Memories are made of this

It’s ironic that the last post I wrote on Tuesday in Monterey mentioned Alfred Hitchcock and his movie Vertigo. Shortly after I left and started the coastal drive on Highway 1, the weather worsened and I found myself being buffeted by head on winds and driving round hairpin bends in pouring rain. Watching the waves crashing below me on the right and watching out for mudslides on the left, I felt caught in the middle of a Hitchcock thriller myself. No wonder he had chosen this coastline to make a movie of that name!

Hours of driving around tight 20mph bends and through narrow stretches where road works were clearing up mudslides, made me incredibly tired and also very hungry, so imagine how pleased I was to finally find a place to stop.  Ragged Point, so aptly named (for I am sure it wasn’t only me who’d felt ragged on arrival) had a safe area for parking in front of its welcoming restaurant.

After some delicious chicken gumbo soup and finding there was no room at the inn, I decided to park on Highway 1 just a few hundred yards down from the restaurant, where there was a small pull in between the mountain range to the east (my left) and the road drop off to the ocean on my right. The howling wind and crashing waves below were not that conducive for sleep, but I thought that I’d challenge myself by sleeping in the van in such inclement weather, for I could not expect fair weather skies all across America, now could I!

Also there was nowhere else to stop, for there are no roads off Highway 1 south of Monterey, until you reach the area just south of San Simeon (north of San Luis Obispo). At Ragged Point, I was still one and a half hours away from San Luis and I couldn’t drive one more minute, I was that exhausted. I had no choice but to stop and rest on the edge of the cliffs.

After taking hours to get to sleep (too much adrenalin in my blood stream from the hairy drive) I awoke to find it was only 03:00am!! Laying in bed listening to the rain hitting the roof above my head, meant I could not get back to sleep, so I decided to get up and continue driving. It seemed a good idea to reach a town sooner rather than later and find a nice place to stay. It seemed sensible to me … but it turned out not to be so.

A little while later I wondered what kind of madness had intervened as I encountered the worst point on the coastal drive south. It was a very dark night, with no moon, yet I could feel my campervan gently descending and when the road became straighter and wider, it was at first a real relief from the ups and downs of the hairpin bends around the steep bluffs. But suddenly in the pitch blackness, huge waves appeared just in front of me and came crashing down on the road ahead. I hadn’t known that the sea was beside me until then. I will not write here what I screamed out, but my foot hit the pedal like nothing else! Until that moment I never knew the van could go that fast.

A few miles further on, when I saw a sign for Hearst Castle and could see lights in the distance up a hillside , I turned left in the hope that I could find a safe haven. After a few hundred yards, gates appeared. I thought about stopping outside the castle until daylight but the sound of the rain and wind were not at all relaxing. Looking at the map, it appeared the worst of the drive would be over, so I decided to carry on. This time it was a better decision.

I arrived in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday at 05.00 in morning after a day and a half of exhausting driving. I had no hesitation this time in whether or not to stay in the van. I had to find a safe and warm place to relax and rest and after some research on the internet, I drove south to the Inn at Avila Beach. I am pleased to say the Inn lived up to comments made by previous guests and I was met with the warmest of welcomes by manager, Edward.

   

The one advantage of wet and cold weather in California (did I mention that the winters of the last ten years have been warm and dry) is that there are lots of rooms available. My room on the second floor overlooking the bay was just what I needed: cozy, decorated in warm colors and with a comfy bed. The flat screen TV and video/DVD library was a perfect addition, the only question being whether or not to chose a Hitchcock movie ……

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2 Responses

  1. […] I was driving down Route 1 in California on a particularly stormy night? The post is called “Memories are made of this“. Hope you […]

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