We hired a Jeep Compass with auto & GPS from Avis in Anaheim. They picked up us & the bags to shuttle back to the office. This was an unexpected bonus. After a few laps of the nighbourhood, we were ready to tackle the freeway. Off to the I 5. A steady flow of traffic, cruise control & stay in the middle lane. There were some good views of LA as we motored along the freeway. No high speed police chases as recorded on cheap, reality cable TV shows. What a relief! We emerged on the northern side of LA and beautiful country side became apparent.
As we were making such good time on the road my non-adventureous husband decided to detour to Santa Barbara for lunch. Yippee! This had been advised to me on forum posts which I casually mentioned and he took the bait. It is a very attractice town - clean streets, neat gardens, beds of colourful flowers, spanish architecture. We did stop to ask some helpful locals on road rules for the intersections with no lights. Who has right of way?
To stretch our legs, we walked along the Esplanade and warf. Lunch was at Moby Dick's, a seafood estaurant. The temperature was noticably cooler than Anaheim so we sat in the sun with a view of the boats sailing passed. Bliss! The food was good but more expensive than Anaheim and smaller portions. We enjoyed our meals and the ambience.
We drove north on the 154 & 101 through of country side of Santa Ynes Valley and the San Rafael Mountains. WOW. So picturesque and picture perfect - fields, mountains, ranches and a glistening lake. My photos look like paintings. We were so relaxed and happy. The drive was easy. The kids were counting horses and cows. (and playing with their lego purchases.The best pocket money ever spent!)
We drove through to Pismo Beach quickly (no more spontaneous detours from Husband) so we missed the beautiful town of Solvang.
Pismo Beach Lighthouse Suites. We only stayed here one night but we all wished it was longer. It was recommended to us by Australian friends. It is an attractive hotel, Cape Cod architecture with clean, modern amentities. We received warm service at reception with complimentary hot coffee, hot choclate and fresh baked biscuits. The reception has a gift shop with tastful souvineers. Our suite was large - 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in a nautical theme. We walked through the grounds of nearby hotels and onto the beach. It was cool so we needed to rug up. The hotels are perched on the edge of cliff with a magnificent panoramic view . There was a large outdoor games area. The kids played mini golf and badmington. Husband and I played giant checkers. I won!
For dinner, the manager suggested McLintocks Saloon (a steak house) for its family atmosphere. It was a hoot! My husband was in country & western heaven - a Garth Brooks song, dead animals on the walls, vista murals, cattle brands and lots of onion rings. They had super friendly & entertaining servers.There was so much food (sides) it couldn't fit on the table. There were lots of happy locals out celebrating and having fun. We all enjoyed our meals and the atmosphere.
A continental breakfast was included in the accommodation price. It was a self serve breakfast room. It was very busy but there was plenty of fresh food and variety. The do it yourself waffles were a hit in my family.The kids want to buy me a waffle maker for Mothers' Day (their benefit or mine?). We sat on the balcony overlooking more Alaskans in the heated pool.
During another walk on the beach, we chatted to friendly holiday makers and their dogs. When we drove down town for a look, it was easy to see that it would be a lovely laid back summer holiday town. We all wanted another night at the Lighthouse Suites and a day to explore the area. Such a happy and pretty little town, we enjoyed it. Next, we headed up the PCH to Carmel.