Day 103 – 12/11 Big Sur, California

Big Sur is all it’s hyped to be, an amazing drive along the California coast.

No school for the kids today, so I have a bit more time to work on my stuff, though I have a call at 7:30, then another at 8:30 and then we should be all ready to go visit Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur.  That’s the plan for today and tomorrow and we’ll try to get as much done as we can.

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more the last few days is that the floor on the trailer is making noise now.  When I wake up in the morning, and take careful, slow and sneaky steps as to not make any noise and wake anyone up, I have been hearing the floor creaking, mainly in the area in front of the stove and fridge, but a bit by the kitchen sink as well.  Maybe coincidence, but it’s about above the axles.  I’ll keep monitoring and see if I need to worry or not later.

Bella woke up while I was on my first call, and she went right to her iPad… but, the Wifi here is not good and she was frustrated and bugging me while I was on my call.  Then Bia woke up and I gave them the TV remote… Bella kept trying the internet connection and kept bugging me, so I had to have a conversation with them later about the fact that just because I am right in front of them, it does not mean I am available, and they need to know that when I say I’m on a work call, they cannot disturb me at all.  They need to pretend I’m not there.  They say they understood, and I think they’ll follow it for a while… and maybe I’ll just need to give them a reminder later.

Carol was up before I had my second call, so she helped the girls get going with changing and eating breakfast so we could leave.  Carol also prepared a bunch of stuff for us to take and snack on the road.  I didn’t think there would be many options on PCH1 South to Big Sur, and was guessing the few that would be there would not be open, so we took enough for a lunch and dinner snack.

I finished my last call around 9:30, and we finished packing and loading the truck, and we were out by 10:30am.  The plan was to drive towards the point the GPS showed for Big Sur, and stop along the way wherever we wanted.  The route had us pass Monterey and Carmel, which are places we also want to visit, but we’ll leave those for tomorrow unless we have time today.  The drive there is nice, mountain passes, fruit fields, just nice.  The weather was nice, very sunny as we left.

Carol had bought an app that does audio guide and uses your GPS location to talk about what’s coming up, kind of like the Gypsy app we used in Yellowstone.  As we went over the mountain range and went towards the ocean, the first place we saw coming up was Monterey.  We could see the ocean views from some of the spots on PCH1, but we decided we would go as far as we could on PCH1 down Big Sur, and come back to Monterey and Carmel later or tomorrow, so we kept going.

Next up was Carmel and we could see the ocean there as well, the app kicked in and said that Carmel has one of the most beautiful beaches in the coast, and is home to some famous people, and even Clint Eastwood was mayor there already.  We’ll be back 🙂

The Big Sur area I think is pretty big, and this app was showing it had already started in Carmel, so in a way… we are here!

We took some pictures at some stops as we went down, and our first actual stop was at Garrapata State Park and Garrapate Beach.  We just parked the truck and followed the path to the beach.  It is a pretty area, lots of sand, big rocks in the water, some areas have the waves crashing onto the rocks, it’s cool.  The wind was blowing pretty good, and a bit cold.  We walked around, checked out the beach, Bella and I ran to the other side.  Carol found a spot to pee that was “hidden” in the rocks. hahahah… then the girls and I raced back towards the path to go back to the truck.  We kept going then…

Our next stop was at Bixby bridge.  The app said this is the most photographed bridge in California.  We pulled in to the stop.  I stayed by the car and took some pictures from there.  Great views of the cliffs and the bridge.  Carol went down and walked around to find good picture spots, and I took a view from in front of the car, and waited with the girls.

We kept driving and thinking this is an amazing drive, something to do with time, on a summer day in a convertible, or a motorcycle.  It’s just amazing.  Better yet if you’re driving down and will not need to go back up, that way you can enjoy as much as you can, without having to worry about the ride back, which we did.

Our next stop was McWay Falls, this was easier to get to as there are a few signs, so we pulled in to the park area and there were plenty of parking spots.  We followed the signs to the falls, we had parked the furthest from the path, so we walked a bit, got on the path, went under  a bridge, then went through a tunnel which was under the highway, and there we could see the beach. 

The falls come through a hole on the rocks and right into the beach, and while there is no access to the beach, it’s supposedly an awesome sight.  After the tunnel, we followed this path on the side of the mountain for a minute or so, and we could see more and more of the beach, but also see that the path was closed coming up.  As we got close to the end, we could see the falls.  hahahahahah… First words out of Bella’s mouth: “that’s disappointing” hahahahahaha… sure was. 

Because of the lack of rain, there’s just a little string of water coming down, and it looks more like a gutter than a water fall.  But, the setting is very pretty nonetheless, and the fact it falls right on the beach is pretty cool.  It would have been pretty awesome to get close, but unfortunately there is no access.

Pfeiffer Beach was our next stop.  The app had suggested that place, and said it’s a hidden treasure at Big Sur.  Hidden because there are no signs, at all, and the entrance is small and a bit hidden on the side of the road, very easy to miss.  So, unless you know what you’re looking for, and about where it is, you won’t find it.  I’m glad we did.  As we approached the access road, the app warned us there would be a hidden right turn, very sharp, and there it was… and it was sharp too and went down right away.  Those turns are always funky to take with the truck as it sits so high it is hard to see what’s below.  From there, we had a drive of about 2 miles on a mix of paved and packed dirt road, one lane only with a few areas for a second vehicle to pull to the side for others to pass.  Again, if you were not sure where you were going, I’m guessing some people give up thinking it’s not there… no signs about any beach anywhere.  But, 2 miles later, we were there.  There was a guard at the entrance collecting just under $11 (paid with card), and just a bit after the guard, the beach parking lot.  There were restrooms by the parking lot, and we could see signs of the beach as the walking path that is the beach access was all fine sand, with big trees on both sides creating this shaded tunnel to go through. 

Very cool that it is that way, as it makes the moment you see the beach that much more “magical”.  That beach is amazing.  It has rocks by the water, it has a ton of fine sand, tide pools, big rocks with holes in the middle where waves come through crashing, some small sand dunes, etc… just a lot of stuff going on. 

The beach area is quite big, but not huge, and there was enough to do and check out for us to stay about 90 minutes or so there.  The wind was pretty strong, it was pushing us around, it was moving water, and we could see the ripples created by the wind on the water, it was blowing sand everywhere, we all had a lot of sand in our hair, it was crazy. 

We checked out a few tide pools, and the girls spotted an octopus right away.  It was a small baby one, but it was right there, moving around by a rock at the first tide pool.  That was cool, add to the list of firsts… and then we saw the usual tide pool suspects.. star fish, crabs, mussels, etc.  This was an amazing beach, and if you’re driving through Big Sur, I recommend you look for it and make some time to stop there.  We all really enjoyed that stop.

From there, we kept going south, and saw more amazing views… more mountains, cliffs, bridges… and at one of the stops which was over a cliff that went into the ocean, there was a house right below the area we stopped.  That has to be amazing.  24/7 views of both sides of the mountains, cliffs and ocean.  Incredible!

At that point it was getting late, and Carol still wanted to see the Elephant Sea Lions.  We had pulled it up in the GPS and we were still an hour away, with 45 miles to go on these windy roads.  It was almost 4pm and we wanted to get there before dark, so we could at least see the animals, and the sunset.  Carol wanted to go, but was not sure if we’d make it.  I told her if she really wanted to do it, we’d make it happen… and we went for it.  I gunned it with the truck, zipping left and right, up and down as fast as I could (while being safe).  There are a ton of turns, and going fast on turns every few seconds will get someone sick for sure… and Bella was not feeling well within 30 minutes.  She just closed her eyes and fell asleep.  In another 5 minutes, Bia was sleeping too… and we were still booking.  As we got close, the sun was getting lower and lower, and around d 4:40 we were there… heck yeah!  For me as the driver, that was super fun… I could tell Carol was a little nervous at times, hahahaha.. and the girls ended up sleeping… I had told Carol to run out of the car as soon as I parked it so she could maximize her viewing time, and that’s exactly what she did.  I parked, and she was out, I opened the window and this weird piping echoey noise was out there. 

Carol was in heaven :). She wanted to see these blubbery, weird, noisy beasts really bad, and she loved every minute of it.  I don’t even know how many pictures she took, but she took quite a few.  I got the girls woken up and we all went out.  It was a great stop.  There were a lot of Elephant Sea Lions at that beach, and we walked around the boardwalk to see them all.  They move pretty funny too, imaging this tube looking blubbery animal trying to move! Hahahah. They actually move like a horizontal wave, as a snake would if it didn’t move sideways, just up and down… it’s funny.  And because they are so huge and heavy, reaching as much as 1500 lbs, they get tired quick, so they move a few feet and then stop to rest… and then go again…. Leaving a big trail on the sand.  Here and there one of them would be making noise… best way to describe is like a regular sea lion making noise inside a long tube that would echo their sound.  There was also a baby out there.  I guess this is the beginning of their birthing season, so likely there will be more in the next few weeks.  Carol and the girls really loved the stop.  

We had just driven about 120 miles south on PCH1, and it was time to go back.  It was already dark, so when I pulled up directions on GPS, it actually had us going another 12 miles south, to hit larger highways back north, for a total of 170 miles, and 3 hours.  The drive back went through Cambria to get access to the main highways, so we stopped for dinner.  Most places were open, but for take out only, but Carol found one that had a little outside covered area with heaters, where we could order to go, but eat right there.  So that’s what we did.  We had some good pizza, girls had pasta and everyone was refueled and ready for our almost 3 hr drive back.

It was a long drive back, but not too bad.  It started raining about an hour before we arrived, and it was raining pretty good.  I think the shampoo plus wax I used on the truck, which is an RV product, worked well for rain as I didn’t even need to use my wipers… it worked like RainX.

We made it back and it was past 10, so everyone just got ready for bed.  Showers had some sand falling as we all had sand from Pfeiffer beach yet.  We were pretty tired, so it was bed right after that.

Overall, lots of driving today, almost 300 miles in total, but amazing scenery and many cool things seen.

Leave a Reply