zondag 20 februari 2011

Highway 1

When shopping in America, there is really only one way. You drive. Not only do you drive TO the stores- you drive from one to the next, making sure your fat ass doesn’t have to get any unnecessary exercize. So when we left for our road trip the pissing rain was really only an excuse as we drove from Ross Dress for Less to Shoe Depot to Home Depot trying to find Daniel some Wellington boots (what they call rubber boots we found out, after many blank stares). The stores were all in close proximity to one another, but there were pedestrian-unfriendly things like 4 lane roads in between, and so we had to drive. It didn’t make shopping any easier (or fun, according to Daniel), but you don’t want to go camping in wet weather without something to keep your feet dry. I know this from experience. When we finally embarked on our road trip, the rain might have gotten even harder and the skies even greyer, but there was no way in hell either of us were going to have wet feet. This was but a slight consolation while picturing ourselves putting up a tent in the miserable weather.
After a slight faulty detour, we started down Highway 1, or the Pacific Highway. For those who don’t know, this is probably one of the most beautiful roads to drive in the world: it pretty much follows the coastline all the way down to Mexico. Driving it proves difficult, even perilous at times, as the scenery is so mindblowing that the driver often forgets to keep an eye on the road. Despite the nasty weather, we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day to go: the skies were dramatic backdrops to cliffs, black rocks jutting out of the sea, yellow beaches, soft, rolling green hills and more severe snow-dusted mountains. As we drove into Big Sur, we were enveloped by tall, looming, dark forest and coasting along winding roads. It was wonderful. It quite suddenly got dark however, and we were not looking forward to putting up a tent (having never put up this tent) in the dark and the rain, and so for the sake of our relationship and the rest of mankind: thank god for motels. This did however end up being a hairy drive down Hwy 1 in the pitch dark (no street lights in Big Sur ladies and gentlemen), winding up and down bendy roads as we searched for a motel with room for two: it was a holiday weekend! 2 hours later and after a few hair raising moments (including big rocks littering the road and the one where we almost hit an owl as it dove for a mouse on the road in front of us- amazing to see but ooooooh mama, it was scary!) we finally hit a motel strip at San Simean and were able to bunk out in one of the last rooms available. Besides a liquor store, there was also karaoke with a Mexican Elvis happening just down the road- I mean, what more could you possibly want from life?
We woke to blue skies and sun and went and watched more elephant seals before going up to see Hearst Castle, one of the most jaw-dropping, amazing but utterly bizarre things I have ever seen in my life. If you ever want to see how you could spend your money if you were rich –and I mean ‘millions is small change’ rich- this is the place. Inspired by absolutely everything ever built in Europe ever, and bringing together antique Spanish ceilings, medieval Flemish tapestries, papal chairs, Persian rugs, Roman statues, Greek columns, Italian convent gates and every other form of decadent decoration you can think of. Even the most kitschy Italian would find this place the kingdom of kitsch. It was incredible.
Today we had our first real American breakfast in a diner. When asked how Daniel would like his eggs done, he surprised the waitress (her face read ‘Weird European’) by asking for the hard boiled. He then proceeded to get excited that there was ice cream on his American pancakes, only to be disgusted when I explained it was actually butter. A scoop of it. I guess with constant refills of coffee your metabolism should burn that off no problem (judging by the overweight family of six behind us though, that could be far-fetched). With sufficient sugar and caffeine in our system we buzzed down to San Luis Obispo, which was really nice. Our main reason however for going was to see the Madonna Inn, one of the wierd and wonderful and completely over-the-top Americanisms one can find here. Once you get past the neon pink sign, the inn stretches out over quite some buildings, all in some interpretation of large Austrian chalets. All the rooms have a different theme; think ‘Yosemite’, or ‘Caveman’ (really, the site is worth looking at- there’s pictures!) and range in size. We went to the coffeehouse, where the waitresses wear Austrian-style uniforms and the interior is something you thought only possible in your dreams. Kitschy dreams, that is. We ordered coffee and decided to share a piece of The World Famous Toffee Crunch Cake to complete the experience. Thank GOD we were sharing, for if you would like to know what the weight of your head is converted into sugar then this is the place. I am not kidding, the slice was bigger than the plate. I remember thinking it was no secret how Americans got so huge if they ate their body mass in sugar and fat every day before the sugar high got the better of me and my thoughts caramelized. God help us.

(double click the images to enlarge them!)

4 opmerkingen:

  1. Haha, excellent, your writing rocks Heather, and your pictures are insane Daniel! So jealous of you guys, what a friggin awesome trip.

  2. Anca,
    Wat een verhalen zeg.Hebben jullie nu wel mooi weer?Dat wordt lijnen na de reis.We zijn jaloers op jullie avonturen en wij maar werken.Geniet nog .Veel knuffels mama

  3. My reaction to Hearst Castle was the same as yours- it's totally, absolutely weird, but well worth seeing once!!! Kind of a symbol for Hollywood in a way and the mad extremes associated with too much money. Sounds like you guys are having a ball. Loving the blogs and photos. It was a bumper morning today as I hadn't seen it in a while, having been in Ireland, and there were THREE new ones waiting for me. Love you lots. Be safe. XXXX

  4. heerlijk verhaal bij de koffie op deze winderige, regenachtige zondagochtend.