In my last post in this series, I said that exploring by foot is one of the best ways to see a new area, and while I believe that is very often true, sometimes you have to hop in the car and take a good old fashioned road trip. Even a short road trip can bring a log of fun and adventure to a vacation!
I think I’ve told you all before that one of my dream vacations is to drive the entire length of California along Pacific Coast Highway. Well, I have not done the entire drive yet, but I am getting to see a lot of it in short bursts on different trips. I have driven from LA south to San Diego, LA north to Santa Barbara, and now I can mark off San Francisco south to Big Sur. This last leg was by far the most beautiful yet! I literally felt like I had driven right into the English or Irish country side. Sometimes we take our country for granted and yearn to go abroad, but we have to remember that there are some pretty incredible places right in our backyard! (Or a plane ride away in someone else’s backyard.)
This mini road trip from my stay in Carmel was breathtaking in more ways than one. The scenery and views were just stunning – huge cliffs along the ocean and sky high mountains inland. It takes your breath away just seeing nature’s beauty. And then there are the VERY windy roads that at some points make you white knuckled as you hold on tight hoping the car doesn’t veer a little too far off course. Definitely breathtaking. But, either way your breath gets taken, it’s an incredible drive. From Carmel, I decided to go south to Big Sur. It was only about an hour drive, but boy the things you see along the way – they make you feel like you’ve spent an entire week driving. And there are lots of great places to stop along the way. Two of my favorite stops along the drive were the Bixby Bridge and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Bixby Bridge is a place I had seen in pictures over the years, and one I have always wanted to see in person. Not sure why a bridge has caused so much intrigue in me, but this one has. And driving up to it, I almost felt like I was driving up to Disneyworld, I got so excited. First of all, it was built in 1932, which blows my mind. I can’t quite figure out the logistics, but am sure glad they knew how to build things sturdy back then. Second of all, seeing this beautiful structure span the mountains, with the blazing blue ocean out to the side, and palm trees and flowers lining the banks of the ravine below, reminded me how much beauty our country has in it – true hidden gems right within arms reach. Sometimes you just have to go in search of it!
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was not a planned stop, but one that had make the list when I found out there were redwood trees there. Albeit smaller ones, since the climate and soil is different than the home of their larger relatives north of San Francisco. But wow, seeing a tree that is almost 1,200 years old, you just can’t really describe that. If you want to feel small in this world, stand next to a redwood tree. It’s pretty incredible to realize how long they have been around, all that has happened in our world since they first sprouted, and just the sheer size they have grown to.
Another great stop along this road trip was Point Lobos, just south of Carmel. This was a recommendation from my host at Hofsas House in Carmel, and was actually my first stop along the road. It was definitely a good way to get the blood flowing before sitting in the car for a bit. They have great hikes for all different levels of hikers, so I took an easier one, a short 3 miles to see a couple of their most well known spots, China Cove and Bird Island. Let’s just say, I didn’t really know the waters in California could mimic the colors of the Caribbean. Nor did I know the cliffs could mimic those off the Italian coast. I also had a great, yet unexpected bonus during this hike too! It happened to be the time of year that new seal pups were being brought into this world and I saw so many moms and their pups swimming and playing in the coves. It was just adorable!
No road trip is complete without a good driver and a good buddy to share the memories, and the laughs! Luckily I had one of my best girlfriends along with me on this trip, who graciously offered to drive for our road trip. She had to endure my gasps along some of the super windy parts, my incessant talk about Bixby Bridge and my endless amount of picture taking. But, travel is all about new experiences, and sharing those with your friends makes them even more memorable.
Next week, we are continuing along the California coast, heading to Monterey and Pebble Beach. Stay tuned!
Signed with Style,