Day 11 Saturday 13th August Me: Kev, 47. Wife: Tam, 41. Daughter: India, 14. Daughter: Georgia, 11. If youd like to know more take a look at http://freespace.virgin.net/kevin.stringer/index.htm Now heres a strange thing for you. Every morning up to yet on this holiday either Tam or I, and usually both of us, have been up at the crack of dawn. Today we want to be awake between 6.00am and 6.30am to leave San Francisco by 7.00am. So what happens? I wake at 5.00am, look at the clock and close my eyes again. Next time I look its 7.00am. Now if that isnt the definition of ironic I dont know what is! Dressing, packing and checking out is done in record time and we are on our way by 7.50am. Its quite easy to find the 101 and we are soon heading towards Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. Here we come a cross a sign you dont see every day. Road Bends. FOR THE NEXT 74 MILES! Our first stop is Pigeon Point Lighthouse where Tam and India have their photo taken by me. Tam is looking rather red today and India is having a little trouble with her complexion. So Spotty and Lobster have their photo taken. In my defence, its India that comes up with this description, not me. Snoozy (Georgia) is asleep in the car. Temperature lady is not going to be troubled today; its dull, overcast and drizzling occasionally. I think shes tucked up with her slippers on, enjoying a mug of hot cocoa. At 9.15am we stop at Ana Nuevo State Park. Weve only covered 70 miles, but Tam is determined to see Elephant Seals in their natural environment. It costs $6 to enter the park and we have a 1.6 mile walk out to North Point to see them. Half way along the trail Tam attempts to use the camcorder only to find the low battery light is flashing. I ask were the case is which contains the spare battery. Shes left it back in the car. Doh! Im wondering at this point if you can recharge a battery by plugging it into a certain orifice of a human being, but realise that this is not a scientific possibility. We eventually reach the end of the trail and find one seal wallowing on the beach and another 4 or 5 frisking in the water. They are huge, ungainly creatures on land, but very graceful and elegant once in the water. Georgia decides the one on the beach is to be called Podgy. Seems apt. Another 1.6 miles back to the car. I never signed up for a hiking holiday. We would love to do the loop around Monterey and Carmel, but there just isnt time. We drive on through Big Sur along some beautiful coast roads, stopping at odd points to take photos and video. Just outside San Simeon we stop at a vista point and there are a good few Elephant Seals to be seen within a few yards of the road. This means we walked over 3 miles back at Ana Nuevo State Park to see seals that we can see here practically from the car. Kevin once again harbours dark thoughts of re-charging camcorder batteries. The endless drive continues until we finally arrive in Solvang at 5.30pm, 360 miles and 9 hours 50 minutes after we set out. Admittedly this did include a 1.5 hour detour at Ana Nuevo State Park and a 30 minute stop at Burger King for lunch. Tam is embarrassed that we stopped at Burger King, but after the camcorder battery debacle, she deserves it. We are staying at the Wine Valley Inn and Susan (our friend who has flown in from Tulsa) is there to meet us. There is much hugging and greeting and then we unpack the car. We have a loft room, which is on 2 levels with the top level being a bedroom looking down on the living area with sofa that doubles as a bed. Its very nice indeed. The Inn also has a delightful little courtyard with a small stream and bridges. Susan joins us in our room for tea (and beer) and we swap gifts. As usual she has spoiled us rotten. Its now getting past 7.00pm and time to get ready and go out to eat. Theres never a spare moment on this holiday. We stroll up the main street of Solvang. Its a very pretty, slightly strange place. Solvang was founded by a group of Danes in 1911 and means sunny fields in Danish. All the shops, restaurants, hotels and houses are built in Danish style. Its almost Bavarian and reminds us all of some of the buildings in Fantasyland in WDW. We havent booked anywhere to eat and its getting late, so our choices are somewhat limited. We find a Chinese restaurant (a Chinese restaurant in a Danish town in the middle of California. Seem strange to you?) and decide to eat there, although Tam is a bit unsure as we ate Chinese a couple of nights ago. It works out well, as the food is fine. Not as good as in San Francisco, but this is only to be expected. It gives me the opportunity to sample a couple more Tsing Tao and we chat away for a couple of hours, catching up with Susan and her news. At the end of the meal I go to pay the Chinese waiter $125 including tip. He says to me No. You pay too much and points at the bill to tell me that the gratuity has already been added. Although I dont like this practice, its nice to have an honest server. We leave him extra anyway. Back to bed around 11.00pm.