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Feb
02

Well we didn’t have to worry too much about getting last night’s bugs off the bike, God took care of it with rain overnight and then this morning…shame about the sloppy roadworks we rode through that sort of mucked up everything so the ultra-clean bikes now look very ordinary and my travelling companion I think is even more annoyed than me.

Being able to head off nice and early in the day meant that this 1 ½ days’ worth of riding was at lest achieved in daylight which was good. We had an awesome ride winding up and down from high country to seaside and back, riding through productive farmland and orchards and even down the Waiakea Gorge which was spectacular. We headed down from the top and travelled down following a stream which became a river amongst cliff faces and canyon walls dense with ferns and palms and all sorts of trees and other vegetation and for good measure sights of occasional hilltops and whole sides of hills which have just slipped off down the hillsides to the valley below. Immense power! Lots of 25 35 and 45km corners today so extended the time of the ride a fair bit but very enjoyable.

Checked in then headed down to the Irish Pub for dinner which we have been to before with Harry & Lorraine Heathcote. Lovely meal as always but very noise with a very enthusiastic ‘Hens night gathering’ in progress. We bolted as soon as we could.

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On the hill heading out of Wairoa and looking back. A litle bit damp!

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Heading down the gorge.

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Down on the water.

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Parked up at a rest and stretch stop for us.

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Little war memorial in a town at the bottom of the gorge.

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View a bit before Whitianga.

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And an example of some buses we've seen.

  

Last nights’ accommodation:

Wairoa Motel

Cnr Clyde & Campbell Streets

Wairoa NZ

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A handy spot to drop for the night. Immaculately clean and well presented. Very comfortable bed and nicely appointed kitchen space with a hot plate if you wanted to self-cater but it was a bit late for us. We were extremely grateful for the owners working in with us and leaving the key for us so we could retrieve it well after check in time.


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Jan
31

Eeeeh haah we got our bikes and rode to the VTNZ to get a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) equivalent to our RWC and temporary registration for the bikes and were the 1st Aussies to get there then went back to the hotel to collect our bag and suitcase and headed north. Was chuffed to have the roadworthy guy say, ‘I hope all the rest of the bikes are in as good a condition as these two’. All the staff at the centre were terrifically helpful as were the guys at the Transport Company ably led by Clint who was a real gentleman. A shame we had to keep determinedly pedalling to make it to Picton by a reasonable hour tonight so we can head off on the ferry to Wellington tomorrow, but it was a blast to finally be on the bikes.

Ever since we got our bike licences, we’ve known New Zealand was a country just begging to be ridden around and yep it sure is. Awesome sights today weaving between coastal views and further inland amongst rolling grassland, intense grape vines and lumpy bumpy hills and mountains in the distance. Just beautiful.

We were originally supposed to stay 2 nights at Napier once we got to the North Island which is one of our favourite spots being the Art Deco capital of New Zealand but to keep as much of our itinerary on track without further cancellations, we decided to head for Wairoa tomorrow night.

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A bridge near the airport as we headed out of Christchurch.

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Exploring off the main highway but lost interest when the seal was lifting off.

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A couple of many tunnels as we headed for Kaikoura.

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Beachside view in Kaikoura, site of the earthquake when we were last in Wellington.

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The Bay at Picton.

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A cute litte apartment building in Picton called Art Deco Apartments for obvious reasons.

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And the Oxley Hotel, built in 1870 and still a good spot for a meal

Last 2 nights’ accommodation:

Equestrian Hotel

6 Tower Street

Hornby NZ

I've tried to load a photo a dozen times and it wont work so I'm over it! Googe it if you want a photo.

An ageing but determined suburban pub which started off as a community owned establishment. It’s working hard now at offering a comprehensive service for all sorts of people even Aussies who cannot collect their motorbikes. New management is trying to overcome an air of previous neglect plus quake damage with new paint and carpet in the hallway of the area we stayed and a small but newly tiled bathroom. Generous sized room and comfortable bed but lacking an armchair. Wi-Fi slow and frustrating but adequate for checking mail. Staff terrifically friendly and helpful. On site ‘Ironhorse Garden Café’ named after the model railway which used to run in the garden with very nice meals as well as a bar and pokies if that appeals and multiple function rooms. Good community resource. Best bit for us is that it is in walking distance from the transport company (PF Transport) where we had to collect our bikes.


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Jan
30

Another relaxing day of our holiday in New Zealand……yeah well in theory. We enjoyed one another’s company, I got myself another book to read to distract myself and we tried not to get too distracted with the need to cancel and rebook accommodation and ferry options and commiserated with the locals about the heatwave sent to them by Australia…..only high 30’s here but big for the locals and there are dry parched hills in the distance so very concerning for them…..and we felt like locals standing in the shade of traffic light poles on our way back from the transport office this afternoon waiting for the lights to change. It was effective so it didn’t matter that it looked ridiculous.

We have been assured that the Biosecurity people WILL clear our bikes for pick up in the morning and then we will hotfoot it to the VTNZ to get our Warrant of Fitness (WOF) same as a RWC then get the short-term registration for them. The paperwork already filled out plus the necessary attachments of registration certificate and copies of licences as well as the Customs / DPI clearance certificate we will be given in the morning. After that it will be back to the hotel where we will collect our bag and case and then we will head north. Yay!

So, we have again delayed our accommodation at Picton now for tomorrow night as well as the ferry crossing the following day. We have had to cancel our 2 nights in Napier and rebook another 1 after that booking and cancel 1 night at Whakatane between there and Whitianga and then we will be back with our original itinerary…. well that’s the plan at least so we will see.

I decided I wasn’t strong enough to tackle the photo thing again today so added another couple on our ferry trip across to Wellington.

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A shot of what remains of the previously tallest building in Christchurch (22 storeys). Chilling.

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And the Rollickin Desserts Cafe in New Regent Street from the balcony of Casa Publica. We didn't get to try an icecream but I think everyhone else in Christchurch as well as visitors did. There was a constant queue. Hope to try one on our return.


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Jan
27

Well we slept in until just before midday (okay so that was only just before 10am Australian time but it was still pretty impressive especially by Norms usual standards) then we headed off for a leisurely breakfast and rest of the day. We wandered the streets, hopped on the tram which was great, visited the Earthquake Museum then had a beer and chips on our way back to the hotel. The temperture has been comfortable all day with a cool breeze getting a bit more brisk by this evening.

As everyone knows Christchurch experienced a serious earthquake in 2010 (the first there for 110 years) and that was followed by another in 2011 which was devastating and resulted in catastrophic damage and loss of life (185). There are still whole blocks empty and signs of rebuilding and repair everywhere and the whole town was evacuated for 3 years afterwards but my goodness what a tribute to the resilience of New Zealanders (Cantabrians - residents of the Canterbury region) in the massive repair and rebuilding which is ongoing. There is a staggering amount of money being spent to revive the city and entice people back. 

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The Cathedral, very sad. The last time we were here we were sitting under the cathedral tower drinking beer at a little cafe. They anticipate it will be 7 to 10 years before it's repaired.

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The Library one of many new buildings. 

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Revived shopping areas.

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And more.

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Older timber buidings overall fared better in the quake being more flexible than bricks and mortar, other than chimneys of course.

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My man as we wait for our beer and chips. This was at the OGB Bar voted best bar for a couple of years. It is part of the Heritage Hotel which is in what is known as the Old Government Buiding hence OGB Bar. It was built with a Shooting Range and Swimming Pool in the basement. The Shooting Range is long gone but the swimming pool survives. We enjoyed our beer and some live entertainment.

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And that's the bar right there.

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The park areas were a welcome relief to the bustle of building and the desolation of empty blocks

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More cool respite spaces in parks throughout the city.


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Jan
19

Well we loaded Norm's Triumph Rocket III and my Indian Scout into a container on January 4th and now the countdown is on until we fly out on Australia Day (January 26th for those who don't know the date). We are working our way through our list of 'must do's before we head off and trying to not add extras to it as we go and cannot wait until we get to Christchurch and can start exploring New Zealand on our bikes when we pick them up on the 28th. Whoo hoo!

We are grateful to our house sitters Rose and Bear who will look after things in our absence at home and all the crew at BRANSTRANS who will keep on keeping on.

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The Rocket heads into the container.

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Then the Indian.

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 All tied down for the trip.


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Jul
06
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Well we achieved what we wanted to today in spite of the smog. California apparently has the most stringent air quality rules in the country and it would seem they need it. We checked out Chaparral Motor Sports in San Bernardino then came back into Griffith Park to catch a glimpse of the 'HOLLYWOOD' sign then onto Bert's Mega Mall to sell our bikes so we're ready to depart tomorrow. Job done. Bert's Mega Mall, 1151 N Azusa Avenue, Covina, CA 91722 are the largest dealers in the world and it is massive with motorbikes, ATV's, jet skis and all sizes of motorboats not to mention a huge apparel and parts range, café and lounges. Very impressive and all the staff we came in contact with (many) were all friendly and helpful. They are clearly serious about how they do business. You can find them here

http://www.bertsmegamall.com/

A miserly selection of pics tell the story below:

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We thankfully managed to be heading in the right direction while we were on a variety of freeways today which was good but the 90 kms from San Bernardino to Griffiths Park made me pine for my foot pegs given we had removed them for me to bring home. This is a shot of one of the spaghetti (cloverleaf) type intersections of a number of freeways from many directions. Signage has been good so not as daunting as it looks.

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And an interesting wide trailer we followed for a bit before heading off the freeway this morning.

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Check out the Police Bikes parked up at Chaparrel in particular the guns, radar guns etc. All ready to go. BMW bikes you'll note, not Harley's.

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And the 'HOLLYWOOD' sign from the LA Observatory approach road.

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And a second shot to prove it was us there, bottom right hand corner you can just see the bikes (well more Norm's being blue). Glad we could see it from here. It was too hot to hike to it!

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The LA Observatory we couldn't go through since it had been closed. This queue is to the restrooms. As we were leaving three coaches arrived so perhaps they had tickets, who knows. We had bikes to sell!

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And a miserable shot of the LA skyline, at least what I could see of it and it was worse on the other side of the observatory so I didn't bother taking a shot.


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Jul
05
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We decided to stay on Hwy # 1 rather than 101 again in the hope we would be closer to the coast and we were for the most part until we headed east to our hotel. We left Santa Barbara in good time and called in to Oxnard right on the beach to catch up with Gina Yates (from the Portland area) who we  met many years ago when she did a stint as an exchange student with Norm's sister and family. We caught up with her briefly in Portland in 1998 so it was good to see her again and it was a bonus to also meet her young man and her Mum. Cannot believe we left without taking a photo. DOH! Even worse than that we forgot to wish her Happy Birthday!!

From there we headed for Malibu and had a great time dipping in and out of the great folded up sandstone cliffs / mountains  with sand dunes thrown into the mix with great curving corners sweeping back and forth, a lovely ride. We headed up one canyon to try and explore without success but finally found the Malibu Canyon with a great sealed road and had an awesome ride. It was spectacular and after we found the end of Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier we were heading east on multi lane freeways to our hotel. It was flat out and full on concentration and boy were my knees ready to get off by the end of that. For the most part the traffic was pretty good but some were oblivious to indicators which aggravated me somewhat. Anyway, at the end of the day we got to where we needed to go safely.

The photos tell the story below:

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Beautiful cliffs accompany us on our ride.

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It's official, these are the Santa Monica Mountains not just sand dunes.

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Back to the highway when the canyon trail ended in dirt and a closed gate ... just as well there was also a warning sign about mountain lions in the area.

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Malibu housing literally hanging on the edge, wouldn't like it for me.

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Lunch at Neptunes Net which was an experience with lots of other bikers and a lot of 'wanna be's' (my uncharitable title).

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And across the road there were surfers of all ages, a lot even older than us, who were bobbing about like corks on the surface waiting for a wave.

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And one finally up.

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And miles later it's officially Malibu according to a sign which said 'Malibu - 27 miles of Scenic Beauty'.

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And we discover Malibu Cayon and this is a massive cross in the grounds of the Pepperdeine University at the start of the trek up the canyon. We followed the route through magnificent rugged cliff faces until we returned to ranching country then returned to the coast. Lots of great shots we didn't get but these two below we were able to stop for. Not as impressive as many we coudn't get.

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And into Santa Monica to visit the pier and the end of Route 66 and with parking places all full desparate times required desparate measures. Worked well.

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The official end of the trail. Always a problem getting strangers to take a pic, just checked our faces and sign were in view, didn't notice the missing feet. Ah well.

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Lots at the beach which had a massive stretch of sand so by the time you get to the water you would deserve a swim. The crosses were part of some sort of protest about troops being killed overseas. Interesting that with all the people on the beach these weren't disturbed.

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And the lovely old Carousel now inside a building so it is protected from the weather.

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And finally a look to the end of the Pier ... oh and we saw another Bubba Gump Shrimp Company building with diners lined up outside the door and heaps of apparel for sale. What a crack up, actually over my right shoulder in the Route 66 sign.

Bits and Bobs:

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The sign at the front of our lunch spot. Worked well though a little unsettling with people hovering around as we ate.

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And look what we had in our room last night. Thought we had the genuine article but it was push button and not rotary dial. Ah well.

Last Night's Accommodation:

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The Wayfarer, 12 East Montecito Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

This is an upmarket hostel. Nice room though tiny also a tiny shower room but as the room it is all functional, nice and comfortable. Good storage space but no hanging space. Included WiFi, continental breakfast, parking and use of full kitchen as well as lounge space.


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Jul
04
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We decided to follow Highway # 1 (the original highway) rather than Highway 101 wherever we could today to get closer to the coast and while that entailed a bit of frustration it overall led to a great day. We traveled through great California Ranch Country and Coastal areas looking more like Australia than anywhere else with all the eucalypts and had barely started out when we came across a 4th July Parade. Yay. After our experience in Cody Wyoming last year we had hoped we would find one.This year it was in Cayucos where the theme was 'Home of the free next to the sea' and we enjoyed it. We ended up today in Santa Barbara and looking at the tall palms in front of the hills all that is missing is the Hollywood sign, albeit a bit too far north for that. Had a nice dinner and enjoyed the fireworks display which was supposed to start at 9.30pm and ended up being 9.05pm. Was very pretty. Happy Birthday everyone in the USA!!!

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The wharf in Cayucos being rebuilt with people gathering in front and left over from the sand castle efforts. Note the gum leaves on the tree above. Travelled through heaps of them today including really dense roadside plantings and it smelt great.

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And the 4th of July Parade for real above and then below.

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Morro Bay StatePark (on the old highway) and this is the Marina.

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And the Golf Course.

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And along the Los Osos Valley to the beach, like in the Australian high country amongst the eucalypts!

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And then at the beach. There were so many cars coming back we assumed a through road (and no signs said otherwise) but not so.

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Proof we got to Pismo Beach, just too much cloud to see a beach! ....and this was followed by over an hour in a frustratingly inch by inch traffic jam only to find the traffic jam was turning into a state park and choking up the road we were on as well. DOH!

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We travelled through lots of California Ranch Country reminiscent of cattle country around Cooma in NSW...

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...and then into Market Garden Central (my title) literally hundreds if not thousands of acres of intensive market garden agriculture. Interesting to see where they use plastic it is white instead of black like at home.

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Guadalupe,  tired little town in the middle of the market gardens.

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After winding through the Californian Hills / Sand dunes / folded up bedrock mountains of California and riding over awesome winding roads we came across the Vandenberg Airforce Base before we headed for Lompoc. We didn't hang around to see the penitentiary entrance further down the hill.

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And to the coast...

 

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Rail and old road bridge. There is apparently an exciting conservation project under the road bridge to get some sort of creature to move from one area to another. I read the board and it made no sense to me so I hope whatever is supposed to migrate has figured it out.

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And more beautiful birds taking to flight. Truly soul restoring ... especially when our trip is about to come to an end. Boo hoo.

Bits and Bobs:

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Stella (youngest grandchild calls Norm Haddad / Hagdad...in any case this was near enough to make us miss her and the rest of them.

Last two Night's Accommodation:

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Cambria Landing Inn & Suites, 6530 Moonstone Beach Drive, Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA 93428

Lovely comfortable space with included breakfast (in our room), parking and wine reception yesterday evening. Seemed expensive for what it was, but reasonable compared to others in vicinity.


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Jul
03
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We had barely started out and started stopping to take photos as we did for the rest of the day and the other thing which didn't stop for the rest of the day was the sea mist / fog / great rolling bank of cloud which moved in and out to and from the coast. We loved the ride winding in and out of the great sandy dunes / cliff faces which were incredibly well covered with succulents, shrubs, pampas grass, remnants of redwood forests and eucalypts depending on how far from the coast we were and later in the day around the Hearst Castle open grassland even with a mob (?) of zebras we didnt get a shot of. Mind you, we only had to be one sand dune away from the coast to be immersed in the cool dampness of the forest. Awesome.

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Barely started our ride and this is the first stop amongst spectacular real estate.

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Secluded inlet on Wildcat Creek.

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Heading out from Carmel proper.

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More rocks.

 

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Above Rocky Creek Bridge and below the Bixby Bridge, both built in 1932.

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A lighthouse on a quirky little promontory with locked gate and no way to get there.

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The McWay Falls, very nice.

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Yet another beach and fog.

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Apparently a known area for rock slides so a more serious treatment than some mesh.

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Yet another bridge.

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And another bridge.

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And a bank of cloud rolling in. In places we were above this bank and it looked like we were in an aircraft with the cloud billowing below us. Bizarre.

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A beach full of elephant seals relaxing and flicking the sand over themselves.

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And two at play / being amarous with possible other suitors waiting in the wings.

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We went to see the Hearst Castle but being the 4th of Juy holiday weekend all slots were taken today and nothing available until late tomorrow so instead we watched the video about the building of the castle and that was enough for Norm.

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And down to Simeon Beach and there were huge numbers of birds just having fun climbing on the thermals.

Last two Night's Accommodation:

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Best Western Carmel'sTown House Lodge, Corner of San Carlos Street and Fifth Aveue, Csrmel, CA 93921

Lovely little town / village to be in. Pulled up and wondered if this was a bit of a scary place to be, it looked very 'old and dated' though clean and tidy from outside and inside thankfuly beautifully refurbished so a delight. Comfortable space, roomy bathroom (disabled friendly so a shower, yay, even with a fold down seat so friendly for old weary campers, ha ha). Delicious bed, included WiFi,  parking and continental breakfast and a short walk to lots of restaurant choices and all sorts of shopping choices as well.....shame about hearing every footstep from the room above, their creaking wardrobe door and every time they flush the loo. Well I guess that's what you get with older properties. The value was good though compared to others available.


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Jul
02
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We had planned to do the 17 mile ride through the Pebble Beach area (a private road) today to be turned away as they have decided motorbikes aren't welcome, so stuff them we just enjoyed our own ride anyway without seeing their snobby little enclave.

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This is the most deliberately un-service station looking service station we have ever seen even down to a dark green shell with pale yellow writing, on the opposite corner to our motel in Carmel.

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And a particularly quirky shop with a really cute shingled roof. I have to stop with this one because if I start with more I won't stop.

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On the beach at Carmel. Beautiful pacific ocean white sand we are familiar with at home.

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Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the USA. First lit in February 1855.

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Pretty beach not far from the lighthouse. There were a number of attractive golf courses in the area as well with literally the 10th hole for one of them on the other side of the lighthouse car park.

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And a very nice house literally across the road from the beach at Lovers Point. Stunning view.

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Harbour Seal hang out at Lovers Point. They can dive up to 1,500 feet for around 30minutes but usually only dive for about 5 minutes and obviously not as deeply as that.

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And  a Mum and Pup as well as another adult. They vary in colour from mottled grey to brown to black and to read the official description are described as 'sausage shaped'.

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Seven Gables Inn one of many sweet accommodation options at Lovers Point.

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Sheltered little beach which also has a volleyball court and a pool one as well.

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Main Street Lovers Point where we had lunch. Considering the number of people all through the street in Carmel the streets here were surprisingly quiet. There were alternate street plantings here of orange and red flowering gums.

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And a beach as we head south to get back on the road to Carmel around Pebble Beach. Oooh aaah.


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