South to Santa Barbara

Little did we know as we set off this morning how much we were going to appreciate the lady in the GPS by the end of the trip. We decide to try and hug the coast out of Morro Bay through the Montanna de Oro National Park but are met by a barred gate half way to Shell Beach. I am glad we came this far though as the sea today is sending in huge breakers and the cliffs and mountains are pretty spectacular. Actually , apart from the height of the hills, the landscape could be western Cornwall and it feels familiar.

But we have to swallow our pride and ask the lady in the GPS to get us out  and on to the Cabrillo Highway 1 which she dutifully does. When I then decide to try again to follow the old highway 1 she starts to get shirty and her ‘recalculate….’ starts to become monotonous so we mute her. I notice that Marilyn has started to use that phrase when she has asked me to do something and I don’t comply.

We lunch in a pretty town called Los Olivos in the heart of wine and horse country. The many ranches along this road have miles of white picket fence paddocks with countless beautiful horses and foals inside them. This is iconic Western scenery. Los Olivos is a well off town with pretty houses and wide streets. The houses could be out of a set for a Western and there are so many wine tasting outlets one could stay drunk for a week if one wasn’t on a deadline and driving. It also provides a bird picture for today as we notice three woodpeckers hammering away at a large tree by the side of the road.

We pass mile upon mile of vineyard and it reminds me of the area above Carcasonne in Southern France with rich, fertile valleys surrounded by rugged,stony hills that are lit by a bright sun. The temperature is now knocking on 78 degrees and there is a cloudless blue sky to set off the different greens and olives.

The lady in the GPS sends us over some mountains and suddenly we are looking down on the Pacific Ocean again and making the descent into Santa Barbara and this is when I listen to her every word as she negotiates the spaghetti around Santa Barbara and gets us to our final destination and our hotel on the beach. I sense that Marilyn is breathing huge sighs of relief that she is not having to map read through this Maze and I have several good friends who will know the same feeling. ( If Pete and Rose are reading –get a Sat Nav! You can always ignore it and scoff at her ‘recalculations’.)

We have arrived in time for yet another sunset which we walk into along the two miles of beach into the centre of town where we find a restaurant overlooking the harbour in which we savour the delicious Cioppino – a fish stew washed down with a local brew.

The stars are out as we make the walk back to soundtrack of the crashing waves. The rows of tall, spindly palms that line the seafront all lean slightly towards the sea and wave us towards our hotel and we don’t need the lady in the GPS for this very satisfying last walk of the day.

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