We thought it would be fun to spend some time in California so from Hawaii we flew into San Jose, California. We spent a few days in the San Jose area just trying to get our sleeping cycles down, with the large time change we just went through since leaving Australia it was more of challenge than we thought. It took much longer than we anticipated but we made it through it, I think the burritos helped — wow, California makes great burritos! We headed to downtown San Francisco and spent a few days exploring the city. The highlight for all of us was biking over the Golden Gate Bridge for Amy’s birthday – that was a beautiful day; slightly windy on the bridge itself but a great day overall.
We took a train to the San Francisco airport to pick up a car rental and started driving. Another change that took a little bit to get used to was driving on the right hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the left, especially after having a rental in Australia for about 3 weeks where everything is opposite but again all is back to the same. (One thing we’ve learned with all the rentals we’ve had is to simply reserve a car online that is just enough space for you and your luggage. When you get to the counter they will tell you they have a great deal and for $10-20 dollars more a day they can upgrade you to something better and larger. Just tell them what you have is enough and you just want what you reserved – they most likely won’t have it and will upgrade you for free because they have no choice . . . hardly ever fails. The only chance you take is ending up with the car you originally reserved which should still be a good deal since you reserved it online.) From San Francisco we headed south on Highway 1 to the Monterey and Santa Cruz area. We rented an apartment for 5 nights right on a fairly private beach – the views completely surpassed all of our expectations. (Another thing we’ve learned when it comes to apartment rentals is that you can get a really good deal by playing the numbers game. For example; I checked out a number of really cool apartments online, and most of them show their calendars of when the unit is and is not available. So I would simply send out a bunch of emails to the owners or rental agents asking if they had any aggressive last minute discounts – I figure they would want some money rather than no money when you have a rental unit; a win-win for all parties. Out of the 10 emails I sent out we received 2 that were incredibly nice with a great discount – we ended up taking the one on the beach.) From that location we took a great day trip down Highway 1 to Big Sur. Being in California reminded us immediately not only that we are lucky to live in the US because of the freedom and democracy that is bestowed to us but how abundantly beautiful our country is.