The day started simply enough – drive to San Jose. That's it. Nothing to see, nothing to do – just get to San Jose. Simple enough, yeah?
Well – it wasn't quite so easy. First we had to decide if we wanted to run the highway straight up the centre of the state, or if we wanted to drive Highway 1. Highway 1 is the coastal road. And tour books will tell you that no trip to California is complete without taking the windy road which travels all along the rocky outcroppings up and down through the hills and against the water. The down side? It would add about two hours to our journey.
When will we be back? That's the attitude I try to hold each and every day – and while it may be setting us further and further behind, none can say we aren't seeing some fantastic things. Onwards to highway 1.
Good bye straight shot up the gently sloping centre, hello who knows what. There are all number of towns along the way, but one that we pulled off in went by the name of Slovang. This town was said to feel like Denmark in the heart of California. Believe it or not, that description is pretty accurate. All the buildings are stylized, and the people have mostly immigrated from the part of the world. There are even big ol' windmills just for fun. They don't do all that much, aside from attract you to the associated restaurant, which may or may not serve sub-par sausage.
Now this should have been a quick in and out look getting us back on track with time to spare. But no, because things were happening today in Solvang. Some very exciting things for the people – there was a classic car show. Three roads were filled with gawkers, and cars. Don't forget the cars. Old cars, less old cars, shiny cars, and matte ones too. I don't know anything about cars. I know, blue car, red car, pretty car, ugly car. But still, no less than an hour did we spent wandering, looking under hoods at things which, to my knowledge, work magic and make things go. I have a number of friends who would have loved this – and don't get me wrong, I dug it quite a lot but they would have understood a thing or two.
Leaving Solvang we hit the One once more, and continued along beautiful coastline, traveling over historic bridges built seven decades past. Just when I was back in the swing of carrying on, I saw a large number of cars stopped at the side of the road. People were gazing into the field, snapping pictures and pointing. Clearly I had to see what was going on.
As I started to slow Katherine protested – we had wasted so much time already, no more stopping. But I had to know what was up there. Making my way up the ridge to see what they were seeing I tried to guess at what might await me, prepared for disappointment.
What I saw? There was no way I could have ever guessed. I had no way of even knowing such a thing might have existed. Over the hump, across the dry grass, was a herd of zebra. Of zebra! I had not seen animals running free like this since Africa, and certainly did not expect to see them here.
It was like coming across a dragon – or at least a – no, it was like coming across Zebra in the middle of California.
Apparently they once belonged to Hearst Castle – of which we drove on by, having already seen the most impressive thing, thank you very much. But now, they live on their own and make do. Zebra. In California. Next time, I need to be told about these things ahead of time – it was, simply put, amazing.
Only one stop remained before our eventual reaching of San Jose. Elephant Seal point. We go there, parked, and joined the rest of the visitors looking down on the closed beach at all the seals. They were small blobs against the sand. Far from us, and nearly too far for the telephoto lens, I quickly grew bored. I'd seen an elephant seal before, on a nearly empty beach – only a few meters away. I had looked into the eye of a leopard seal, in the pouring rain, two or three feet in front of my face. I had seen seals – and these ones? You could hardly tell what they were.
Thanks but no thanks. I'm glad I saw them, but they weren't all that special. I feel these darkened thoughts may somewhat be from the fact that, over shadowing these creatures, was the fact that I just saw a herd of Zebra(!) but never mind that. From then on, it was just sit back, enjoy the coastal views, and get to where we were going.
Without much fanfare we rolled into San Jose, too late to do anything. The friend I stayed with back in March lived around here – but not being prepared I was without a phone number. In stead we found an over priced motel, settled in, and fell asleep.
Zebra. I mean, really? Come one.
36 Hours in Philly
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