Today I’m leaving Santa Barbara and I start my day strong as my host has made me blueberry pancakes, strawberries and eggs all smothered in butter and syrup-yum.My stupid sat nav (all will be forgiven later however…) refuses to give me the route to where I want to go via the Pacific Coast Highway, so I’m forced to split up my journey to ensure I can get as much driving in as possible on Route One.
The upshot of this however, means I also get to cruise through crazy little villages that look like abandoned Mexican outposts, as I make my slightly convoluted way up the coast.
The route sweeps me past Lompoc, La Purisima, and Vanderberg Air Force Base. It’s a mountainous route and the farmer’s fields, yellow brush scrub grasses, and rocky hill tops remind me of The Snake Pass. I could be driving to see my dad, were it not for the blazing sunshine and birds of prey swooping so low over my car that I gasp.
An hour or so in, I hit Guadeloupe and I stop to pull the top down now it’s heating up, the smell of Eucalyptus hitting me.
One this is achieved, I’m not going to lie, I feel like a king as I drive with the wind in my hair along this idyllic stretch of winding road.
I’ve got the radio on and it’s playing 105.9 ‘crazy country’ and I throw my hands in the air to feel the resistance, and give a whoop that only the dust can hear.
In the end I overshoot my destination, ending up at Shell Beach which sits on a rocky cliff top. The stone outcrops along the shore are home to a plethora of nesting Pelicans and there’s a quaint little art fair going on in the park.
I drive the 5 minutes back on myself to the self-styled surf town of Pismo Beach. The front is heaving and there’s lots of cafés, shops, and a pier out onto the ocean.
I park up and plonk myself on the sand, catching some afternoon rays. A light propellor plane zooms across the sky doing loop de loops and making everyone go ‘ooooh’.
Feeling enriched with vitamin D (which yesterday’s psychic also told me I was deficient in-err hello??-have you seen this tan??) I jaunt down the pier then grab some BBQ before hitting the road again.
I pass San Luis Obispo, Cayucos and the vineyards in Harmony; pulling off the road a few times to take in the romantic vistas.
I feel elated. This is so gosh darn beautiful. I’m so lucky. Country fm is out of range so I’ve switched stations and as the chorus drops on Simple Minds, I punch the air à la The Breakfast Club. Perfect.
I arrive in San Simeon and drop my luggage at the small hotel I’m in for the night-literally a short shopping strip off the 1.
I head to Piedras Blancas in the hope of spotting the Elephant Seals who call this part of the coast home. I’m not disappointed as June means that juvenile pups and adult females are basking in the sand as it’s shedding season. They climb ashore as their furry brown skin malts, to reveal a slick smooth smooth silvery coat.
I watch as they lie there sleeping, grunting, and flipping sand onto themselves to keep cool. A few even flipper their way to the sea whilst the rest huddle up like sardines in a tin.
I leave them to it and head to Hearst State Beach. It has a gorgeous jetty pier and early evening stragglers and young families are down on the sand.
I walk down the jetty watching the pools of kelp floating on the surface of the blue sea and try my hardest to spot sea otters, although my mind is playing tricks on me as the waves bob up and down.
I head back to the hotel and there’s bottles of Harmony’s local wine in the rooms at my hotel so I open a red Zinfandel, which is exquisite. I’ve never been much of a fan of Californian wine but this baby could change my mind. I grab a map, guidebook and using the good old internet I plan my route for tomorrow’s drive. If it’s anything like today’s, I’m in for a treat and another opportunity to make my soul soar.