Considering out of everywhere we planned to go in the world and California was the first place we got excited about, you’d have thought we’d have planned it better.
There wasn’t much we could do about the catastrophic landslide which wiped out a bridge and closed a huge section of the Big Sur Highway, but we could’ve looked into the weather a bit more.
Naively we thought the sun always shone on the California coast. Alas pretty much every section we visited where land met sea, also met mist.
Our last three days on the southern portion of the Pacific Coast Highway were no exception.
Shrouded in a duvet of grey, and gloomy throughout, it was more resemblant of the Yorkshire Moors than California. No one told us the area is famous for May Grey and June Gloom! Perhaps we should’ve found out!
The murk made our trip to the bonkers Hearst Castle all the more bizarre.
The ‘castle’ is actually a mansion on a hilltop, built by publishing mogul William Hearst over 16 years in the 20s and 30s with a staggering degree of opulence.
He bought up Roman statues, cutting their feet off to fit within the pillars around his swimming pool, draped the house with dozens of ancient tapestries and even found space for an Egyptian sculpture from Tutankhamen’s tomb.
He imported animals from all over the world for his own private zoo (zebras still mingle with the cows in the fields below!) and invited movie stars and politicians to party there every weekend.
We trundled up the hill in a shuttle bus to Hearst’s ‘Castle’ invisible in the mist, and visibility didn’t really improve once we were up there. Another blow was the star of the show, Heart’s opulent Neptune Pool, was a building site. So no sun, and no swim for us on this trip!
Fortunately the stunning indoor pool was open to see, and is described as the most expensive bus stop in America, as it’s where you wait to take the shuttle back down the hill at the end of your tour.
The whole place is complete madness, made all the more odd by the fact school kids visit it as some sort of historical monument. Although fascinating, we concluded it was all that was wrong with modern America.
Our last two nights on the road took us towards LA and its famous beaches. This time we opted to pay for campsites rather than risk it by the roadside.
Both sites we stayed at were also right by the beach, affording us a stunning sunset, and also a pod of dolphins frolicking in the surf on a dusk hunt about 20 metres away out to sea!
The sun finally came out in Santa Monica, and adjacent Venice Beach brought out the oddballs. Its famous muscle beach was sadly devoid of much muscle, however.
We took in the sights, wandered down the boardwalk and under the pier, before heading back to camp beyond the city limits.
We celebrated our final night with more bourbon and cokes, a T Bone steak cooked on our little camp stove and the sound of the waves to sleep to.
Our road trip didn’t always go to plan, and nothing quite brings out a raging row than putting both of us in a car together. But we absolutely loved being out on the open road. We even forgot to shower! Our first came after FOUR DAYS! Thank god for wet wipes…
A week in the sticks was soon to be replaced by big city after big city, starting with the biggest of all, the baffling Los Angeles.