Carmel to LAX

Carmel, CA

Monday, July 8, 2013

It was another overcast morning but I had to adjust my mind set here: it was actually a sunny day just simply shrouded in fog! Mark and I rugged up though and headed out for our final early morning walk along Carmel’s beachfront.

We met up again with our fellow Lamplighter traveler friends later at breakfast. It was a pity to have to leave this relaxed and enjoyable Carmel scene but we had a 6 hr drive to Los Angeles ahead of us. So, we exchanged emails, said our farewells and got away by 9 am. The two Canadian couples seemed keen to check out ‘Bunnamagoo’ so we may well meet up again one day. Mark had actually commented that Carmel would have been a bit boring if not for meeting these fellow travelers!

We planned to stop at Hearst Castle on the way down to LA; a 2.5 hr drive down from Carmel. The sat nav took us along the coast road which was a spectacular journey in itself. The road was cut into the edge of a steep and rugged granite landscape and wound its way along a series of cliffs, small bays and a few sandy patches that some here might call a ‘beach’. The scenery was somewhat austere again and this time reminiscent of Ireland with its rugged coast and Cliffs of Moher. Mind you, the ambient temperature helped draw this parallel somewhat! I had hardly been out of my leather jacket since leaving Napa! The San Andreas fault has certainly carved out a spectacular landscape along this coast….that’s for sure. We did find some amazing Elephant Seal colonies along the way that were enjoying the beach and weather though!

We made it to Hearst Castle by 11.30am. You really need the best part of a day to see this Castle fully but we hoped to take just one tour so as to get the ‘flavor’ of the place. As luck would have it the tour we wanted to take left at 11.40 and, although there were only two places available, they allowed the 3 of us entry.

William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) made his fortune in newspapers but his father had made his from the gold rush days. Hearst Castle was built on ranch land where the family used to camp whilst in the area. Hearst developed this house after the death of both parents and had planned for this to be a simple, ranch style retreat where he could relax and entertain away from the east coast pretentious crowd. He worked with architect Julia Morgan for 28 years developing the home though so it was almost impossible that this would be anything but a grand and imposing 165 room home.

We were back on the road by 2 pm for the 4 hr drive down to LA. The traffic was pretty heavy for much of the route although it flowed pretty well and with only a few bottleneck traffic jams. I was amazed how few people were using the transit lane though. This lane applies to cars with 2 or more occupants yet most cars clearly had only one. We were able to fly down this lane for much of the trip and race past the other 4-5 lanes of mostly stationary traffic.

Some bikies appeared again as we got closer to LA and they were, once again, weaving in and out of the congested 5 lanes of traffic. One heavy hold up though revealed the cause as an accident where a bikie appeared to have run up the back of a car. I bet I wasn’t the only one eventually passing and noting this with some irony!

The various traffic jams delayed our arrival into the airport hotel until well after 7.30 pm so we dropped our bags and headed down to the lobby bar for a quick dinner before turning in for the night. We were all tired, especially Mark after 6 hrs of driving, but we were excited to be heading to Hawaii the following morning.

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