SAN-2-SEA day 1 – San Diego to Monterey

This is the first in a series of posts about a trip from San Diego up to Seattle, along the US west coast. I’m dating these entries back to the actual date of the travel so that they will appear correctly and in chronological order in the blog. The posts will be illustrated with snapshots that I made with my smartphone only, this time (the “real” photos will appear later, for sure).

On Friday morning, after some rearranging of things that Doug had stuffed in his Prius already 😉 so that my suitcase and backpack would fit in, we left San Diego around 9am, hoping to beat the LA traffic on Friday at least to a certain degree – and thanks to the help of the Waze navigation app, we kept moving most of the time and made it to Santa Barbara for a delicious lunch buffet at the “Flavors of India” restaurant that I remembered from our stay for a wedding photography gig last year.

Since we weren’t really too keen on seeing more of Southern California, we just kept moving and left the bigger Highway 101 at San Luis Obispo, to then continue on Highway 1, which is smaller and stays more closely to the coast. We only made a brief stop somewhere near San Simeon, north of Hearst Castle (which we deliberately skipped) to stretch our legs, at an Elephant Seal watching site just along the road, before continuing to Big Sur, where we first stopped at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Photographically, the weather was boring, bland blue skies without a single cloud, and while the park offers some hiking into the (steep) hills above the coast, we only had a short look at the popular McWay falls and McWay Cove, before continuing north.

After finding our bearings at a visitor center, we drove down Sycamore Canyon Road to Pfeiffer Beach, were we stayed for sunset. Pfeiffer Beach is “that spot with the hole in the rock” which is popular among photographers especially in winter, when the sun illuminates the surf crashing through that hole from behind. Strange enough, even though the sun set at an entirely different angle, there were still a couple of photographers at the beach that were totally transfixed on that stupid hole in the rock. 🙂

It was pretty windy down at the beach and we wandered around a little bit, slowly getting into “photography mode”, but because of the rather bland skies, we didn’t feel too inspired.

As it was getting dark we drove back up to Highway 1, and stopped at a nearby lodge and restaurant for dinner – their price for accommodation seemed a bit high though, so we made the decision to continue up north to Monterey, to find a place to stay for the first night there. This of course meant that we would miss seeing a good part of the Big Sur coastline since it was already dark, but we were more keen on reaching Northern California and really different landscapes – after all, Big Sur can easily be reached in a couple of hours for a weekend trip.

At a Travelodge just off of Highway 101 we played “good cop / bad cop” and got a room with two separate queen size beds for $99, including the typical “continental breakfast”. I wonder on which continent people actually have that sort of food for breakfast, other than in travel lodges and motels! 😉

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