Continuing south on Hwy 101 after San Juan Bautista the land flattens at Salinas to a broad plain between the coastal mountains and Pinnacles National Monument to the east. The mountains are the remains of an ancient volcano.
The Salinas River Valley has mile after mile of market gardens and grape vines. We have driven through when cherry trees are blooming and strawberries are beginning to produce their succulent red bounty. Strawberries are a special treat because back in Canada we won't see local strawberries until the end of June.
Nearing Paso Robles the coastal range is closer and dotted with California oaks. I call them broccoli trees because they resemble broccoli florets.
The vineyards are plentiful and Paso Robles is famous for Zinfandel. The Zin Festival is in March and the Wine Festival is in May.
The spectacular scenery of the Cuesta Pass (elevation 1549 ft) affords a dramatic entrance to San Luis Obispo, a beautiful small city we will come back to. But now we are anxious to get to our destination near Pismo Beach. Hwy 101 dips down by the exits to Avila Beach and then rises and turns left, which gives us our first view of the Pacific Ocean glistening in the afternoon sun.
We're here in paradise once more.
By the way: There are no service centers, so if you need a break along the way there is a Starbucks in Soledad or the Firehouse Coffee Shop at the Canal St exit in King.