I have done sections of this at various times, met with thick clouds, sometimes rain. This day was clear as I drove down a 200 mile stretch from my home to to Morro Bay. Morro was not the destination, I had always wanted to experience Highway 1 and I was on my way to LA a longer way to get there; that was what I wanted to do- get on this section of the road trip a twisting, turning, cliff hugging beach hopping experience. Highway 17 gives you an indication of things to come, there was not a stitch of fog on Highway 17 and Highway 1 was clear and good to go. As I drove past Santa Cruz I took a breather at Moss Landing- the gateway to Big Sur or the land of the giant waves and many a surfer’s paradise,120 miles of scattered surfing beaches.
Monterey,with its Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and Aquarium were a distraction but for this trip avoidable. However, the 17 mile drive leading to Carmel could not be missed. That was a much desired detour off Highway 1.
Home to the Pebble Beach Golf Course,the 17 mile drive offers picturesque rest stops, flora and fauna. Seal point is where an army of seals have their siesta. The lone Cypress is another hallmark of the 17 mile drive:
One day I would love to get this picture at sunset! Carmel is a quaint little town with galleries and artists. But I had miles ahead of me and I was heading for Point Lobos State Reserve 4 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. Point Lobos is a 500 acre reserve and one could spend a day and I could not help spending more time than what I had in my plan. Which meant that other parks such as the Garrapata State Park would have to be missed. Point Lobos has coves, headlands, meadows, tide pools, bird island, cypress trees and numerous trails.
Rocks can be alluring but the waves have their way and it is best to keep that safe distance.
Bird Island and Point Lobos State Reserve is home to a wide variety of birds. Spring and summer are the best times to see a huge flock of birds. Hundreds and hundreds of Brandt’s cormorants inhabit Bird Island, Black Crown Night Herons, Pelicans can be spotted at many a place in the park. Along the trail you pass China Cove (pictures at http://surendra.smugmug.com/Highway-1-Santa-Cruz-to-Morro/) and Gibson Beach.
With time running out and an early sunset predicted I had to skip the Big Sur, Garrapata State Park and a quaint Old Coast Road as I made my way ont a cliff hugging road to the Bixby Bridge. A single span concrete arch this is an iconic much photographed bridge, home to many a car commercial.
By now I was hungry and went past Hurricane point and the point Sur Lighthouse and Andrew Molera State Park. Big views but for another day! However I could not miss Pfeiffer Beach. This is easily missed as the Sycamore Canyon Road is not properly marked. If you reach the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park going South then you would miss this fascinating landmark. Best times is sunset between mid December and mid January as the sun set rays travel through the arch. I have yet to get that lucky shot:
By now hunger took over and I made a well deserved break at Nepenthe a restaurant, on Highway 1, with a view :
Refreshed I made my way back South on Highway 1 to the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State park for the iconic McWay Falls:
For a while there is a stretch of one way traffic only and by then the sun was setting:
And the sun dipped further down:
Even the golden yellow foliage on the mountain changed its hue:
As the sun set gave way to the golden hour the scene transformed to a surreal painting:
By now it was pitch dark and I made a pit stop at the Cavalier Ocean Front resort in San Simeon. Up early I was hoping for some early sunrise moments:
San Simeon is home to the Hearst castle so I took a tour of this 115 room guest house and playground for Randolph Hearst.
(Many many more pictures of the Hearst castle at http://surendra.smugmug.com/Hearst-Castle )
Well kept the castle also has a huge variety of cactus, flowers and plants
Morro Bay was the last stop on this trip along Highway 1:
For me though there was another 200 miles to go to LA, more beaches on that stretch but not for this trip. Some other time….