Big Seals on the US1

Morning! Just a short update today as not a whole lot happened yesterday.

Bex and I woke up and left our fine coastal hotel and headed south for a short jaunt to Hearst Castle. It’s a very opulent mansion built atop one of the higher hills right on the coast. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the castle via shuttle bus from the base of the hill, and is about 380 meters above sea level. The place was constructed from 1919 though to 1947 and houses some of the finest art pieces the west coast has to offer. We got a guided tour and were awed by cavernous ceilings and ornate hallways. The most impressive part was the roman pool, which was created 3 meters deep with crystal clear water and a mosaic of blue white and gold inch-sized tiles. The tiles covered the massive 50 meter pool, and room, from top to bottom, and there were over 1 million glass tiles with 22ct gold leaf in them. The effect was breath taking. All the gold caught the light and every surface shimmered with reflected gold light.

5 miles up the road from Hearst Castle we came across a viewing area for Elephant seals. We knew there was a bigger area further up but were not sure whether the viewing there would be any better or not. Where we stopped was quite fortunate – about 5 of the beasts were napping in the sun just a few steps from the car (but safely down the cliff a ways!)

We watched for a few minutes trying to work out what was going on – most of them were napping on the beach whilst another swam about in the shallows making a whole lot of noise. Bex reckoned he was declaring his territory, and not too long afterwards another male showed up to challenge him for ownership of (what we assume were) the females asleep on the beach. A fight ensued, and it looked like what i think a boxing match would look like if you tied both contestants hands behind their backs. After a few minutes our original noisemaker was nowhere to be seen. The newcomer picked a spot in the shallows close by and started barking to claim his territory. We moved on.

The coastal drive was gorgeous, but it sure took a while. The posted speed limit was 55, and this was the first time I’d come across drivers who insisted that it was much slower. I assume that this is because the US1 is a tourist road, and not one used often by locals. Our arrival time was pushed back nearly 2 hours simply by roadworks and drivers who were not able to maintain their speed when they couldn’t see more than 100 meters infront of themselves.

By the time we got to San Francisco it was about 6:30pm and we’d been on the road for nearly 6 hours. The last hour was excruciating because of the traffic – we came in at peak hour and the last 10 miles took as long as the first 50. We successfully navigated our way through the narrow SFC streets to our Motor Inn. It wasn’t much worse than Melbourne City, just a lot bigger.

We checked in, dragged our bags upstairs, and headed out for dinner. We ate at an italian restaurant called Fior d’Italia and it was really nice. For $60 including tips and taxes we both got a very filling pasta dish (Bex had gnocchi, I had Lasagne) and dessert (Bex has Creme Caramel, I had Tiramisu and the rest of Bex’s Caramel). Full up to kittens bow, we walked home and retired for some well needed rest.

Fior D'Italia Mains: ★★★★½ 

Fior D'Italia Service: ★★★☆☆ 

Sleep in at the Motor Inn: ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Today the plan is to take it easy, do some shopping and washing, and rest! Tomorrow we’ll be seeing some sights (such as Alcatraz and Muir woods). Will keep you posted!