“The PCH runs along much of the Pacific coast of the U.S. in California, and it parallels, and sometimes hugs, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. As I continued my drive north along the ocean, the ride just kept getting more incredible. The 139-mile section from Monterey to Morro Bay was nothing short of staggeringly beautiful.” – Peter Greenberg
Leaving Hearst Castle, or the Hearst Castle parking lot I should say, we jump back on the PCH to enjoy the 105 mile stretch of “America’s Most Beautiful Drive.” Arguable, I’m sure…but you won’t hear me disputing that claim. Mile after mile was filled with jaw-dropping views of endless sea as far as your eyes can venture. With her fear of heights, my mom was appropriately nervous of making this drive. The PCH turns into tight spirals along towering cliffs overlooking the ocean. With high cliffs of tree and rock on our right and the crashing ocean dropping down from our left…it’s not surprising she held her breath a few times around the hairpin turns. She admitted, at the end, it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be and I was proud of her. I can’t imagine she regretted making the “treacherous” journey though.
My brother drove so I could enjoy the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and take pictures. We stopped at numerous view points to get a better snapshot and to just enjoy nature at it’s best. At one stop these persistent little chipmunks, not afraid of people at all, kept scurrying around to collect crackers from travelers only happy to hand feed the critters. Rodents of all kinds make me leery, but I have to admit, they were kind of cute. I couldn’t help but flashback to my childhoods days watching Chip ‘N Dale. No, not the Vegas Chippendales of course…but the cute animated critters Chip….and Dale.
Soon the gorgeous coastline turned into a vast forest of dark, green trees. Only about a half a mile inland from the sea, we were now driving through the wilderness into Big Sur. I can’t imagine how one lives there, but I soon learn that not many people actually do. Big Sur consists of a stretch of hotels and restaurants for the most part, and workers travel the few miles from neighboring towns like Monterey and Carmel. Big Sur is so quaint it must have jumped right out of a storybook. Stopping for gas, we are in this tiny little rest stop of wooden shops, individual outhouses, and a “Spirit Garden.”
This Spirit Garden, albeit unexpected in this location, was a small multicultural garden tucked away in the trees. It was filled with local artwork, carved African sculptures, and lush greenery. Climbing a little stairway, past what appeared to be giant, wooden, sleeping nests, we emerged near a small stage where poetry and small plays are presented. I loved this hidden place in the middle of the PCH woods.
After enjoying our short stay in Big Sur, we hit the road and opted to continue our drive into San Francisco rather than spend the night in Monterey, since we still had a good amount of daylight left.
Next up… San Francisco.