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Monday, July 11, 2011

Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and Solvang

For our Honeymoon we decided to save a few bucks and just take some time to head down the coast.  Our original plan was:
  •  2 Nights (T and W) in Big Sur in a cabin at Fernwood Resort.  We would hang out, do some hiking, eat lunch at different places, and explore Big Sur.
  • Thursday morning we'd head South to San Simeon to the Hearst Castle for morning and afternoon tours.  Then we'd head to Cambria where we'd stay at the J. Patrick House.  
  • Friday we'd take our time heading further down the coast on our way to Solvang where we'd spend the rest of the weekend doing wine tours while staying at the Mirrabelle Inn.
Unfortunately we ran into a few kinks to our schedule that were frustrating at the time, but we rolled with every obstacle thrown our way and made the best of things.  Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of our trip:
  1. A week before our trip we were informed that there was a landslide on HWY 1 between Big Sur and San Simeon.  This meant that in order for us to make it to the Hearst Castle from Big Sur we would either of had to go back North and up around  Salinas to take the 101, or we'd have to take a long sketchy back road through the sticks.  Both options were about 2+ hours detours.  We decided that we'd just suck it up and wake up early on TH morning and go back North to take the 101. 

  2. It showered pretty much the whole 1st day we were in Big Sur.  We had a great hike at Point Lobos where we saw some Sea Lions and post card views at every turn of our hike. 

    The waves crashing against the rocks on the coast were amazing to watch.  The scenery was so breath taking that I threw a mini hissy fit because I had brought my long lens to capture some close ups of the Sea lions, but I didn't realize that we weren't going back to the car to get my other camera, so I was basically cameraless while we experienced such post card views on our hike because my lens was too long to capture any of the shots.  This made me almost cry like a baby!  Fortunately I was able to snap of some pics with Holly's point and shoot camera.

    More pictures of hike at Point Lobos can be found here.

  3.  Next we had a nice lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur.  Due to the rain we didn't really get to sit on the patio and enjoy the great view of the Pacific Coast, but we did sit inside next to a wood fire which was nice, so it wasn't bad. 

  4. We then checked into the cabin at around 4pm or so. 

    At the exact moment we got our keys to the cabin  the power at Fernwood went out.  The cabins were the only part of the resort that weren't on a back up generator.  There was still a slight drizzle going on, so we decided to head over and unpack our stuff and then go check to see what the deal was with the power.  They told us that they estimated that it would be a few hours before it was restored, so we decided to go on a quick hike to kill some time.  The hike was great, but the power was still out when we got back.  The next estimate that we got was that they expected the power to be out for another 2 hours, so we decided that we'd open up a bottle of Champagne and have some snacks while we killed time.  The water heater was beeping every 10 seconds with a piercing beep and we couldn't turn it off, so we tried to drown it out with some music.  We finished off our bottle of bubbly and then started on a 2nd bottle of wine before we decided that we had enough of the beeping sound.  We checked in with the front desk again to get another status update and they didn't have a clear answer for when they thought the power would be restored.  We were told that we could switch to a room in the Motel, but we'd have to make a decision by 10pm.  At this time it was 8:45ish and we really wanted to stay in the cabin, so we headed to the neighboring tavern to kill another hour or so.  To make a long story short...we ended up having to get the motel room and by that time we had to transfer our stuff from the cabin it was pouring rain and dark outside.  We pretty much had to lug our bags by hand for what was about a 5 minute walk in the pouring rain.  It was a miserable 1st night of the Honeymoon.

  5. The next day we decided that since we had to go up North to the 101 to head to the Hearst Castle anyway, we might as well just bail out of Big Sur and do a 2nd night in Cambria instead.  We just didn't want to risk subjecting ourselves to more rain and another possible power outage.  Before heading North we headed to the McWay Falls which was something I had always wanted to get a picture of.  We happened to catch a break in the rain just at the right time for me to get some pictures, so I was pretty happy about that. 

    On our way back we saw this weird barefooted guy in his underwear and Horse mask which made us both crack up laughing.  We then headed back North stopping off for lunch before taking a hike at Andrew Molina State Park.  My pics from our Big Sur Adventure can be seen here.  Then it was off to Cambria.

  6. We arrived in Cambria just in time for wine and cheese hour at the J Patrick House.  We enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some cheese and crackers, and some funny conversations with this older couple who were visiting from Canada.  After wine hour ended we headed to the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill for some good seafood.  From the patio of the restaurant we saw this beautiful CA Sunset

  7. Thursday morning we headed for the Hearst Castle where we took the Tour1 Experience Tour in the morning and the Tour 4 Garden tour in the afternoon. 

    Holly and I were the only two people on the Garden tour and our tour guide was a riot.  He was a surfer guy who told us all about how he just got divorced and started playing in a band.  He had some quirky mannerisms and every now and then he busted out a few air guitar moves while he showed us around parts of the Castle that we weren't supposed to be.  He even gave Holly some props so I could get a picture of her cooking in the Hearst kitchen.  More pictures from our tour of the Hearst Castle can be seen here

  8. Thursday night was more wine and cheese hour with our Canuck friends and then dinner at Madeline's.  Dinner was good, especially the fire show that we got with our desert. 

  9. Friday morning we headed down the coast stopping at Pismo Beach for some fresh air, before heading straight to Solvang.  As we pulled into Solvang we noticed that there were a lot of cars parked along the street, the streets were closed, and it appeared as if we couldn't get to our Hotel.  There was a quick minute or so where I was about to get really, really, really pissed off, but after a quick call to the hotel desk we were told how to access their parking lot and all was good.  It turns out that the Tour of California cycling race had a stage going through the main street of Solvang that day which made everything crowded, loud, and a bit annoying to walk through town.  It kind of sucked!

  10. We made up for it with a good lunch at The Fresco Valley Cafe, some grubbin danishes at Morten's Danish Bakery, some wine at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar, more wine at the wine and cheese hour back at the Mirrabelle Inn, before enjoying a really great dinner at Root 246.

  11. Saturday was the wine tour that I had purchased for us when I booked our room.  Bridgetta (the owner of the Mirrabelle Inn) took us around in her mini van for a personalized tour of the Santa Ynez Wine Country.  She took us to 5 places where she knows the wine makers and pourers on a first name basis.  She showed us a really great time and it was the only part of the honeymoon that felt the most like someone was finally taking care of us.  Later we walked through town to take in the sites of the small town before having another really good meal at her restaurant in the Inn.

 More pictures from our Solvang trip can be found here. 

All in all I had a pretty good time.  We rolled with the things that didn't go our way, still managed to have a good time, and we didn't spend a fortune so we have money to go on more trips later in the year.  The pictures from our trip can be found here: Honeymoon Road Trip.

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