California Coast and LA

Hollister, Monterey and Carmel (August 16)

After leaving Yosemite, we stayed a night in Hollister. There's not a lot to see in Hollister, but it was a good night stop and next day we drove on to Monterey. The reason we stayed in Hollister was because Montererey was full with attendees of the "Concourse d'Elegance" - one of the biggest car shows in the country. Our first stop was Fisherman's Wharf which was empty and a little cold.

Sarah and Jenny at Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

A wide range of restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf

We also drove through Cannery Row (of Steinbeck fame) but didn't stop to shop.

Cannery Row - mostly shops and restaurants now

Then on to Carmel. Although the Concours was in Monterey, there were lots of exotic cars around and the sun was shining.

We spent a couple of hours browsing and shopping in Carmel. The flowers were nice:

Flowers in Carmel

Then back to Highway 1, down the spectacular California coast

We stopped at the Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, but the restaurant was closed, so we had to settle for coffee and a pastry (or trifle, in my case).

The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant. Apparently, it has quite a reputation, but we had to settle for coffee!

We stopped to admire a colony of Elephant Seals, which were impressive for their size and the males for their aggression towards each other.

Female elephant seals sleeping the sun

A male keeps an eye open for rivals

A male throws sand over his back, presumably to keep cool

Finally, we arrived at San Simeon in time to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

Sunset at San Simeon

San Simeon to Santa Barbara (August 17)

We started the day by visiting "Hearst Castle" which was just a mile or two back up the road. It was built by WR (William Randolph) Hearst starting in the 1920's and continued being enlarged until his death in 1951.

We took a quick guided tour of the main public rooms and then were left to wander  around the grounds.

A side view of the main building

The main entrance

The (multi) million dollar view from the terrace towards The Pacific Ocean

The dining room

The living room

The billiards (or snooker) room

The private screening room, showing mostly movies made in WR Hearst's own studios

One of three charming and quite modest guest houses in the main grounds

Kristine and Sarah sit on an empty fountain in the grounds

Sarah takes a break before climbing back to the main house

The main outdoor pool (the Neptune Pool) - empty due to a leak on the day we visited

The splendid indoor pool

Jenny at the indoor pool

The diving board (hard to see - it's the open balcony on the upper right)

And finally, a very distant image of the Castle from the bottom of the hil

Santa Barbara (August 18)

We spent the night in Santa Barbara at the Mason Beach Inn, which was a couple of blocks from the waterfront. We ate dinner at a waterfront restaurant and next morning, went to explore the shops. As they didn't open until 10:00am, we first went to see The Mission of Santa Barbara.

Founded in 1786, it has been an active mission ever since, although the main building has been expanded and rebuilt several times.

The main chapel of the mission, now used as a Parish Church

Skull and crossbones over the doorway leading to the graveyard.

The lavandria, a 19th century communal laundry area built by the local Chugash indians

(No explanation required)

Then back into Santa Barbara, for shopping.

The Main street of downtown Santa Barbara

Jenny was shopping for shoes (sneakers really)

Kris and I were fascinated by the return of vinyl records - we thought they died out years ago

Then finally on to Venice Beach and Hollywood!

Los Angeles  / Venice Beach  (August 19 - 23)

We stayed in a rental home about three blocks from the ocean.

The front of the house

The terrace in front of the house

The lounge and kitchen (on the right) where we spent most of our time when at home

While we were staying in LA, we spent some time together and some time separately. Sarah and Jenny went to Universal Studios.

Kris and I went to see the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA

The wild shapes of the The Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry

The main concert hall

A smaller space for public performances, lined with wood for both acoustics and aesthetics

The soaring lobby, open to the public at all times

On another day, Kris and I visited the Nixon Presidential Library, in Yorba Linda,about an hour from downtown LA.

The main steps to the library

A bust of Nixon in the lobby

A memo wriiten for Nixon (but not seen by him at the time) to be used if Armstrong and Aldrin became stranded on the moon. I guess they didn't have a lot of faith in the ascent engine of the LEM.

A copy of the plaque left behind on the moon by Armstrong and Aldrin in 1969

Statues of men Nixon knew who he onsidered to be statesmen.  Churchill, DeGaulle and Adenauer are on the right.

The Presidential Limosine - heavily armored

The house where Nixon was born, on it's original site.

The burial site of Nixon and his wife, Pat (who died first) just a few feet from his birthplace

The helicopter he used as President. It was used by Ford and then retired.

This is the famous photo of Nixon leaving the White House after resigning. Same helicopter

We visited the Venice Canal Historic District, a small neighbourhood built in 1905 where all the homes face onto canals. At one time, the canals occupied an area three to four times the size of the remaining area. Those canals were filled in to make roads.

Venice canals and homes

Venice canals

Kris and I took a "VIP" tour of The Warner Bros studios - a real working film studio.

The backlot "town square". The shrubs in the forground are moveable

The "Town Hall" and square were about to be used as "Rosewood" in the TV series "Pretty Little Liars" The teenage girls on the tour knew what this was all about and were VERY excited.

The actual couch and set from "Central Perk" on "Friends".

Lighting fixtures in a props area of the studio

Batman costumes (Two Face / Tommy Lee Jones, The Riddler / Jim Carrey)

A paralyzed Hermione from "Harry Potter"

A background "Gringotts Goblin" from Harry Potter

The fireplace from Harry's first home. The letters are all invitations to join Hogwarts. 

His Aunt and Uncle were trying to keep him from getting them.

We drove to the Griffiths Auditorium - partly to see the auditorium, which has been in many films:

Partly for the view, which was inevitable smoggy (this is LA after all)

And partly to get a photograph of the Hollywood sign!

On the Friday evening, we went to the Hollywood Bowl, to see a Beatles tribute concert, fifty years (less one day)  after the Beatles performed at the The Hollywood Bowl

"Sergeant Peppers Lonley Hearts Club Band"

At the Hollywood Bowl

On our last day, we went to visit Rodeo Drive.

Rodeo Drive

Although we all admired the wonderful shops:

And the supercars parked on the street (it's a Bugatti, in case you were wondering):

And Kris posed for the camera

All we could afford was a cup of coffee or a glass of juice each in a rather ritzy cafe.

And that was the end of LA. After dinner at Venice Beach in the evening, we said our farewells. The next day, we took Sarah and Jenny to LAX for their flight home and packed up the house before leaving the city.

But we still had one last place to visit. After seeing Sarah and Jenny off, we took the ferry over to Catalina Island.

The Catalina Express, docked in Avalon Harbor

Our B&B, The Snug Harbor, above the drug store

Avalon Harbor with "The Casino" in the background. Entertainment but no gambling at The Casino

The houses climbing the hill behind the bay give Avalon a distinctly mediterranean island feeling

Dinghies from the many boats in the harbor are moored at the dock

A remarkably explicit mermaid adorns the entrance to the casino. It was created in 1929 by the same artist who created the murals for Graumans Chinese Theatre and was restored in 1987

Lovers Bay, popular with swimmers, snorkelers and (in the background) glass bottomed boats

And finally, we leave Catalina behind in a shower of spray.

So back to LA and next day, on a plane to Orlando - the end of a road trip covering 52 days and 8,500 miles of driving.