Thursday, 5 May 2011

Day 16: Santa Monica to Morro Bay

OK, so the Route 66 part of this road trip may have been successfully completed, but that's not the end of the journey for me, as I'm heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco.

On arriving at Santa Monica yesterday I went in search of a hotel room, but it soon became apparent that there would be nothing that fitted my meagre budget. The Holiday Inn wanted $300 for the night, plus $27 for the privilege of parking my bike in their car park! I politely declined.

So I headed north to see if I could find something a bit more in my price range. After 20 minutes I realised that, if anything, things were getting more pricey, as I passed through Palisades and Malibu, so I asked the SatNav to take me to the nearest, reasonably priced hotel. Immediately I was heading inland, over the Malibu hills and into the canyons beyond. Once more, twisty intricate roads, and obviously a playground for the rich, as I saw more Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Masaratis on that stretch of road, than I had seen since the Exotic Car Show. Haha - the spell checker didn't recognised Masaratis, and suggested I might have meant Masterbation. Interesting, maybe it was thinking of the people who drive them?

Anyway, a Harley Davidson ElectraGlide is a great bike for long rides, but when it comes to these types of roads, it's not in its element. It's big and cumbersome, and does not change direction quickly. Ground clearance is also an issue, it's easy to start scraping the foot boards if you're not careful. So whenever one of these pieces of exotica came screaming up behind me I pulled over and let it pass.
From the top of the hills behind Malibu, towards the ocean...

...and looking the other way, over the canyons beyon
Twenty miles inland I got to the suggested hotel and thankfully they had a room at a price I was prepared to pay. The closest (in fact, only) restaurant was a sushi bar right next door. I've never had sushi before, the thought of raw fish grosses me out a bit, but I thought this was the time to try something new, so I went in and found a seat at the bar. Two guys sitting next to me were obviously sushi connoisseurs, and took pity on my total lack of knowing what to order. They pointed me in the direction of the California Rolls, and after that spicy shrimp. I must say that it was rather tasty, especially washed down with a couple of bottles of Asahi. Thanks Andrew and Oren, for initiating me in the ways of Sushi. Two more helpful and friendly people I've met on this trip.

This morning I headed back to the coast by a slightly less twisty route, and continued my journey north. The views as the road hugs the side of the cliffs alongside the ocean are fantastic. If I had stopped to take pictures everytime I saw a breathtaking scene in front of me, I wouldn't have got very far.

The road winds along the shoreline, next to the Pacific.
My stop for lunch was at Santa Barbara, a lovely town, with a nice pier and plenty of restaurants along the front to choose from.

A spot of lunch?
Santa Barbara  pier
If I was a surfer dude, I'd have to have one of these.
Having eaten, it was time to continue up the coast a bit further. After a while the road deviates inland, and you loose sight of the ocean for a bit, as you skirt around Santa Maria, and through San Louis Obispo, but eventually you are back at the coast as the road reaches Morro Bay, my stop for the night.

Morro Bay is a small town, and one of the few that still has a commercial fishing fleet operating out of it. It is dominated by a huge volcanic rock emerging from the ocean just offshore, called Morro Rock, strangely enough. There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the harbour, and all within walking distance of my hotel, so I think cooked meat will be on the cards for dinner tonight.

Morro Rock, the last of a chain of seven volcanic rocks along this shoreline. Apparently it hosts over 250 different bird species.
And here's one of them waiting for some scraps.
Looking into the bay area. Plenty of choice for eating tonight.

Today's route and some more photos are here:

Today's Mileage: 229
Total Trip Mileage: 3225

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