortunate enough never to have seen starvation before and was seared. They were just lolling about creating a terrible stink. Not much farther on we saw herds of sheep peacefully grazing.

  • The drive over the mountains to Gilroy was fabulous. In Monterey we saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time and bought a pot of flowers for our next hostess.  After paying at the toll gate we got lost on the scenic Pebble Beach parkway and had to phone Barbara, who came and got us. Then she and George took us to their country club for a gourmet dinner, and drove us along the ocean front in the dusk to see the big waves. Barbara showed us their home on a high oceanfront cliff and we moved into the ‘guest motel’ in the courtyard for four nights. The home-cooked breakfasts and dinner she served us were superb. She has a collection of snow globes/music boxes from all over the world and we promised to send one from Ottawa to fill a nostalgic gap in her display.

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Fri. Jan. 29: Pebble Beach

Taking off on our own next morning to look at the ocean from points all along the scenic drive, we saw the ghost tree, the lone cypress, white cranes and cormorants. It was a clear windy day with one surfer near shore and several big boats in the distance. The water was a beautiful turquoise colour and the roar of the waves was like a train. The rocks and islands near shore are very rugged but we saw no sign of seals or sea lions who often congregate on them. We saw a huge eucalyptus tree. Lots of other visitors were at the lookouts, taking in the awesome beauty of the sights. We went down on one of the sandy beaches and got our hands (and shoes!) wet in the ocean.

  • At the tennis club for lunch (Tom’s treat this time) we sat at a table near the window with an excellent view of the ocean but by now the sky and water were gray. The club’s hostess told us she had lived in Toronto and gone to Montreal for Expo 1967.

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After lunch Barbara drove Tom and me around the town of Carmel where we saw the homes of Kim Novak and Clint Eastwood (he was mayor here), quaint little houses and businesses with moss-coated cedar shingle roofs, beautiful lawns, flowers, shrubs, trees, and birds. At the historic Carmel mission we went on a self-guided tour of the church, museums, gardens, cemetery and courtyards. We posed for pictures in front of a cypress tree and a bougainvillea bush.

Carmel 3.jpgWe then went to Monterey to look at the old Cannery Row (written about by John Steinbeck) and heritage architecture (northern California Colonial). Barbara took us to the Spanish Inn Hotel which had been a favorite haunt of her mother Elizabeth’s (Tom’s dear affined cousin) for a capuccino, served in the lobby beside the fire. Each day at nightfall a bagpiper plays, so we went out to listen and look. This is a links golf course and in Scotland, at every links golf course, this is the custom.

Sat. Jan. 30: Pebble Beach to San Francisco

It was a beautiful sunny day for the drive up hwy 1 to San Francisco. We drove past fantastic vistas of the ocean and discovered the names of some of the bird species: brown pelicans, white pelicans, scoters, California gulls, godwits and cormorants. We stopped at a lighthouse and overheard someone saying he had seen an elephant seal but we had no such luck. Hwy 1 went through towns with pretty-coloured homes, past ominous-looking sandy cliffs that were cordoned off at the bottom for fear of land and rock slides onto the highway, and slalomed over exciting, narrow, mountain passes.

  • The trip took much longer than the two hours predicted because traffic was heavy and as slow as 25 mph through some towns. We got a little lost once or twice and stopped to take pictures of some of the awesome views. San Francisco is very scenic as you enter the city; the row homes are colourful, tidy and beautiful and the street cars are quaint.

Happy Reading & Traveling from Cozy Book Basics and Bliss on Wheels!

We are octogenarian writers who like to travel by car and share our adventures. We hope you enjoyed our notes and pictures of this cross-continent road trip as much as we enjoyed it on wheels six years ago. 

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