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Pacific Coast Highway

We drove from San Luis Obispo up Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, to Pacific grove.  This could be a 3 hour drive, but it took us 9 hours because of all the fun stops we made.

Sea Jade (Click any image to see it larger)

Sea Jade (Click any image to see it larger)

Our first stop was in Cambria at Moonstone Beach, where we spent at least an hour combing the pebbly beach for cool stones.  The whole beach is made up of little rounded pebbles.  Apparently some of the pebbles are a special stone called Moonstone, and some are “beach jade”.  I’m not sure if we found anything of monetary value, but we took a lot of beautiful stones, and the finding of them and excitedly sharing each other’s finds was priceless.


The next cool spot was an Elephant Seal viewing area.  Elephant seals come from all over the pacific to mate and have their young on this stretch of beach.  The elephant seals on the beach right now are youngsters and adolescents who are here early to rest, since they don’t have to be out eating up food for what sounds like an energetic mating season.  We saw the beach covered in both directions with the slumbering bodies of these impressive animals.  But it wasn’t all repose, as some made displays and loud grunts, and there were some comings and goings. And of course there was the unique smell!  A worthwhile stop along the way.

Next we stopped at the Salmon Creek trailhead where we hiked back a little ways to a waterfall I remembered from my hiking days at Cal Poly.  Many a trip that I went on with the Outings group there stopped at this spot.  Today, however, we had it to ourselves.  It’s a magical waterfall into a crystal-clear pool.  Adam and I even went skinny dipping!

The rest of the drive we marvelled at the beauty of the mountains coming right down to the ocean.  Each turn brought us some new beautiful point of view.  We were hoping to stop at Limekiln state park to go hiking among the redwoods there, but there was a forest fire just in that spot.  (see it in the background of this picture.) We stopped and watched as the helicopters took water from the sea to dump on the fire.

Big Sur is the crowning glory of the drive.  Such a beautiful place on the earth.  As we drove through, we stopped at the Phoenix shop and the attached Nepenthe restaurant to have dinner.  This is a spot that Karen and I would stop at any time we were in the area, and a place that she would often come down to when she lived in Monterey.  So it was nice to share it with the kids.  We ate looking at this gorgeous view, and stayed until the sun set over the Pacific.

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