Tuesday, April 12, 2016

USA 2015 - Day 6: Leaving Mariposa for Gilroy then Monterey and spending the night at Morro Bay

Check out time from Miners Inn at Mariposa.
I love this bench located at the entrance of the building so I said we should take a photo sitting on it.
On Day 6 we drove out of Mariposa, said our goodbyes to Yosemite Miners Inn, and headed towards Morro Bay which was our chosen halfway point to Los Angeles. It was a 285-mile drive and we made a few stops along the way.

In 2003, when we drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco we took the in-land route via Hway 101 and passed by Monterey Bay. During our 2015 road trip we decided to take the more scenic route California State Route 1 - the Pacific Coast Hway. There are so many suggested stops along the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles but we could only fit in a selected few due to limited time.

We were excited to see the view of the coast as we drive south on the way to Morro Bay. I was advised by friends to take caution in driving as the road was treacherous with zigzags and cliffs and possible rock slides during that time of the year. I'm not sure whether it was because of number of road trips we have already done in similar road conditions or because of the excitement of seeing what this highway was famous for but we just brushed off their caution. We just had to make sure there was still sunlight when we drive along that route.

And so, we left our hotel early in the morning and headed to our first stop in Gilroy. We followed CA-152 W all the way to Gilroy Premium Outlet, about 120 miles away (about 2.5 hours drive). Gilroy is known for its garlic crop and there was supposed to be a big garlic statue somewhere near the premium outlet. Dubbed as the Garlic Capital of the World, we also thought about tasting the garlic ice cream although Ira was not too keen on the idea.

I went to the Gilroy Welcome Center which was conveniently located near the Simon Guest Services next to New Balance Factory Store where the boys went in to look for what else but shoes. This area of the Premium Outlet can be accessed via Arroyo Circle. Who better to ask about such a tourist attraction than the people in the visitor center, right? Wrong! I was told the lady had no idea what garlic statue I was talking about. Maybe we got it all wrong. And so our chances of seeing a giant garlic statue just flew out of the window. Good thing there were other things to do in the Premium Outlet.

But before continuing on our window shopping, we drove across Leavesley Road to grab a quick bite at In-n-Out Burger. We had 3 double doubles for USD11.10 which was cheaper per burger than in Livermore. It was already 230pm which meant we were behind schedule because we were supposed to have left at about 11am and have lunch at Monterey Bay. Oh well, one of the advantages of being on a road trip is that you can change your itinerary on the go. The draw back though is that sometimes you will miss out places you've listed in your itinerary because of delays, unforeseen circumstances, or shopping.

Anyway, after lunch we walked around one area of the Gilroy Premium Outlet, continued our (window) shopping then went back into the car for the next leg of the day's road trip. We headed towards Monterey Bay which was 42 miles away (about an hour drive). We parked near San Carlos Beach Park which was the same area where we went to in 2003. We found a metered parking space and when we checked the meter it was still running with enough time left for us to stay a while.

We walked towards the beach to admire the view as sunset drew nearer. Familiar scenery brought back memories from years ago. We looked for the same spot where we took our pictures before and recreated some of our poses. The big boulder was still there. The bench was, too. In the background we looked for the building (slightly older now) and the trees (which were bigger now).
then and now at the San Carlos Beach Park
Here are some of the other photos we've taken at San Carlos Beach Park:

We originally planned to do the 17-mile drive along the Pacific Grove but since it was already dark, we wouldn't be able to see the coastal view so we ditched that part of the itinerary. Instead, we decided to drive along Cannery Row, a short, slow drive as we glanced from left to right on the shops that lined that street. 

If you have more time, and daylight, during your visit to Monterey, you can go on the 17-mile drive starting at the Pacific Grove. It's a private toll road (USD10) but you can get a map from the gate and work your way around the Monterey Peninsula driving out to Carmel-by-the-Sea.
starting from the Pacific Grove gate,
you can go to Point Joe (a spot where many ships crashed into the rocks, mistaking this for Monterey Bay),
Bird Rock (thousands of birds, seals and sea lions towering off shore rocks),
Fan Shell Beach overlook (provides vista to a white sand beach where seals molt seasonally),
Lone Cypress (trademark for the resort, perched on a rock with a supporting cable to keep it from falling).
We decided to have dinner in Monterey since it was already night time and we were not sure if there will be any food outlets open when we reach Morro Bay. There was also no need to rush along the Pacific Coast Highway since it was already dark and we wouldn't be able to see the sights anyway. I guess that means (again) that we will have to go back for another road trip along Pacific Coast Highway, during day time, to experience what this route is famous for.

We found a parking lot along Cannery Row beside Bay Bikes building. It was supposed to be a pay parking but there was no one in the outpost. We figured the person stepped out for a while and we can just pay him/her when we come back.

We strolled along Cannery Row in the cool night with the breeze coming from the sea. There were a lot of tourist shops as well as restaurants and bars to choose from.
this has become a shopping center
brightly lit shops to attract tourists as dusk sets in
Our wandering feet took us to this place. Address: 720 Cannery Row, Monterey Bay, CA.
With its attractive red signage, not to mention its world-renowned name, we couldn't resist the invitation.
Bubba Gump seemed to be the right choice for dinner that night. We have talked about it before the trip when we were watching the movie Forrest Gump. Before making the final decision though, we asked our picky eater to check the menu and see if he fancied anything. He found something that looked like battered shrimp and he was sold. I think what convinced him more was the fact that we've watched the movie before and he was curious about what's inside the restaurant for him to see.

We left our names with the receptionist and was told that there was about a 20-minute wait. We thought we could walk around again, visit some of the shops and come back after 15 minutes. We walked past this bench and realized this was taken from a famous scene in the movie.

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You'll never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump
now if only those chocolates were real.....
There was also this play area just a few steps from the bench photo op area. No one was playing with it so we gave it a try. At first, the boys were not that interested but when they started playing it entertained them until the time we were called to the restaurant.

After more than 20 minutes of waiting while watching the boys play, our party of 4 was called in. Finally, we were able to get in the restaurant. It was filled with Forrest Gump memorabilia. If you're a movie fan this is the place to be.
step into the world of Forrest Gump and a variety of delectable shrimp dishes
We followed the smiley faces on the floor which led us to the middle of the restaurant. It was packed with diners - families, friends, youngsters and oldies. We definitely felt we fit in.
now, what shall we order? Shrimp? Shrimp? Or shrimp?
Pic#1: I love their table tennis paddle shaped drinks menu
Pic#2: Let's dig in!
Pic#3: My strawberry mango chiller in a fun shaker
We ordered Stuffed Shrimp, Shrimp New Orleans, Kids Popcorn Shrimp, Clam Chowder Bowl. For our special drink, we ordered the Strawberry Mango Chiller Fun Shaker mainly it came with the option of buying the shaker. A souvenir from Forrest Gump Monterey Bay. Average price of shrimp dishes was USD20. Tax is at 8.6% and suggested gratuity is from 15%-20%.
Ira didn't get bored at all because there were lots of things to do for kids like him.
He was given an activity book which he got himself busy with while waiting for food.
And when his order arrived, he was so happy to see it was served in this paper boat.
He carefully ate the food on it and said he wanted to bring it back home.
The rest of dinner time was spent quietly, with some side comments from the younger one.
He loved his popcorn shrimp. We all savored every bite of our sumptuous meal.
After our well-deserved, movie-themed dinner, we headed to the restaurant shop to collect our Souvenir Shaker. Then we walked back to the parking lot to find there was still no one in the outpost which meant we had free parking for the night (hint, hint! FREE PARKING). We got into the car and continued on our late night drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.

We stopped just before crossing Bixby Bridge. We've seen a lot of photos of this bridge and they were all beautifully taken. We would have wanted better lighting but we got by even though it was pitch dark. Thankful for the slow shutter function of the camera, we were able to take a night shot of the famous bridge.
Bixby Bridge was opened in 1932.
It was the longest concrete arch span at 320 feet on the California State Highway. It is also one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific Coast. 
in the dark of the night and bearing with the cold, we stood there for a few good minutes to take photos

Then we continued driving all the way to our final stop for the night. We checked in at Morro Shore Inns and Suites. Although the reception area was not impressive at all, we were delighted to see a nautical themed room. The beds were made neatly. The lamp shade caught all of our attention as it was designed as a lifeguard chair. Ira asked if we could take it home. We didn't have the energy to ask. And it wouldn't fit in our luggage anyway.

We showered, we dressed up and tucked in for the night in our comfortable beds and left everything else for fixing the following day.


  1. Loved reading this entry Karen! Ang kulit ni Kelvin in the then and now pics. We didn't get to go around Monterey sayang. I'm liking Calif even more as I read your blog.

    1. Thanks, Amor! There is always a next time. California is such a big state, a few weeks is not enough to explore its many beautiful places. And the others are worth going back to over and over and over again, in different seasons.


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