The next few days were spent on the road – southwards along spectacular Route 1, as far as Santa Barbara, then back to Pacifica through the hinterland along Route 101. The time spent in Big Sur and beyond was replete with memorable sights and experiences – the sublime beauty of the misty coastal vista; foregoing the luxury (and budget-killing expense) of a local resort-style motel to camp instead under ancient Redwoods (yes, I brought a tent with me); a lazy afternoon reading Asimov in their dappled shade; walking from the campground to the local hotspot – the legendary Big Sur River Inn (opened in 1934), for a cold beer and live jazz on the patio that overlooked the (little) Big Sur river; the afternoon blending seamlessly into evening and a hearty, country meal; walking back to the campsite in the dark to a peaceful night’s sleep sheltered by the forest sentinels; exploring secluded sandy beaches nestled amongst the intricate sandstone formations; the trail leading from the highway, down to the ocean where a pencil thin waterfall emptied directly into surf below; the unexpected delight of seeing sea otters in the offshore kelp beds; soaking up the sun and salt air along the boardwalk in Santa Barbara — as well as admiring the local biota — with Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen”, as a fitting accompaniment, playing in my head.
For the remaining three days of my stay, I was back at the Pacifica Motor Inn. One more trip downtown on a clean, efficient BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit — modern, spacious cars with seats upholstered in fabric, not vinyl) which used a pre-paid, mag-stripe card system — quite the novelty at the time. I had some US funds that I wanted to spend, so Happy Hour at the Hard Rock Cafe (Number 6) seemed like a good place to spend it. On my last full day, I visited a museum near San Jose that specialized in all manner of technology – electonics, computers and other nerdy stuff. On returning to the Inn, the key to my room would not open the door. I hurried down to find out what was going on from Mike and Freda. They had taken the liberty of “evicting” me, so that I could spend my last night as their guest — and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal. Icing on the cake — and a fitting end to a wonderful adventure.