Monday, May 26, 2014

Pacific Coast Highway ~ California

We left the great city of San Diego to make our way north up the coast of Southern California.  We had done this before so we would be stopping and staying in different places this time.  With so many great places to visit on the 800km (500 mi) drive to San Francisco, it is almost impossible to do it in one trip, always more to see ‘next time’.  First we have to pass through the cities before we get to enjoy the ocean.

City freeway sights in Southern California
We followed I-5 through the cities in the Los Angeles area to Hwy 101.  The freeway and city sights are the main view, including the ‘Hollywood” sign in the distance as we made our way.  Once we passed through the Santa Barbara area we had few opportunities to see the ocean yet but enjoyed the interior scenery on Hwy 101 before spending the night at Buellton, CA.

Morro Bay, California
Our first close-up view of the ocean from the highway is on Day 2 at Morro Bay after passing Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, where we turned onto Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.  The clouds are dark and we get a bit of rain but we manage to find brighter skies up ahead and many more beautiful ocean views.

San Simeon, California
The beach up ahead is calling to us.  We decide it is time to have lunch so we park and take some time to stroll along the beach.  What we did not realize until a park warden told us just as we were leaving is that no dogs are allowed on the beach, “even the little cute ones”.  He also told us that we’d walked through a protected area for the Snow Plover but no signs were there to tell us about these restrictions.  Rule-breaking rebels, are we!  He said he’d get someone to post signs.
Hovering hawk
The beach had a few visitors but the one I noticed first was the hawk flying over.  He may have seen “the little cute one” and thought he would check her out for lunch but he passed over without a problem.  I am guess this to be a red-shouldered hawk.

Weathered rocky shoreline
Maggie was oblivious to the hawk and enjoying her walk along the beach, on the trail of something interesting in the rocks.  The rock erosion shows years of sand and waves splashing up against them.  It is amazing how much force that would have to erode to this degree, they look like the bubbles in the Aero chocolate bar.

Hearst Castle at San Simeon, CA
The Hearst Castle is a big tourist draw in this area.  We’ve never been but there is always a parking lot full of cars and buses bringing many there to have a tour and see the splendor of the place.  We did once tour the parking lot, though.

Elephant Seal plays in the water
A highlight of the day was our stop to see the elephant seals.  I’ve put together a page of them, click here to view that and enjoy.  We could have stayed there for hours watching them all enjoy their playtime in the water or naps in the sunshine.

Pelicans visit
We did see some brown pelicans fly by.  These are the smallest of the pelican family and found along the coastal waters of the western and southern states.  They dive into the water for their food, unlike the white pelicans but are no competition for the food supply with the fasting elephant seals, causing no disturbance for them.
Vintage car parade
We saw a vintage car in the Elephant Seal parking lot but enjoyed seeing many more as we headed north along the Pacific Coast Highway for our next stop.  We must have seen several dozen vintage cars that had driven down through the Big Sur area.

California shoreline
We’re about to drive up the winding Pacific Coast Highway of Big Sur where we will have few opportunities to pull over but we can enjoy the view of the water from the scenic drive.  Our destination is Marina Dunes north of Monterey and Carmel.  I will share some of the sights of the day on another page.


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