Saturday, May 17, 2014

Heading South

Setting out on Monday, we notice a few medium sized black ants. They've set up a home somewhere above the side door in the RV. Guess they climbed up the wheels in the winter. Looking for a home. Ants are persistent.
In the San Joaquin valley we see a few olive orchards in with the peaches and almonds. I wonder why not so many olives and think there will eventually be more. More US olive oil and maybe more specialty olives, Greek and Italian styles may be the result. Olive trees live long and take less water, supremely adapted to Mediterranean climate.
Our first night is at Pinnacles. We drove this way once with the children when we had borrowed Mom and Dad's pop up trailer. We are in the campground that is just at the edge of the park.  

 Lots of animals. Ground squirrels that I had to yell and stomp at as they came up to the RV and eyed jumping in the wheel well to eat the wires. Missed the giant king snake that the host says crosses our site every evening on its way from the meadow to the creek. Saw acorn woodpeckers, a deer, a rabbit and hawks. On a hike up Condor Gulch we are sticking to the story that we saw a pair of condors.

On Tuesday we search out Mission San Antonio de Padua, the third mission Father Junipero Serra established in California.

 It is off the beaten path in an Army base, Fort Hunter Liggett. The heart of the base is for training combat units.
There is a very old fancy hotel also behind the Fort's high wire fences. This land all belonged to William Randolph Hearst and the building was built in the 20's as a get away for friends. I guess when they wanted an inland getaway as apposed to the coastal get away of Hearst Castle. The building was designed by Julia Morgan to look similar to the Mission. You can't get near the hotel unless you have reservations, but the price for a room is not bad at all for a historic place. Hacienda Hotel
The mission itself is very large and quite lovely. They are in the midst of fund raising to pay for earthquake safety renovations. Since it is unreinforced masonry construction, it has to meet standards by 2017. Lots of luck. They are very short of money. I bought some items in their nice gift shop and they have started a 501c3 for charitable donations.
There is a large chapel and enclosed garden plus other buildings that can be rented for retreats.

 We met the cat, Spirit, in the garden. She is the “wife” of Rosario who performed a miracle as a kitten. He found a rosary in the church sacristy, where there was no rosary, and gave it to a woman who was grieving the death of her father. I bought a copy of the full story, but found no link on the internet.

Near the mission is a green metal bridge that leads to the coast road. We wind through the hills on a 1 ½ lane road and come out near Lime Kiln State Park on Highway one. 
We stop to view the happy elephant seals.

Our campsite for the night is at Plaskett Creek. Lovely grassy place and only one ground squirrel near us. The camper next to us is a “neighbor” from Truckee in a Jucy pop up van. He said it was very cheap to rent. Although we saw Jucy vehicles all over Australia, I thought they were a bit risque for the US market. Wrong I guess, as the Truckee guy says they have been around for a couple of years.
Wednesday, William's birthday. We are celebrating his birthday the way he wanted. We have a vista parking place along highway one in a great place to watch the Tour of California bike race come by. 

At the same time as a car full of Germans stop, we saw a gray whale rolling over.
Lots of CHP to maintain order. A vehicle pulls out of the vista point just below us and is pulled over and made to wait in our small pull out. Those people look totally dazed and confused. They don't understand about the race and just sit there in their car.
Six riders are in the break. 

Three minutes out. Then the rest of the racers come by.

We will head back to our spot at Plaskett Creek in a bit.
There is a bit of confusion as the host has removed our reservation tag for the 13th-15th and another group was preparing to move in under the impression that the site was open. Confusion for a bit, but settled out okay. Plaskett Creek is a pretty campground.
Off to Jalama Beach on the 15th. William disagrees with the Garmin and my phone, so we take some very twisty roads.
Jalama Beach has changed in 8 years. More RV sites, more hardening of surfaces, new cabins. No more wild nasturtiums. They were removed for more parking near the store. It's not as attractive as when we came here before. Lots more people.

Maybe we will buy and share a famous Jalama Burger at the store in honor of our last visit here.
I think I killed the last ant. It was staggering along the curtain rail above the door. And no we did not spray them. I think it just was lonesome.

The breezes are gusty here and William is testing the limits of how long our awning will hang on. He needs the shade.

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