Wednesday 16th March
As we could not sail the Pacific we are now making the most of our time on the west coast to see things we haven’t had chance to see on previous visits.
We collected a hire car in order to explore the west coast and reach Seattle in order to continue with the planned part of the circumnavigation. The departure from Fisherman’s Wharf up Firmont was interesting to say the least! At the bottom of the hills the bonnet of the car seems to be confronted by a steep wall of road which at the top of the hill is replaced with sky and one only trusts that the wheels are still on the road by the time you reach the little bit of flat by the STOP sign!
We used Highway 1 to travel south along the Pacific Coast Highway. Along the route we passed through small faring communities which are today being impacted by commuters from San Francisco but along the roadside there is still evidence of ‘old California’ in the pumpkin, grapefruit, strawberry and artichoke farms. We stopped off at a driftwood strewn beach beneath cliffs of soft sand that is still being transformed into rock. The oldest of this process are millions of years old and are being eroded by the sea. It was amazing to reflect upon the size of the waves and that their fetch is the width of the Pacific Ocean!
We called at Pigeon Point lighthouse that is a 115 foot tall brick tower that has apparently featured in TV adverts. We continued southwards passing a rustic roadside attraction called Pie Ranch which is apparently the ‘place to be on a weekend’ and sells t-shirts emblazoned with “Eat pie. Teach pie. Share the pie.”
We bypassed Santa Cruz and stopped in at a wildlife reserve and wetland called Moss Landing. It is possible, though we need to research this, that this was an area of salt pans. Late in the afternoon we arrived in Monterey which is a most interesting and beautiful small town that owes its heritage to the fishing and processing of sardines. In the city is a modern day Fisherman’s Wharf but a walk along the original railway track takes one to Cannery Row where the abandoned fish canneries have been turned into bars, restaurants, fresh fish outlets and gift shops. It is possible to see many seabirds including pelicans and most importantly harbour seals and sea otters. In fact as we ate dinner in the Chart House restaurant above the sea on stilts we saw this wildlife at close quarters.