Monday, June 15, 2015

Big Sur Day 2

I woke up to find myself emersed in full fog, not being able to see more than 20 feet.  That meant time to read and relax over a leisurely breakfast in the car.  Nice to get that holiday feeling with nothing major planned and no time frame for many hours.  I'm reading "The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared" by Jonas Jonasson.  Such a good, fun read, I highly recommend it, and there is also a film version out in theatres right now.

After a couple hours relaxing, I realized the fog was not going away, at least in the area I was in, so I set off north, cruising through the fog, with glimpses of the coast popping through.  I stopped for a coffee at a lodge, sitting outdoors on their deck with a great view of fog.  The prices weren't all that bad inside the store there, often just $.25 to $.50 more than in Santa Cruz, which compared to the price of gas increase in Big Sur isn't so bad.

The next stop was at Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park, where the waterfalls fall into the ocean.  I started on a short hike to a waterfall up the canyon, and then just kept walking up to see if I could beat the fog.  I ended up on the 4.5 mile Ewoldsen Trail loop that was perfect for the occasion.  The smells and sights reminded me of Southern California (wild sage, oaks, vultures above) mixed in with Northern California (redwoods and fog).  Rising above the fog I could look down over towering redwoods, watch hawks fly in search of prey, and most importantly, feel the sun beating down.  Just like in an airplane, the day was much warmer and sunnier up above everything.  This was a great hike and I powered through in solid time, soaking it all up and getting the sweat going.

The start of the hike, through the trees and fog
Canyon Waterfall through a burned out log

Looking up through the redwoods into the fog

 After the hike, it was back to the car, stopping at a couple of viewpoints and then the Henry Miller Library, full of works from the famous author, beat authors and others.  Quite a sweet layout, very quirky and laidback.  In the evenings they often show films and act as a cultural center for the area.  After that I was able to find that the fog ended in the northern section of the park, and drove through sunshine north, enjoying the view from the opposite side of the road as day 1.

I parked at a Hwy 1 turnoff and hiked down to Andrew Molera, through the creek trail to the beach.  More cool rock formations and some beach time after the hike, to clean up and relax.  This was the view to the south:

Finally the time caught up with me and I had to head north to civilization and cell service to meet up with the brother of a good Irish friend of mine.  Had a feast of Thai food, talked of world travels and biking (he's currently biking the west coast of North America).  Then it was back to Santa Cruz to watch the second half of the Golden State Warriors game 4 victory.  As much as I love being out in nature, with no timeframe, the NBA is always a surefire way to get me to come back.

California Poppy on the Ewoldsen Trail

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Sur Day 1

Road trip to Big Sur!  Luckily I had two days off in the middle of the week, which allowed me to explore more of this amazing state of California.  I set lose southwards in my housemates Ford Explorer Sport, bumping the tunes, and falling in love with driving again (might have to get myself a car one of these days).  The drive south through Monterey passed quickly and then within an hour, I was already pulling over to start taking pictures of the coast.  Once you leave Carmel and civilization (aka cell service, houses, shops), it's just you and the coast, that rugged, infamous coast.

The first main stop in Big Sur (when going south) is the 1932 built Bixby Bridge which blows you away.  Enormous in size and grandeur, it literally stops traffic on both sides for pictures, of both the bridge and the beach below.

I hiked up a dirt road inlands for a mile to get a good shot looking through the arches.  Not many people head up there, as Big Sur is often done as a day trip.  But I was just cruising, with no direct plans, just going off where I pleased and loving life.  Best way to travel is without a set schedule, and I had two days of straight exploring whatever looked good.

From the bridge, it was onwards, stopping pretty much every 5 minutes at the viewpoints and turnoffs to check out the view.  There were views of epic rocks scattered along the coast, waves crashing into cliffs, the windy road inclining up mountains and of course, the local flora and fauna (California poppies, wild mustard, hawks and vultures being the main sights).  With no time frame, and a car to my name, I could just cruise and stop whenever the view or amount of cars stopped told me to.  Here are a couple of pictures from the start of the trip:

Next was a stop at Pfeiffer Beach, which was actually full of people.  I parked on Hwy 1 and hiked the 2 miles down to the beach, enjoyed splashing around in the water and explored some of the arches carved over time into the rocks on the beach.  Rather than hiking back up, I scored a ride with some cool Southern Californians.  Then back on the road!

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is perhaps the most photographed image from Big Sur, with dramatic waterfalls crashing down onto an isolated cove.  The falls used to land directly into the ocean until a 1981 landslide brought in sediment and created the beach.  There was also a house, know as the Waterfall House that overlooked this bit of paradise until the 70s.  That was a top 10 house in the country for sure.  While super busy with tourists, this area is a must see and worth the time.  Park on the road for free and walk down through the tunnel under the highway to get to the falls.

After a few more turnoffs and a couple of modern bridges, it became time to put the feet up and relax.  There's a forest road that allows camping on the shoulders and I headed up to score a sweet spot overlooking Hwy 1 and the ocean.  Perfect place to get in some relaxing, reading and watch the sunset.  A German family on a 3 week US tour parked nearby and kept the conversation entertaining.  Twas an amazing day, and day two would prove to be just as good.  Long live Big Sur!
My spot for the night

End of the day.  No more sunlight, and straight sleeping ahead!