Celebrating the transition into retirement part three ~ Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Four days of driving (Mike did really well in hire car and driving on the right-hand side of the road) found us at our first night stop in Monterey.  The two-hour guided walk on the dunes and beaches with elephant seals sunning themselves at the Ano Nuevo State Park was just a taste of the wonderful things to come.

A relaxing cuppa in MontereyMonterey is a pretty and quiet town; The Cannery, on the main street, is full of old warehouse buildings dolled up to become restaurants and shops.  We did a lovely walk along the coast to the harbour where seals were basking on the rocks, but gave the famous Aquarium a miss.  We have found the Best Western chain of hotels to be great value, and our hotel in Monterey was no exception. Left:A relaxing cuppa in Monterey.

17-Mile-Drive has dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean: we found Pebble Beach Golf Club where the US Open Golf was played a few years ago, and will be again in 2019 to celebrate 100 years of golf on the course.  At the main club house, The Lodge, we were greeted by a chap togged up in old-fashioned golf attire who told us he had surfed with Shaun Thomson years ago – no mention of Ernie or Retief, though!

From the lounge area, we gasped at the magnificent view of the 18th green and fairway through the massive floor-to-Pebble Beach Golf Club Lodge entranceceiling glass windows. Imagine playing golf on that course or even just watching the pros from that vantage point: the grass was greener than you could imagine with palm trees here and there and the cliffs beyond with the blue-blue ocean sparkling down below. Right: Pebble Beach Golf Club Lodge entrance

Carmel is a gorgeous little town, pretty and quaint with tree-lined streets and loads of little shops and restaurants along every street in every direction. Clint Eastwood was Mayor of Carmel for many years and still lives in the area.  They love their Spring in America, and we enjoyed seeing hanging baskets of flowers around all the towns.

Typical Big Sur sceneryBig Sur is Chapman’s Peak multiplied by 100 or probably 1 million!  The amazing views mile after mile are difficult to believe.  We stopped numerous times to take pics and found the famous Bixby Bridge, a lovely bridge with circular arches underneath.

Left: Typical Big Sur scenery

At Piedras Blancas we saw elephant seals, and several adult males with the huge probiscus nose, some even fighting for territory and females. To think we went all the way to Antarctica to see them only to be there in the wrong season.

Seals and chairs
Elephant seals lolling in the sun, Elephant seal colony, Pull up a seat and watch the sun set in Cambria

We reached Cambria for our overnight stop. It has one main street along the coast filled with lodgings, one after another, all low rise.  The boardwalk across the street and on the coast side was a lovely walk and we enjoyed the natural spring flowers all around us.  Each hotel places a couple of deck chairs on their front lawns to view the sunset … quite odd to see these chairs placed randomly on the grass near the main street, but they were well-used.

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