Now in Yuma, Arizona

Now in Yuma, Arizona

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Vacation from RVing: PCH to Monterey and Yosemite National Park

April 7 - 14, 2018:  

We have been planning this short vacation trip for a while now.  The plan originally was to get a convertible and drive along the coast with the top open, real cool like.  However, we didn’t think about it being too cold this time of year to do that.  It’s not cold inland but not hot enough to make up for the cold Pacific air.  Inland the temperatures are in the low 70s and 50s at night.  The coast is still close to 40 at night with only low 60s in the daytime.  There is a lot of sun but really cold wind!  So we saved some money and got a full size regular car.

Our rental car for the trip, a Chevy Impala

We hadn’t gone anywhere away from the RV for some time, well since the Alaska trip last year.  We had a hard time getting into the travel by car mode.  We didn’t pack until just before we left so it took us a long time.  We really had not planned on the wide variations in temperatures this trip would involve.  Snow was predicted in Yosemite while we were there and it wasn’t looking good in Monterey either.  We were going to leave at 10am and we finally got moving about 11:30 am.

Seems Santa Barbara was having some sort of car show as we came through

PCH Coast pictures

Our first stop was going to be Hearst Castle about 150 miles north up the coast near San Simeon.  Since we were running late we went directly to the castle before checking into our hotel for the night in Cambria.  We arrived at the castle around 3pm and got into a tour group right away.  It was perfect timing.

Hearst Castle has 7 different tours; one for the main rooms, one for the upstairs bedrooms and suites, one called designing the dream, Hearst and Hollywood, Art of San Simeon, Cottages and Kitchens, and evening tour.  Each of the tours was priced around $25 each.  This is actually a pretty good deal as tours go today.  We took the main rooms tour as this is recommended for first timers like us.  The tour is about 2 hours long.

View on our way up to the castle.  Pacific Coast in the distance

We had no idea that this castle was this big and was built around the depression.  The first part being built before the depression and then finished just after WWII over a 30 year period.  The truly amazing thing is that this place was built in what is still the middle of nowhere.  And before the depression, it was even farther than nowhere!  Back before the depression, Hearst had to make his own electricity for the place.  He had a hydroelectric generation station just for the castle!  Even by today’s standards, this is beyond decadent!  

Many fountains around the castle

Another view from the castle to the Pacific ocean

An Olympic swimming pool that looks like it was in Greece.
It is even heated (and under repair)!

A view of the lower grounds looking up at the castle

A look at the front door of the castle.  Yes, that is gold!

The main foyer area with a fire place

The main dining room

The pool hall

The movie room

Tennis anyone?

Even an indoor heated swiming pool

After the tour, we got checked into our hotel and went for dinner.  It is a little different having to always go out to eat when we travel but this is a vacation!  We ended up at a nice seafood place overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  We got to have our wine and watch the sun go down over the ocean.  A great way to end day one of our little getaways.

Sign for our first night hotel in Cambria

Day 2 was going to be half driving north on the PCH and some time in Monterey.   It started out real good.  We weren’t but a few miles in and we see a few cars pulled over with people taking pictures.  That’s usually a good sign something is happening that we will want to see too.  At first, it looked like people were taking pictures of cows; not something that appealed to either of us.  At the last minute, we saw zebras and lots of them!  We were just south of San Simeon and Hearst castle so these were descendants of the zebras Hearst had here for his zoo.  How cool!

We went about 20 miles and pulled over to take a bathroom break and to maybe get gas at Ragged Point.  Yeah, well no on the gas as it was $5.34 a gallon!  We got our break in and got some fantastic views before heading out for a great drive through Big Sur.  This was the part of the trip on the PCH with the best driving views.

Views from the PCH coast line

A stop at Ragged Point on the PCH

A great place for lunch

Check out the diesel cost, $5.34!

We got another 10 miles north and were just settling in to the drive and the great views of the coast when we encountered a sign telling us that the road was closed ahead in 10 miles.  And it also said that there were no detours!  Well shit!  We kept driving and seeing the great views until we rounded a corner right at the entrance to Big Sur where we encountered barricades.  It seems that the road is closed due to a mud slide in Big Sur.  Now for the even worse part, we will need to back track to before where we stayed the night near Cambria, 31 miles!  Then we will travel 24 miles inland before heading north again!  It worked out to an extra 2 hours travel time and no great views!  Oh yeah, now I had to get some of that expensive gas in Ragged Point!  Just purchased $20!

The road is definitely closed

We arrived in Monterey about 2 in the afternoon and decided to have lunch on Cannery Row.  It was very windy with temperatures around 65.  It was damn uncomfortable to walk around in that cold wind.  We found a nice but a bit touristy place overlooking the Monterey Bay for lunch.

Welcome to Monterey

We walked the entire length of Cannery Row with the intention of going to the Aquarium.  I had gone 30 years ago and only remember it was a great experience.  This time, however, we couldn’t get over the high cost of a ticket to get in.  It was $49.95 each to visit an aquarium!!  We just couldn’t wrap our heads around visiting an aquarium for $100.  So we left and walked back to the car and headed to a hotel.

Cannery Row

Monterey Bay

Our lunch restaurant had these cool booth seats which overlooked the bay

Another disappointment was that there weren’t any sea lions or seals.  When I was here 30 years ago they were everywhere!  We didn’t see any at all!  The only animals we saw were tourists and birds.  I know the sea lions have been decreasing there but to not even see one!  So, for me, Monterey was not so much fun and not nearly as nice as I remember 30 years ago.  

We were going to Carmel by the Sea but Patty wanted to pass on that.  I had been there 30 years ago and thought it an interesting place.  We did drive the 17 mile Pebble Beach route and enjoyed that.  Nice views of the coast and of the great golf courses.  This is a residential neighborhood that they charge you $10.50 to drive through.  Even 30 years ago I remember paying to drive this.  It actually is worth the cost.

Views from Pebble Beach

NICE golf courses

After the driving tour, we headed to Yosemite National Park 185 miles to the east.  We had reservations at the Yosemite View Lodge just outside of the park, about 2 miles.  We arrived there with summer clothes on and it was windy and 60.  Yeah, we were cold! The room we had was nice and had a good size fridge so we could keep our drinks cold.  We checked in and had dinner at their restaurant which was pretty good.

View from our hotel near Yosemite

Dinner at the hotel

We are here way before the tourist season so there weren’t any crowds to speak of.  I just can’t imagine being here during tourist season though.  There is really only one main road in from the east and it is a slow winding road to the village.  Even if you are staying in the village it would be very hard to get around with loads of people.  We are so glad we went when we did.

We had great weather while we were there with temps in the low 70s during the day.  It quickly got cold after the sun went down though, close to 40 degrees.  The only bad part of being there this early was that the road to Glacier Point was still snowed in.  We still got to do quite a bit of hiking around the village and see most of the famous sites from there.  And we had no problem parking either which I don’t think would be even possible after Memorial Day.

The streams were really rushing from the spring snow run off

The waterfalls were in full flow too!

El Capitan!

Half Dome

A hike to Yosemite falls

A few whitetail deer

The famous Majestic Yosemite Hotel

We spent one full day in the park and one day exploring the town of Mariposa.  Mariposa is just a little tourist town on the west edge of the park.  We had come through there on our way in and it looked interesting to visit.  Actually visiting the town was a last minute idea.  We were going into the park on the first day and we were not dressed warm enough.  In the morning the temperatures were still in the low 50s with wind.  Too cold for us we so drove out of the park and then went to Mariposa for the day.  Mariposa was just ok.  We had a really good lunch at the 1850 bar and grille.  After lunch it took us about 2 hours to walk the main street and see all of the shops.  Again, in a couple of months this will be a hopping place!

Lunch at the Mariposa 1890 bar and grille

Downtown Mariposa

On our last evening after getting back from the park, Patty let me know she wasn’t doing well health wise.  Her blood sugar had been high for two days and now she was going to run out of insulin.  Not good at all.  She doesn’t have a syringe or any needed pump supplies to refill her insulin pump.  So even if we drove the 100 miles to the nearest Walmart for insulin, she has no way of using it!  Yeah it was also now 5pm and getting dark.  She wasn’t feeling sick form DKA (High Blood Sugar) yet but that was coming.  I suggested going to the local hospital in Mariposa but she didn’t want to do that.  So we went to bed and were going to wing it and drive the 5.5 hours back to LA tomorrow.

During the night she got sick around 2am.  Again not good at all!  By morning she was in full DKA.  We left the hotel at 9am and she lay down in the back seat with a barf bag for the duration.  As we approached our friends’ house where our RV was we headed directly to the local hospital.  

Los Robles hospital was great!  She was seen quickly and by 3 doctors in the first couple hours.  As I expected she was admitted and spent the night there.  By the evening the next day they released her and we headed back to our RV.

The hospital stay put us a day behind schedule but we can make it easily in the next month.  Our next stop is to see friends in La Jolla near San Diego.  After that we are headed back east toward Florida for house hunting.  We want to make sure we have enough time there to purchase a house.

Before we left our friends house in Newbury Park CA I took a couple of pictures of their beautiful gardens from their living room windows. 
Nice morning light coming in.

In summary, the Hearst Castle was great and worth visiting. The PCH drive was a little disappointing but we got a taste of driving the coast, all was good there.  Monterey wasn't worth the drive for me especially since there wasn't even sea lions to see.  The 17 mile drive Pebble Beach tour made up for Monterey a bit.  Yosemite was great but glad we went in the off season!  Patty getting sick was a bummer but has become normal now!

Stay tuned!