West Coast Road Trip – Day 5 
Friday, March 19, 2010, 12:32 AM
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This was another fantastic day! We started off with a 5-mile run along the gorgeous San Francisco Bay. Then, after showering up, we took a walk to a section of Lombard Street known as “The World’s Crookedest Street.”

Then, we took advantage of one of the city’s free walking tours. They offer a few hundred each month – it’s really a fabulous program. However, our guide was not exactly fabulous. Very sweet though, in a bumbling sort of way. In fact, the best part was when a member of the Dolphin Swim Club invited us inside and essentially hijacked the tour for about 20 minutes.

Their boats were beautiful, their history interesting and their members tough as nails. This elderly, but very fit, man explained that they discourage wetsuit use in the 50-degree ocean water “because you don’t need one.”

We were starving by this point and so headed to the pier for my first whole Dungeness Crab - delicious, but a lot of work.

Then, Paul and I split up to each explore our own interests – Paul went for history with a visit to a submarine, and I went for food with a tour of the Boudin Sourdough Bread Factory.

We met up a few hours later and headed to Chinatown and Nob Hill, followed by an amazing dinner at Thai Noodle which included the most delicious eggplant I have ever tasted. San Francisco is the perfect city for just strolling around – everywhere you go there are interesting sights, beautiful architecture and blooming flowers.

With that morning’s run and all of the walking we did around the city, I figure we put in at least 10 miles. And these were not flat miles. Upon arriving back at the hotel, I put on my compression socks, hoping they would work some magic before the morning’s race.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 4 
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 11:26 PM
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We climbed out of the tent before dawn in search of sunrise photos. Instead, we got fog. But that made for some cool photos too.

Our first stop of the day was the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery which was amazing!

We continued up Highway, 1 ready for the legendary views of Big Sur. Unfortunately, the fog stuck with us all the way through this area until we reached the affluent town of Carmel-By-The-Sea. No, we did not see the former mayor, Clint Eastwood, but we did see lots of Porches, BMW’s and the like.

Yelp.com led us to Dametra, a Greek restaurant, and we stayed for lunch, despite an overly effusive, ass-kissing host who told us that we were "about to be spoiled." Do people really go for this schmaltz?

But the food, a roasted vegetable salad and chicken souvlaki, was spectacular. To cap it all off, the host insisted on hugging both me and Paul as we were leaving. It was a memorable meal!

Next up was Monterey where we got an amazing seafood cocktail at Fisherman’s Wharf, strolled Cannery Row and then got free entry at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

It was 4:30 and we were hedging on whether or not we wanted to pay the admission fee with only 90 minutes before closing. Tickets were $30 – each! An elderly ticket seller with a kind heart (and a sense of humor) offered us free admission if we would dance for him. So, we did a little two-step and in we went!

We had planned to stay somewhere in that area, but decided to just drive all the way to San Francisco, so that we’d have a full day in the city on Friday. Once again my IPhone app, Hotel Pal, came to the rescue and led us to San Fran’s best kept secret, the Country Hearth Inn.

For just $62 (and $72 on Friday due to the weekend) we got a in the center of the city, just a walk away from the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and all of the hot spots. We were floored - we had expected to pay double that amount! Luxurious it was not, but it was clean and adequate...and we didn’t plan on spending much time there anyway.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 3 
Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 11:43 PM
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We pulled into camp in the dark and so it wasn’t until the morning that we discovered the beauty of Lake Cachuma. The huge campground was practically deserted, although the fisherman began arriving at dawn.

Solvang, “the Dutch Capital of America” was just about 20 minutes away. We spent some time walking around the quaint town and admiring the mission which had the most fantastic Stations of the Cross that I’ve ever seen – outdoors on a beautiful pathway.

Through the miracle of Facebook, I discovered that the brother of my friend, David, was an assistant winemaker at Babcock Winery, which happened to be right on our route. We wanted to hit a winery, so why not pick the one at which we had a connection?

Colin was extremely gracious about us interrupting his workday and he gave us a fantastic behind-the-scenes tour. We actually wound up skipping the tasting room as we figured we had already tasted the best wines - straight from the barrel. Also, it was before noon and I was already buzzed.

We made a brief stop in Pismo Beach where we enjoyed some delicious fish tacos on the beach. We had planned to camp in this area, but, as it was still early in the day, decided to head a bit farther north and check out San Luis Obispo.

At this point, we were itching for some exercise and we certainly got our fill with a steep 1,200-foot climb that rewarded us with amazing views.

With legs of jello, we made our way to the Natural Café for a very healthy and delicious dinner. We then continued on to Morro Bay to set up camp for the night.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 2 
Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 10:29 PM
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Having spent the night in Palm Springs, we started day 2 with a run at Indian Canyon, a beautiful palm oasis.

After working up an appetite on the trails, we headed to the Palm Greens Café, one of those tree-hugger type joints that we just love. Paul started the meal with a gluten-free brownie…

…and then we split a delicious salad sampler plate. It was a creative and fantastic lunch!

We hopped back in the car and drove through L.A. (been there, done that) and on to Santa Barbara where we stopped at a large farmer’s market. We picked up some fresh produce, including this South American fruit which we had never seen before. It tastes like a cross between a banana and a pineapple.

We enjoyed our bounty as a picnic dinner, overlooking the ocean at Stearn’s Wharf.

Then, it was back to the Prius for a 30-minute drive to the campground at Lake Cachuma where we set up camp – in the dark.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 1 
Monday, March 15, 2010, 12:42 AM
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Anxious to get past territory we’ve traveled previously, we put in about 370 miles of driving today, getting us to Palm Springs, California.

We pulled out of the driveway at 8:45am and made brief stops in Tempe (to buy a sleeping pad at REI) and Buckeye (for lunch at Chipotle) before crossing the state line.

The vacation really began when we got to Joshua Tree National Park and enjoyed a 3-mile afternoon hike among the boulders.

Strangely enough, we did not see any Joshua Trees. Apparently, they do not grow in the southeastern area of the park. But, we got a nice view of the Salton Sea, as well as the opportunity to stretch not only our legs, but our whole bodies. Who needs a yoga ball when rocks like this exist?

Upon arriving in Palm Springs, we found that the campgrounds here cater only to RV’ers. That’s too bad as the weather would have made for a very comfortable night in the tent. So, I used one of my new IPhone apps, Hotel Pal, to find and book a room at the slightly sketchy, but reasonably priced Palm Court Inn.

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