Pacific Coast Highway
After a fun time in San Francisco we made plans to travel the Pacific Coast Highway down to Santa Monica where we would pick up Route 66 and head back to Albuquerque, where we detoured off Route 66 to head up to Colorado. We’ve heard mixed reviews on taking a 41 foot long motorhome pulling a car down the PCH so we’re going to go for it. We have a tendency to do our homework whenever we find ourselves getting conflicting information or directions. Different people have different comfort levels. We have a penchant for Googling things whenever we have a question. Having done so, let’s go.
On our way to Santa Monica we wanted to spend some time in Monterey Bay and also see the Laguna Seca Raceway which is steeped in rich racing history. As luck would have it, Laguna Seca Raceway (formally Mazda Raceway) has an RV Park and is also close enough to Monterey Bay to basecamp the motorhome at Laguna Seca and use our Explorer to trek out for the day.
The PCH was beautiful and the coast was rugged. We had no problems with our size as we traveled to Laguna Seca and the RV Park within the raceway facilities could accommodate both our size and our dates.
One interesting thing we did encounter was that due to our size, they wanted us to go to their “Can Am” camping area which overlooked the whole track, which was cool. To get to this area we had to climb a 16% incline and I chose to leave our “toad” (that’s slang for the car you pull behind your motorhome) attached. We took it slow and there were no issues with power on our diesel pusher motorhome, however, at the top we had to make a very sharp left turn we didn’t know about and as we approached and became aware of this turn I had wished we would have uncoupled first, in case I needed to back up to make the corner. But it all worked out well and we were able to make it to the campsite area. We booked in for a few days and the bonus for us was that they were having a racing series, the Skip Barber Racing Series, during the days we were there.
The following morning we headed out for Monterey Bay. The drive to the Monterey penninsula was beautiful countryside and Monterey, with their trademark “Cannery Row”, was very cool. Speaking of cool, as the day progressed it got so cold there on the coast that we had to buy jackets, not anticipating the weather change. The Pacific Ocean is much colder along the coast than what we’re used to with the Atlantic Ocean, down in Florida.
Cannery Row was the setting of John Steinbeck’s novels Cannery Row (1945) and Sweet Thursday (1954). Both were the basis for the 1982 movie Cannery Row, starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. Cannery Row is the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The canneries failed after the collapse of the fishing industry in Monterey Bay in the mid-1950s, which resulted from a combination of factors, including unfavorable oceanic conditions, over-fishing, and competition from other species. Before the collapse, the fishery was one of the most productive in the world due to the upwelling of cold, yet nutrient-rich water from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that is funneled to the surface via the vast underwater Monterey Canyon. Today, Cannery Row itself is now a tourist attraction with many restaurants and hotels, several of which are located in former cannery buildings, and a few historic attractions. Some privately owned fishing companies still exist on Cannery Row, housed on piers located a short distance from the historic district frequented by tourists.
When we first arrived in Monterey Bay we found our way down to the waterfront to check out the boats and waterfront. We encountered Sea Lions that seemed to have taken over several docks. Because of their intelligence and train-ability, California sea lions have been used by circuses and marine mammal parks to perform various tricks such as throwing and catching balls on their noses, running up ladders, or honking horns in a musical fashion. Being former Navy, and proud of it, I found it interesting to learn that the California Sea Lion is also used in military applications by the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, including detecting naval mines and enemy divers. In the Persian Gulf, the animals can swim behind divers approaching a US naval ship and attach a clamp with a rope to the diver’s leg. Navy officials say the sea lions can do this in seconds, before the enemy realizes what happened.
Sea lions are preyed on by killer whales and large sharks. At Monterey Bay, California sea lions appear to be the more common food items for transient mammal-eating killer whale pods. The sea lions may respond to the dorsal fin of a killer whale and remain vigilant, even when encountering resident fish-eating pods. Sea lions are also common prey for white sharks. They have been found with scars made by attacks from both white sharks and shortfin mako sharks. Sharks attack sea lions by ambushing them while they are resting at the surface. Sea lions that are attacked in the hindquarters are more likely to survive and make it to the shore.
It seems like things are going the right way, now. We have some humidity back and boats and an ocean, all good things. So if we can find some more warmth as we travel south and maybe even a Tiki Bar or two, life would be over the top.
But for now we have no complaints and we are “LTD” (living the dream).