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DAY 8 - Trip Report - CA, NV, AZ - March/April 2009

Cambridge, United...
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DAY 8 - Trip Report – CA, NV, AZ – March/April 2009

I will post as a reply.

For background, my husband and I were celebrating our first wedding anniversary. It was also our delayed honeymoon because we hadn't been able to afford the trip after our wedding in March 2008.

We're in our early 30s and like history, architecture and food. We were spending about 16 days travelling around California, part of Nevada and a little bit of Arizona.

The opinions in our trip report are just that - opinions. We had to pick and choose what to see and do whilst we were travelling because we only had a limited amount of time in each place and we had quite a strict budget. The trip cost us £3000 and we took £1300 spending money with us. We came home with about £200 – the money all went on attractions, food, gasoline and incidentals – no shopping on this trip. Having said that I did pay for as much in advance as I possibly could so add about £600 to the total.

I hope you enjoy it. Sorry if it's long but I loved reading trip reports when I was planning. I hope someone finds something useful.

Day 7 can be viewed here: tripadvisor.co.uk/…18503696

Cambridge, United...
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1. Re: DAY 8 - Trip Report – CA, NV, AZ – March/April 2009

Day 8 – Friday 27th March 2009

This morning’s complimentary breakfast at the hotel this morning was paltry, compared to what we’ve eaten so far. There was no bacon and only the only cereals available were alarmingly brightly coloured. Shouldn’t complain though I suppose.

We loaded the car again (we’re getting good at this now) and did a drive past of Nit Wit Ridge. In fact, we did actually drive past it first time as it doesn’t stand out like we expected it to! It's a house belonging to a Cambrian eccentric built with scavenged materials and decorated in a most bizarre fashion.

We then backtracked north a short distance to Hearst Castle. After watching a National Geographic film about the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and the building of the "castle", we boarded a bus to take us up the hill for our tour. We thought it more mansion than castle but that's PR for you. We met our guide and proceeded to the main entrance via the Neptune Pool and a terrace with views all the way to the ocean. We were impressed already. We were shown around one of the guesthouses – the 18 room Casa del Sol – and back out into some gardens. Marble statues at every turn, manicured flowerbeds, a fountain and the imposing west entrance. From here we were shown into the Assembly Room – with the largest fire place we've ever seen – the Refectory – styled to appear like a church – Morning Room, Billiard Room, Theater, tennis court and Roman Pool – with so many gold tiles it positively sparkled. No expense spared anywhere.

Back on the bus to the Visitor Center we were told of Mr Hearst's private zoo, vine-covered pergolas for guests to promenade through the grounds and airstrip to receive all manner of goods and visitors.

They say money doesn't buy taste but we thought it was beautiful, very well maintained and just on the right side of ostentatious. Our guide was clearly very passionate about the buildings. If we had more time we would have booked to go on one of the other tours available that day (we did Tour 1).

Back got back on the road south then turned off Highway 1/101 at Highway 154 to travel inland through more rural areas, with fields of vegetables, citrus fruits and grapes growing either side of the road. Our destination was Solvang, a Danish enclave – or so we believed. What we discovered was a town cashing in on a mish-mash of European clichés. From clogs and windmills to shops named "Edelweiss" and "Ye Olde Shoppe". We did get some ice cream whilst we were there but we left as soon as possible. We disliked it so much we didn't even take any photos! We are prepared to believe that the town has authentic Danish roots but now it's just tacky, commercial and a little offensive.

We carried on inland through the mountains towards Santa Barbara. It is a really scenic and underrated route – it doesn't feature in any guidebooks but is spectacular. We passed Lake Cachuma – we didn't want to pay to enter but got glimpses from the road of its impressively vast size. We turned off to find the Chumash Painted Caves that we'd read about in our guidebook and found ourselves winding our way up an almost-sheer mountainside! There was nowhere to turn around so we just had to keep going – certainly the steepest road we've driven. We finally found the caves tucked away among some trees, protected by iron bars. Once our eyes adjusted we could see the drawings, red and ochre. Very interesting. The whole area was once inhabited by the Chumash Indian tribe and, apparently, there are many painted caves but they have spiritual meanings so the locations are kept secret. Now the area is home to wealthy people with SUVs, mansions and swimming pools.

After a white-knuckle ride back down the mountainside we were relived to reach the highway again. Having said that, the views on the way were great – we could see all the way to Santa Barbara and the ocean beyond. From here it was just a short drive to our hotel, Best Western Pepper Tree Inn. By now we desperately needed to do some laundry so we set that going before heading out for steak at Holdren’s. We discovered that the street the restaurant was on was THE place to be on a Friday night. It wasn't what we wanted after a long day's drive so we retreated back to our room with freebie champagne, prickly heat and wet socks!

Miles driven today: approx 180

Route map here: maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=

116614468181009199193.00046b38eb39e41ad2b2e

Pictures here: alison-dodd.smugmug.com/photos/swfpopup.mg…

santa barbara
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2. Re: DAY 8 - Trip Report – CA, NV, AZ – March/April 2009

Hi tkdally,

What an interesting and fun report to read. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I am still laughing about your comment re: the alarmingly brightly colored breakfast cereal. That would be pretty scary.

You are really taking in the sights and your descriptions and opinions are very interesting.

You were certainly very brave to travel to the Chumash caves...many of us who live here aren't that brave, good for you! Glad you got back down the road safely:-)

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and opinions about Santa Barbara.

3. Re: DAY 8 - Trip Report – CA, NV, AZ – March/April 2009

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