Big Sur, California, USA
Driving through the legendary region of Big Sur, we felt a little sad. Reaching this stage meant that we were in the final leg of our 4000 mile trip around the West Coast of America, back down the coast into LA. It seemed that the weather reflected our mood, the morning we hit this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was a foggy one. A hazy mist blanketed the ocean from our view, creating an otherworldly atmosphere as the roads edge dropped off into sheer nothingness.
Our first stop was Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a short drive from Carmel, Point Lobos is a popular stop just before 'entering' Big Sur. We arrived at around 9am and went for a short stroll up to a point high on the cliffs to admire the view. The colours that stretched before us and the accompanying weather meant you'd be forgiven for thinking it wasn't the middle of July. We spotted a few harbour seals in the distance and made friends with a turkey vulture before getting back in the car to continue our journey south.
As we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway we were struck by how beautiful and isolated this area of the world is. The road carves its way through steep mountains and hills either side and then suddenly clears with a steep drop into the ocean. We missed a few of the classic viewpoints such as Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls because of the fog.
After stopping of at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park and hiking up to the Pfieffer Falls, the fog cleared and we stopped off at the Big Sur Bakery to refuel on their delicious berry iced tea. After, we hit the road again and climbed higher and higher into the hills until eventually we were above the clouds! The view was breathtaking and epic, if not a little daunting.
Our final stop before putting our foot down to reach our destination of Santa Barbara before it got dark, was the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery just outside San Simeon. We got out the car and walked the short distance to the boardwalk viewing area. We couldn't believe our eyes when we looked out to see hundreds of Elephant Seals on the beach. The smell was really quite something but we spent some time watching a few of them compete for dominance, luckily it all seemed quite friendly as we had heard that things can get quite violent in the Elephant Seal world.
We rejoined route 101 at San Luis Obispo to make good time into Santa Barbara, the epic views of Big Sur lodged firmly in our minds. And on our memory cards.