Peter and Elizabeth - RTW 2009-11 travel blog

Ronald Reagan

Reagan the Cowboy

The first female president of the USA

The Oval Office

Air Force One

Air Force One

Air Force One and Elizabeth


Lovely sunset by the seals


Elephant seals


Lovely sky

The Pinnacles


Birds in the road!

Cannery Row in Monterey



Cool jellyfish

Funky little shrimp

Little seahorse

Leafy seadragon

Weedy seadragon

October 25, 2011

We were leaving LA today and had a long journey, heading up the coast to Monterey by following the more scenic Route 1. We left LA early as we wanted to stop at the Reagan Library first and this was just outside the city heading north. We didn’t realize how long it would take us to look around the Library but it was certainly a worthwhile stop as there were some amazing and interesting things in the museum. The presidential libraries cover the lives of the presidents and with Reagan starting his time in the spotlight as a radio broadcaster and then an actor rather than a “career politician” this one was quite different from what you would expect. The story of Reagan’s life was interesting and showed how he was often pushed towards the limelight rather than seeking it. Although he liked amateur dramatics and acting he was not really one for leading the way but due to his poise and prose he was often asked to speak on behalf of organizations, as was the case when he was at college. Similarly later in life, he was asked if he’d like to be involved in politics and ran for office only as an afterthought. His two elections as president came with almost unrivalled landslide victories and it was clear to see how popular he was among the population. As well as the story of Reagan’s life, there were a number of items on display which had been presented to him during his life. This included an amazing American seal made with nails and a portrait of Reagan made from butterfly wings with diamonds for the eyes and a ruby in the tie pin! The stuff was crazy! There were loads of similar things, mostly given by foreign dignitaries as gifts on official visits but it also included some of the many belt buckles he’d collected to go with his love of cowboys! One of the highlights for me though was seeing the actual Air Force One which Reagan had used during his entire time as president and it also carried a number of other presidents before it was retired from service. Not only were you able to see it from the outside but you could see inside, too. The current Air Force One is a much larger Boeing 747 and by comparison this one seemed quite cramped but it still seemed a lot more spacious than your normal 200+ seater plane! The Library was really good and the displays were really well presented and the site, including the memorial site where Reagan lies, was well laid out.

After a quick stop for a couple of souvenirs, we were back on the road and once in Santa Barbara we stopped for lunch at the Santa Barbara Brewing Co. We both tried one of their beers, the Pacific Pale Ale and Rincon Red Ale, and had some great sandwiches but all too soon we were back on the road. The drive along Route 1 to Monterey hugs the coast for much of the way and the scenery was stunning and as the sun started to set we came across a colony of elephant seals. There were loads of them lying along the beach and making loud snorting noises, a very lovely background for a stunning sunset!

By the time we arrived in Monterey it was dark and we were hungry so we dropped off our bags and headed into the main area of town where all the shops and restaurants are. We found a pub called Cannery Row Brewing (yes, another pub!) for dinner and we head more good beer (Madam Floras Red Ale and Lucky Sailor Wheat Ale) and I had a massive burger and Elizabeth had quesadillas. Despite driving most of the day we’d managed to fit in two big meals and some good beers!

October 26, 2011

This morning we headed out early and went to Pinnacles National Monument. One of the great things about the US is the amazing national park system and how well organized even the smallest of sites are. This one, however, wasn’t quite as good as we’d imagined. We arrived just after the park opened and went into the visitor centre where we were greeted by a very grumpy park ranger who gave us an idea of some walks we could do. We planned to do a shorter walk to get a better view of the Pinnacles but he seemed interested on telling us about the longer hikes and being particularly dull, almost disinterested and annoyed we were there! This is certainly not something we’ve encountered before as the rangers are normally chatty and friendly and go out of their way to help you. When we finally decided on which trail to do we headed for the trailhead but within about 2 or 3 minutes it was clear that this path might not be a good idea. There was no clear trail marking and every possible path seemed to be covered in fallen trees and branches. We had no idea which way to go and we were still in view of the car park! After a few a tries we decided to give up. I did manage to get some nice pictures of the Pinnacles from a distance but it was a bit disappointing.

Most of the other trails were much longer so after stopping at a couple of viewing areas we headed back towards Monterey, on the way passing a town called Castroville which claimed to be the artichoke capital of the world! Once back in Monterey we parked the car near the wharf and headed for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, supposedly one of the best in the world. Each year the aquarium catches and houses a young Great White Shark before it outgrows the tank and they have to release it. Unfortunately we’d just missed this one as it had been released only the day before but we were able to listen to a talk about it. My initial thoughts was that capturing a wild animal, putting it in a contained environment and feeding it for 6 months or so before releasing it again didn’t seem like the best of ideas. Most of the animals in an aquarium were either bred here or will live here indefinitely, with very few ever capable of returning to the wild having become more dependent upon humans for food. Unfortunately on this occasion I have been proved correct as, within a week of release, the shark was found dead although the aquarium has done this many times before successfully. Still, it doesn’t seem right to me but I suppose it makes me quite the hypocrite that I was actually disappointed we’d missed seeing the Great White. The rest of the aquarium though was quite cool with some great displays of seahorses and leafy seadragons as well as some of the fish you would see in the waters around the harbor here.

When we were done with the aquarium we decided to have a walk around as we’d paid for the car park for the entire afternoon. We got some ice cream to accompany us on our stroll through the touristy shops and it didn’t take us long to spend some money on presents and souvenirs and candy and sardines! Yes, sardines. Monterey is known for its large quantities of sardines which were fished and canned and sold and this is obvious from the old cannery buildings around and some original cans of sardines planted on the pavement. We found a small shop which still canned locally fished sardines and we thought we should try some. We only stumbled on this shop as we were looking for a place to have dinner but it was a cool find!

The guy working there also gave us a voucher for free appetisers at the place we were going for dinner. I had wanted to try some fish and we found a place called The Fish Hopper and after our free appetizer of calamari and artichoke I had mahi mahi and Elizabeth had a local fish called sand dabs. Both the dishes were really lovely and even Elizabeth enjoyed her lightly battered fish. The restaurant was right on the water, too, and while it didn’t quite face the right way for sunset it was a nice setting for dinner and relaxing, too. We did a bit more shopping after dinner but were soon ready for some sleep!

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