Concluding the account of our family holiday in 2005:-
|John Steinbeck's house in Salinas|
|Picture of John Steinbeck and Charley in The Steinbeck Museum, Salinas|
We crossed the rich black earth of The Salinas Valley on our way towards Monterey but sadly there was no time to tarry there. We had to press on. At Carmel we met Highway 1, the famous Big Sur road that clings to the Pacific coast as it weaves its way southwards. It was a lovely scenic drive, all the way down to San Simeon where we stopped to take in the elephant seal rookery. There they were grunting and basking on the shore like politicians in parliament or lugging themselves awkwardly into the ocean waves.
Then on to Morro Bay, turning inland to San Luis Obispo. By now it was perhaps 5pm and we needed somewhere to stay the night. I had been hoping we would find a motel in the town of Guadalupe but the woman in the petrol station said there were no hotel rooms there. Besides, it seemed a down-at-heel agricultural town with teams of exhausted Mexican farm workers in beaten up pick up trucks. They seemed such a long way from "The American Dream".
We headed a few miles inland to Santa Maria where something very newsworthy was happening - the ongoing trial of pop singer Michael Jackson for alleged child molestation. In spite of this, we were able to get a family room at what is now called The Colonial Motel though back then I think it was called The Rose Inn or something like that.
After an evening meal at Denny's we walked up to the court house where Jackson spent almost fourteen weeks on trial. It was dark and no one else was around when out of the shadows a torchlight beam appeared. It was being shone by a night security guard specially hired for the duration of the trial. He was very happy to have some regular work and didn't care a hoot about Michael Jackson or the adoring fans who gathered there in the daytime. Mischievously, I asked him if he was a Michael Jackson fan and he retorted, "No, I'm a Me fan!" It made me laugh.
The next morning we got up and packed the faithful black jeep one last time. It was our final day in California and I felt an enormous sense of frustration. There was so much more I would have loved to have seen and done. Nonetheless, when I look back I know I gave my family a super taste of west coast America. Every day was filled with interest and the plans I had made came to fruition without any significant hiccups. As we headed south on the highway bound for LAX, we played Frances's road trip CD:-
Driving down the 101
California here we come
Right back where we started from
But there was one final jewel in the crown of our holiday memories. When we disembarked our Virgin Transatlantic flight at Heathrow we heard the bleeping of a golf buggy behind us. as we walked along the link corridor. It was two lazy first class passengers. They left the annoying vehicle at some security bollards just as we also reached them and they had to walk down to the luggage carousel area shoulder to shoulder with us. It was Barbara Bach and her tiny husband - Ringo Starr. You might have heard of him.
|The last morning - in Santa Maria|