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California Coast


Late October my mother, Seejo, Annika and I flew to Los Angeles, CA to drive up the California coast to San Francisco. This was my mother’s first trip to California and our first real vacation trip with Annika.   With breath taking views of the Pacific coast on one side and majestic cliffs on the other side,  California’s Route 1 traverses through some charming little towns , small farms,  beautiful state parks and   provides us with picture post-card views everywhere you look.

Starting from Santa Barbara near LA, you pass Morro bay (with the eponymous Morro Rock), San Simeone with its famous Hearst Castle, the dramatic coastline of Big Sur area along with its numerous parks,  posh Carmel by the Sea with its restaurants, shopping and galleries, the wonderful aquarium at Monterey and several other stopping points on the way

We had not planned to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles preferring to start on our road trip as soon as possible. However we couldn’t leave LA without showing my mother Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood and taking some perfectly cheesy touristy photos in front of the Hollywood sign.  My mother mentioned that she had never seen a wax museum before , so we remedied that immediately by stopping at the one near the Hollywood walk of fame.


Hollywood Sign


At the Hollywood Walk of Fame


Annika aiming for the box of chocolates!


With Old School Friends!

The walk of fame was very crowded with tourists and folks trying to figure out where the foot prints or the star belonging to their favorite celebrity was.  We spent the evening visiting one of my old college friends who just had a baby. Another friend joined us there with her family, so we had a nice mini-reunion! We spent the night at Oxnard, about 30 miles before we got to Santa Barbara.


The beautiful winery

On day two, one of our many stops along the way was the little Danish like town of Solvang in the Santa Ynez wine country.   We stopped at a little vineyard on the way. Although we didn’t get a chance to really enjoy the wine, they had some really fantastic flavored vinegars that both my mom and I loved. We stopped at Morro Rock before heading off to our hotel in Cambria.


Hearst Castle: Dining Room

Hearst Castle : The Pool

Our first stop that morning was the famous Hearst Castle where William Randolph Hearst displayed all his interior decoration acquisitions from Europe. I was not very impressed with the rooms– there was no individually or creativity in them. Seemed like a museum to store artifacts from Europe with no personal charm attached it it. However the outdoor swimming pool was glorious and was almost (but not quite) worth the trip to see the Castle.  I am sure the gloomy weather added to my lack of appreciation of the place (it was chilly and drizzly by the time we got there) but I was pretty disappointed with the castle.


Elephant Seals at Big Sur

Mating season

Despite the magnificient coastal views, the most astonishing sight of the trip for me was watching the enormous big seals on the beach at Piedras Blancas in southern Big Sur near San Simeon. Although I knew that we could watch the seals a few miles north of San Simeon, I imagined it would be the sight of one or two seals far away from the road and I’d have to pretend to myself that what I saw was a seal and not a grey rock. I was completely unoprepared for the sheer number of seals and also how close to the road they were.  Oblivious to the wind and rain, they were busy mating, playing and making a raucous noise.


Coastal Views


McWay Falls

By the time we got back on the road after seeing the seals, the weather cleared up magically.  We had wonderful weather to appreciate the Big Sur Coast.  Seejo’s favorite spot from the entire coast was the view of McWay Falls as the waterfall emptied itself into the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean.


WIth old college friend and her two daughters


With my cousins

By the time we reached San Jose, after stopping at Monterey and Carmel by the sea., our friends and relatives had gathered at my cousin’s place.  Between meeting old friends and relatives, the evening passed by swiftly.


Golden Gate Bridge

Annika-California-2012-Brdr-155Lombard Street

The next day morning we took my mom to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street (touted as the crookedest street in the world). My mom loved San Francisco calling it a very vibrant city.  By the afternoon, we were on our way to the airport to catch the flight back to Baltimore.

Annika-California-2012-Brdr-59Annika has , unfortunately, proven to be a bad traveler so far.  The first time she was on an airplace (to visit family in Austin) she fell ill with a cold and cough – the very first time she was ever ill.  Next, when we went to India, she was coughing throughout the flight and  reached there with sore throat, a hoarse voice and a nasty cough. All through the India trip we battled cold and diarrhea and awful looking diaper rash. On the way back from India, she was sick and puking all through the flight.   Despite this history of illnesses, we were hoping that this would be a peaceful trip. We had given ourselves plenty of time to drive up the coast…enough time to stop  so she wouldn’t be stuck in a car seat for a long time between sight-seeing points. What we hadn’t planned for was a case of ear infection!Annika-California-2012-Brdr-58

The few days before we made the trip she seemed to have a slight fever. We took her to the doc’s the day before the trip and she was pronounced healthy and given the go ahead for air travel. “No ear infection”,  confirmed the doctor.  She seemed to be restless during the flight put perked up as soon as we landed.  However by the first night in California—she was uncomfortable, feverish and had difficulty sleeping.  She spend most of the night and better part of the next day screaming. When she stopped eating food, my mother put her foot down and insisted on seeing a doctor right away.  We stopped at a ER in San Luis Obispo and they quickly diagnosed her with raging ear infection in both ears and gave her a double dose of antibiotic.  The medicine did the trick and she was back to her normal self in no time, barring a slight crankiness.

The rest of the trip was centered around stopping only when she was awake and trying to drive on when she was asleep in her car-seat.    Although the scenery was lovely and we got to meet friends and family, Annika’s ear infection was the talking point of our trip. We need to wait and gather courage for our next trip with her.

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