A journey from Los Angeles to Seattle on Highway 101, seeking out view spots for picnics… and old car junk for Clark.

Day 5
May 23, 2014
Redondo Beach to Cambria

We packed up and got on the road by 8:30 AM, heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway, A.K.A. Hwy 1. Harry and Susan warned us that we’d be in the thick of rush hour, and indeed we were; it took over an hour to go 15 miles.

Traffic, ugh.

Traffic, ugh.

Road construction and traffic were just enough to be annoying, all the way north of Malibu. Eventually, though, the road got quieter and the drive more peaceful. We stopped at a grocery store to A) use the bathroom and B) buy food for a picnic lunch.

Finally on the Pacific Coast Highway, PCH. A.K.A. Hwy 1.

Finally on the Pacific Coast Highway, PCH. A.K.A. Hwy 1.

Approaching Malibu.

We’ve seen the scene in dozens of movies.

Traffic thins out. The coast is so very brown and bare here; there are cactus on the hillsides.

Traffic thins out. The coast is so very brown and bare here; there are cactus on the hillsides.

 

We thought of stopping in Santa Barbara just to see it, and maybe have lunch on the pier, but Clark was pretty hungry by then and we decided against struggling through an unfamiliar town with a growling belly.

Colorful flowers in the median.

Colorful flowers in the median.

Instead, we continued north for twenty minutes and went to El Capitan State Park, forking over $10 for the right to park the car, use a bathroom, and sit on some rocks while we ate lunch. A good choice, though – it was a quiet, calming break from the road, and we watched porpoises of some sort swimming offshore.

For $10, a little sunshine would have been nice. Or a bench.

For $10, a little sunshine would have been nice. Or a bench.

Back on the road, and the landscape was improving, getting a little greener, with trees.

Ahhhh, green.

Ahhhh, green.

A taxi with a permanent surfboard on the roof.

A taxi with a permanent surfboard on the roof.

 

We didn’t stop until we made it to our destination of Cambria, a beach town known as a romantic getaway spot. It also has several antique shops, which proved a sad, sad disappointment. They mostly had glassware like you’d find at any estate sale, and reproduction petroliana signs. Clark said he was glad he’d bought the tire sign in Redondo Beach, because he’d be really bitter if he hadn’t and all he saw from here on out was the repro crap being sold here.

So anyway, Cambria the town is cute on the surface but didn’t have much to offer us underneath, although it does have the wacky Nit Wit Ridge house, built out of found objects by a trash hauler. Open for tours by prior arrangement only; we didn’t arrange.

Nit Wit Ridge, built by deceased trash hauler Art Beal, and now a state historical landmark.

Nit Wit Ridge, built by deceased trash hauler Art Beal, and now a state historical landmark.

We hit another grocery store for dinner goods, went back to our hotel, and then took a walk along the boardwalk that lines the beach. Lovely, lovely stroll, with fragrant plants of unknown identity to either side (although I did recognize santolina), oodles of fat ground squirrels, cormorants on the rocks, and surfers and harbor seals in the water. The landscape has started to change from the dry scrub of down south, where you saw cactus on the brown, bare, rocky slopes. Here, we’ve got trees; cypress, I think. We can see why people might come up here for a getaway, since it has a greener, cooler feel than the southern coast.

Now for a game of "spot the baby squirrels." I think there are about six in this photo.

Now for a game of “spot the baby squirrels.” I think there are about six in this photo.

The shoreline is lovely, I'll say that for Cambria.

The shoreline is lovely, I’ll say that for Cambria.

I found out later that these plants are called Crown of Jewels, and they're originally from the Azores.

I found out later that these plants are Pride of Madeira, originally from — big surprise — Madeira. We saw some full-grown ones in Mendocino that were about ten feet tall.

Dinner was a picnic on our patio. The room has a microwave, so I was even able to cook some sugar snap peas to serve with our roast chicken. Also had cocktail shrimp, bread, cheese, wine. A hopeful seagull kept inching towards us on the rail, but we weren’t having any of that and I had fun chasing it away. I understand the joy a dog must feel, barking and seeing something flee.

Picnic, meet view.

Picnic, meet view.

An uneventful day, overall, and just what was needed.

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