During the break between Christmas and New Year’s we visited Mount Dora. Founded in 1880 on the northern shore of Lake Dora, along the rolling hills of Central Florida, the 12,000-inhabitant enclave retains its small town charm. We spend one night admiring the intricate and over the top Christmas decorations. On the next day we take a package that includes a boat tour along Lake Dora and the Dora Canal, dubbed “the most beautiful mile of water in the world”. We also take a short yet exhilarating seaplane ride around the Lake County area, and return to Mount Dora aboard the Orange Blossom Cannonball, also known as the movie train. On the next day we move a few miles south to Kissimmee, catch a blockbuster movie and enjoy some of the Orlando nightlife.
Previously on Road Nomad we flew from Miami to Los Angeles, California and visited many of the famous landmarks. Then we took off on the Pacific Coast Highway, passing by Malibu, crossing paths with the Google car, paid a quick visit to Santa Barbara, and tasted wines at Solvang. Today we continue due north. Enjoy.
At San Luis Obispo, we get back on California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway after our Santa Ynez valley wine drinking detour.
We arrive to Morro Bay. Originally named El Moro by Portugese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillos because the big rock resembled the turban worn by North Africa’s Moorish people, however morro also means pebble or rounded rock in Spanish, so either origin works for me.
The main industries are tourism and fishing and the town’s most striking feature is the Morro Rock, a reserve for endangered species the peregrine falcon.
We are hungry for some seafood and this place looks nice enough. The clam chowder was good.
Anchor memorial park. The park was developed as a memorial for fishermen lost at sea.
We continue or journey north.
We arrive to the town of Cambria, which features a pretty interesting dwelling, The Nit Wit Ridge. It is a house built out of junk, thousands of found object by one man, Arthur Harold Beal over the course of 51 years. It is considered a fine example of folk art, actually a historic landmark. A poor man’s Hearst Castle. We’ll see the real Hearst castle soon enough.
We stop every few miles to admire the scenery.
And that is the famous Hearst Castle, built by newspaper millionaire William Randolph Hearst as his private paradise. Probably worth a visit but not this time. We prefer to hang out with the elephant seal at their private beach near piedras blancas. Apparently, according to the park ranger on site, these are adolescent male seals just playing and getting ready for mating season.
Back to the car. We approach the Big Sur, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. We are treated to some of the most striking landscapes this coast has to offer.
We are about to cross Big Creeck Bridge, an impressive double arched bridge.
Further north we stop at another vista point overlooking the MacWay Rocks, near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Our next stop is the Big Sur Coast Gallery & Café for a much needed espresso, snacks, and local beer, and of course to stretch our legs.
Next we cross historic and iconic Bixby Creek Bridge.
We are finally arriving to Monterey California, as supposed to Monterey, Mexico. This one is spelled with only one “r” instead of the two on the one south of the border. Monterey was the first capital of California both under colonial Spain and Mexico. It also had the first theater, brick house, public school, public building, public library, and printing press in California. We have dinner at what looks like the local tourist trap, the Fisherman’s Wharf, at this Italian place called Isabella’s, not bad though. As the day ends and the moon, rises we say good night.
On the next episode we will visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, famous for its jellyfish exhibition and more… Also the set for the movie Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home We will pass by neighboring Carmel and the place where we really wanted to go eat. And eventually we will make it to San Francisco.
Until then thank you for watching and see you on the road.