And the next day was very scenic, taking us up through Big Sur to Monterey. We made two stops on the way to Monterey: the first was at Piedras Blancas, where there is a very large Elephant Seal rookery which we'd wanted to see ever since we heard about it. At this time of year there are only males there, so there isn't too much aggression (no females to fight over). In fact, the seals seemed pretty laid-back and Californian. They're in the middle of a moult, so some of them have a peeling, almost sunburned, look.
A little way up the coast in Big Sur we stopped at an art gallery. The area is home to quite a few artists wanting to get away from the crowds. This one had some very nice things which we would have loved if we'd had anywhere to put them. And the several thousand dollars the big ones cost. And had been prepared to pay international shipping on bronze sculptures.
This one wasn't for sale but would certainly have been a conversation starter. (Its title was Essence
The sweep of the coast, with beautiful wild flowers and little coves tucked away, was marvellous.
Once past the most scenic part of the coast, where we had been taking our time to enjoy the views, we realised we still had a long way to go before braving San Francisco without a working GPS, so we elected to head inland midway up Monterey Bay and head for San Jose. This was probably a bad idea in retrospect, as the traffic was very heavy around San Jose itself, but we eventually arrived at our final resting place for the holiday: San Francisco. We got to roughly the right area of the city for our hotel but missed a turn somewhere so pulled over a telephoned them for directions. Vanessa got a little edgy while Hilary was on the phone as she was watching various drug deals going on not very far away. We eventually found the hotel, not in the rather dodgy Tenderloin district where we'd wound up but in the next district over (Civic Center). We sorted out the parking arrangements, dumped our bags and asked for a restaurant recommendation. We were directed to the corner of the block where we found Chez Maman, a really good French restaurant (we went back two nights later) on the corner of Gough St and Hayes St.
When I spotted Salinas on the map when we were planning the holiday, this song came to mind immediately. We didn't actually pass through it (though we came very close). "Somewhere near Salinas", indeed.