The Big Sur and Hearst Castle
It was an easy drive from Santa Cruz. Passing acres and acres of farms, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli - no they were not giving off the smelly egg smell! We left that behind!
We had booked ahead into Carmel by the River, rather than Carmel by the Sea, thereby avoiding the mist. This was a lovely camp site, each site bordered by hedges, so we had privacy from neighbours. The entrance was a bit of a challenge, one tiny narrow stretch of road of about 1 mile long used by both incoming and outgoing traffic....given the sizes of RV's you can imagine the challenge of meeting another RV on a very narrow road. Okay, so who is going to reverse all the way back to let us through??
Happiness was....Our friends from Noosa, Jocelyn and Ray, called us as they were in Monterey. They were on holiday in Los Angeles, and decided to include a short road trip north. And could we meet up for coffee? Oh to see familiar faces again! We had a great chat with them and Molly, their daughter and then they were off to make their way back to LA. Thanks for making the effort, it was great to see you three.
A Selfie of our coffee meet with our friends from Noosa, who were also travelling in the USA. Jocelyn, Ray, Molly, Taqui, Chuck.
After the going over in San Francisco, the scooter seems to be over its troubles – yay!! We tried to do the 17 mile drive on the scooter but the gate guard said 'sorry no scooters allowed'. Certainly nothing to do with speed - the limit is 25 mph. We can think of no other reason except perhaps that they were trying to keep noisy Harley Davidson's out. So we had lunch at the beach front followed by a walk around the beautiful little town of Carmel. Stunning strip shopping area with very upmarket boutique shops and a lovely feel about the town. Gorgeous buildings, great architecture with a very European feel. Nothing modern, all very neat and tidy. Lovely to see. Replaced my lens hood here.
One of the very quaint cottages in Carmel - this one used as a Lolly Shop
We could be forgiven for thinking we were in a part of Spain and not America with road names such as Mallorca, Carmelo, San Carlos, Rio Road and Camino, to name a few. We also heard a lot of Spanish spoken.
There are many ways to skin a cat..... the next day we drove through the entrance to 17 mile drive in the RV. That was allowed, thankfully. It was a great drive; to be absolutely honest, when one has been to Cape Town and Australia......it was the emerald green, well-manicured golf courses that stole our hearts rather than the sea views. There was a tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Club, every car space was taken up, so we were not able to stop for a look from their restaurant. We did get glimpses of the course as we drove on the road above it, as we exited the drive.
17 mile drive - Golfers had some huge challenges on the Lynx Course
After the 17 mile drive, we headed for Highway 1 and began our Big Sur road trip. For our Australian followers, think Great Ocean Road/12 Apostles. For our Kaapie followers, think many, miles of Chapmans Peak and Misty Cliffs. Hey, I was not far off the mark when doing the Bodega blog and mentioning the mist and that Play Misty for Me could have been filmed there......The Bixby Bridge was featured in Play Misty For Me! The bridge is one of the world’s highest single span bridges; built by prisoners, completed in 1932.
We had an awesome drive stopping here and there along the first leg of the Big Sur, until we reached our camp site; Big Sur Cabins and RV site....thanks to Jocelyn and Ray for this recommendation; it was absolutely fantastic!!! We were camped amongst the huge Redwood trees, alongside a river and just lined with Redwood trees, many Blue Jays flying around.......beautiful, we felt so at home here.
Bliss - us camped amongst the Redwoods
The next day brought day two of the Big Sur - Onto Highway 1 again and the Big Sur, which did not disappoint at all.
We first made a stop at Big Sur Bakery and two things occurred whilst making our purchases. We were slowly sprinkled by ash from the fires. I also overheard a chap (who, I may add, looked a bit sus, probably even more so, because I heard him talking to his friend about his intake of cocaine). Anyhow, he was giving information about a tree in the courtyard. As we were about to leave, I asked him what was so special about the tree, besides the fact that it was large and looked quite beautiful. He informed me 'that it was a Santa Lucia Fir and one of the last remaining. The area used to have so many of these trees, but with evolution they have almost all died'. The Santa Lucia Fir is the rarest fir in the United States and perhaps the world as it only occurs in limited groves as it is endemic to the Santa Lucia Mountains. It was only when I began to write this section, when I realised what a fool I had been, to not photograph the tree!!!
The Big Sur drive was about 85 miles in total of winding beautiful road, bridges of various designs and, a lot of mist on this leg of the journey. We had read so often 'that this drive is to be taken slowly and to not rush through it'. We had the time, so we took it slowly and enjoyed every minute of it. The mist did not hamper us too much. In fact it added a fair amount of drama to the land and seascape. We stopped at various and many turn out's to enjoy the vista's; a few were so shrouded in mist, there was nothing below to see. We could even hear, at one point, from way up where we were and looking far down into the ocean, the barks of the seals. A lovely rugged coast with so much beauty to offer.
Big Sur - some areas shrouded in mist
The fires were still burning down this end but the Firies had been pushing them east, away from harming homes and state parks. Quite a few state parks had 'closed' signs and we could only imagine it was due to the fires. Chuck chatted to two Rangers who were reopening Julia Pfeiffer Reserve and they gave us all the fire information. This was the first fire here in over 100 years, and started by an illegal camper who made a fire!
Big Sur - the Everywhere Man appeared!
During the drive, and due to my comment in the last blog regarding how many Mustangs are on the road, Chuck decided to count them. In the 85 miles of single lane road with not much traffic (it was Monday); he came up with a total of 46. No wonder it is taking so long for those who ordered them in Oz to get delivery – the first only arriving in April this year.
This in a parking area - 2 Mustangs together. Not an uncommon sight.
Morro Bay is a lovely town. Its main feature, the huge Morro Rock, which is a volcanic peak, rises dramatically from the ocean floor and dominates this lovely bay. There is a chain of rocks 'The Nine Sisters' apparently a chain of 9 rocks which are 21 million years old, and Morro Rock is one of them. The chain of rocks stretches from Morro Bay way down south to San Luis Obispo. The small waterfront area known as the Embarcadero, was one long road filled with souvenir shops, art galleries, motels, wine bars, American craft beer tasting and restaurants.
Morro bay - Chuck found Marilyn Monroe
On our second day in Morro Bay, we began with another wander along the Embarcadero and to see the rock, hopefully, not shrouded in mist. It is amazing what one can see on a mist free morning! The two photos below are, on the left, the Rock taken on the previous afternoon. If you could perhaps try to 'part that mist' you might just see the outline of a rock. The photograph on the right taken the next morning, is the rock in all its glory.
Misty one day, and clear the next! Makes SUCH a difference
This was also the day on which we had booked a tour at Hearst Castle. We had to double back some 29 miles, but we knew this when we booked Morro Bay as it was the closest camp we could get, to the castle. The organisation at Hearst Castle was extremely slick and we got a good tour of the grand rooms. My goodness, William Hearst, was certainly a man with vision on a very grand scale. One could imagine many debauched parties which took place here at what he called 'his ranch'.
Hearst Castle - There were numerous tapestries. They had such detail. They must have taken years to do
Californian road surfaces leave much to be desired, so we were both happy to have a new surface without bumps and dips, causing rattles and shakes, on which to travel this shortish stretch. We could wax lyrical about this area, namely Highway 1 and the Big Sur, but it's now onward to Santa Barbara via Highway 101, having left Highway 1 behind us for the moment. There is sure to be much beauty and fun awaiting us on this next leg.