Following our stay in Monterey, we headed south and into the valley whose spring plantings were pushing up green. We drove the El Camino Real, a historic highway originally used as a route between the missions from Mexico to San Diego and San Francisco. Before standardized road signs were installed along “The King’s Highway”, standards shaped like the Franciscan walking stick and a bell representing the bell at Mission San Luis de Ray marked the trail. Originally there were four hundred and fifty bells but today there are only a few originals and many reproductions. We drove in through wine country where there are over one hundred sixty thriving wineries. The miles of vines crisscrossed the hills creating various geometric patterns and tiny leaves were beginning to appear. We stayed at Vines RV Resort, a great spot just outside of the cute town of Paso Robles. One of our day trips to the coast was the Hearst Castle tour, covered in the last blog.
On every trip to and from the coast, we enjoyed the spectacular shadescapes across the brilliant green hills and the glimpses out to the Pacific. Another day trip took us to San Louis Obisbo. The town is a gorgeous combination of restored architectural gems, treed boulevards, shops, galleries, restaurants and lovely homes whose gardens burst with Citrus Trees, Palms, Italian Cypress, Cacti and masses of Bougainvillea. We had an average lunch at an award winning Bar-B-Que restaurant and wondered if the acclaim had been purchased by the owners. The Mission San Louis Obispo was tranquil inside its basic basilica and meditative in its gardens. Sadly, we were too exhausted to do any wine tasting around town or Paso Robles but we will put it on the list for our next visit.
We headed West through more rich valley country, past the craziest conglomeration of oil rigs we’ve ever seen and a number of windmills and turbines gracing the rocky hills. During our two weeks on the coast the wildflowers had bloomed and poured down the hillsides in yellow, orange and purple. The flowering trees were finished and their blossoms covered the ground like snow. Trains constantly pass on each side of the highway usually with three or four engines pulling the load. A gas station along the highway boasted its being the last place James Dean stopped to fill up with gas before he crashed his car and died. We saw the last of bright green vegetation as we entered The Mojave Desert where we would stay for the next two weeks.