We left the wide spot on the road in a light mist under cloudy skies and drove the curves of Highway 1 to San Simeon. We decided not to visit the Hearst Castle again, we’ve been there many times, but we did stop at the beach that has become a new colony for breeding elephant seals. We saw many more than had been there in past visits, so they may be thriving. Our stop for two nights was El Chorro Regional Park and was a surprising gem. Early in the morning we hiked up the Eagle Rock trail to get a view of the small valley all the way to the ocean and returned through an oak woodland. We also discovered the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden in a corner of the park. We returned to the garden at dusk and took some pictures.
The new visitor center (not completed yet) is a straw bale structure and quite impressive.
The emphasis in the garden is the plants of the Mediterranean climate zones of the world, including this area of the California coast, the central Chile coast, the western cape province of South Africa, and parts of western and south Australia as well as the Mediterranean basin itself. Some of the plants were very exotic to us and in the evening sun were even bizarre!