This morning saw a successful and timely win against Satnav, who in a spirit of provocative meanness tried to force us down Highway 101 again for our journey south. It took a hundred miles before the spoilt brat stopped demanding a legal U turn at the earliest safe opportunity, but we closed our ears and made it all the way down to Cambria with the coast firmly in view. When it wasn’t shrouded in thick impenetrable mist.
Cambria. Cowboy clapboard meets Hansel and Gretel. The sort of town that raises many more questions than it answers. Why does it exist in the first place? Just for Pacific Coastal Highway travellers in search of a coffee break? A whole town to service tea breaks? But despite the gingerbread trim, it had a curiously appealing air.
And terrifically clean and free public restrooms and friendly chirpy inhabitants, of course. How are Americans so unfailingly helpful and happy towards visitors? How do they manage to act as if they mean it, all day every day? And what in earth do they think when confronted by British or European gloomy non-service? (On another tangent, I have often wondered how the Japanese, inventors of miracle robotic toilets, ever manage when faced with Chinese toilet facilities)
Leaving Cambria in a pleasant ambient 62 degrees fahrenheit, we headed inland towards Paso Robles. Satnav had recovered her good humour at the prospect of approaching Highway 101 again, and came out of her sulk long enough to bark instruction. She couldn’t resist just taking us for a quick unnecessary stretch of the 101, though. A slightly late barked command to turn right saw us onto the freeway instead of the access road into the light industrial roundabout where our inn is situated. We didn’t mind too much about an unnecessary extra couple of miles in the air conditioned comfort of our Chevy. Because the in car thermometer showed that after just thirty minutes of road travel, we would open the doors to a wall of heat and an ambient temperature of 100 degrees.
Paso Robles. A town in this case with just one purpose: wine. No questions necessary. And i feel curiously drawn to its wide empty boulevards of nothingness. The sort of nothingness that is compelling the more you gaze wt it.
I’m also very content in the welcoming Seventies time warp ambience of the Hampton Rooms and Inn with its generous brown rooms each equipped with a granite-topped food station allowing guests to prepare a simple meal of Lean Cuisine (obtainable from a cupboard at reception). Surrounded by waste ground and approach roads to Highway 101, it’s an oasis of calm and tranquility.