I had a difficult time deciding exactly how to begin telling you about our two weeks road-tripping in California. You'd be surprised about how much you can do and see in just 13 days. That compounded by the seemingly endless sights costal California provides.
Why not come out guns blazing? I've been dying to visit Big Sur ever since I became interested in travel photography. So, even though my equipment wasn't up to par (some unexpected focus issues on the lens I use for landscapes) I ended up with some images to treasure for all time. It just took a bit more effort and patience, which actually resulted in Todd and I having our only whale sighting of the trip.
We began our vacation in LA where we stayed to enjoy Disney parks for 3 days (wahoo, I was way more into this than I thought I would be). More on that later. When the craziness was through, it was time for a much anticipated costal road trip. Our destination was Pacific Grove, just past Carmel by the Sea. We started off a bit later than planned after brunch turned into late lunch at a family reunion picnic in Channel Islands National Park. This meant that we ended up driving the serpentine roadway at sunset. A little scary and stomach churning as darkness fell, but completely etherial as far as photography goes.
After a wonderful visit overlooking the Channel Islands (which were eluding me from the mainland with a cloak of mist and cloud) we stopped at the historic Ventura Pier. Built in 1872, it currently extends 1,600 feet into the Pacific. It was surprisingly cool here, and at one point I even pulled out my windbreaker. One of the best travel packing tips I have is to bring lots of short or mid length dresses with a couple pairs of tights. Having those to pull out of my backpack made the evenings so much more comfortable. That sea breeze can surprise you even in mid July!
Our next stop of note was in Piedras Blancas in San Simeon to visit the Elephant Seals lounging on the beach. Flipping sand, huffing, snorting, and rolling around - Luke and Eve got a kick out of the scene. The males are so ugly it's cute with their baggy noses but keep your distance of course, they grow up to 16 feet and 5000 pounds! We didn't see any males this large on this occasion. A pretty female laid closest to us, with battle scars from a shark attack all down her side. Poor girl!
We continued on, a bit nervous about the fading light, but still determined to stop at every opportunity to take in all that we could. There were few cars at this time so it was rare that we were sharing the same outlook with other travellers. So, although I was disappointed that we didn't have more time and ended up driving a portion of Big Sur in the darkness, I am happy that we were able to watch the sun set in all it's glory over what must be one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Flocks of cormorants and brown pelicans danced over the frothing, salty waves to rest on sea washed crags. At one particularity beautiful outlook we spotted a fin in the distance. After the sun had dipped itself into the ocean (or so it seemed) we began our dark and winding journey toward Pacific Grove, passing Bixby bridge under the cloak of darkness (DAMN!!) and stopping for a quick break in Big Sur village. So, although I didn't feel like we got the whole Big Sur experience on this particular trip, we are very motivated to return with the intention of staying several days in the campgrounds or in one of the small lodges. Big Sur, California certainly lived up to my expectations as a must see destination (winding, nail biting highway and all!).