Subject: California Coast

South of SF not very far north of Santa Cruz off of Highway 9 you will find Big Basin Redwood Park near Boulder Creek, also nearby is Henry Cowell Redwood Park off of Highway 17 near Scotts Valley. If you have time try to visit Ano Nuevo State Reserve on Highway 1 (also north of Santa Cruz) where at the right time of the year you will see Elephant Seals nesting. You may be too late for the mass gathering this year, but check. Entry is limited to preserve the peace for the animals. Santa Cruz is a nice beach town with a small amusement park area right on the beach, and a classic old wooden roller coaster.

Monterey and Carmel should be your next destination as you travel south. The Cannery along the beach is a great shopping area with good choices for seafood along the wharf. The Monterey Aquarium is magnificent and well worth the stop.

Carmel used to have Clint Eastwood as Mayor, he also owned a place called the Hogs Breath Saloon that should be interesting, but I haven't been there. Do drive the 17 Mile Drive between Monterey and Carmel which takes you out along the coast, and among several golf courses (Pebble Beach for one) and many homes of the rich and maybe famous.

Between Carmel and San Simeon, take a break at Nepente, for the views and the unique setting. After that keep your eyes on the road, it is quite winding, but there are several turnouts where you can park and enjoy the view.

Have fun. I live in Santa Maria, quickly becoming more of a bedroom community for Santa Barbara than the agricultural community where it has its roots. If you stay on Highway 1 you will miss Santa Maria but go through Guadalupe. It's a tiny community of about 6,000 but does have one of the best steakhouses/taverns in the area, the Far Western right on the main drag. They have won awards for their beef. A Bulls Eye Steak and salad is a great lunch! From Guadalupe you can take Highway 1 south to Lompoc (Valley of Flowers - at one time a major seed producer) and see some of the 65 murals that decorate many of the buildings in town. From there you can take Highway 246 right into Solvang (see previous messages commenting on Solvang), then take 154 over San Marcos Pass and down into Santa Barbara.

Have a great time!

Mary in Santa Maria where it's about 75, Sunny and breezy.