2014 Roadtrip: Monterey Pennisula, Ca to Big Sur, CA

There was a little fog when we left Pacific Grove at 10:45 a.m. It was 59°. That’s quite a difference in temperature from the recent heatwave temperatures! We traveled south on Route 1 and that is the only way to see it and the gorgeous views. The passenger (that was Audre that day) gets the best views.
The Big Sur coast from Route 1
The homes in Carmel Highlands and their views were spectacular. Along the road were beautiful blue lupines and there were white sand beaches. There were “private property” signs along the coast and some cattle grazing. The Santa Lucia Mountains rising from the road were beautifully green and sensuously shaped. We saw gigantic trees; maybe they were coastal redwoods. The eucalyptus trees were also really tall. At noon we arrived at Nepenthe Restaurant and it was 76°. We stopped in to see the restaurant and said we’d be back at 1:30 p.m. They don’t take reservations but said we wouldn’t have to wait. We went for a hike in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park .

We took a walk to the famous McVey Falls and saw the remains of the Waterfall House. The waterfall was nice as was the beach. The view from the bedroom of the Brown’s Waterfall House must have been inspirational. We learned about Julia Pfeiffer Burns and her friend Helen Brown. We also learned about the slide in 1983 (and saw the scar on the mountainside) that closed Hwy 1 for a year. It also created the beach that is currently at the waterfall. We walked for about an hour ogling the views. We saw many morning glories, a flowering century plant and Monterey cypresses.


Our Big Sur Coast hike
We went to Nepenthe Restaurant, Hwy 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, tel. 831-667-2345, www.nepenthe.com) for the view not the food. We waited a while for a table overlooking the ocean by the railing. We were happy with our seating. Our server was fine. Dimitri had the special salad Niçoise ($21.50) that came with a generous slab of seared tuna. Dimitri liked his dish and shared it with Audre. Audre had a cup of soup ($4.75) that was good. We spent $28.22 plus tip.

Highway 1 is phenomenal. All the way from Pacific Grove we were seeing gorgeousness. The beautiful hills of the Santa Lucia portion of the Coastal Range as a backdrop for the cliffs and rocks of the ocean shore. But Big was even more astounding. Big Sur evidently refers to that 90-mile stretch of rugged and awesomely beautiful coastline between Carmel and San Simeon. From www.bigsurcalifornia.org: The present Highway 1 was completed in 1937 after 18 years of construction and lots of money, even though convict labor was used. Electricity did not arrive in Big Sur until the early 1950’s and today it still does not extend the length of the coast. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean provides for a temperate climate. Winters are mild and rainy days are interspersed with periods of bright sunshine. An average of 50 inches of rainfall fills the many streams that flow down the redwood-lined canyons. Coastal fog cools the summer mornings, but it usually lifts by early afternoon.

Of all of the coastal roads we have driven in the world, Dimitri thinks (and maybe Audre too) that the road in Greece from Nafplio (Navplion) in the northeastern portion of the Peloponnese to Monemvasia in the southeast, along the Argolic Gulf coast is the most similar (see this website: http://www.visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Excursions/Entries/2010/2/27_Entry_1.html). It is a wild, ruggedly beautiful coastline with only a few villages along the route. The road is along the coast just like Highway 1 is.The Amalfi Coast in Italy is spectacular but it is built up so it’s very different from the remote Big Sur Coast. The Na Pali Coast on Kauai is outrageously gorgeous and remote but it has no road. Highway 1 makes the Big Sur Coast so remarkable and unique. It is something to be seen and experienced. Dimitri wants to mention the Great Ocean Road which we drove from one end to the other in South Australia. It is definitely not great and pales in comparison to the Big Sur Coast.