December 19, 2004

central coast jaunt

I could have gone anywhere this weekend – well, anywhere the span of two days allows. Saturday began with a trip to Bob Smith MINI to have them replace the mirror they broke while changing my mirror caps the previous Saturday. Scrumptious hot chocolate consumed. Email checked.

Did I mention how beautiful outside it was on Saturday? The trip was not a foregone conclusion by any means. Had it been foggy or overcast or too windy or if the sun wasn’t shining precisely the way I wanted it to, I would have ditched the idea of a trip. But everything was in the trip’s favor, so after breaking free of the dealership by about 9:30am (I must have missed you, Erik!), I was on my way.

It was early enough that I didn't get caught up in any of that nasty traffic between Westlake and Santa Barbara. I gassed up in Ventura. I was excited because I knew I only had a hundred or so miles before the official “break-in” period on my MINI expired into excessive-RPM’d glee. Ventura afforded me my first glimpse of the ocean - the first of many, to be sure.

Let me not forget to share a little about this trip’s soundtrack. Friday night I stumbled upon Pedro the Lion’s Achilles Heel album on the iTunes Music Store. I think I had maybe heard a track or two from the outfit a few years ago, but it didn’t then catch my attention. But this listen did the trick, and after downloading the album, I burnt it at the head of an mp3 cd I entitled “New-Fangled Alt Rock” which also contained tracks by Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, The YYYs, The Postal Service and the Von Bondies. I thought I’d call it “Trendy Music”, but I had wanted to use the phrase “new-fangled” for quite some time now, so…

Anyway, the other artists’ tracks were hardly played at all. Achilles Heel was the album of choice during most of the trip. I’m quite fond of the album, actually. But it was during The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside”, just south of San Luis Obispo, that my MINI hit that magic mile-number, 1250. Hee hee. I won’t admit in a public forum that I broke the law or anything, but it is within the realm of possibility that I broke the speed limit by, um, more than 30 mph. But I’m not one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me.

I stopped for a bite to eat at a Jack-in-the-Box near the Highway 1 transition towards Morro Bay. A Jumbo Jack with cheese and no tomato or onion, fries, and a Coke was consumed as I sat in a booth overlooking my MINI, eyeballing any passersby who eyeballed my car, as well. I topped off the gas before getting back on the road. Before too long I was greeted by those familiar smoke-pipes (or whatever they are) and the long, long beaches of Morro Bay and nearby Cayucos.

Now I was really able to kick it into gear – passing other, more law-abiding drivers with ease on the softly winding roads leading to San Simeon and beyond. Of course I stopped at Pt. Piedras to have a look at the elephant seals… because, I mean, one HAS to just stop and LOOK AT THOSE ELEPHANT SEALS – OH MY GOODNESS LOOK HOW BIG AND LAZY THEY ARE!

But I had road to tame and beauty shots of my MINI to take, so I was back in the car in no time. The aforementioned beauty shots were taken at a turnout I used to like to refer to as my favorite spot on the planet. After having traveled considerably more since I first coined the reference, I’ve come to understand that several other places share in that distinction. The turnout is rather large, as turnouts go, sort of like a dirt driveway on an ocean cliffside. It affords about a 270º view of the ocean – a glorious view (particularly at sundown, but it wasn’t so bad mid-afternoon, either!). I had previously spent hours and hours at this spot, contemplating the beauty of nature, and my place in it – but this time, the beauty I wanted to admire was that of my new MINI.

Travelers came and went taking snapshots of the ocean in the foreground – but for me the sea was simply a pretty backdrop for the gorgeous Electric Blue MINI Cooper before me. I spent nearly an hour taking photos from every possible angle. I was less-than-impressed with the majority of the results, as the light just wasn’t “right” for me, and the glare of the sun kept impeding on my photos… but then again, maybe if I learned to properly use a camera I wouldn’t have so many problems. A few of those shots are shown below:

Oh, I took a couple of nature shots, when the thought struck.

I reluctantly got back in my car and began driving north. At this point I was aimless. I didn’t really want to make this a two-day adventure, because I thought I’d want to spend Sunday Christmas shopping or seeing a movie or something (silly rabbit!). So when I reached Carmel and nearby Monterey Bay, I made the split-decision to head inland, towards Salinas, and take the 101 back down to Simi. As the sun finally went down, I figured I’d be home by around 10pm – and I was exactly right.

I stopped, again, at San Luis Obispo to attend to the final fueling – both for the MINI and myself (thank you, Red Bull!), and to thoroughly clean my bug-splattered windshield. They must not get many MINIs in S.L.O., because several people chatted me up at the gas station about how cool my car was, how awesome the color blue was, how many miles-to-the-gallon I got in it, and (remarkably) if I liked the car. Well, duh!

By the time I walked in the door at 10pm sharp with Del Taco fast-food in hand, I was exhausted.

this shot would have been even better without my reflection!!

posted by julie at December 19, 2004 03:29 PM

things people have said

'Re: Missed' - I tried! I got going a lot later than I wanted and getting new tires took longer than I expected. Looks like a brilliant day for a coastal cruise, though!

so said: erik at December 20, 2004 07:47 AM

Nice pics...thanks for sharing.

I hope the condition of Hiway 1 from Hearst Castle up to Carmel was better than the last time I drove it? I haven't been on it for about 10 years.

Sounds like you could use a radar detector. I got my Escort Passport 8500 on Ebay for 1/2 price. It has saved me a bundle on tickets. Plus allowed me to run 120-125 up Hiway 5 on a very overcast day a while back.

Yada, Yada, RB

so said: RB at December 20, 2004 07:56 AM

I just noticed you didn't use your filler cap holder***RB

so said: RB at December 20, 2004 07:59 AM

filler cap holder?? I didn't know about that! Looks like I'll have something new to figure out next time I'm at the pump! Thanks for the tip...

so said: julie (me) at December 20, 2004 08:41 AM

If you look at the top edge of your gas door you will see a small ring with a opening were you can stick the green part of the filler cap into.


so said: RB at December 20, 2004 02:13 PM

I would have missed the filler cap holder thingie if my MA hadn't shown it to me, too. NOt that I've driven it enough to fill it up yet since the weather sucks here! Blah. Your post brought back many wonderful memories of drives on Highway 1 even though it was always in a crappy rental car. Ah, San Louis Obispo. Carmel. Monterey Bay. *sigh*

so said: Mark Scheuern at December 22, 2004 04:48 AM