Coasting down the Coast

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From the title, you might think that it was smooth sailing after the last blog post — that we were just cruising on the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1 in California) after an easy night and a peaceful Sunday morning at church. Not quite.  From where I left off, we had a long road ahead of us in order to get to Route 1.  And that road started right before bedtime when Gabriel threw up.  I went to bed around midnight and had a normal night in a back room on a quiet end of the house of waking up at 3am to nurse Daniel, back down around 4, then back up at 7 with him.  John, and the rest of the people in the house however, had a more exciting night, with Gabriel missing his throw up bowl and making a little bit of a mess on the floor which John had to clean up, followed by Liesl throwing up at least three times, while sporadically screaming at the top of her lungs.  Needless to say, church was not on the agenda that morning.  We suspected food poisoning from something they ate at the Scottish Games the day before since no one else was sick and there was no fever.  John and I didn’t feel too hot either, but that could have been due to our lack of sleep.  Either way, it threw off our plans a bit.  We stayed behind while the pastor and his family left for church, and I put on a movie for our children while Daniel and I napped, and John rested a little on the couch.  By noon we were packed up and headed over to the church to bid everyone a final farewell, since we had told several friends that we’d see them again on Sunday.  We left the kids sequestered in the car while we quickly made the rounds and tried to avoid touching people.  It was good to see everyone again, but it was time to move on down the road!

 Okay, so I was a bit overly dramatic.  The long night had made for a hard morning, but we weren’t so wiped out that we would avoid the coast road.  By the GPS our decision to drive along the coast rather than to head down 101 and eventually I-5 South towards San Diego added about three hours to the drive, which you may say is a silly, and perhaps irresponsible, thing to do when you’ve got six children 9 and under in the car and a long drive ahead of you, especially when you’ve driven the coast before.  But really, in the scheme of things, those few hours were just a drop in the bucket considering how many more hours we’ve all spent in the car.  And for what we gained, they were definitely worth it.  Driving the coast meant we didn’t arrive at our Escondido hotel until midnight, but seeing the California Coast from Monterey to San Luis Obispo again did my heart good.  It was breath-taking, as usual, and if you ever have the chance to drive that route, DO IT.  You will not be disappointed.  I have never been to Australia and New Zealand, but compared to the places I have been – four of the Hawaiian islands, up and down both US Coasts, on the East and West coasts of England and Scotland, into the Mediterranean Sea to Crete, through the Suez Canal on a warship, various places in the Caribbean, Japan, Singapore, and probably a few more amazing places – I can say it ranks right up there with one of the most gorgeous landscapes on God’s green earth.  My pictures do not begin to do justice to the splendor of the cliffs, and how you feel looking down at the crashing waves as you drive along.  My words are insufficient, and you can google it all you like – only seeing it for yourself will convince you to agree with me.
But I digress – I have to start with describing Monterey.  About 15 miles south of the church on the coast is Monterey, where we enjoyed a lovely 2 1/2 years while John earned a Masters in Astronautical Engineering and I had a baby and learned to play the bagpipes.  We stopped for Starbucks and McDonalds (keeping it tame for the children with french fries in case they were still sick) and reminisced while we drove through town.  At Starbucks I took a picture of my coffee when I added the half-and-half, so all you Brits can see the difference.  Why, oh why, do you drink milk in your coffee instead of half-and-half?  I know, some Americans do it, too, but the H&H is so common it’s sometimes the only thing they put out for you at the Starbucks.

Half-and-half in my coffee

One of our favorite quick and delicious Mexican restaurants in Monterey

Del Monte Blvd in Monterey is lined with Giant Eucalyptus trees right outside the school

I love the heavenly smell of the Eucalyptus 🙂

Then it was on to Route 1 South, next stop, somewhere south of Big Sur.  Here’s what we saw along the way (and as an aside, Claire asked: Why don’t you stop and take pictures, Mama? — What’s the challenge in that?  All of these were taken while moving 30-60 mph :)):
This next picture is one I took while driving of Rocky Creek Bridge before driving over it — it was built in 1932.  The next picture is one of the bridge that I downloaded from the internet so you could see what it really looks like.

Looking southbound as we drive over the bridge

Back to my car pictures…

Looking backwards from the bridge

Looking back north again

Looking South

Southbound again (switching them up, just to test you…)

You can see cars driving on the road on the above picture.

Then we passed through the giant Redwood trees – you actually have to go inside of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to see the super huge ones where you can walk through the trunks.

We had just about made it past all the curvy roads on the coast when Gabriel was sick again, this time probably because of a generally upset tummy from the night before and getting carsick.  We made a stop somewhere past Big Sur for cold drinks, running around, and a quick cleanup.
I took that last picture while driving, trying to get the misty hills, but then we stopped for drinks right after this, and I could have had a much easier time taking this same picture 🙂
A few last pictures – of a new bridge they’re building:

One last view north before turning the corner…

Just after San Luis Obispo, our path veered inland to cut off some coastal areas and rejoined the water near Santa Barbara.  I saw this Eagle on the hill right near the California National Guard post in S.L.O., but I was the driver, so I had to get a picture from the internet.
  From the internet: “This eagle was created by Officers of the California Military Academy in the 1960’s. It has been maintained by each class since.”
Not much else to say, since the pictures speak for themselves.  I hope that if you’ve never seen it for yourself you can one day get out to California, rent a car, and spend a few days driving down the coast.  You could start in San Francisco and hit Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach in a day, then Big Sur and San Luis Obispo, and finally Santa Barbara, before flying out of Los Angeles.  As I pondered this post I mentioned to John that I should title the photobook I make, or whatever form the summary of this trip takes, “How to spend a month driving around the U.S. with 6 children without ever hitting a major city or theme park.”  I just thought it was amusing because, other than flying into NYC, we haven’t been in any “famous” American towns, and, other than friends and family, the only places we’ve visited have been God’s handiwork, not man’s.  Quite a notable trip 😉
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