California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 8)

Day 11 – Seaside, CA – Fremont, CA

Another day of coastal adventure ahead of us! Leaving Seaside behind we drove to Pacific Grove. We checked out Point Pino Lighthouse – the oldest operating one on the Pacific – before we went to the beach, to see Asilomar Dunes natural reserve. The crusty surface we walked on reminded us of Badlands in South Dakota that we visited a few years ago – looking like a rock formation from a distance it is more like brittle sand that is kept together by salt and moisture.

Enjoying our slow cruise along the coast, passing by many lazy beach resorts, we have stopped in Capitola Beach, known for its colorful Capitola Village resort. We should plan to stay here next time, looks like a great place to relax. Not today though!

Continuing North, we stopped in Santa Cruz to take a quick picture of Natural Bridges.  We also stopped at Seymour Marine Discovery Center. There’s a real blue whale skeleton on display – its size helps to put things in perspective.

On the way to Pescadero we have stopped at Swanton Berry Farm. Besides organically grown fresh fruits and delicious berry pies readily available for sale, you can also pick your own fruits. Just grab a container, enter the designated lot on the farm and pay a fixed amount per pound of fruits you collected. Great fun for the whole family! If you consider to visit, make sure to wear proper footwear and dress in layers – the weather there can change quite drastically from a pleasant breeze when the sun is out to chilly, gusty winds when the fog sets in.

Pigeon Point Light Station can be seen from afar. If you have a camera with telephoto lens you should be able to take some nice shots from a distance, right before entering Pescadero. There’s a hostel near the lighthouse, which seems like a great spot to stay for the night if you are interested in exploring Pescadero Marsh, see the breeding site of elephant seals or admire the redwoods in Butano State Park.

Reaching Half Moon Bay marked the end of our drive along Highway 1. From Huntington Beach where we started, we have covered almost 500 miles on this beautiful coastal road. It is also true that the scenery only gets better as you travel from South to North. While we had a fair share of wonderful experiences on all of our trips across the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway brought it to another level. If we could only pack our bags and come back tomorrow, we would not hesitate! There’s so much more to explore further North too, through the coast of Oregon and Washington. Hopefully we can plan for such a trip soon.


Leaving the coast behind we drove through Silicon Valley, stopping in Mountain View to charge the car. Nothing beats getting stuck in a traffic jam on 101. It probably took us 1,5 hours to travel just a few miles. Thank goodness for TACC and autopilot!
Interestingly, the supercharger in Mountain View has an attendant, who helps to guide arriving Tesla drivers to next available stalls (considering that this is one of the busiest superchargers in the country). Rather unique experience, first time I’ve seen it.

Surviving the rush hour traffic we arrived in our hotel in Fremont. We were too tired to venture out for dinner, so ordering a pizza did just fine.

The name of the conference room close to the lobby gives a hint of what was to come the next day. I could hardly contain my excitement!

Charging stops:

  • Monterey, CA (74 miles left; avg 263 Wh/mi; charged to 234 miles)
  • Mountain View, CA (97 miles left; avg 290 Wh/mi; charged to 210 miles)

Continue to Part 9…

California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 7)

Day 9 – Lompoc, CA – San Simeon, CA

We are continuing our journey North along the Pacific coast. Distance-wise we only have to cover about 150 miles, but there will be plenty of things to see on the way. The initial plan was to stop again in Buellton to charge the car to full, but since we had some miles of range left from the previous day we deemed it unnecessary. There will be other opportunities later on.


First on our itinerary was Solvang – a picturesque settlement in Santa Ynez Valley dating back to early twentieth century.  The Danish-style architecture prevails across the town, giving it unique appeal. There’s a Hans Christian Andersen museum (worth checking out!) where one can learn about the life and legacy of the famous writer. The museum features copies of the author’s masterpieces in many languages from all over the world, often complemented by beautiful illustrations that complete the classic story tales. There’s a mini-replica of the house where Andersen used to live growing up, too.
One will find plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining here – there’s a Danish bakery of course. Our favorite was aebleskiver, a traditional doughnut that requires a special pan to prepare it. Yummy!
We spent quite some time wandering around this idyllic town. The weather was absolutely great and we were in no particular hurry. We even found a Swedish candy store where they make and sell the famous polkagris. I brought some back home for my Swedish colleagues to their delight. Before leaving Solvang we have visited the old mission Santa Ynes, dating back to 1804.

About half an hour away is Pismo Beach. The recently opened Oceano Dunes Park visitor center was a perfect place to sit down for a picnic. Passing by the parked RVs and campers we traversed the sand dunes to get to the beach. It was quite a thermal shock once we stood on top of the dune! Back at the parking lot the temperature was in mid 80s, with a gentle breeze providing an additional comfort. Up here we were greeted with gusts of cold wind from the Pacific Ocean, happily blowing the sand in our faces and trying to throw us to the ground. It could not be more than 60 degrees here, and we had to quickly scramble for long sleeve jackets to stay warm (all while holding to our hats so they are not blown away). In contrast, the sand we were standing on was scorching hot. I took off my slippers to enjoy some barefoot walking and quickly regretted that.
After struggling against the wind and unstable surface we have eventually reached the beach. Me and my daughter quickly went to dip our feet in the ocean. It was freezing cold, and it felt like all of sudden the blood circulation to our legs have stopped. After few minutes our bodies adjusted to this change and both of us quite enjoyed the experience, giggling happily in anticipation of another oncoming wave to crash against our feet. What a great foot reflexology, completely free at that :).

It is official then – we stood in the waters of Pacific Ocean!

IMG_5339 Walking back to parking lot was somewhat easier, the wind was pushing us forward. A quick rinse of our feet to remove the sand and we were on our way.

The next stop was at the supercharger by Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. The inn was undergoing a renovation, but there was a local Tesla owners gathering. A few of them drove their brand new Model 3 to the meet. It was nice to chit-chat for a while and share some of the experiences. I didn’t really need that much of a charge, in reality it would be OK to leave after 5-10 minutes. As it happened, I was too engrossed in conversation with other Tesla enthusiasts that we stayed slightly longer than that. Oh well.

Some 15 miles later we would arrive at Morro Bay. Morro Rock – also known as the Gibraltar of the Pacific – stands proudly at the mouth of the harbor and can be seen from a far. A trivia: at 572-feet tall it is actually shorter than it used to be. Thanks to a quarry that was operating here once, chunks of rock were being blown with dynamite to provide material for local construction.
Lured by the smell of freshly fried fish and chips we have stopped by the dockside – both to enjoy the vista and the food. We were just few miles away from San Simeon now, where we would stay for the night. Since Hearst Castle was not on our points of interest list, we decided to check out Ragged Point instead. Leading to Big Sur, the curvy road winding along the coastline provided a nice adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, during our trip the stretch of Highway 1 between Ragged Point and Big Sur was not passable due to erosion and bridge repairs. We would cover the northbound stretch of the highway later, but for now it was time to rest.
That little escapade to Ragged Point ate some of our driving range. Luckily, Days Inn in San Simeon where we stayed had a Tesla destination charger, so plugging in for the night would allow us to start the next day with a full charge.


Charging stops:

  • Buellton, CA (141 miles left; avg 274 Wh/mi; charged to 174 miles)
  • San Luis Obispo, CA (106 miles left; avg 275 Wh/mi; charged to 194 miles)
  • San Simeon, CA (104 miles left; avg 298 Wh/mi – used Destination Charger upon arrival)

Day 10 – San Simeon, CA – Big Sur, CA – Seaside, CA

Since Highway 1 was closed past Ragged Point, we had to take a detour South through scenic Cambria, then northbound Highway 101. That added some 150 miles to our trip, but it was not all wasted.


The road led us through busy farmland. Along the way passed seasonal workers rushing to collect the fresh produce before they get spoiled (and taking advantage of the morning hours, before it gets too hot). The highway was full of trucks and semis delivering both empty crates and containers to the farms to pack the goods and carry the load back to market or distribution centers. We hardly ever think about where our food comes from or what effort it takes to grow and harvest the crops. This was a chance to have a glimpse at the hard efforts of people working in the agriculture and grow a new appreciation for what they do.


Passing by Salinas and Seaside we have arrived at Monterey. The scenery quickly transformed from the busy farmland to quiet town surrounded by majestic pine trees. There was what appeared to be smoke on the horizon. At first we thought it might be a fire, but it was actually the receding fog that is quite common across this part of the coast. The weather was gorgeous (mid-70s and sunny) when we arrived at Tesla supercharger. It was time to park the car and grab some early lunch at nearby California Pizza Kitchen. It was always one of our favorite places to dine in, but it was the first in a long time that we visited the place. It was also our first time experience in California!

With our bellies satisfied it was time to get going. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve was next on our list. Although it was just half an hour away from Monterey, the weather was significantly different: dense fog, gusty winds and temperature in high 50s – low 60s. The fog seems to be constantly moving in and out of the land, something we would experience many, many times throughout the rest of our journey along the coast. Eerie and beautiful at the same time.

Within the park there is Whaling Station Museum, featuring a Whalers Cabin built by Chinese fishermen in 1850. Whale, abalone and famous movies all come together at this place. Whale bones that were found ashore are also on display, so one can visualize how large the creatures are compared to humans.

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Despite the harsh weather conditions Point Lobos is a refuge for many bird species. Rugged terrain does not seem to stop flora either, there’s plenty of native plants that thrive here. There’s an ongoing effort to preserve the habitat and in some parts restore it to its natural conditions. Anyone can volunteer to help to plant the seedlings and to remove the invasive species.
Colder weather is not a show-stopper for having a healthy walk. Provided trails allow you to get close to the nature and enjoy the serenity of the area. The whole place is quiet, almost mystical. The sound of crashing waves and the breeze from the ocean can cure anyone’s anxiety, if you just let it!

After leaving Point Lobos we have continued South on Highway 1, towards Big Sur and ultimately Gorda – the farthest we could reach due to road closure. Once we reached Gorda it felt like we could just throw a stone and it would land at the Ragged Point. It was that close to where we started our journey today and yet it took us the whole day of driving around to get here.

Words can hardly describe the magnificent beauty of this part of the Pacific Coast. One just has to experience it themselves. If this is not the most beautiful coastal road in the world then it is definitely close to being the best. I strongly recommend to anyone to add it to their bucket list.

Even after covering the whole stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway between Monterey and Gorda we still had plenty of range left once we arrived in Seaside (where we stayed for the night). The combination of weather, slow speed we were cruising at (typically 30-40 mph) and rolling hills definitely helped. We would use the same supercharger in Monterey to get Nikola juiced up and ready for the next day’s adventure. In my opinion, this was the best experience we had this far!

Charging stops:

  • Departure: 212 miles of range (rated)
  • Atascadero, CA (170 miles left; avg 334 Wh/mi; charged to 191 miles)
  • Monterey, CA (60 miles left; avg 287 Wh/mi; charged to 232 miles)

Continue to Part 8…

California, here we come! (Road trip 2018 – part 6)

Day 8 – Pacific Coast Highway – Huntington Beach, CA to Lompoc, CA

Being the third largest state by area, California has a lot to offer when it comes to sightseeing. There is simply no way to check out all the state has to offer during a single trip (unless your trip lasts a lifetime, that is). One of the must-see attractions on our list was the famous Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway One. We have carefully planned the trip to allow multiple days for this adventure, so we would have plenty of time to enjoy the breathtaking vista of the Pacific coast and explore some of the places along the way. As usual, we have departed our hotel early. Starting in Anaheim we traveled towards Huntington Beach. It was still early in the morning when we arrived, but the pier area was already quite busy with activity: from people walking their dogs, running or cycling to a large group of surfers patiently waiting for the waves to break, so they can try their skills and stay afloat. Maybe it’s just me, but in their insulated skins they all resembled a bunch of seals waiting for some prey to show up.


Passing Junipero Beach and Long Beach we have crossed the Vincent Thomas Bridge and arrived at the Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro. Donated in 1976 by the Republic of Korea to celebrate two centuries of US independence and to honor the veterans of the Korean War, it is a true masterpiece showcasing some of the best in human craftsmanship. Also nearby, Point Fermin Lighthouse – a historic landmark and a museum.

Continuing on, we have arrived in Rancho Palos Verdes where we visited the Wayfarers Chapel designed by Lloyd Wright. Just outside the chapel there is a great vantage point to take a photo of another landmark – Point Vicente Lighthouse. We wanted to stay as close to the coast as possible, so naturally we drove through Palos Verdes Estates. It’s easy to understand why people are drawn to live and retire in places like this, as it is really beautiful out here. If only money was no issue…

A short stopover at Redondo Beach supercharger (the busiest we’ve seen so far on this trip) and we were on our way. Initially we planned to have a quick stop at both Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, but we decided to skip in favor of other points of interest that we planned for the day. A brief departure from the coastal highway then, as we would use Highway 405 and 10 till we reached Santa Monica.
Knowing that this is a popular tourist destination I was a bit concerned about finding a parking space that would be walking distance away from the pier. My wife already helped to map some of the suggested public parking spots, but we ended up just picking one that was close enough – they are all similarly priced (unless you absolutely HAVE to be five steps from the pier) and there seems to be plenty of them around.

I’m not a big fan of popular beach resorts. Competing for the worst suntan award with thousands of strangers fighting for every inch of available space is far from fun. I’m glad we planned our trip for early summer then, because I cannot imagine how crowded this place is during the hot season. The primary reason we wanted to check out the Santa Monica Pier is because it is the endpoint of our favorite Route 66. That and we wanted to try the original hot dog on a stick. OK, and to be able to say “yes” when asked if we have been to the Pier. Fulfilling our checklist then, we went on.

Back on Highway 1, we would pass by Malibu and stop at Oxnard supercharger. Arriving with an estimated 69 miles of range left we stayed here for about 30 minutes, ensuring we had enough of range for our remaining errands and to reach final destination. The supercharger is conveniently located next to shopping center, so there’s plenty of choices to kill some time while waiting for the battery to be recharged.

Next stop: Ventura, officially known as City of San Buenaventura (named after saint patron). While founded in late 18th century, the place has been occupied for thousands of years. Early Europeans could learn a trick or two from the inhabitants who were great ocean navigators and were able to make the best use of available resources, both on the sea and land. Located downtown, Mission San Buenaventura is a must-see landmark. Founded in 1749 by Franciscan priest Junipero Serra it still server local community till this day. For a small fee one can explore the attached museum presenting a rich history of the mission and the vital role it played throughout the history.

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived, but knowing that we don’t have much else planned for the day we took our time to enjoy the wonderful Mediterranean-like atmosphere that the city is known for. Strolling along the streets full of (expensive) boutiques, galleries and eateries we had a taste of what a perfect place to live in feels like. Speaking of taste, we could not pass the opportunity to try the famous McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.  Some claim that this is the best ice cream in the world, but like all things involving taste it can be highly subjective. We liked it. End of story.

Before reaching our hotel we would stop one more time to charge, in Buellton. We didn’t really have to, but since it was on the way I decided to add it to my personal “superchargers visited” list. Bonus point: we parked next to a brand new Tesla Model 3. While I had a chance to see quite a few of them already, this was the first encounter for my wife and daughter. It was also the first one in the gorgeous blue that I could examine up close.
Buellton is home of Anderson’s, known for its split pea soup. It was getting late and we haven’t had our dinner yet, so it was a perfect opportunity to verify the restaurant’s claim to fame. Each of us ordered something different, but I wanted to try the soup – it didn’t disappoint. The only “gripe” I had was that the portion, following American tradition, was way too big for me to be able to finish. I didn’t want to waste any, so I asked for a takeaway box.

At last, we would reach Lompoc where we would stay for the night.


Charging stops:

  • Departure: 151 miles of range (rated)
  • Redondo Beach, CA (80 miles left; avg 255 Wh/mi; charged to 132 miles)
  • Oxnard, CA (69 miles left; avg 283 Wh/mi; charged to 160 miles)
  • Buellton, CA (74 miles left; avg 295 Wh/mi; charged to 189 miles)

Continue to Part 7…