After the mountain pass from Arizona, California quickly gets flat and strip malled, but we cut across the central valley and back into mountains; vast desolate sweeps with cows and oil dippers and pale yellow grass under a blue sky, with every verge and electric wire alive with birds. We climed into the hills on roads that did hairpins around the slopes then zommed out of them on switchback humpbacks with the yellow light warming the grey hills until we escaped the rainshadow and they turned green. Driving towards Morro Bay we saw the volcanic plug sweeping up from the steel blue sea into the apricot pink sky. Naturally the road never went the right way to get a photo but the sky was gold and orange as we reached Cambria, beautiful seen through grass and branches on the cliff edge, with Venus burning silver bright in the last of the light and the sea washing in to Moonstone Beach.
We'd tried the Sea Otter last time we were in Cambria and it was full; this time we got a deal on a kingsize ocean view with a fireplace - gas for convenience. A quick dip in the steaming hot tub for star gazing before dinner (and a very chilly walk back to the room). The Cafe Soleil we ate at before had turned into a wine and cheese for lunch place, so we found the Black Cat bistro instead, which has a very similar menu and sat next to Ron and Julie, celebrating their tenth anniversary and talked geek and wine and travel until they went back to their jacuzzi. Sausage and butternut squash pizza, cheese stuffed marsala soaked portabella , cocoa rubbed rack of elk with a green sauce, five spice duck breast with a celeriac mash and fried spinach (that was the only taste I would have skipped) and peach brandy panna cotta (the chef had gone home otherwise I'd have had the berry chocolate souffle). We're just finishing the last of the Red Zeppelin syrah now; apparantly the wine maker has Elvis as his advisor, and for a lovely day with beautiful if freezing weather, good company, food and wine I'll say 'thank you verra much'.
But two things puzzle me. One, why do so many people here think Wales is in London and two, why do we have to hide the wine in a brown paper bag to bring it home?
So again, we'll aim for Pasa Robles tonight - and maybe San Jose tomorrow!