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October 4, 2013 - This week we had a big three day adventure touring California's central coast beginning on October 1st.  The original purpose of the trip was to see Big Sur, but, we ended up seeing a lot of the state that lies between LA and San Francisco.  After leaving Redlands, our first stop was in Oxnard to see the Woolworth Museum.

The museum itself is very small but there are many Woolworth artifacts in it, including this 1941 menu.

Next up was the Mission San Buenaventura in Ventura.  It was the ninth mission built and was the last one founded during the lifetime of Father Junipero Serra.

As it turned out, our first meal on the road was the best meal we had.  The restaurant is Peirano's, which is located right across the street from the Mission.  Judy had a sandwich of shredded chicken breast with dried cranberries and walnuts and I had a hummus and bacon wrap with avocados, tomatoes and mixed greens.

From Ventura it was on to Santa Barbara to see another mission, the tenth one built, simply called the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Before leaving Santa Barbara, we drove down to the beach to see the very memorable palm trees gracing the shore line.

Our next stop was another mission, this one the La Purisima Mission in Lompoc.  This mission no longer has a congregation and is operated as a state park.  Its primitive features convey what mission life must have been like in the 1700s and 1800s.

At this mission you can still see the actual "El Camino Real," the "royal road" that connected all of the missions.  Most of the original royal road has now been paved over with freeways and local streets.

We ended our first day by staying overnight in Pismo Beach.  This beach community is known as "Laid Back Pismo Beach" since it still looks like it did in the 1950s and it hasn't been over-developed like many other beach towns in the state.

We were up and out early on Wednesday, October 2nd, and headed over to San Luis Obispo to see the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.  The mission is beautiful and the town is charming.

The morning fog that rolls in along the central coast created a visibility problem for us at our next stop in Morro Bay.  The Morro Rock is a 581 foot tall volcanic plug that sits in the harbor.  It was a valuable navigational aid during the early settling of the central coast.  Unfortunately, the fog prevented us from seeing it in all its grandeur.

We drove further north and saw the Hearst Castle from the Pacific Coast Highway but didn't stop there for a tour.  However, just seven miles north of the castle is the Piedras Blancas rookery of elephant seals, numbering about 7,500.

After the seals we drove north again and were finally getting into the scenery of the Big Sur coastline.  The scenery here is spectacular and you can easily be stopping the car every few minutes to try to capture it all.  But you can't, since there's no substitute for actually being there to absorb it all.

This is the McWay Falls, an 80 foot waterfall that is one of the two in the region that are close enough to the ocean to be called "tidefalls."  The source of the falls is the McWay Creek and it is one of the few waterfalls that empties directly into the ocean.

This is the Bixby Bridge, located just 13 miles south of Carmel.  It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific Coast due to its aesthetic design and location.

By late afternoon we arrived in Carmel and our first stop was to the Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also known as the Carmel Mission.

Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar, founded the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco.  His portrait in the lower left corner of the picture marks the location of his remains.

It was getting late but Judy wisely thought we should make the famous "17 Mile Drive" around Pebble Beach under the bright sun, since the morning could bring the fog.  This community takes the term "affluent" to new limits since some of the homes for sale here are asking prices up to $50 million.  The ocean here is described as the "restless sea" and the golf courses are numerous.

This is the much photographed "lone cypress tree" that can be seen along the 17 mile drive.

Carmel is charming in its absolute affluence and picturesque beach.

Before heading back home Thursday morning, we drove through Monterey to see its harbor and we were lucky enough to see the sun rise there.

On the drive back we able to see the vast agricultural activity along both sides of the 101 highway.  It was a wonderful trip.

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