No, this isn’t going to be a post about Saturday Night Live (although for years WU is about the only part of SNL that I actually watch). This is to update you on the last two days I spent here in California. As you will find out, it was a rather low key weekend as evidenced by the fact that Saturday I only took 66 pictures and Sunday I took exactly 2 pictures (I normally take a few hundred every day).
Saturday was a travel day, as I went from near coastal Monterey to a town inland named Visalia. The point-to-point distance between those two towns isn’t very great, and I will be staying in Visalia a whole week, so I intended to take advantage of one more day on the coast – beautiful Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive near Pebble Beach, perhaps the Monterey Aquarium. None of that happened. There was a heavy cloud cover when I left the house. I postponed Carmel and the 17-Mile drive because of the cloud cover, hoping that it might burn off by mid-day (providing sunshine for better quality pictures). I ruled out the Aquarium because it was too expensive, and I’ve been to some nice aquariums already. When studying my maps I realized that I was neglecting the Pacific Coast Highway north of Monterey (towards San Francisco) so thought maybe I’d drive up that way and kill time and see how the weather for the day unfolded.
I drove north to Santa Cruz (whose college team mascot is a Banana Slug! Thanks to my friend Shawn, a frequent blog commenter, for bringing that to my attention). I stopped at a Mission there and took a few photos but it was in a residential section of town and there were lots of telephone and electrical poles, wires, etc. and I have decided that the pictures aren’t blogworthy. The cloud deck had also descended to the point where it was almost fog and there was a heavy mist in the air requiring me to actually use my windshield wipers at times. Next I headed northeast toward San Jose, hoping to check out a Mission there. Well, traffic bogged down and after crawling for about a half hour I decided to bail out and head back south on the PCH. The section I covered earlier in the morning wasn’t nearly as picturesque as what I experienced between Los Angeles and Monterey.
Before getting back to the Monterey Peninsula I headed east to pickup “The 101” to make better time. It became sunny where I was (which seems to happen when you get a few miles away from the water) but I could see that the coast was still socked in. I drove south to the little town of Soledad. There I found, you guessed it, another Mission.
This is the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, founded in 1791:
It sits out in the middle of a bunch of farmland west of the highway and away from town. This Mission wasn’t very big, but it had beautiful flowers in the front.
I hopped back on the highway and continued south to Pinnacles National Park. This small Park is the most recent to gain National Park status, I believe in 2012. This was the only Park I have visited to date which was a disappointment. Let’s just say it took longer to drive in and out of the access road than I spent taking pictures. I drove in, took about 7 minutes taking pictures (which I have decided aren’t blogworthy either), and left. There are two access roads, one from the west and another from the east. The Ranger said it takes about an hour and a half to go around and go in the other side, and he said the photo opportunities were better on the side I was on. Evidently this is more of a hiking Park than a “see the beauty from the road” Park.
When I got back out near the highway I could see in the distance that the coast was STILL socked in (it was now almost 2 o’clock in the afternoon) so I decided to head east to Visalia.
In Visalia I am very near the western entrances of both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and I will be staying here an entire week. I posted my blog in the morning and when I left the house around 10am it was overcast. I drove downtown to stop at the Visitors Center (which wasn’t open on Sundays), walked up and down Main Street, drove out near the mall, got a haircut, got my car washed, and had lunch. It was still cloudy so I decided to go back the house and clean up the interior of my car and do some rearranging of “stuff” in my luggage and belongings. I wanted to get some different clothes than what I had been wearing out of the trunk, throw away paperwork and notes which I had been accumulating, and file away maps and brochures from earlier in the trip. Then I took a nap! When I woke up the sky had cleared but I never left the house (other than to sit in the backyard talking to my Airbnb host). I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening talking my Airbnb host’s ears off. Chris and Nicole are a nice young couple, both teachers on summer break, and I regaled them with stories of my travels, my blog, and my basic life history.
Monday I will go in Sequoia NP and, depending on how long I’m there, will drive some scenic roads south of Visalia. Looking at the maps it looks like there aren’t many paved roads in either Park, although the one up in Kings Canyon is much longer and appears to be lots of winding, mountain roads. My guess is that I can probably do both Parks in three days, but I may need to go back in if some photo ops are better in the afternoon than the evening. I do plan to spend more than 7 minutes in each Park!