Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 7 - Big Sur

Friday was our day to drive up the Big Sur coast to Monterey. It was another gorgeous, warm day. Our first stop was the Hearst Castle Visitor Center to catch the 9 am showing of the movie, "Building the Dream". This is a very good documentary and probably worth a stop to see even if you don't have time to see the castle. There's also a very good museum here too that describes the life of Mr. Hearst. It has some very interesting exhibits and is well worth a visit even if one is not going to tour the castle. Admission is free.

Next, it was back to the elephant seal viewpoint. The state has constructed fenced pathways alongside two coves where these large marine mammals come to give birth and breed. In October, it was mostly juvenile males that inhabitied the beach. The females and adult males would be arriving in December. There's now a webcam showing the action on this beach:

By 11 am, we were on our way up the Cabrillo Highway, past Ragged Point where the twisting and turning begins on this scenic route. As we drove, we took advantage of the many vista points to pull over and enjoy the views. The hills this far south are somewhat barren and the main vegetation is pampas grass.
Where streams exited the mountains, the plant life became more lush. Salmon Creek was one and Kirk Creek another. We drove into the campground at Kirk Creek. We've camped there before and it's one of our favorites. The views from the sites of the ocean are incredible.

A little further north, we turned into Limekiln State Park. This is another very lush valley due to its creek. We hiked up through the redwoods to see the kilns and also walked up the creek to view the 100 foot cascade. It was surprising that there was so much water in the creek this late in the dry season. It's a beautiful trail. All the redwoods are second growth and many are fire scarred but the ground cover is quite lush with ferns and it's such a peaceful place. We only saw maybe a dozen other people on the trails. Here's a description of the trails:

We continued north passing more great vista points. The weather was totally clear and warm with no wind. Our next stop was Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The McWay Waterfall Trail is a must:

This is one of the great photo ops in California. What a beautiful spot!

In Big Sur, we stopped at the Big Sur Deli which is next to the post office and bought a sandwich. We were going to order two but after the first was made, it was so large, we decided to share it. We then drove down to Pfeiffer Beach and enjoyed our picnic on the beach. By now, the wind had picked up and we had to find shelter behind a rock. This has become a popular beach and there's a forest service fee charged if you don't have an annual or senior pass.

Pfeiffer is one of my favorite beaches. It was the setting for a scene in Marlon Brando's "One Eyed Jacks" (1961) one of my favorite westerns. There were also rumors that the famous beach scene in "From Here to Eternity" was shot here but Mr. Toy has proven that this was not the location:

We drove back up to Hwy 1 and drove through the village of Big Sur. This town is really spread out along the highway and there's quite a bit of traffic. Some of the local drivers can get irate with slow drivers so it's best to pull over and allow them to pass unless you want them riding your behind and honking at you.

Our destination for the evening was Monterey but we decided to pull into Point Lobos for the sunset. We walked out to Sea Lion Point and listened to and watched the sea lions swimming around and lying on the rocks. There was no wind at Point Lobos and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset including another green flash.

We had dinner on Fisherman's Wharf. We were not that hungry because of our late picnic so we shared an appetizer and an entree' and enjoyed a bottle of Hahn Estates Chardonnay. I can't remember which restaurant it was but it was one of those that had a discount coupon on the tourist map we got at the motel. Walking around the wharf area at night was fun with all the bellowing from the sea lions and the family of raccoons playing on the rocks under the pier. It was a Friday night and the area was not that busy

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