Dave’s American diary – San Francisco to Carmel

Carmel and Monterey sunset

I’ve had a pretty straightforward day today on my way down to Carmel on the Pacific coast.

I’d had two nights in San Francisco and thoroughly enjoyed my time there but I was more than ready to get out of the city and back onto the coastal roads and highways of America’s pacific coast.

I made an early start in the hope of beating rush hour traffic leaving San Fran but alas, so did about one million others.

After about 20-miles or so, the roads eventually cleared up and me and my Harley wormed our way down the coast towards Monterey and Carmel, with one planned stop along the way.

If I was in the UK this weekend, I’d be at Brands Hatch, snapping images of all the guys and girls racing in the first round of ThundersportGB, so because I couldn’t be there I decided to pay homage to all those amateur riders by visiting one of America’s most famous race tracks – Laguna Seca.

Laguna is an awesome place, even if it was cars that were flying around the Californian track and not bikes.

It’s massive and has great access for spectators, so much so that I was even able to ride around the track a couple of times, and take my bike across a pedestrian bridge over the track.

Laguna Seca entrance with Harley

If you’re ever near Laguna I’d definitely recommend a visit – it’s friendly and I was amazed at the access I got.

From Laguna I headed back out on the road and down to Carmel and my new hotel, unfortunately, all those clear roads meant I was a little early for check-in.

After a brief stop for some lunch I eventually checked in and the hotel was brilliant, definitely the best on the route so far not least for the stunning location on the pacific coast.

Pacific view from Carmel

I headed from the hotel into Monterey because I really wanted to go to the aquarium there and after a couple of hours admiring jellyfish and other assorted sea life, I went to the beach with about 300 other people to watch the sun set.

Carmel is a lovely place and it’s a shame I can’t stay here longer as I’m sure there’s plenty more to see and do. It’s very chilled out and relaxed and would make for a great base for a beach holiday.

Jellyfish at the aquarium in Carmel

That said, I’m not too upset about leaving in the morning as I’m off to Pismo Beach – a place I’ve been excited about reaching – and one step closer to Los Angeles!

Road issues

A couple of things occurred to me on my ride down from San Francisco to Carmel, the first being the complete lack of roundabouts in America.

Over here they’re called rotaries but there’s no point in them having names because they’re pretty non-existent. Instead there are loads of traffic lights and four-way stop signs that seem to make everything a bit sketchy.

There’s no obvious right of way for anyone and it generally takes a nod of the head and a wave of the hand to let people know that me and my Harley are coming!

There’s also a distinct lack of the UK’s fondness for queueing! At red lights, if you are turning left or right, riders and drivers do not wait for the lights to turn green before they turn off, instead they go when there’s a gap. As a Brit, I find this difficult!

And that brings me to my next top tip for road trips, read up on driving laws because I’ve been flummoxed a couple of times…and beeped at.

You can check out more images from Dave’s ride to Carmel, including Laguna Seca via the link.

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