Day 3 – Caramel by the sea, Big Sur, Pacific Coast Highway, and Pismo Beach.
We woke up early in Santa Cruz excited to start our day. It was going to be a day packed with sights and a lot of driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (aka highway 1)…245mi to be exact.
Our first stop was the beautiful Carmel by the sea. Did you know that Clint Eastwood is the mayor here? We didn’t see him, but we did enjoy his pretty little town built on a really steep hill. After parking near a little tackle and bait convenience store, we began our tour with a coffee from a cafe and mosied on down the hill going in and out of chichi boutiques and souvenir shops. At the end of the hill is the beach! We ventured to the shore and squealed as the icy water crashed into our legs. After a few action shots and cuddles with local pups (who incidentally were owned by very good looking guys) we headed back up the hill. What a climb! No wonder everyone looked so fit. Do that climb every day and you have buns of steel in no time.
Back on Highway 1 we started to notice a change in scenery – the palm trees had disappeared and the road was twisting and turning through pine forests. It looked like we were back home in Canada not in the California dreaming, surf city state we had branded in our minds. As we came upon Big Sur we both went silent with slack jaws. To our right the cliffs dropped suddenly down to the crashing Pacific waves below and to our left the great red woods stretched wide and high into the sky. We turned into the ….. and with our picnic in hand we wandered through the giant tree forest. I felt like we had stumbled into the story of Jack and the Bean Stock and had to keep quiet as to not disturb the giants who were slumbering nearby. We found a little stream and sat on the rocks eating our lunch and breathing in as much fresh air as we possibly could. I could live there in that forest.
The next part of the road trip was quite possibly the most fun and terrifying drive I have ever been on. If you’ve never even thought of driving the pacific coast highway, I highly recommend it. Again, to the right of the car the cliff severely drops miles down to the ocean below. As the passenger, I could see this drop very well. As the passenger, I remained very, very quiet so I wouldn’t distract the driver. But also as the passenger I could take hundreds of photos and videos. As the driver, she had to maneuver the winding, hairpin turns. As the driver, she had to make sure we didn’t slide over that cliff on those narrow hairpin turns. As the driver, she felt like she was driving on the greatest rollercoaster ever. We both held our breath, sighed with relief after each oncoming car narrowly drove by, and thought that it was the most exhilarating and breathtaking drive we have ever done.
We stopped a few times to admire the view and take pictures. We even saw dolphins playing in the waves and sea lions warming themselves on a beach. The wind on those cliffs was so strong. To feel the power of the Pacific like that was surreal. I get so excited just thinking about the drive! If it’s not on your list it should be – the Pacific Coast Highway is a must do!
We followed the highway down to Pismo beach, a 1950’s style surf town with a vast beach and lots of authrntic diners. We sat in a rockin’roll jukebox diner sipped on diet coke and mmm’d and yum’d as we ate our second fish taco meal! It was delicious!
After dinner we wandered through the souvenir shops buying vintage style postcards (I collect postcards from all the places I travel to…I rarely send any!) And then sat on the beach as the sun set. It was a beautiful end to our third day in California!
– Everything! From the giant trees in Big Sur to the winding nail biting drive and the delicious fish tacos in a 50s style diner to the sunset on the beach…everything was great! I just wish we had more time in Big Sur and camped there.
Next stop, Solvang and Santa Barbara!
To be continued…