California Part 3: Big Sur or Bust

By far the best part of our trip was Big Sur. You must go there. If you haven’t been, pack your bag right this instant and get on your way. It’s unlike any place I have ever been.

We started the Big Sur leg of our trip based on the advice of our waitress from dinner in Monterey the night before by hiking Point Lobos. I had heard of it and it wasn’t a “must” for us, but she insisted and I am really glad we listened. It was probably the most remote of the areas that we hiked in BS, a lot of the other spots had well-worn paths and were pretty touristy. This was 5 hours of just wandering the woods and the coast and it was BEAUTIFUL.

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Flower Child

There was about a half hour or so where we got lost wandering the woods..but all is well that ends well and neither of us killed each other. There is this one point on the trail where you get down to the cliffs and the ocean goes on as far as you can see..it was a true moment of zen.

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We also made some friends of the amphibian sort..

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And I got a smile out of Rob in the process- overall the day was a success.

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Afterwards we were starving and decided to head into Carmel-by-the-Sea to grab some lunch and see what all the fuss is about. Carmel is the definition of quaint, something you would find in a Disney movie, really. We actually didn’t take any pictures as we were tired and just enjoying the moment, but it was a true highlight and I recommend it to anyone taking a Cali coast trip.

We had an amazing sushi lunch at Hanagasa, and then quickly headed down to the beach where we both promptly fell asleep within 2 minutes time. After a nice nap we got up and walked the shops, I found an adorable place called the White Rabbit which carries all Alice in Wonderland merchandise, and then we tumbled down the rabbit hole towards the “Wine this way” signs and ended up at the Galante tasting room. Delicious wine & chocolate, we were very happy campers.

Once we got back to the hotel, (Carmel River Inn had rooms for around $79/night and was right along the side of Highway 1) we got showered and ready for dinner. There were a few options we toyed around with, but we ultimately settled on Nepenthe Restaurant, or what I now refer to as one of the most memorable meals of my life. It was around 30 minutes away from the hotel but the views along Rt 1 were so amazing neither of us minded. When we got there I was in heaven, they had a really nice general store with all sorts of really unique, locally made goodies- makeup, jewelry, home decorations, you name it. We then went upstairs and put our names in for dinner. After grabbing some wine at the bar we got to just bask in the amazing-ness that is Nepenthe. Breathtaking views of the cliffs dropping down into the ocean, fire pits, pillowed hang-out areas, it was incredible.

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We got seated outside and had amazing service- great food, a really personable waiter, and the best seat in the house for the sun going down on another beautiful Cali day.

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The next day we woke up determined to see as much as we could of the rest of Big Sur. First stop: the iconic Bixby Bridge.

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This next part requires a little bit of explaining..

At dinner the night before Rob was chatting up our waiter about how to get the best views of said Bixby Bridge. He let us in on a little hometown secret that there is a dirt road across the street from the bridge that takes you up and around the mountains for the most gorgeous and un-touristy views. We (if I’m honest it was really Rob) decided this would be a good idea. At first it was great, the waiter wasn’t lying, there were some great views.

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However, the further we got, the clearer it became that we were no where near Route 1 anymore. No cell phone service and a rocky dirt road in a Hyundai Elantra. Some panic attacks were had on my end, all the while I was told to “look how pretty it is outside”..

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At some point we were actually held up in a traffic jam by cattle. This actually happened. I’m from Philly, this was akin to being in a modern day Deliverance esque tale of misfortune. I did not think we would ever emerge back into civilization.

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Alas, we did. And Rob was able to dig my claws out of his arm. And we were able to proceed back onto our route- next up McWay Beach.

Purple Sand at McWay Beach

Purple Sand at McWay Beach

For the record, the path down to the beach was very dicey and crowded. The beach itself was beautiful but it was so windy we weren’t able to stay long. Just enough for a few nice shots.

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Sand-battered and hungry we headed off in search of food. I had read all about Big Sur Bakery so that was our first stop–unfortunately, when we got there there was a big crowd and pretty steep prices. We then decided to give Big Sur Taphouse a try, it was very well worth it. While prices weren’t great the food was quick to come out and the burgers were phenomenal. If you go, be sure to go out back, you can hardly even see there is an outdoor area when you are ordering but it is massive, nicely shaded and has some really nice lounging chairs. Burgers & Beers were a great pick me up from all of our running around and got us both in a great mood for taking on the rest of the day.

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Big Sur Taphouse

 

Just a man and his Hyundai on the road to SoCal

Just a man and his Hyundai on the road to SoCal

Our last stop of the day was McWay Falls, I was told it was a “must”. Whoever it was who told me that was right, and it turned out to be really nice. A pretty easy walk from the parking lot, and a very nice view to round out the day.

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And with that…we packed up the Hyundai and headed out of Big Sur. The next morning we had tickets to see Hearst Castle which was a ways away so we decided to make the drive that night, winding roads and mountains with dramatic cliffs and pounding waves, it lulled us into a very happy late afternoon/early evening in San Simeon..the next stop on our trip!