Thursday, January 9: After leaving Hearst Castle, I drive to San Simeon where I get blown about by the wind on a bit of California coastline as the sun is going down.
My original plan is to drive to Santa Barbara or Ventura, but as the sun slips into the Pacific Ocean, I figure I may as well stop so I can at least enjoy the drive down the coast in sunlight. As it is, I’m just able to get a peek at Morro Bay’s biggest claim to fame, Morro Rock, a volcanic peak that’s one of the Nine Sisters, a 21-million-year-old chain of rocks stretching all the way south to San Luis Obispo.
It just so happens I find a Hampton Inn at a reasonable price in Arroyo Grande, so I check in there. I ask the hotel receptionist for a good local place to eat, and she recommends Rooster Creek. She tells me I must try the salad: arugula and mixed greens, red and golden beets, sliced apples, goat cheese, shrimp and sherry vinaigrette. I do just that, and I’m quite pleased.
While I’m at Rooster Creek, I post a picture of my dinner on Instagram and Facebook, and I get a comment that while in Arroyo Grande, I must go to Doc Burnstein’s for some ice cream. I don’t usually treat myself to dessert, but how can I miss this enthusiastic recommendation? I enjoy a mini-dip Mexican chocolate on a sugar cone.
Outside of Doc Burnstein’s, I see this pretty church still decked out for Christmas.
I head back to Hampton Inn, which I’ve always found to be a reasonable and comfortable accommodation. This is the only hotel I stay in during my trip to California, as I’m here mostly to visit friends and family.
The next morning, I head down the coast in the sunshine, making my first stop in Santa Barbara.