Pacific Coast Highway

Tuesday, May 21st

The “kids” stayed up late last night and slept in this morning. But I was up just after six. I moved the motel coffee pot into the bathroom and boiled up a batch of home brew as quietly as I could so not to wake Bill before I snuck out for a walk on the beach at San Simeon. Beautiful. Cool birds.

Speaking of coffee, a word here about that on this trip. It’s been of variable quality throughout but generally on the spectrum from bad to undrinkable. And I want to emphasize how serious an indictment the charge undrinkable is. My name is Glenn, and I’m an addict. I am so dependent on caffeine that I will literally eat a spoonful of instant in a pinch on a camping trip. Not kidding. But if you roll in to a rural South Dakota gas station at two in the afternoon and find hot sludge the consistency of gravy baking in a dirty pot in a dirty shop in the back of which they’re selling bootleg buffalo jerky they made on site? No thanks. I mean, yes to the jerky, no to the coffee.

On the potable java spectrum, there is a vast range of bad. Issues include temperature, ph level, freshness, bean quality, roast type, molarity, etc. Even if you find a place where the coffee isn’t completely rancid the service or the price or the condiments can result in a low score. Starbucks is the worst. Any place with ten separate mixology categories resulting in exponential selection variables, where it can take two full breaths to articulate what you want, where you communicate your order in Italian, where they have to write your name on your cup, and where a complicated recipe can cost your six dollars? I already hate it before it’s poured.

Then there’s the in-room coffee maker phenomenon. Some are better than others but they all suck. The biggest issue here is solution strength. You just can’t brew one or two cups of coffee in a drip contraption. It doesn’t work. It will never work. And most hotels give you one little prepackaged dose each of caff and decaf. There are two adults in this room. One demi pot of brown crayon water isn’t going to cut it. At least give us two packs of the real thing and we’d have a fighting chance of getting our buzz on. And who drinks decaf in the morning? Ever? I mean, I appreciate the gesture but I’ll take my chances in my pajamas at the gas station across the street. It’ll be terrible, but at least it will get the job done.

Sorry, that got away from me a little bit. But its been bugging me. Here ends the lesson.

So today was all about me. Since the beginning of this trip I’ve been looking forward to driving a nice big ribbon of the Pacific Coast Highway and today I got mine. We did about 145 miles of California Rte 1 from San Simeon to the town of Capitola, just outside Santa Cruz. I know I recently crowned the two hundred mile stretch of I-70 in Colorado the best piece of road ever but I need to declare a tie here. The drive today was magnificent and exhilarating with lots of winding turns and new, amazing views of the ocean and Eastern hills at every hairpin. The weather was clear, cool, breezy – perfect. And we made a couple of cool stops.

The first was just outside San Simeon where resides an entire beach colony of elephant seals. The adult males had already impregnated everybody and split for Alaska, so the sand was littered with juveniles and drowsy, knocked up adult females. Some of the left behind young males performed occasional pantomimes of fighting but that didn’t usually last long. Mostly they all napped and molted. But the whole scene was really fascinating.

We also did a drive by through the town of Carmel so we could say Hi to Clint Eastwood but didn’t find him. Then we stopped in Monterrey, walked around Cannery Row for awhile and got our Steinbeck on. Then, finally, we pressed on to Capitola and our overnight here. Tomorrow our final sprint to Sonoma where we’ll settle for the rest of the week.

Random thoughts from today: I think our total mileage since we left Connecticut is up over 4,500. It’ll be nice to stop driving for awhile. It’s surprisingly cold here in NoCal. Sweater weather all day, even though sunny. At Ameoba Music in L.A., Emma bought a Hall & Oats CD which we popped in the stereo today. It has to be, hands down, the most horrible album ever produced. Shockingly bad. The 80s were a lot worse than I remember. She also bought a rap CD directly from the anonymous artist himself – on the sidewalk. We played that next. Bad, but not as bad as Hall & Oats. Emma and Bill and Nic are pretty funny. Quick on the draw and ruthless – nothing is off limits. A comedy show all day. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ll be dreaming of pregnant elephant seals tonight. That should be interesting. Bring it.

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6 thoughts on “Pacific Coast Highway

  1. Glenn,

    Geoff sent me the link to your blog and I read about the entire trip in one sitting. LOVED it! The coffee entry today had me laughing out loud.

    I think you should write a book. Seriously.

    It would be really cool if we could get Bill’s thoughts too. Sort of a “he said, he said” dialogue on the experience.

    I know it’s humiliating and shocking, though not uncommon, to get laid off. It’s a delight to see someone so quickly get over it and realize the opportunity to settle in to one’s own natural rhythms and rediscover how grand life can be! And to spend this time with your marvelous son, well nothing could be better.

    Safe travels!

    Leslie Bok

  2. Still absolutely loving this blog! One of the first things I do every morning is check for the latest entry!! Awesome material and love being able to live this trip thru your blog!

  3. This sentence cracked me up!: “…beach colony of elephant seals. The adult males had already impregnated everybody and split for Alaska, so the sand was littered with juveniles and drowsy, knocked up adult females.: “…

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