To Sur with Love: January 20-21, 2015
I say goodbye to Cousin David and family in Woodland Hills, CA and drive the scenic but curvy Topanga Canyon Blvd to Malibu and head north on Route 1, known as the PCH aka Pacific Coast Highway; destination Big Sur, CA. It’s a heavenly drive.
The California coastline is breath-taking. It should be on everyone’s bucket list and the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) gives you this opportunity. It weaves through small towns, and opens up to magnificent views. There are many Vista Points which I stop at along the way. This slows my travel, but its well worth it. The views are amazing.
About 25 miles north of Santa Barbara in the town of Gaviota, Rte 1/Rte 101 turn inland through the Santa Ynez Mountains. Rte/1 and Rte 101 then separate a few miles north. I continue to follow Rte 101 up through the beautiful rolling hills until I reach San Luis Obispo. At this point I exit to Rte 1 towards Big Sur.
One of the main attractions on the PCH is Piedras Blancas Elephant Seals Beach Viewpoint which is a few miles north of the Hearst Castle. There are trails overlooking the beach and rocks where Elephant seals sunbathe. They are enormous compared to regular seals. I walk along the northern trail which winds around to view the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in the distance. The air is cold and it’s blustery but the sunshine warms me. I watch for a bit and then continue my drive north.
A few years back, my sister Eve and I drove from LA to Big Sur and stayed overnight in a cabin at a Campground in the trees. It was a memorable trip and now I have an opportunity to go back.
Since I’m on the road I rely on TripAdvisor and Yelp for reviews of hotels, restaurants and attractions. I like non pretentious lodging. Ripplewood Resort Big Sur, CA fits into this category. It’s on the main road but it has a rustic vibe just like a campground should.
After driving most of the day I arrive at Ripplewood Resort. I booked the cabin for 2 days so I can explore Big Sur. It’s rustic but clean.
I have a comfortable night sleep and awake refreshed. I am looking forward to horseback riding at Andrew Molera State Park, but when I arrive I find that the ranch is closed for the season. Bummer, but all is not wasted. I hike to the beach instead. It’s a beautiful walk filled with gorgeous views and wildlife. Up ahead I see a Bobcat walking on the road. I watch as he continues his leisurely pace.
He is in no rush. He sees me, walks a little further then disappears into the brush. I continue to follow the path until I reach the river which separates the path from the beach.
I’m not dressed properly for wading and I have no desire to cross the river, so I back track and find a trail that follows the cliffs upwards overlooking the beach. The saying; Can’t get there from here resonates in my mind.
In the late afternoon I drive to Pfeiffer Beach. My sister Eve took me there years ago and I want to revisit. I have to ask for directions because cell service/GPS is almost non-existent. It’s off the beaten path but well worth the journey. The narrow winding road is off Rte 1 near a yellow marker. Towards the end it becomes a dirt path made for one. When a car is coming in the opposite direction one has to pull over to the side to let the other by.
At the end of the road, I find a parking space, gather my knapsack and iPhone which I use as a camera and follow the path through the trees to the sandy beach. It has a remote feeling, as though it’s a well-kept secret. In a way it is. Surrounded on three sides by large craggy rocks, and a hillside, it’s a private piece of heaven.
It is low tide as I walk along the beach to the far end where the rocks rise up. I explore the tidal pools. There are hundreds of tiny creatures which look like small tires on the sand deposited by the tide. I watch them for a bit then walk towards the dry sand and sit down. The late afternoon sun feels warm against my skin.
The sun is slowly setting and the beach becomes a golden haze. People come to watch the sunset, it’s soul food. There is a large crevice in the huge rock where the sun filters through. Photographers line up to capture the sun’s rays and waves through the opening. I watch, waiting for the perfect moment to snap a shot or two. Finally the sun dips below the horizon, the air has a chill as dusk approaches. I watch for a few more moments and then turn to head back.
After spending the day hiking and exploring, I’m famished. I drive back to the cabin and walk across the street to the Big Sur Roadhouse. The night air is crisp but I sit outside on an orange couch next to a tiled table with a fire pit in the center. It’s Glamping. I decide to have dinner under the stars.
The waiter and host are very attentive and friendly. I order a beer and butternut squash soup. The beer is refreshing but the soup warms me. Still hungry, I order the steak, medium well. It’s cooked perfectly and melts in my mouth.
Even though I’m full I have dessert, so I order the chocolate cake with toffee ice-cream to go with hot tea. Yum.
What a wonderful ending to a fantastic day-bon appétit my friends.