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.