Roadtrip part 1

A small travelog only because there’s nothing to do here after dark but the hotel has internet. Pictures forthcoming, probably after I get back home.

Day 0

Dk arrives the night before. We go to San Francisco and Emeryville to meet up with some friends. But I have dinner plans with some WB friends in Mountain View, so I drive back down while dk stays up in sf. After one drink at Tied House, I’m too tired to drive back up to sf to pick him up. It’s nice to see friends all around, but driving from the peninsula up to sf is kind of a pain, and doing the round trip twice in a day would not have been much fun. In any case, this driving was the warmup for the roadtrip to come.

Day 1

The craziness of the day before means I have to wake up early (6:30am!) to drive to sf to pick up dk before we drive back down to get to Hearst Castle in time for our 2:10pm tour time. The extra 90 miles of driving kind of sucks, but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the trip’s entirety.

We pretty much book it down CA-1, which wasn’t really so bad except for a stretch between Monterey and Big Sur area, which was pretty winding. There are some pretty nice views along the coast. I feel like I must have driven down the same stretches of CA-1 when going to Big Sur, but for some reason parts of it look familiar and other parts don’t at all. I definitely don’t recall driving all the way down to San Simeon. It’s pretty nice to drive on a straight road every once in a while.

Hearst Castle is actually not a castle at all, much to my disappointment. I and dk were kind of hoping for a moat and drawbridge, but alas, it is merely a big estate atop a hill that overlooks the ocean. It’s quite an impressive residence for sure, but the word “pastiche” seems to sum up my main impression of Hearst Castle: it combines so many different styles that it seems slightly incongruous, despite the rather artful design and architecture. A large part of this feeling might also be due to the fact that the main building was never completed, and remains intentionally unfinished to this day (to keep it in the state that W. R. Hearst left it). So there are bits of bare concrete and different sections of the building that just don’t quite fit together. The artwork and interior decorations are quite stunning, especially for a private residence. But again, there is so much going on, with European artifacts and artwork from so many different locales and time periods, that the entire residence seems a little too busy for my tastes. There’s really nothing that speaks tasteful simplicity here; yet, it’s still very pretty. The garden and grounds are very nice. I wouldn’t mind visiting again at some future date. The $25 ticket price feels kind of steep.

We decide that it would be better to drive back to Monterey for the night, and we manage to make it there a little after dusk. A quick phone check on gives us a good candidate hotel to spend the night.

The “because he didn’t believe me that I only have 6 CDs and no Aux plug or mp3 player in my car” list:

Artist, Album — Played Today (Cumulative)
Marit Larsen, Under the Surface — 1 (1)
Marit Larsen, The Chase — 1 (1)
Bebe, Pafuera Telarañas — 2 (2)
Lenka, Lenka — 3 (3)

Bebe and “UTS” are good throwbacks to our roadtrip through the Southwest. Remember “track 2” and “track 11”? (The Honda Odyssey that we drove in that previous roadtrip also only had a CD player.) Somehow, extensive time in the car seems to have ruined my copy of Under the Surface; the fact that the song “Under the Surface” was the one that kept skipping made me very sad. 🙁

Day 2

Most of the day was spent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s an interesting experience coming here again, and it definitely felt like the aquarium was catered more towards kids. But maybe part of that feeling was because the aquarium was very crowded and had a lot of kids running amok. The facilities felt like they were at capacity, and at times I felt a little claustrophobic with the number of people in the building. Nonetheless, it’s still mesmerizing to stare at jellyfish and penguins and small sharks swim around. And those sea otters (Allied Atheist Allegiance) are pretty cute. The 15-minute mini-lectures they hold seem very light on material — am I the only one who wished they talked for a full 50 minutes?

Monterey reminds of me San Francisco in the fact that it’s cloudy and foggy and kind of cold all the time. On a clear and sunny day, both places are doubtless beautiful. Monterey at least has some small-town charm to it even if the sun only broke through the clouds for a few minutes each day we were down there. The drive along the coast in Pacific Grove (Ocean View Blvd. and Sunset Dr.) was quite beautiful.

As for food, we ate crepes at Crêpes of Brittany, which was an above-average crepe-eating experience for me. I find it hard for US-made crepes to compare to those in Paris, but the Nutella crepe I had was pretty good, if slightly less crispy than I would have liked.

If you’re ever in Monterey, I would recommend eating at Vivolo’s Chowder House, a small restaurant a few blocks away from Cannery Row. I ordered the fisherman’s platter (assorted fried seafood) as well as the clam chowder breadbowl, which was way too much food. The fish, scallops, and shrimp in the fisherman’s platter were fresh and absolutely delicious. This was also the first time I’ve ever eaten clam chowder; it also was delicious, and not quite as heavy as I thought it would be.

The CD list, not so bad today because it was just local driving most of the time:

Artist, Album — Played Today (Cumulative)
Lenka, Lenka — 3 (6)
Marit Larsen, Under the Surface — 0 (1)
Marit Larsen, The Chase — 0 (1)
Bebe, Pafuera Telarañas — 0 (2)

One Reply to “Roadtrip part 1”

Comments are closed.