I must keep writting about our California road trip, it is great recalling this little adventure. It has only been a week but already seems ages ago. Time seems to have totally disappeared and I have no idea what day or date it is. We have sailed from Tahiti to Moorea and hopped from one lovely anchorage to another. I am struggling with WiFi so posts are limited but I hope to change this soon. I am getting a local SIM which should help.
I tried not to be fustrated at the road closure on the Pacific Highway. Due to a mudslide after the terrible brush fires last year where many people lost their homes. The mud damaged a bridge and it is going to take some time to fix. The general re-route is to head East and pick up the 101, from there Monterey is a mere 2 hours away, however we would have to come back on this and I am not one for going back on myself. Our original plan was to go up to Monterey in less time giving us a chance to head to San Francisco and then Yosemite. I quickly realised that doing this would mean rushing and many hours in the car. None of us were in the mood for either so we decided on a simple L.A. to San Francisco adventure (although we didn’t make San Francisco either) cutting out the rest and adding a few extra days at places. I also didn’t want to miss the bit of the Pacific Highway South of Monterey and due to the faster detour we would have, this bit is called as the Big Sur and is a well-known beauty spot with dramatic coastline and views. I did a bit of research and found a route through some big hills to the coast meaning we would miss only a few miles of the Pacific Highway. On the map the road looked windy and steep and a little off the beaten track, perfect! Although it cut into an extra day it was totally worth it. My extra special ‘Jes detour’ took us up high to two huge lakes which then took us even higher before dropping back down to a plain of miles and miles of dry golden grassland. Halfway across this plain (maybe 10 miles or so) we got to a cross roads with a lonely looking store so we pulled over to take a look. It was interesting to come across a single store with nothing else around for miles accept a dusty single track road and lots of grassy meadow. The contents of the store was very sparse and the mostly empty shelves were as dusty as the road outside. It felt like stepping back in time to the wild west, all that was needed was a creeky swinging sign and a tumble weed. They did have coffee though which was much needed and greatly appreciated. A few more miles down the road and we randomly entered an army base. We drove past the assault course and barracks and a huge car park full of army vehicles, it was about 5 miles before we got out the otherside. The road then started to twist and turn as it entered a forest valley, following a small river. We passed a couple of fly fishermen and a gorgeous little riverside campground before the road started to climb once more. This time very steeply and as we got higher the drop got more dramatic. We wound our way up an incredible mountain road until we reached a place to stop. On every turn I though we were nearly there but the climb went on for a very long time. I went really slowly as was worried about the drop off. At the top we were not disappointed, we found ourselves overlooking pine covered hills that were almost small mountains (In the UK we would call them mountains). The road followed this contour for a few more miles until suddenly we made one last turn and we were through the other side looking down at the deep blue ocean and the Big Sur. Still very high up we now had to work our way down, every turn provided a brilliant view point, I still drove very slowly!!
When we got to the bottom we joined the coast road once again and took a leisurely drive to Monterey on the famous Big Sur. The whole drive took the entire day due to stop offs and the very windy road but it was well worth it. I did sleep well that night, after all that driving but that worked out well as we were up early the next day for whale watching!!
Even if the road isn’t closed I would recommend this drive. We took in some amazing veiws and encountered so incredible wildlife – Even a Golden Eagle!! It was a bit scary with the drop offs but if you take it slow you will be just fine (I also double, triple checked my handbrake every time we stopped).
The kids loved the drive but got impatient if we stopped too much to check out yet another view.
It was lovely having Mum in the car, she has a great sense of adventure and was keen to explore the area. We did turn around at one gate though which said trespassers would be shot!!