Saturday, August 13, 2011

California Road Trip of a Lifetime Day 5 - The Big Sur...Heaven on Earth

"Nothing quite prepares you for your first glimpse of the craggy, unspoiled coastline." - California Coastal

I don't even know what to say with this post. Today was one of the most incredible days I will ever experience in my entire life! Our day started out eating our delicious not so much "deluxe continental breakfast.". We then drove to Carmel from Monterey. In Carmel we walked around the neat shops again, ate a delicious lunch at Tommy Woks, which I highly recommend if you are ever in the area and want to eat some delicious authentic Chinese food, then we Andrew had to feed the squirrels sand rats one last time.

I love Carmel! It is the cutest little town unlike any other that I have ever been to. Hindsight 20/20 I wish we would have stayed there, but nonetheless we had a great time there. The shopping is awesome, there is even a coach outlet, go figure. The beautiful beach was at the end of the main street of the town, Ocean Avenue, and is a breathtaking view of the ocean and Pebble Beach golf course.

Once we left Carmel we headed south on HWY 1 for the most incredible scenic views I will ever see in all of my whole entire life. If you don't believe in God, I can promise you that you will, once you see the Big Sur with your own eyes. Only God could create something that breathtaking! I don't even know how to do it justice. It was incredible, breathtaking, amazing, mouth dropping, eye opening, spiritual, in-freakin-credible to say the least. I believe that it took us 10 hours to get 125 miles...we must have stopped 2 dozen times. Every turn that we took was another breathtaking view of one of God's most amazing creations.

It is here in Big Sur that I first learned how to say Amen
~ Henry Miller

Our first stop along the Big Sur was at Rocky Creek Bridge.  We then stopped at Bixby Bridge, a bridge famous for its car commercials, it is aaaamazing.

"Thirteen miles south of Carmel stands one of the world's highest single-span concrete arch bridges, Bixby Bridge. Its beauty is matched only by the ocean waves crashing on the rocky coastline below. Reaching over 260 feet high and over 700 feet long, it is a structural masterpiece, and probably the most photographed object along the coastal route."

Pfeiffer state park park was next on our list. There was a $10 fee to enter the state park, but you pay once and then you can enter all the rest for free. We hiked a 3 mile hike through the giant redwoods and beautiful scenery to Pfeiffer falls, which was sooooo worth it. It was a gorgeous waterfall,  with cute little bridges and ginormous trees along the way.

We were going to stop at Pfeiffer beach where there is this supposed purple sand, but the line was looong and we were losing our daylight, so we turned around and continued heading south.

Partington Cove was our next stop.  We pulled over along side the road and entered a dirt trail down the cliff.  We walked over a cute little bridge and went through an even neater tunnel that took us down to the cove.  We were given an up close and personal look of part of the Big Sur.  Tide pools were all within the cove and the lookout to the Pacific was amazing.

McWay Falls was next.  While all of the stops and views were nothing short of incredible, this viewpoint was one of my favorites.  McWay Falls is the only coastal waterfall along Big Sur.  It is technically a part of the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, but if you want a shortcut to the famous spot you can pull off the road on the west side right after the park entrance and get on the trail from there.  It'll save you a lot of time.  This dirt trail curves around and takes you straight to the trail that gives awesome views of this God-made beauty. The waterfall drops 80 feet straight onto the beach and into the aqua water.  We got there right around sunset.  It was memorizing!  A MUST SEE if you ever go.

After we left, we had about 30 minutes or so left of sunlight.  We decided to take another hike to see Salmon Creek Falls.  This waterall is a "double-drop one that is tucked up into a forested canyon."  It can be glimpsed from HWY 1, but this view doesn't do it justice.  We headed up the hill, for what was supposed to be a 10 minute hike.  We got to a fork in the trail where the sign pointed one way, but the waterfall could be heard if you went the other way on the unmarked trail.  Well...we followed directions and went the way the sign pointed...we hiked and hiked and hiked.  We hiked very close to the edge of the cliff and had an awesome view of Big Sur, however about this time my "slight fear of heights," got to me and I became a little very anxious.  I am usually pretty good about hiding this fear of mine and can suck it up and get over it pretty quickly...not so much this time...poor Andrew.  After what seemed like hours of hiking up towards who knows where, we finally decided to hike back down, thank goodness for my sanity.  Once we got to the fork again, we took the unmarked trail and within a matter of a couple of minutes we were to the double waterfall.  I am not sure where that trail would have gone to, maybe to an upclose and personal view of the waterfall, but this view that we got was nothing short of amazing.  This was the most incredible waterfall I have ever seen.  It was a double-drop, meaning it came together from two different waterfalls and ended up in one large waterfall draining into pools of crystal clear water.  These pictures do not do this one justice.  You could see a rainbow of colors as the falls came together and it just made for one BEAUTIFUL sight.  One of my favorites!  Don't miss it!  And take the unmarked trail ;)  Some day I'd like to go back and take the other trail and see where it goes...that is after I medicate myself a little a lot beforehand.

One of our last "named" spots was Ragged Point.  It was a pull-off spot with jaw-dropping views of Big Sur.  It offered an amazing view of the sun setting. 

After hours and hours of driving, pulling off the road to see the unspeakable beauty at every curve, hiking trail after trail, taking in something so beautiful that only God could create, we decided it was time to eat dinner.  We were starving by this point and not to mention filthy from hiking so much.  As we were headed to Cambria to grab a bite to eat, we saw a ton of people that were gathered along the beach on the side of the road.  Our curious minds got the best of us, so we stopped to see what it was all about.  The boardwalk was in Piedras Blancas.  It was an up-close view of the ginormous elephant seals.  These seals can weigh over 2 tons and are some of the ugliest creatures I have ever seen.  We saw them in their molting season.  So all they do is lay there.  There were tons and tons of them.  And seriously they just lay there and every now and then they make a strange sound and flop to the other side....such odd creatures.

We finally made it to Cambria and stopped at Main Street Grill, thanks to the urban spoon app.  It was delicious!  Either that or I was just starving, or maybe a little of both.  Food never tasted so good!  While we were eating we booked a hotel for the night in Solvang.  It was around 80 miles away, so we still had a little bit of driving to do.  We got to the Holiday Inn Express around 10:30.  Just in time to take a shower to wash more dirt than I care to elaborate on off of my body and crash.

Today was so unbelievably amazing.  One of the best days of my life.  There is nothing better than taking in God's amazing creation, something so beautiful and memorizing that there are not any words to even do it justice, with the one you love dear.  If seeing the Big Sur is not on your bucket list, it should be.  If you are ever in need of a vacation to restore your soul and faith, this is the one you need to go on.  The beauty that God created right here in the United States of America is probably the most astounding piece of scenery that I will ever see in my entire life.  I have already stated this, but I mean it when I say, only God could create something of this caliber of beauty!  Go see the Big Sur!

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