Sunday, April 13, 2014

California Coast - Part 2

We know the central coast of California well. Twenty-four years ago, for Arch's 50th birthday, we bicycled from San Francisco to Santa Barbara down US 1 and we drove it several times. But US 101 thru California's farming valleys was new to us so that is the route we took from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, with side trips out to the coast. Also, since US 1 is narrow, with tight turns, few shoulders and steep climbs it seemed the prudent thing to do. Considering we are 58 feet long when you combine the length of the Adventure Bus, the dolly and our car.

First stop, after we left our friends and family in LA, was Oso Rancho camping preserve, a Thousand Trails Resort, located in a very remote spot north of Santa Barbara:
Our campground is down in those mountains somewhere!
After driving 7 miles on a twisty, narrow, hilly road we arrived:
It was indeed a ranch, with horses, cowboys, a chuckwagon for Sunday breakfast, etc. But it had no Verizion service which meant, to us, no telephone or internet. And there was no TV reception, which meant, to Arch, disaster.

We planned to stay for 4 days but stayed only two then headed out to the coast at Morro Bay, famous for its beach and big volcanic rock in the ocean:
The rock is huge and looms over the town
They call it America's Gibraltar but ,we've visited Gibraltar, and I would say it is about 1/10 the size. While in Morro Bay we drove up US 1 (The Pacific Coast Highway) partway through Big Sur. Such spectacular country:
On the way we saw a large group of people stopped at a look-off. So we stopped to see what was happening and this is what we saw:
The beach was covered with sea lions. Apparently this is normal for this time of year. They come ashore to rest and for the females, to have their babies.

After this stop we moved on to another Thousand Trails Campground in Morgan City, about 80 miles south of San Francisco. The location was wonderful, about 20 miles from the coast, in wine country. But, again - it was situated in the mountains so no TV and very little internet or cell service. So, because we loved the location and as we were getting a little Verizion service we stayed for 4 days. For those of you with TT memberships we would not recommend this park - it was not very well run, was dirty and a lot of the tenants appeared to be homeless people.

From here we headed out to the coast to visit Monterey and drive the Seventeen Mile Drive around the Monterey Peninsula. On the way we drove through huge fields full of artichokes waiting to be harvested:
Can you see the artichokes - I've marked a few with red Xs
Artichokes are a member of the thistle family and grow on very strong stems.You eat only the meat on the base of the leaves and the choke. (see recipe below)

So the first stop was a great vegetable stand along the way to buy fresh artichoke:
This market sold every veggie you could imagine. And lots of artichokes:
and at a great price
Then it was on to Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey for fresh crab:
Then a drive around the Monterey Peninsula with a stop at Pebble Beach.
That is the 18th hole behind Arch
Again, no golf for us. Cost was $485 a round + $85 + tip for a caddy. Times 2 - that is almost enough gas money to get us almost back to Nova Scotia.

So home we went to have our artichoke and crab, accompanied by some good California wine, for supper

Crab Stuffed Artichokes


4 large artichokes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 fresh black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs, dried
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyere
1 cup crabmeat (you can used canned)


Trim and clean the artichokes by removing the lower 3 to 4 rows of outer leaves, and leaving 1/2-inch of stem. Trim the sharp tips off the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Rub with half a lemon to prevent browning.

In large pot, boil or steam artichokes 30 to 45 minutes, or until knife easily enters the base of the leaves. Remove from pan and let cool.,

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In medium mixing bowl, mix mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. When smooth, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in bread crumbs, tarragon, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese and crab meat until well blended.

Remove centre leaves from cooled artichokes, and scoop out prickly choke inside, leaving the heart intact. Generously fill artichoke with crabmeat mixture (approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons per artichoke - I like to pack a lot in), until a small mound is present in each, Drizzle each lightly with olive oil.

Bake stuffed artichokes for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Or, we wrap these in foil and heat on the barbecue (grill to my US readers) for about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

To eat: Remove the artichoke leaves, one at a time and dip them in the crab mixture. Then turn the leaf so the hollow side is against your lower teeth and scrape off the crab filling and the bit of artihoke meat that is there. Discard the remainder of the leaf. When you get to the centre and all the leaves have been scraped clean you will find the artichoke heart. This is the best part – cut it into pieces and enjoy – I hope you saved some of the crab filling to eat with it :).

And finally, a little smile:
As seen in Monterey Bay
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  1. Love driving along the coast:) Spotting sea lions is very cool but the elephant seals are my favorite.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  2. bookmarking this post for our trip to California.. .the info about the TT parks is very, very helpful. . .thanks!



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