Day 4 & 5 – Driving down the Coast from San Francisco to Anaheim

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Leaving San Francisco behind, we started our drive south around 9am. We took the #1 highway right along the coast as we thought the scenery would be nicer and we planned to make several stops along the way. First stop was Monterey we walked along their Fisherman’s Wharf which was similar to the one in San Francisco only much much smaller. They also had their own little colony of Sea Lions who were quite vocal and talkative. Brent spotted an Otter couple basking in the sunshine & floating around peacefully in the water off the pier. That was basically it for wildlife that we saw.

We drove along the water and stopped at a beach that had huge waves crashing into large jagged rocks – it really was quite beautiful but it was windy and on the cold side so I chose to sit inside the car where it was warm and watch from there, whereas Brent got out his camera and tripod and rushed right down as close as he could get to the water without falling in. He kept turning back towards the car to wave me to come down to join him on the beach so finally I did. It would have been much nicer out there if it hadn’t been so darn windy and cold!

Next up was a drive down the “17 Mile Drive” which is basically a $9.00 toll to drive through a wealthy neighborhood. Ok, it was beautiful along the water – there were about 4 or 5 golfcourses within this gated community including the highly famous (I was told) Pebble Beach Golf Course. But $9 to drive down this street?? Some of the houses were unbelievable, and some I couldn’t believe were allowed to be still standing. Hehe… There would be a ginormous mini castle and then next door an olive colored house from the 60’s that the Brady Bunch could have been inside of. We were in such a rush too cause the sun was already starting to go down and we needed to see this place in the light – plus there were viewpoints along the way and Brent wanted to take pictures so we were racing from one view point to another. The drive ended in Carmel, which has to be about the cutest little town ever!! We stopped at the beach there and it is definetly one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. White sand, beautiful blue/turquoise water. However it was breezy and cold once again so after letting Brent take a few pictures on the beach, I hurried him back to the car so we could move on.

The rest of the night was basically the same – driving and more driving. We thought driving along the coast would be more interesting but for a lot of it, we were the only car on the highway and it was a bit lonely! We really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. For part of the drive, we were way up in the hills looking down at the coastline, driving along yet another windy and twisty road. A road you definetly do not want to fall asleep on!! (not that you’d want to fall asleep on any road, but you know what I mean).

First town (not even sure I’d call it a town…) we came to was Big Sur (that’s SUR) As we were driving through it, Brent says “I don’t know why they call this place Big Surf, there is no way anyone could surf anywhere close to here…” “Sur,” I told him “Big Sur – S U R” hehe. But yeah, this place was so tiny – it was right up in the hills, amongst the trees, and on either side of the highway there were some woodsy type of resorts. That’s it. Oh, and maybe a couple general store type places. It looked really cool and I bet a lot of nice retreats happen there….but not much else. It was literally one of those places that if you blink, you miss it. Really. We went through a few of those along the way. After hours of this, we were feeling very out of touch with civilization. All we had been seeing is hills on one side of us, and the ocean way down below on the other side. And cows. Lots of cows. Occasionally we’d come to a huge lot of land RIGHT on the water – prime real estate I thought, and what’s on it? Cows. Yep Cows. Cows get the billion dollar views. How nice for them.

The funniest sign we saw on our journey was a pig crossing sign. Just like the duck crossing ones, that show a duck and a duckling, well this was beside the highway and had a pig with a smaller pig!!! LOL!! It was the funniest thing, I wish we got a picture of it. So does that mean there are wild pigs in the area? Or just some domestic pigs that like to take walks across the highway?

Alright back to our thrilling drive. We were both hungry and by now we were getting quite worried that this would be a replay of our first night in San Francisco when we couldn’t find anything open to eat at. But this was even more worrisome as we couldn’t find ANY place -restaurant, grocery store, even fast food. There was just nothing around on this long drive. There were a few times where we grumbled to each other that we should have just taken the I-5. Finally though we drove into San Simeon – it was like an oasis in the middle of the desert for us. On either side of the highway, were about 3 hotels on each side – just hotels that’s it, but we noticed that with each hotel, there was a restaurant!! Woohoo!!! We drove through to see if there was anything else, but as soon as we passed this mini strip of hotels, we were back into darkness. After a quick u-ie in the middle of the road, we were on our way back towards the hotels. We settled on one called The Cavelier – it looked quite nice so we went in. This was the best decision we made of the entire day! The staff and service was fantastic! The food was delicious, the meals were huge and the prices were surprisingly low. We were quite impressed with the place and very glad we stopped. San Simeon turned out to be a bit larger than we originally thought. Once we kept driving for a few minutes, we came to another strip of businesses and then a residential area too.

More driving for a couple more hours, we were both very tired all of a sudden. Well, I was tired the whole way and no matter how hard I tried to stay awake to make sure Brent was alert (he was driving) I kept nodding off and then Brent would say something and I’d jerk myself awake again. lol. We decided that enough was enough and we needed to pull over to get some sleep. Ok, so where is a rest stop when you need one? Of course, nowhere to be found. We drove and drove looking for a rest stop and nothing. More grumbling about how we should have taken the I-5. Then finally, we spot a sign that said “Rest Stop, 14 miles” RELIEF. I think it was the longest 14 miles ever but we finally reached it. This time we were prepared for our camp out in the car. We had our sleeping bags with us (our good thermal ones) and instead of leaving them in the trunk like we did out first night on the road, we hauled them out and used them. Brent was also kind enough to adjust the 2nd suitcase which was in the backseat so my seat would fully recline, this helped ALOT for my sleep. The only problem with being at the rest stop was there were lights everywhere so they all shone right into the car. We solved the problem with our large navy blue fleece blanket we had with us. We strung it up across the windshield – tucking it under the visors, and with the help of one of my hair clips, we managed to block out all the light, plus it helped keep some of the warmth in the car. Another small problem, or rather an annoyance, was this huge truck behind us had its motor running all night (must have been a refrigeration truck). The sleeping bags worked though and we were both warm all night. We woke up at about 7am and started driving again. Something we didn’t even think about was the possibility of getting stuck in traffic closer to LA. Yep it happened, we were at a slow crawl for what seemed like forever. Especially since it was quite hot in the car by now – sun shining right on us. We drove into Anaheim at 10:30am.

Disneyland, we have arrived. Well sort of. We don’t actually get to go to Disneyland until tomorrow but I was so excited just to see the street sign “Disneyland Drive”. This was probably one of the highlights of the entire day, cause after this everything went downhill and it turned out to be an awful day.

For the past couple days we have been hearing some grinding sounds coming from one of the back wheels. It has just been getting worse and Brent thinks it is the brake pads. We went to a couple auto places to see how much it would be to have them checked and possibly replaced. Then Brent said he would just do it himself (big mistake), so we went to an auto parts store and he bought a few tools and a new set of brake pads. Our hotel let us check in early which was really nice, so we unloaded all our stuff into the room then Brent hoisted the car up on the jack, and started taking the car apart in the hotel parking lot. Well, it was just the back wheel, which he took off. Then he took the brake pads out and they were so worn down, it was like metal on metal, which explains the grinding sounds we kept hearing. Problem, once he got the old pads out, the new ones wouldn’t fit in right, they were too thick and the piston (I think) would not retract back into where it was supposed to be. Brent was so frustrated! He tried for hours to get these stupid things in right and it just would not work. He even put it all together again with the old brake pads and we went to Walmart to get a clamp and then to Home Depot cause Walmart didn’t have the right size. Turns out Home Depot didn’t have the right size either, but he got one to try. Then he took it all apart again, fiddled with it for the rest of afternoon and it still wouldn’t go together right. So all day he spent on that stupid car, or those stupid brake pads actually. The car even fell off the jack twice! Once the tire was lying flat underneath it and we thought for sure it was going to be punctured, but amazingly its ok. Brent was so frustrated and angry, and sore – his back was already strained and he probably has done more damage to it now. We also couldn’t get our internet working properly in our room so while he was working on the car, I was trying to get us hooked up to the internet. It was wireless so there I was sitting in the parking lot with the laptop on my knee, beside the car with the wheel off. I bet the hotel staff just loved us.

So the internet is working now, the car is put back together but with the old brake pads. Brent called Midas and they will fix it for us tomorrow morning. We have to take it in at 7am and they said it will take between an hour to 2 hours. So once it’s fixed we will walk over to Disneyland.

After our bad day, we went and sat in the hottub for awhile then headed over to Knott’s Berry Farm for dinner at Mrs Knott’s Chicken Restaurant. Yum!! It brought back many memories from my childhood when we would go there. It was just like I remembered it. However Knott’s Berry Farm has changed a lot – there seem to be way more rollercoasters now than I remember. We didn’t go into the park, but we could see them all since they were so tall.

I hope tomorrow is a better day. I have been waiting so long to come to Disneyland, it’s been 14 years since I have been and I am really excited! I’m almost too excited to sleep! Almost.


Monterey – at Fisherman’s Wharf


The beach at Monterey that Brent really loved.


One of the golf courses along the 17 mile drive


The Lone Cypress on the 17 Mile Drive (this is quite a famous tree and is used in the logo for Pebble Beach)


Outside of Mrs Knotts Chicken Restaurant at Knotts Berry Farm