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Monday, December 10, 2012

California Coast Road Trip - November 2012 - A Chancellor Hotel Duck Migrates South

Since the late 90's our first choice of hotels whenever we visit San Francisco has always been the Chancellor Hotel, located on Powell Street just off Union Square. Not only is the location great, but this hotel, which was built in 1914, has much more character than any of the new, more modern properties. We been staying here for close to 15 years, on both business and leisure trips. The staff and management are great, the rooms are always clean and well maintained - and there's a duck in every bathroom.

Here's a shot from a 2008 business trip to San Francisco, showing one of the ducks in its natural habitat - the little glass shelf over the sink in the bathroom. This one looks like he's ready to head out to the Bay for a bit of snorkeling.

We spent the first four nights of our our recent California Coast road trip in late November at the Chancellor. We've noticed over the years that the ducks seem to have varying personalities, and this time we found Original Duck in our bathroom.

We could tell this duck was adventurous when we spotted her on the outside of the windowsill of our fifth-floor room.

Back in January of 2002 one of the ducks, Bonnet Duck, snuck into our luggage and followed us back down the coast to San Diego, getting out for pictures along the way. (No images of that trip right now, as that was pre-digital-photography days for me, and my scanner is not working right now.) I should have known something similar might happen this year when we came back to our room one afternoon and found her (I'm basing that gender assumption on the eyes, by the way) checking out a California road map.

I forgot all about it, and a few days later we packed up the car and began our drive south from San Francisco back to San Diego. At our first stop I opened up the back of the car to get something and found this. Oops, I guess it's happened again.

Our first big stop on the drive south was Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and then it was back in the car and continuing south to Monterey. Her long-lost cousin Bonnet Duck had her picture taken in front of this same lighthouse in 2002. From there on we let her ride on the dashboard, figuring she might appreciate the view.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Burger in Santa Cruz. When you order your burger at the counter they give you a stand with a photo of a celebrity to let the server know where to find you. We got a mug shot of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

Later, after dinner that night, we walked around Cannery Row in Monterey. Continuing with the minor celebrity theme, Original Duck wanted her picture taken with another famous person, in this case a bust of Ed Rickets, who was said to be the inspiration for the character "Doc" in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. Apparently this bust marks the spot where he died when his car was hit by a train.

We spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Monterey. She thought it was a very nice hotel, but it sure seemed modern compared to where she came from. 

Everyone knows that ducks like water, so this didn't surprise us.

The next morning we continued our drive south, this time along the Big Sur coast. It was foggy and raining, but she didn't seem to mind.

The raindrops rolled off her "like water off a duck's back" when she posed for a shot in front of the famous Bixby Creek Bridge on CA-1. We thought she might be impressed to know that the bridge was built in 1932, but her hotel was already 18 years old by then.

At one point she wanted her picture taken with the coastline in the background, but water doesn't roll off my back quite the same way, so she had to settle for this.

Morro Bay is famous for its Rock (and not much else). On a gray day like this, the duck seems to be about the only thing interesting in the picture.

We left her in the room at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo when we went downstairs for a snack. I guess we weren't the only ones who were hungry. Even though she was in almost the same room as her long-lost relative Bonnet Duck back in 2002, she completely forgot about having her picture taken on the railing overlooking the atrium.

However, just like Bonnet Duck had done in 2002, Original Duck did find her way into the Mission San Luis Obispo.

The little creek that runs through the middle of downtown San Luis Obispo seemed to her like a nice place for a duck, at least for a brief visit.

Back in the car, we continued our journey south. After the unfortunate incident with her cousin Bonnet Duck at the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach back in 2002, we decided to leave Original Duck in the car for that stop.

The fresh fish counter at The Fish Company restaurant in Los Alamitos looked like it had some tasty items. She was right, that fresh ahi was great with just a light sear on the outside, served with some fresh roasted asparagus.

Eventually Original Duck made it to San Diego. I have a feeling she knew she would find some family when she got there. Out in the backyard of our house she found what appeared to be a whole flock of relatives waiting on the patio table. Some looked a bit different, but there was certainly something familiar about them - a strong family resemblance to be sure. At first they all stood back and checked her out . . .

. . .  but once it became clear that she really was family it was time for a group picture with long-lost relatives.

Then everyone gathered around to hear the latest travel story of a Chancellor Hotel duck.

Click here to see galleries with more images from our California Coast Road Trip from San Diego to San Francisco and back, in November of 2012, including a few more of Original Duck.

By the way, in case anyone is wondering about the names, the Chancellor Hotel ducks are embossed on the bottom with their names - Original Duck, Snorkel Duck, Santa Duck, Bonnet Duck, Baseball Duck, and Duck-on-the-Go.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.