Sunset on my vacation/birthday week of celebration

Sunset on Cambria's Moonstone Beach

Sigh. I almost don’t want to write this blog post, talking about my road trip, because that signals the end to the week! Ah, but all things must come to an end some time, and really, I have my regular Sunday/Monday weekend to recoup. Anyway, I want to give you a quick run down of our trip up the Central Coast.

The first day (my birthday!), Trin and I took our time up to San Simeon, even making a pit stop at Chick-fil-A in Oxnard. I’ve been craving genuine Chick-fil-A since those imitation McD sandwiches came out, so this was a must stop. I would post the picture that I took, but you know what? I have a lot more pictures to share. Anyway, we arrived in San Simeon at about 4:30 p.m. I had booked a room at the Orchid Inn through, and when booking, didn’t really know the difference between a Traveler King Bed and a King Bed. Turns out the difference was a building! Anyway, I did write a review of my stay — I tried hard to be fair, but I had to call it like it is. If you visit San Simeon, stay in Cambria. We had dinner on Moonstone Beach, where the above photo was taken, and we took some time checking out Cambria.

Santa Lucia Mountains off Highway 1 along California's Central Coast

On the second day, we set out at about 10 a.m. to drive up to Monterey using Highway 1. Wow! I knew intellectually that California had some great scenery, but I was blown away by what I saw between San Simeon and Monterey. When Trin and I went over a hill and saw this scene before us, we both went, “whoa.” Seriously, God is a great artist.

Vista Point off Highway 1 along California's Central Coast

Last night, as I was uploading pictures to both Facebook and Flickr (on Facebook, my pictures are organized into like a million albums, but I had to seriously cut down what I uploaded to Flickr because I was totally past what I was allowed on my free account), I realized that even though the Aquarium and Hearst Castle were fun (more on that soon), I think I had the best time driving up the coast. Trin says this was because I wasn’t driving. ;-) But seriously — I don’t think urbanites like most Southern Californians are truly appreciate how beautiful our world is until they are confronted by scenes like these. I can tell you this much — I have made vast additions to my computer wallpaper collections. In fact, if anyone wants full size photos, I’ll be happy to oblige, just let me know.

Smiling stingray

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was cool, but in a way, it didn’t live up to the hype, at least not in my mind. But I love visiting aquariums and zoos, so I still had a grand old time. In a way, the cost of admission ($24.95 per adult, although I did find a $2 off coupon if you want to take advantage — I forgot to print them out though) sort of diminished the joy I got from the aquarium. What? I’m a miser. Sue me.

Girl peers at the penguins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I did, however, get some really great photos and had a great time. If you had seen me that day, running around the aquarium like a kid, you probably would not have guessed I turned 30 the day before.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Oh, and if you plan on going on your birthday, tell them when you’re buying tickets. And, ah, let me know what they do. Heheh. By the way, if you ever drive to Monterey for the day, take the 101 home — its way faster, and it probably has better AM radio reception, which became a major issue because the Lakers were down in the third quarter as we drove back. Half the time, I was scanning the stations for a halfway decent signal to ESPN radio.

Hearst Castle's iconic Neptune pool

Friday, we checked out of our hotel and headed over to a tiny restaurant attached to the Best Western down the street called Cavalier. Dude. They had the best service we’d probably ever had — they would not let our coffee sink down halfway and were just totally attentive. Trinity also raved about their Cajun omelette. Definitely go there for breakfast.

Hearst Castle's main house

Hearst Castle, like the aquarium, was in a way diminished by the high price of the five tours — $24 per person for each daytime tour, none of which covered the entire house or grounds, and $30 for the evening tour. What a rip. Trin and I took the experience tour, recommended for first timers. I’m glad I went at least once, but when Trin asked if I wanted to take another tour, I was like — meh. It ain’t that serious to me. I mean, don’t I already kind of pay for this place with taxes?

You can call me cheap, I don’t care — but usually, I enjoy experiences that are free or cheap the most. If its too expensive, I already don’t wanna. In fact, when we went to Hawaii a few years ago, the only thing I shelled out for was horseback riding.

Oh, and by the way, after checking out the castle, we went back to Cambria and ate at this adorable Italian place called Lombardi’s. Its TripAdvisor reviews (I’ll probably add my own soon) are hit or miss, but Trin and I had a great time. It’s food was really good — I had lobster ravioli and Trin had pepperoni and a special type of smoked ham pizza. He loved his pizza and I loved my ravioli (lapped it up, practically) and the check didn’t break the bank. What more could you ask for? And don’t forget to check out a candy shop (Sweet Offerings, according to its website), where Trinity found some sweets from his childhood, like Chick-O-Sticks.

Anyway, that was the birthday trip! Despite the negatives, I still think it was overall a positive thing, seeing as how I went somewhere I’d never been before and didn’t have to work! Obviously, as many pictures as I could upload are on Flickr, or you can check out all my albums on Facebook. I’ve got them separated into several albums — Road trip to San Simeon, Highway 1, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hearst Castle — outside, Hearst Castle — inside and Hearst Castle’s Pools. Enjoy!