US Trip 2015 – From coast to desert

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The plan after visiting San Francisco was to follow the coast down to Morro Bay. And from there follow Highway 1 a bit further southeast to Santa Barbara, before heading east towards Yucca Valley.

We left San Francisco, and didn’t stop for the first cache before well out of the city. The weather was like it’s been the previous days, a bit gray. But as long as it’s not raining, we’re not complaining (that much).

We slowly made our way down along the coast, stopping at caches we had planned, and a few extra along the way. For some reason, there was a lot less of both earthcaches and virtual caches now than before San Francisco. But we did stop at a few, like the one that brought us to this nice beach.

Nice beach

We also drove by some local artwork, the last one right next to a cache.

Big bike
Got plates?
Tin man

We did a short detour to visit the world’s largest artichoke, and the virtual cache there. I had no idea what an artichoke was, so we had to do some googling. We also made sure to buy some when we were there, so we could taste.

World's largest artichoke

Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles is well known worldwide, and I’ve read many places that it’s the best road trip in the world. After driving it, and comparing it to other roads in the US, I would have to disagree with that, but it’s still a nice drive! There’s a lot of tourists on this road, and they drive sloooooow, but since we’re tourists ourselves, we had to stop at a few of the tourist spots too. Especially since they also had caches hidden near them! Bixby Bridge is probably one of the most photographed on this road, it’s at least the bridge I see most often.

Bixby Bridge

The views are great along this highway, and we stopped at several viewpoints along the road – both to take pictures and to find the cache (of course).

Nice view

The second and last virtual cache of the day brought us to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where we joined hundreds (okay, maybe 40-50) tourists on the trail to see a special waterfall. The tiny parking lot filled up long before we got there, so we just had to park on the side of the road like everyone else. A short hike later, we got this view:

Nice waterfall

This place was not far from the highway at all, but far enough to not be visible. We probably never would have seen this if this cache hadn’t brought us here.

We continued along the coast, stopping at a few more viewpoints.

Heltinnen enjoying the view

We didn’t visit Hearst Castle, but we did do the short detour to have a look at Nitt Witt Ridge, The poor man’s Hearst Castle. It was closed, so we had to enjoy this piece of art from the outside. It was fun to stand there, trying to see how many small pieces of history we could spot.

Nitt Witt Ridge

We made it to the webcam cache in Cayucos just in time, 15-20 minutes later and it would have been too dark. After the webcam, we headed towards the hotel in Morro Bay, where we decided we had time for one more cache before heading to bed.

The hotel wasn’t as good as we had expected for the price we paid, but at least we got some sleep.

We didn’t have that many caches planned, as we had a long way to drive, and we had planned to attend a CITO-event in Lompoc. To be there in time, we had to get up early, so early that the hotel hadn’t started with breakfast yet. We made time for a quick stop at the gum wall in San Luis Obispo, and luckily the cache there was a whole lot easier to find than the on on the gum wall in Seattle.

Gum wall

We stopped at a virtual cache and one more traditional along the road, before arriving at the event, a few minutes late. We met the event host, got some grabbers and then started picking every piece of trash we could find. We found mostly cigarette butts, before we were called over to help clean an open field. Trash everywhere there! And we quickly filled the bags we had.

When what I guess was a local drove by on his motorbike, held his thumb up in the air and yelled «THANK YOU!» to us, that’s when I realized that what we are doing is actually making a difference. It was nice to take some time to help during this event, give something back.

The place looks clean now
The place looks clean now

Thanks to Riansoccer10 who hosted this event, GC60FQD Neato CITO in Lompoc.

After the CITO, we went to find a virtual cache in Lompoc, before continuing through Santa Barbara and futher east towards Fillmore. We had planned a virtual before we got to Santa Barbara, but the rest stop where it was was closed. But in Fillmore we found two virtual caches. We stopped at a fruit stand outside of Fillmore, to get some supplies for the road.

The next virtual we had planned was at the Route 66 museum in Victorville. But to break up a long drive, we also stopped at a few traditional caches along the road, including one nearby this awesome Joshua tree.

A Joshua tree

We wanted to be at the Route 66 museum in time before it closed. But that was easier said than done, and we also got slowed down by road work. The museum closed at 4PM, and we rolled into the parking lot at exactly 4PM… To make it even worse, we hit the curb on the way in, resulting in a flat tire – a really flat tire.

Really flat

We didn’t get to see the inside of the museum, but we got to see a lot of the people working there, as we parked near the employee exit.

I checked in the back, and was happy to see that we at least had a spare tire. We called Hertz, expecting them to help us – since we had paid extra for premium roadside assistance. All they could do was to meet us there in an hour, and put the spare tire on for us. Yeah, I can do that… We still had to drive the car to the closest airport ourselves.

The tire is changed

I changed the tire, and then we walked around to find the answer to the virtual cache. No way we were going to let this minor set back stop us from finding the cache! We found the answer we needed, and took as many photos as we could.

Route 66

Then it was just to head towards the closest airport, about 1 hour away in Ontario. Kinda didn’t start very well, as the car didn’t understand anything when there was no tire pressure at all, and it probably didn’t make it better that the spare tire was half the size as the regular tire. After shutting off the electronic helping systems, we could at least continue driving.

Driving 55mph on I-15 when the speed limit is 75mph was not fun!

Lot's of warning lights
Lot’s of warning lights

We made it safely to Ontario Airport, where they gave us a new car – a red one! Moving everything over took quite some time, as we had really settled into the car.

Switching cars

We managed to put 5668.8 miles / 9123,1 km on the car, before we had to switch. The new car had California plates, like every other tourist on the road. We also lost the nice satellite radio we had (but we got that back a few days later, when they started doing free preview).

Instead of driving back to Victorville, we took the shortest route to Yucca Valley. While stopping to get something to eat, I just had to fire up my computer to check if there was any caches we could find nearby, and get them onto the GPSr (as we didn’t have any pocket queries covering this area, since we weren’t supposed to drive here). I found a few, including a nice little 8-cache driveable trail.

I decided we had to at least try to find a few of those caches. And so we did, we actually found all 8 of them. And a few others along the road.

Along the trail

Even though the flat tire cost us some time, we managed to turn it around to something positive, and ended up finding a lot of caches extra. Nice!

We arrived late in Yucca Valley, but not too late to get one more extra cache outside the hotel.

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