Nov 012012

I know you are wanting to hear more about Dar, but I couldn’t help but share these photos from when we were in Big Sur.  I had been dying to see McWay Falls forever and my sis highly recommended it after she did her Hwy 1 trip last year.  After we set up camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, we decided to go for a drive to find McWay Falls since we figured the view would be nicer right before sunset.  If went the next morning on the way down, there was a chance we could run into fog.  The stopping point for McWay Falls is near the southern end of Big Sur, so it was actually quite a bit farther than we thought.  The roads are pretty windy so be careful driving at night.  The nice thing about going late in the afternoon is that most likely everyone there is staying in Big Sur, so it’s not as crowded since you don’t have all the drive through tourists.

When we got there, the light was beautiful and just right.  It’s a short path to the viewing platform.  We also went the other way, where there are two beautiful campsites, but you can’t see the falls from that side.  Those two campsites fill up so quickly but how amazing would it be to camp cliff side with the amazing Pacific Ocean view??  Mental note: one day we will book it.

And here is McWay Falls in all its glory:

McWay Falls: Amazing Waterfall Into the Ocean

I love the pink flowers on the cliff-side in the foreground.  The views driving down Hwy 1 are pretty amazing and it’s definitely worth taking a couple of days to spread it out and take your time.  It felt rushed trying to drive from Big Sur to LA in one day.  We managed to stop a few times and take in the views though and they were breathtaking.

Famous Big Sur Bixby Bridge, opened in 1932

Big Sur Viewpoint

Closer to Morro Bay, we stopped at the Elephant Seal Preserve.  There they were, all just sunbathing on the beach!  Too cute.  We did see some male lions get into a bit of a tussle, where they rear their heads back and make honking noises.  Reminded me of the penguin preserve in Cape Town.

Sunbathing Elephant Seals

Dueling Male Elephant Seals

We got back to LA pretty late and very tired, but well worth all the amazing scenery.

Oct 122012

The last time we went up to SF, we had originally planned to take the scenic Highway 1 route down the coast, but we ran out of time.  This time we decided to break it up into two days to get down which is definitely the right choice.  It’s just too long to do it in one day and you end up just driving down the road instead of stopping to take in all the gorgeous scenic points and hikes.

We camped for one night at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is on the north end of Big Sur.  The campground is really gorgeous and if you can get into the lower number campsites (1-50), they are among a grove of coast redwood trees.  Absolutely breathtaking.  When we drove into the campsite and passed by that first section, we were stunned into silence.  Like out of a movie.  Of course all of those had already been reserved so we ended up in campsite 218 which was nice since it was a little more isolated and had some good trees around it.  We didn’t bother to bring the camp stove for one night so we opted to check out the Big Sur Bakery which is known for pizza.  I saw it on Yelp and the local state park newsletter so off we went.  We got there and oops, turns out it’s a nice restaurant with cloth napkins and candlelight and all.  We definitely showed up in our zip off pants and hiking shoes.  Oh well, I’m sure it happens quite often.  It was a fancy camping dinner complete with glasses of red wine!  Very tasty though the pizza could have been seasoned better.

Luxury Camping Dinner

The next morning we set off on a hiking trail called Buzzard’s Roost that goes through some redwood groves and has views at the top.  It was really convenient since the trailhead started right within our campground.  We chose a relatively short one since with my knee injury, I didn’t want to push it.  What a beautiful hike!  We barely saw anyone on the trail.  That’s the nice thing about Big Sur—most people just drive through and don’t bother with the hiking so it’s not as crowded as the trails in Sequoia or Yosemite.  The redwood groves were fantastic and we saw some cool things along the way.

Sun-Dappled Redwood Grove

Believe it or not, I spotted these on the side of a redwood and turns out there were a bunch of shells that were shed by bees!  At least, I think they were bees?  These were just empty see through shells that were the result of molting.

Shells Leftover From Bees Molting

These trees were all over the top of the hike.  They were so fascinating with the peeling and curling red bark, it was such an extreme contrast of colors with the red and green.  It was like they were shedding their skin like the bees.  A quick search reveals that these are madrone trees, native to the western coast of North America.

Amazing Curling Red Bark on Madrone Tree

At the top of the hike, we were greeted with a blanket of fog on the ocean side, so I’m not sure if there was an ocean view on that side.  But we did get a nice view of the canyons and mountains behind us.

View of Santa Lucia Mountains from Buzzards Roost

It was such a nice, calm start to our day that I wish we could start every morning with such a beautiful hike!  What happy people we would be then, right?  We were tremendously envious of all the isolated, gorgeous homes along the cliffs of Big Sur.  One day…