Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

USA Road Trip: part 3 – Highway 1

The next part of our Road Trip was the main reason we planned this adventure – we'd been longing to drive along Highway 1 . . .

Probably the best ocean drive in the world

We had four days to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco, driving along the famous coastal highway, the Pacific Ocean would be on our left all the way, and it looked as if the weather was going to be perfect.

We decided to head for Pismo Bay and book into the Sea Gypsy Motel. In the morning we couldn't resist a walk on this glorious beach, before a hearty breakfast at Penny's All American Cafe.

A little detour south took us to Oso Flaco Beach, and a beautiful boardwalk over the lakes and dunes . . .

. . . which led to a vast sandy beach!

Our lunch stop was Morro Bay, a little fishing port dominated by the majestic Morro Rock . . .

Where would we stop tonight? Cambria looked interesting, the main part of the village was inland from the coast and was full of galleries, hotels and restaurants; but before we looked for a place to stay we decided to check out Moonstone Beach Drive – and we were so pleased we did! There were so many lovely inns and hotels, all with a view of the ocean :-)

I plumped for the Cambria Shores Inn because – well because it just looked really inviting, and it was! Soon afterwards we were enjoying the complimentary sparkling cider and nibbles as we sat back and watched the sun go down. Later we had a very nice meal at The Sow's Ear in Cambria village.

Early morning beachcombing :-) I think that's one our favourite things to do, and Moonstone Beach was perfect . . . misty and beautiful; we even found some Moonstones!

On the road again, and the mist had quickly disappeared – mid-morning and already it was sunny and very hot. Our first stop was at the Elephant Seal Rookery at Piedros Blancas.

The cliffs were getting higher and the views bigger and more spectacular with every twist and turn of the road.

When we checked out of the Cambria Shores Inn, we were given a tip for where to stop for lunch, Nepenthe . . . Wow! And the shop is pretty good too! (The knitters/stitchers reading this may want to click here

And afterwards another tip-off about a stunning place just a few miles north . . . Pfeiffer Beach – I think this is one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen . . .

The sun was high in the sky and it was very hot, so we climbed high up into the cool pine forest and watched the ocean crashing onto the beach far below . . .

By evening we'd reached Monteray and decided to stay there for a couple of nights, so we could explore around the Monteray Bay area before driving the final stretch of the route San Francisco.

We discovered the lovely village of Pacific Grove, here's the Art Deco department store (now an antique emporium, and great to mooch around) and there in the stained glass is a clue of one of the attractions nearby . . .

Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctury . . . high up in the leaves of the Eucalyptus trees, can you see them?

Monarch Butterflies! Waiting for the sun to warm their wings.

There's something else Monteray is, or rather was, famous for – canned sardines.

Have you read 'Cannery Row' by John Steinbeck? I'd forgotten that it all happened here in Monteray . . . and Cannery Row is still there, but teeming with tourists and lots of shopping opportunities. There are still fish in Cannery Row and they are in a canning factory – but one that has been trasformed into one of the most spectacular aquariums anywhere in the world, Monteray Bay Aquarium. A cool and beautiful retreat from the heat and crowds outside.

Vast seawater tanks are home to whole communities of fishes, even large shoals of fish, stunning!

There were kelp forests and reefs, rock pools and waves; penguins, shoreline birds and sea otters; but my favourite were the jellyfish!



Next, the end of our adventure . . . Part 4 – San Francisco (the city speaks for itself)


  1. As far as I'm concerned Nepenthe is the best restaurant in the world!

  2. Glad the shop at Nepenthe is still there. 20 years ago I bought one of my favorite pair of earrings there, and they are still fun and trendy.

  3. Hey, you've been playing in my backyard! I love to hang out at Nepenthe after hiking in Big Sur, the Ambrosia Burger is my favorite thng on the menu. And I didn't know that the Monarchs had arrived in PG already, I have to stop by the grove before my volunteer gig at the aquarium tomorrow. You chose the best time of year to visit the coast and SF, we get our best weather at this time of year. I hope someone mentioned Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay if you're taking Hwy 1 all the wat to SF,, great seafood there. Have fun in The City.

  4. wow! that jelly fish pic is quite something!

  5. Celia, your California trip reports are a joy to read! xo

  6. Oh yes, I agree with you about the jellyfish at the Monteray Aquarium. I could have stood there for hours watching them, TOTALLY amazing. Must take the kids there one day..... (wishing hopefully)

  7. Fabulous pictures that stirred some lovely memories! I did a coast drive from Portland to SF in May this year - the scenery is amazing and SF is a fantastic place.

  8. Oh, I am so jealous, that is one of my all time favourite drives! I did it on a business trip to the States almost 10 years ago now, and on a subsequent trip we went north from S.F. all the way to the Canadian border, it was fabulous.

  9. looks like Nepenthe was definitely THE PLACE for lunch, then!!!

    Michelle – I didn't realise you lived so close to Monteray! Yes we did go to Half Moon Bay, but we didn't go to Sam's Chowder House - we ate at the Moonside Bakery. Everywhere was so busy!!!!

    Suburban Veg Gardener and Janet - right! I now want to drive from Portland to San Francisco... another holiday is needed!


  10. AH! what a trip you had celia! all our favorite places! nepenthe is our favorite too, i am actually friends with one of the fassett granddaughters (she wrote a cookbook called my nepenthe:


    it's a beautiful book!

    i loved your photos and reading your post, thank you so much for sharing. i am really glad to see you and your husband had a wonderful time here. now i have to go have a look at the rest of your trip!
    xoxo lori