November 13, 2011

22nd - 24th oct: pacific coast highway roadtrip

22nd October: Fremont to Monterey Bay

When I first starting planning our trip schedule, I spent a lot of time on Google. In fact, every single free minute I had was spent Googling how best to see the West Coast in the time we had - about three weeks. It was not easy but I think with a lot of help from Wikipedia and reading tons of review from travel sites, I managed to come up with a schedule hubby was comfortable driving on and we could still see the best of what the West Coast had to offer; from one of the most scenic coastal drives ... the most expensive golf resorts to fairytale themed townships; Danish themed village and loads of ooh's and aah's along the way.

We started our journey from Fremont and drove towards Monterey Bay about 8am in the morning. I was totally looking forward to the much hyped about scenic beauty of the Pacific Coast Drive. I initially planned to stop by a few places but hubby said he didn't want to chance getting lost and driving in the dark especially with Adrianna in the car. So, we decided to give up seeing the Monarch Butterfly migration at its prime and tidal wave pools. But hubby promised he'll make it up to me and my efforts of so much research the next time we make a trip to US again.

So, first stop - the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was drizzling when we got in to Monterey Bay. It wasn't freezing but it sure was windy. We got our bearings straight at the visitor's center and since hubby wanted to take my little one to the aquarium, the inlaws weren't so keen on seeing fish when there were other things to look at, so we parted our ways for about three hours.

Here's Adrianna and I in front of the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we saw ...

... crustaceans ...

... little fish ...

... medium sized fish ...

... ugly big fish ...

... and more fish ...

... Adrianna decided she had enough of fishies and headed for this instead ...

... the birdies!

Then it was off to the general view of the place .. a view of the bay from inside the aquarium. Hubby's on the right of the photo looking out of a telescope, probably trying to spot a babe but got an eyeful of seals lounging on rocks around the bay.

And naturally, my curious little girl would have to check out what her papa was doing.

So we decided to tire out our little curious girl by taking her to the play area which had her favourite thing to play in ... water. Thank goodness for waterproof aprons!

After tiring out Adrianna at the aquarium and catching up with in the in-laws, we decided to check into our lodging for the night at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on the Old Golf Course Road; the first nice hotels we decided to splurge on in the next few weeks to come. Hubby was also quite diligent stalking the rates and booked us a room at a nice rate though I forget through which website now.

Unfortunately as with most rooms in US unless we paid a ransom, there were only two twin sized beds so the inlaws occupied one while hubby occupied another and since it wasn't big enough to fit both me and baby so we girls had to slept on the floor. Hubby had quite a drive ahead in the next few days so naturally the bed was given to him as priority.

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper sleeping on the hard floor while everyone else got to sleep on super comfortable warm beds but I got to hug my little girl to sleep and to the sound of seals calling in the distance, which wasn't too bad. Baby was still jet-lagged so she slept through the night.

Anyhow, after spending a few hours running around the aquarium, Adrianna was wiped out by the time we got to the hotel and fell sleep within seconds her little noggin' touched the bed.

We were rushed for time when walking around Monterey Bay especially with baby in tow and missed lunch. The inlaws however went their own way so they had time for lunch so hubby and I took a quick drive out while the baby was sleeping in the hotel with granmps and headed straight for McDonalds because I was curious how different the burgers there it would be compared to Malaysia.

Yup, this crazy tourist wanted to compare McDonalds sizes. I was not disappointed. The portions were huge and when they print Angus on the box, they truly meant meaty angus on the inside. Yummy!

Later on the evening after my baby girl work up, we decided to take the 17 Mile Drive through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach before heading for dinner. I think my poor girl was still jet-lagged; she fell fast asleep 10 minutes after settling into her brand new Graco carseat. Well, either that or the seat was really that comfortable.

Here's some pics we took along the drive.

It was very windy and very, very cold. Hubby decided it wasn't so bad but in reality, the dude was lazy to put on his jacket. He was leaping in and out of the car like a crazed chilled man.

 It got dark really quick so we decided took a quick snap shot of the infamous Lone Cypress before heading out for some take-away pizza from California Kitchen and headed back to the hotel to rest.

But first task at hand was to give the baby a good warm scrub down before the chow down.

Yummy Pepperoni Pizza.

Awesome Five Cheese Pizza - thin crust of course!

23rd October: Monterey Bay to Carmel-By-The-Sea through Big Sur to Solvang

Today we'll be exploring a quaint little fairy-taled themed down, driving pass one of the most scenic routes on the West Coast of USA before ending up in another quaint Danish themed town. Goodie.

The next morning, hubby felt so bad I had to sleep on the floor in our first "nice hotel stays" that he treated me to a nice breakfast downstairs. And breakfast didn't come with the room so the inlaws decided to stay in the room and rest instead while we got our chow down. Well, that and the fact we packed quite a stash of food with us and had to finish it ... soon. We're Chinese ... from Malaysia - of course we pack food when we travel!

Papa getting a kiss of his darling daughter ...

... while the mama needs to steal a kiss from her darling daughter. So unfair! But here we are anyway at Carmel-By-The-Sea before heading off to Big Sur!

One of our many stops along Big Sur ... The Bixby Bridge also known as the Bixby Creek Bridge; a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge in Big Sur, California - located 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco and 13 miles (21 km) south of Carmel in Monterey County along California Highway One. According to Wiki, prior to the opening of the bridge in 1932, residents of the Big Sur area were virtually cut off during winter due to the often impassable Old Coast Road that led 11 miles (18 km) inland. At its completion, the bridge was built under budget for $199,861 and was the longest concrete arch span at 320 feet (98 m) on the California State Highway System.

So I guess that's why so many people were stopping and taking photos and we weren't just typical tourists. LOL!

This particular cove reminded me of a a scene in the beginning of Pirates Of The Carribean; Curse of the Black Pearl ... imagine Captain Jack Sparrow in his little sinking dingy saluting the hanging skeleton.

The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We didn't stop to go into the park but we did stop the car infront of the park so this crazy woman jumped out of the car to look for this ...

... The iconic McWay Cove at McWay Falls which drops 80 ft. into the Pacific Ocean; the only two tidefalls in the region ... all the trouble because I saw photos of it on the Internet and was adament to see it with my own eyes. It was beautiful! The thing is, no one told me it was on the other side of the road and was a good 15 to 30 minutes hike downhill. So I hung off the edge of the cliff rail and took this with my dingy little Canon Ixus - still a happy although termed clinically crazy woman.

We got into Solvang quite late in the evening and checked into Buellton's Day's Inn. We didn't get to see much of this quaint danish village until the next morning.

So here we are, the next morning ...

See, told you it was a danish village and yes, loads of windmills around. Who needs to go all the way to Sweden  and learn Swedish when you can stop by here and speak English before hitting Los Angeles?!

Most of the village stores were decked up in the Christmas spirit but we didn't really have time to go into each one (and they were probably too expensive to purchase and hang on our tree for a few days) so we did the next best thing. Take photos. I have my lips pursed because I couldn't find my lip balm and my lips were super dry (I think my lil' munchkin hid it after my numerous attempts at lip-balming her lips).

A bust of Hans Christian Andersen at Solvang and yes, that'll be me attempting and failing miserably at applying lip balm on my little short stack of a darling daughter in the background (I finally found the lip balm).

Why Hans Christian Andersen is so "big" in Solvang ... then it's off to Los Angeles!