Friday, August 8, 2014

Yosemite Road Trip! Day Four, Mermaids, Harmony And Big Sur

This morning, as promised to the kid, we arose early and had our breakfast outside on the little patio table provided by the motel.  They serve a pretty darned awesome simple, but good, breakfast--coffee, juice, cereal, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, etc.  The rag towels in the room came in handy for wiping down the table and chairs since the marine layer had moved in this morning and everything was wet.

After breakfast we put on the sandy clothes from the day before and headed back to the beach (I'm a thinkin' mom, why muck up two sets of clothes?) to get in some play time before we headed out--a hot shower and a change of clothes before we'd get on the road was scheduled for after the beach.

This is literally how far from the water our motel was.

Out on the beach the marine layer was still stubbornly hanging around, but it made for a very pleasant, cool, misty morning.  Today we again had the beach mostly to ourselves.

The nasty strand of kelp that the kid had squirreled away the night before was still there.  She just kinda drug it around like a little pal.
"NO, we can't take it with us in the car.  In two hours that vehicle would smell like a dead seal."

The kid was happy, and made her obligatory, 'Yay, playing on a California beach!' face.

The assorted kelp, seagrass, coastal critteers and ocean flotsam & jetsam was a continuing source of fascination.

Bull kelp.  The kid said it looked like the head of an anime girl with twin ponytails.  

The coastline was beautiful.  Mixed-type beaches are always so much more interesting than just sand.

Some of the 'By-The-Wind Sailors' in kelp clumps, the bright purple ones were freshest, the color faded pretty quickly as they sat on the beach.

Once all of the purple was gone it was easy to mistake them for a hunk of plastic.   I'm happy to say that we didn't find even a speck of trash on the beach, not even fish hooks or line.

Also in amongst the kelp was a lot of molted exoskeletons (and some not-so-molted) from crabs.

Some of the stuff we found was quite pretty.  The holes in the sand are the sand flea burrows.

I'm off taking pictures when the kid calls me.  "Mom. I found a mermaid!"
Oh, God.  Visions of dead seal carcasses dance in my head.  I sigh.  "A mermaid, huh?  Well, don't touch it..."  I start to trudge over to where she's standing.  She's standing over something large...

Once I get there...I'll be damned, she DID find a mermaid!  Just washed up on the beach, big as life.

The kelp mermaid is quite a beautiful thing and we leave it for someone else to discover.

At one point the kid is playing in the surf and drops her sand shovel, which the ocean gleefully takes and tries to export to Japan.  The kid has to caper right smart through the waves to chase it down and retrieve it, learning the Californian's native skill of waiting for the waves to bring stuff back while she's at it.

Once she has her shovel again, she scolds the ocean for taking her stuff.  I see that she's distracted and decide to let her learn the OTHER native Californian skill, the sixth sense:  paying attention to the wave cycle, because the big one is gonna swamp ya.
I'm laughing.  She doesn't find it as funny as I do, for some reason.
 What the heck, she had to take a shower and shampoo her hair before we left, anyway.

After a couple of hours on the beach we head back to the Cayucos Motel, where I hose her off in the beach shower first, than we go back to the room and each of us grabs a hot shower.  By now the marine layer has burned off enough to where I know we'll have a good view once we get to Big Sur.

We say goodbye to our cute little motel and it's most excellent location, we plan of coming back when it's all three of us.

The grassy yard of the motel with the surf beyond.

Northward again we go, heading up Highway 1.  It's beautiful today and even with the laughably constant road construction traffic isn't bad.  Our next stop is the tiny town of Harmony, population 18--'9 people and 9 cows', as they say.

Harmony is a curious place--an artist's enclave, a tiny spot where the only things there are a glassworks, pottery store, a cafe and the old post office.  Highway 1 used to run smack through the center of town before they moved the road a long time ago, and Harmony was the center of the dairy industry for the area.  Right hand to God, I swear that this place hasn't changed a single iota since I first visited it in 1980.  It's a weird thing to drive into town almost 35 years later and say to yourself, 'Yup, exactly like I remember it.'  Especially in California.

At any rate, Harmony is an ubercool, beautiful little place with a strong California Hippie vibe that has NOT gone over to tackycrappy touristy stuff.  Everything sold here is made here, by local artists.

The old Creamery Association building and post office.

The Harmony Glassworks.  Now--I have a frighteningly rabid love of glass, especially art glass, so this place beckoned to me like the freakin' gates of Heaven itself.

Cool stuff lines the entrance...

One of the front doors of the store/glassblower's workshop.

The view from inside looking out.

Some of the goods in the front window.

The place is huge and there is SO much to look at.  And everything is gorgeous, hand-crafted and well-made.  Best part of all, for the buyer--the prices were not unreasonable.  This is just part of one of the rooms.

Everything is made of glass, even the animals. Some of them are made from shards of glass (yes, it's sharp and can easily cut you) and are amazing, photos don't do them justice.

Others aren't as sharp but are just as beautiful.

There were a bunch of these multi-colored dome lightshades--I suspect they were painted glass but they could easily have been made of different colored glass.

This artglass slab was huge and looked like it could easily weigh at least 100 pounds.

We did, but I exercised remarkable self-control.

The pedestal sinks were more true works of art.

Those are three layers of glass sandwiched together, each has a scallop shell design in it.

The depth of the colors and the detail was stunning.

The glassblowers were hard at work and had a crowd watching them.  We watched them work for a bit and admired their skill.

After this we went across the way to the Harmony Pottery Store, which shares a lovely little shaded courtyard with the cafe.

Even the manhole covers in Harmony are art.

More uber-cool stuff inside the pottery store...

The tiles very much reminded me of the Malibu tile at the Adamson house.

It was too soon to eat so we didn't go into the cafe, but it smelled awfully good.

After this we headed northward to Cambria.  Now, Cambria HAS changed, very much so, since the last time I was there.  It's grown about 4 times as big and is MUCH more crowded and touristy, to the point of being miserably so in summer.  We again had to play Dodge The Tourist as we drove through town.

We DID have a reason for stopping in Cambria, we wanted to see the Nitt Witt Ridge house. Nitt Witt Ridge is kind of a folk-art Hearst Castle, built by local recluse Art Beal over a 50 year span, using only hand tools and local materials.  Art was the town garbage collector for many years and just incorporated all kinds of cool stuff into his house.  Unfortunately we'd just missed a tour starting and couldn't stay for the next one.

Tons of abalone shells.  The more you looked, the more you saw.  The exterior was in a bit of rough shape and could stand some weeding and basic maintenance, but to the owner's credit they saved it from vandals when they bought it.

Old beadstead and other metal as a gate.

I love the detail of the old bedstead.
I want this light fixture!

After viewing Nitt Witt Ridge we shopped in town for a bit, then had lunch at a promising-looking but untimately disappointing cafe--it was hot inside, the food was 'meh' and we had to uneasily share our space with Yellow Jackets, they were everywhere.

Cambria, like everywhere else in California, is suffering from a severe drought.  All through our trip we repeatedly saw signs begging everyone to conserve water.  The public restrooms in Cambria were closed, with signs on them apologizing that it was due to the drought.  No matter, the paint job on the building was entertaining.

One of these ladies is not like the other...nice moustache.

There's always a line for the ladies room, no matter what your species is.

After extricating ourselves from Cambria we continued on--we skipped Hearst castle this time, but DID stop to gawk at the Elephant Seals at the rookery about 4 1/2 miles north of it.  There is a large parking lot there with a railing to view the animals in the small cove, they are pretty much RIGHT there and don't give a hang about humans.

They all lined up at the water line, sunning themselves.

The babies and mamas kept to themselves on the left.  You could see drag marks in the sand from the seals.

Every so often a couple of the bulls would wriggle over to each other and start to make hilariously LOUD, deep, gurgling sounds as they challenged each other--they sounded like bad drains.  Every time this happened, all of us humans would stop and gape at each other, then burst out laughing.  Also, these guys dustbathe just like my chickens.

Even though they were funny and ridiculous-looking, you never doubted for an instant how powerful they were and how badly they could mess you up if they wanted.

We did tithe the ravens with pork rinds before we left.  This guy stood on his triumphantly for a moment before he carried it away.

Back into the car and north again.

We stopped in Big Sur at the Coast Gallery, one of my favorite places on Earth--another traditional stopping-off place for me since 1980.

The gallery was created from the old municipal old-growth redwood water tanks, and is tucked into a lovely little green canyon oasis.

The gallery has tons of VERY cool sculpture and other art inside, along with a cafe, a garden courtyard and a large enclosed terrace where a collection of windchimes hang--the music there from them soothes the soul, you can stand there and relax and listen to the windchimes and the sea with the scent of redwoods and the ocean all around.  Coast Gallery is another spot like Harmony--successful yet relaxed, quiet and free of tackycrappy touristy stuff.  Heck, even the people shopping are well-behaved.

We continue up Big Sur, and I'm glad to see that it wasn't too badly harmed by the fire there last year.  I tell the kid it's one of my favorite places on Earth.  Sadly we don't see any whales off the coast, and the California sea otters are being shy, only giving us glimpses as we drive.

Traffic has been getting thicker and more stupid as we go.  Highway 1 in this area is eternally under construction, it's just one of those things with a changing coastline.  There are tons of bicyclists, a LOT of whom for some reason believe that tourists in cars will not or cannot run them down.  We see more near misses than we ever want to see again, and have TWO near head-on collisions with idiot drivers who decide to impatiently swerve around a group of bicyclists instead of just waiting a minute for traffic to clear.

To me, you do not speed through Big Sur.  Number one, it's dumb--the road isn't built to speed on, there are too many blind curves and things like cyclists and people stopping to run across the road and view the sea.  Number two, it's freakin' soulless and I feel bad for these people--take your time and savor where you are, it's a special place!

Our stop for the night is Salinas, which we plan on making our base for tomorrow's excursions.  I am amused to find that our Holiday Inn, which sits alongside a very large planted field, smells of brussel sprouts.  Mercifully, our room does not.

The kid is pleased with the hotel.  "It has a pool!" she squeals.
"Yes it does," I tell her.  I plan ahead, I know my Mom Duties.

Another thing this Holiday Inn has is water that is so very gaggingly oversoftened it's like drinking Alka-Seltzer.  Luckily we have some bottled water in the car to drink, but it's the first time I've ever experienced water so bad that even I, the original scoffer-at of bottled water, couldn't drink it.  Impressive.

The other thing this hotel had was a non-functioning door from the lonely, dark parking lot into the back of the hotel--where we'd had to park.  The door must be opened with your room keycard--a great idea if it worked.  I think I used up some $2 cusswords trying 18 times to get it before the door finally worked--I suspect due to someone at the front desk watching a security camera and pushing a button to let us in.

We ask the front desk for dinner recommendations--the hotel has no restaurant and the only thing around is an AM/PM gas station and and In & Out (which I love, but the kid doesn't).  We end up at Elli's Great American Restaurant in downtown Salinas--great food, but the place was so incredibly noisy and LOUD that it made an abattoir operating at full bore seem restful and quiet.  We literally had to yell at each other just to place our order and carry on a normal conversation.  I checked online at Yelp later on and other people have also suffered from the acoustics of the place.

Later on the Holiday Inn has more treats in store for us--bath towels from the 150 grit sandpaper aisle at Home Depot!  Either that or they were stolen from San Quentin, I'm not sure which...

Ah well, tomorrow is another day! 

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