Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Driving the California Coast

After surviving Los Angeles traffic, we headed north in our rented SUV on the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.  LA traffic is not an urban myth.  It took well over two hours before we were cruising the speed limit along the wineries of Santa Barbara.  Beautiful, but then the sun set and pitch darkness took control.  Evidently, there is no moon on the west coast; I was certain it was full when we left Georgia.

Thanks to an iPhone GPS and Greg's sheer fortitude, we arrived at our suite at the Lighthouse Lodge at the tip of Pacific Grove.  This charming motel suite had its own fireplace, kitchenette, living room, bedroom and jacuzzi tub.  Definitely better suited for a romantic weekend getaway than an exhausted family of five, but we settled in nicely, looking forward to touring the 17 Mile Drive in the morning.

Our view of the golf tournament from Carmel beach.
According to one website, "The 17 Mile Drive is widely recognized as one of the most scenic drives in the world."  Yes, WORLD!  What an exciting prospect, right?  Guess what?  They close the drive during professional golf tournaments and we arrived on the weekend of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro/Am Tournament which is kind of a big deal... so no seeing the most scenic drive in the world.  However, those 17 miles are not the only breathtakingly beautiful drives in the area.

Frustrated by golf... again.
my new addiction

We hit Highway 1 south stopping in Carmel-by-the-Sea and taking the scenic drive through that quaint little town.

Smiling like kids in a candy shop.

Earthquake damage or fairytale cottage?

A rare quiet sibling moment

Being by the ocean gives me "Flock of Seagulls Hair"
Everything has its price...
We continued on Highway 1 south to Big Sur with its terrifying roadside cliffs and drop-offs.  At one point we met a traffic light controlling traffic on a one lane road.  What happened to the other lane?  As we pulled through the light, we could see it half way down the cliff.  Yikes!

Pulling over at what we thought was a safe distance, we hiked a couple of trails to the land's edge.  We could have easily had a Hitchcock movie moment so I urged Greg and the kids back to the car asap.

Big Sur's trees and mountain camping were a welcome enclosure.  The redwood trees are not as big here as in the Sequoyah National Forest, but they were amazing just the same.

After driving, hiking and screaming for two hours, we headed north for some chowder and sea life in Monterey.

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