San Francisco

A little drive along the Pacific Coast Highway

Andrew and I woke up yesterday morning not really knowing what to do with the next few days. Due to Thanksgiving, he has Wednesday-Friday off this week, so it seemed sensible to go on an adventure, but where?

First, we looked at flights to places like Seattle and Portland, and even considered Alaska, but ultimately we decided airports during Thanksgiving week might be a nightmare.

Andrew in the Mustang
Andrew living his best life in the Mustang

So the next best thing seemed to be to rent a car and drive somewhere. We settled on driving to Monterey, a coastal city located on the Pacific Coast Highway (known as the “PCH”), a 656-mile highway that runs along most of the coast of California.

Andrew is a legend and agreed to rent the most ridiculous but glorious bright yellow convertible Mustang. It purrs and zooms and is very fun, and as it was yet another lovely, sunny day we popped the roof down and went on our way.

I am not surprised the Pacific Coast Highway is a highly recommended tourist attraction as the views over the ocean and rugged coastline are amazing. There are also lakes and mountain too, so it is the ideal route to drive in a silly convertible.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city with quaint gift shops that felt very American indeed. We had lunch at 3 Pigs BBQ which was blaring out country music and had an enormous American flag on the wall made entirely from Budweiser beer cans.

We both ordered the half rack of ribs with a load of sides including mac & cheese and potato salad. It was totally delicious, but true to form was so enormous we saved half of it for lunch today. I think this is common practice in America – to order food that take half of it home in a doggy bag (I suspect doggy bag is not the official term – I must try it and see what they say).

From Half Moon Bay we drove for about 10 minutes before I spotted a public beach, so we popped in for a peak. It was called San Gregoria Lagoon and was perfect for a stroll. The water was freezing (as I discovered when Andrew forgot to warn me I was about to get soaked when taking a picture) and then an enormous flock of seagulls took flight and Andrew and I ran for cover before they could pelt us with bird poo.

The next couple of hours were spent driving along the PCH, including getting stuck in a spot of Thanksgiving traffic in Santa Cruz. We reached Monterey at around 6:30 pm, and as it was dark by then I can’t tell you much about what it looked like. Our lodging for the evening was the delightful Travelodge (not the same as the UK chain) which I think is slightly fancier than a motel, but only just.

We got an Uber to Del Monte Avenue to a wine bar called Sovino. We sat down at the bar and discovered we had just missed the start of the weekly pub quiz. The barman visited London a few years ago and took part in a pub quiz at The Grapes in Limehouse, which is owned by Ian McKellen’s – the barman was very excited as the man himself made an appearance while he was there – and decided to bring the pub quiz idea back to Monterey.

All the wine at Sovino is Californian, and I glugged my way through three glorious glasses during the quiz. Needless to say, we did not perform well in the sports section of the quiz, and also did very badly in the picture round inspired by the GBBO – which neither of us watch. The only round we did well in was the final one,  as conveniently it was based on translating American food terms into British (cilantro = coriander, eggplant = aubergine etc).  The only one we didn’t know was rutabaga – care to guess?

Our final stop for the night was a “British” pub called Brittania Arms – it was literally the only place that seemed to open after 10pm. To its credit, it did have a vaguely British look to it, and the bar staff also looked fed up and overworked, which seemed fairly British in itself.

However, their main beer of choice was Boddingtons Pub Ale, which I am fairly certain most British people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. They were also blaring out club music, and people were dancing quite seriously to it, so that wasn’t very British either.

It was so loud and packed we decided to call it a night, as we wanted to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for our plans today: to make the short drive to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

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