We are camped in Big Sur on the California coastline, but getting here is half the fun!
You won’t find a more beautiful road than California Route 1, particularly from Morro Bay to Carmel. If you haven’t driven it, you need to add it to your list. Pictures don’t do it justice. The coastline and surrounding hills are without peer (no offense to my Maine friends).
I haven’t driven this road since 1975(?) with my good buddy David Trainor on a cross country Journey of Discovery where as young men we became self-aware driving David’s 1967 Buick Skylark. What a piece of junk! But it was still better than what I had (nothing).
Fast forward to today – Karen and I are camped in Pfeifer Big Sur SP, which seemingly follows the traditions of many of the state parks in California with a wink to tent campers and those with smaller rigs, not unlike a lot of national park campgrounds. No water, no electricity, small sites. No problem.
The campground is great, in a beautiful setting on the Big Sur River and sitting amidst groves of redwoods and other beautiful hardwood trees. The great news is a lot of colleges have this week as spring break, so a LOT of 20-somethings are getting a little closer to nature and enjoying a camping experience. The bad news is that a LOT of 20-somethings are getting a little closer to nature and enjoying a camping experience. Yikes.
It would be hard not be in awe of the redwoods, and these are not even the monsters that reside further up the coast. None-the-less, these are hugely (no pun intended) interesting as to how they have grown to be as old and as big as they are. For me, these trees defy picture taking that captures them with any level of respect.
(Note – if you are interested in reading about redwoods, Douglas firs and the ecosystem of some of the tallest and biggest trees in the world, I highly recommend “The Wild Trees”, written by Richard Preston – a fabulous read that gives you insight into these monster trees and their ecosystem that are thousands of years old.)
During our time here in Big Sur we visited Carmel, Monterey, and a cool little place called Point Lobos State Reserve.
Point Lobos has to be on your list of places to visit, although beware – this is a very popular spot. The reason it is so popular is it is so freaking beautiful, with views of the ocean and gorgeous cypress stands. The views of the ocean are breathtaking. The waves literally explode against the rocky shoreline. This is a place you could sit and watch for hours.
We visited Monterey, but I was underwhelmed. Now granted, I would have liked to have paddled my kayak here, but the town seemed like little more than a cheesy tourist attraction. We had lunch at one of the tourist traps and the food was as expected – under-average and over-priced. While in town we did find a fish shop literally out on the pier and we bought some fresh Halibut that we grilled up that night. Superb!
We toured Carmel and this was clearly a notch or two (or five) above Monterey. Beyond visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea, we splurged and spent the $10 to drive 17 Mile Drive, and of course see a little of the Pebble Beach golf courses.
Did someone say golf? We didn’t play the Pebble Beach Golf Links (ranked greatest public golf course in America), home of prestigious golf tournaments including the US Open, but we did get up close and personal. Playing this course is still on my bucket list, although with my game I clearly don’t belong on this course. At $500/round (not including cart or caddy), this is not for the feint of heart.
The sign says, Welcome to Pebble Beach, but when your vehicle looks like a cross between Mad Max and the vehicle from the Beverly Hillbillies (we are only missing Grannies’ rocker), you kind of know the welcome gesture was never really aimed at you.
Once again, time to pack up and move on. But we will be back here again for sure!