Porcupyn's Blog

July 31, 2013

To California … and back – Part 2 (Day 1 of travel – San Jose to Kettleman City)

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 6:19 pm

The first couple of days in CA were spent in the company of relatives and extended clan. Not much travelling happened, if you discount the trip to Angel Island from Alameda on a ferry that had been booked for the junket. It was fun being on the ferry though the wind was cold even for folks who had come from as far as London, England!

Ferry in the Golden Bay

Ferry in the Golden Bay


San Francisco Bay Bridge


Bird “over” the Golden Gate Bridge

Once we were done with the (in)formal engagements, we left our cousin’s house one Sunday morning later than I had wanted to, but late enough that others in the group were still complaining about how early they had to get ready (Baab and Katya, I am referring to you two!).

We first headed towards the coast to get onto the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), a road that parallels the Pacific Ocean. It was fun for my mother to have her first view of the Pacific! We exited the road at Monterey and spend some time at the beach there. For some reason (maybe because of the really really gentle waves or because how the waters were surrounded by land from three sides as far as I could see), I didn’t realize that we were actually on the Pacific Ocean.


Monterey Beach


Wave washes ashore Monterey Beach

Once we got back on the PCH, I unilaterally decided that we needed to go on the 17-mile drive next. Though this was my third time on this drive, the amazement is undiminished at the sight of the ocean and the sea creatures that you see along the drive among the many vistas. For us Floridians, the water was definitely much colder than what we were used to, based on our limited trips to our Atlantic coast. But we still had a fun time, literally getting our feet wet in the water.


Pebbles at … Pebble Beach(?), CA

Back on the PCH, we stopped every few miles along the way to take in the sights of the Pacific Ocean meeting the mainland cliffs. The Bixby bridge at Big Sur is a tourist attraction and so are other similar vistas where huge rocks in the Ocean close to the shore rend the ocean waves into giant explosions of spray.



We were headed towards a waterfall (almost) on the ocean that had been recommended by a couple of my friends including Sundar – the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. After a couple of false alarms (I thought that we would be reaching the place much earlier than we actually did), we finally found the right location. Nestled against a cliff and the Ocean is a stream of water that falls on the beach just out of reach of the Ocean – well maybe it falls into the Ocean during high tide, but we did not stay long enough to check that out.

With darkness fast approaching, we decided to turn around from the PCH as quickly as we could; however, because of the layout of the land, there was no good way to cut across the mountains until San Luis Obispo further south, so we kept heading in that direction. While a couple of pairs of eyes were peering towards the left at Hearst Castle, Mrs. P and I noticed a vista point on the right where a bunch of cars had parked. Figuring that something might be afoot, we did the same and it was good that we did – once we approached the beach-head, a stench engulfed us, but that led to the realization that we had probably been here before in the late 1990s … to look at elephant seals. There were scores of them lying on the beach, throwing mud at themselves and at one another, making loud groan-like sounds. That sight alone (if not the McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park) made up for the long drive. We had fun looking at the animated animals, if I may say so 🙂


McWay Falls and the glorious ocean colours


Close-up of McWay Falls

After a few minutes, it was time to resume the trip. We turned on US-101 and proceeded northeast for a while. Then, we took the exit to State Road 42 that would lead towards Fresno, which is where we had originally planned to halt that night. However, because we had taken more time than planned along the PCH, we had to find a place much earlier than Fresno if we wanted to sleep at a decent time. So, it was that we pulled into a motel at Kettleman City for the night,

July 28, 2013

To California … and back – Part 1

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 1:07 pm

Kids had not been happy with the fact that though their parents had been to California, they were yet to see the state; so, when a clan convention was planned to be hosted in the San Francisco area during the summer, we jumped at the chance to plan a trip to the golden state. The planning was planned to start in January, but knowing that countless hours would be wasted in “discussions” and haggling with Mrs. Porcupyn (full confession: we are the yin and the yang of trips and/or trip planning), I was smart enough to unplan for the trip. I sent myself an e-mail titled “Preliminary Plan” which is reproduced in its (almost) entirety below; I made doubly sure that the plan did not get within sniffing distance of Mrs. P, else both the plan and I would have been history!

Thursday – open day – picnic, meet friends
Friday – clan convention
Saturday – clan convention
Sunday – local sightseeing and/or drive down to San Luis Obispo on the SR 1
Monday – leave for Kings Canyon/Sequoia
Tuesday – Yosemite
Wednesday – Lake Tahoe
Thursday – Crater Lake
Friday – Mount Shasta/Redwoods
Saturday – local sightseeing
On the face of it, it does look like a daunting trip plan; however, we had accomplished something very similar to this over a decade ago but for the preliminary trips to Redwood and Mount Shasta, and that too in spite of a close encounter with a full-grown buck who happened to jump across two lanes of I-5 and land up on the car’s engine and windshield as I drove in broad daylight!
So, though it was doable, the X-factor this time around was the presence of the kids and my mother, who was visiting us for a couple of months. Either way, to be honest, I did not think we would be able to do all of this (which is why it was a preliminary plan) but I wanted to use that as a springboard for our ‘unplanned’ expedition out west.
Now that we are back, I am glad to note that we managed to visit most places listed above, except for the Redwoods and Crater Lake which, in hindsight, was really an overreach. On the other hand, we did see more places than we had done on that previous trip.

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