The second leg of our West Coast journey took us on an amazing experience showing two opposite aspects of the US: ultra smart Silicon Valley and very authentic Cambria. Leaving San Francisco, we drove to Palo Alto and San Jose, homes of many or even most of the start ups that developed into empires. Like all good techies, we visited the Facebook, Google and Apple HQs, and Steve Jobs‘ garage, now listed as a historical site.
Cool fact: It’s at least 10 degrees warmer in Silicon Valley than in SF at all times, and Redwood City -in the heart of SV- was officially designated as the place with the “best climate” in the US.
Before heading to Monterey, we passed by Santa Cruz where older decades seem to live on, from construction to entertainment; the old style Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the nearby Big Dipper, the lighthouse, even the beachfront… In Monterey Bay, we took a break from driving and admired the lovely, calm coastline scenery. Feeling re-energized after lunch on Old Fisherman’s Wharf, we had fun at Monterey Bay Aquarium on historic Cannery Row; a sanctuary of marine life, the Aquarium houses penguins, sharks, birds, reptiles, otters, all sorts of fish, invertebrates, algae and aquatic plants. We hit the road again passing through the charming, small beach city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its museums, fairytale cottages and village-like center.
On our way to Cambria, we discovered that the coastal Highway 1 along Big Sur was cut off, forcing us to take a detour via Highway 101 in order to keep with our itinerary. Since it was a night-time drive, we embarked on an adventure. The scene looked like something out of a scary movie: pitch blackness surrounding us, fog creeping up on the road… But we made it to wine country safe and sound, reaching Oceanpoint Ranch Cambria, where we were in for a genuine all-American experience.
Oceanpoint Ranch presents itself as having “perfected the art of simple living”. But it isn’t until you visit the charming ranch-inspired hotel that you can truly understand how “simple living” can be such an art or how ‘ranch’ could be so upscale. Spanning 9 acres by the sea, the property brings together all the meanings of R&R: rest and relaxation, recuperation, recreation, rejuvenation, revitalization…
Waking up on a small hill by the water, surrounded by abundant green grounds, is a great way to start the day. A morning run through the woods and down to the ocean, followed by a peaceful walk along Moonstone Beach gave us such a breath of fresh air! Reconnecting with nature was just what we needed for a stress, fatigue and driving ‘detox’.
Cool fact: On morning walks along Moonstone Beach, you might spot dolphins swimming nearby.
The hotel is set as a group of cabins with 61 brand new rooms and suites, all with rustic-chic interiors; beautiful vaulted wood ceilings, bold plaids laid out neatly on beds, animal print carpets, rich leather accents, a black and white palette for the main furniture, brightened up by colorful linens and beige accessories… Ranch-related decorative elements such as animal horns and pictures of horses form a reminder of the property’s theme and add an authentic feel to the lodgings. Our room was warm and inviting, comfortable and cute, ideal for a good night’s sleep. The breakfast spread was simple yet enjoyable, and we appreciated the good, friendly service that further highlighted American hospitality. The staff recommended wineries for us to visit and find a great, unique local wine at each. Cheers!
We couldn’t leave the area without dropping by San Simeon to visit the impressive Hearst Castle, a massive estate of more than 250,000 acres of living quarters, kitchens, gardens, terraces, pools and walkways on The Enchanted Hill. This grand domain was dreamed up by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The historic house museum and California State Park make up the now-National Historic Landmark. Although a bit bummed out by renovation work going on is some areas of the grounds, walking through the awe-inspiring mansion, we couldn’t help but think: thank you Mr. Hearst!
Cool fact: Hearst Castle was the inspiration for the mansion of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane back in 1941.
Now off we go to Santa Barbara, where a totally different setting awaits! Keep tuned for part 3 of our West Coast Road Trip series.