Back to the beach
Thursday February 16
|Big Sur Coast near Lucia|
The vast flat agricultural lands of the San Joaquin Valley were not able to keep us fascinated for long (although the splashes of pink and white afforded by the early blossoming fruit trees provided bursts of color) so we found yet another circuitous and spectacular byway through the mountains, this time descending steeply from the Santa Lucia Range to emerge on a fairly deserted part of the spectacular Big Sur coast. The lowering sun found us watching elephant seals misbehaving only meters from the coastal highway - the huge males beating each other up between molesting the females in their harem (or in someone else’s if they didn’t have their own and were quick enough!).
In the dying light, we arrived at the Margaret River coast driving through the tall stands of elegant karri trees to.... what the!!!! Where the hell are we? No...this isn’t some weird time warp and we haven’t been teleported back to Western Australia. We are actually driving through spectacular stands of eucalypts on the California coast! How bizarre. Rolled into camp just as the sun dipped over the horizon and fired up the campfire once again.
Friday February 17
..was meant to be a hike but...well, we just didn’t seem to be in a rush.....
Santa Barbara butterflies
|Crappy photo in low light - but you get the picture|
Saturday February 18
Staying for a few nights just out of Santa Barbara with my niece, Rowena, and her partner Adrian. A healthy mix of good eating, walking, cycling and more good eating. Less than a mile from their house in a grove of eucalypts - yep, more bloody gum trees - is a huge colony of over-wintering Monarch butterflies - millions of them, some of which are flying around, but the majority of which are clustered in huge, pendulous masses which hang from the branches. We thought that we were going to have to go to Mexico to see this, but here it is just out the back door of the relies!
|Santa Barbara Mission|
Now, one of the things that we are all guilty of, is not visiting the tourist attractions in one’s own town until someone visits from elsewhere. So, we being the elswerians, we took Rowena off to the Santa Barbara Mission, established back in the 1780s as part of a chain of missions throughout California, each within a day's walk of each other.
Suitably cultured, we jumped on bikes and cycled along the foreshore to lunch in a local cafe.
|Lunching with Rowena in Santa Barbara|
Now it just happens that the above mentioned Adrian is a competitive down-hill cyclist and one of his multiple jobs is working in a bike shop. So we went to sample his wares and, the next thing we knew, we were the proud owners of a pair of hard-tail 29’er mountain bikes (we don’t know what any of that means, but it’s important to pretend that one understands the lingo (not that Americans would understand what “lingo” is).
|Spot the Hazards...|