Monterey, CA to Big Sur, CA

32.4 mi / 10.5 mph / 2148 ft. climbing
Home: Pfeiffer State Park hiker/biker campsite

Finally, after six days, seven nights in Monterey (which went much better than Rett’s beloved movie of the same name), it was time to continue our leisurely southern migration. The first stop was one of our most-thought-out Safeway visits ever, since it would be 100 miles until the next real grocery store. Services across Big Sur are extremely limited, and appropriately expensive where they exist. And of course we would be taking our time to explore the mythic coastline, so would need several days of supplies to carry us through.

In camp yesterday, Russell’s excitedly-widened eyes was all the recommendation we needed to make a stop at Point Lobos, which maybe counts as the beginning of Big Sur. He also reported that the weekend traffic when he visited was insane, and they had to park 0.7 miles down the road from the parking lot entrance. So immediately we could tell that our wait-out-the-holiday-weekend strategy had worked: traffic on Highway 1 was light, parking was easy for either bikes (with nice hitching posts available) or cars, and everything just felt peaceful and quiet, nothing like the weekend chaos we’d heard about from so many people.

Point Lobos was in fact a jewel, set in the deep blue of the Monterey waters. Rocks and trees and birds and beach and waves is nothing new to us, but this particular conglomeration of all those things, on a warm, perfectly clear day, was one of the most striking we’ve seen. And we only had time to do a slow-hike and lunch through one small section of the Reserve; there is plenty more to go back and see.

Coal Chute Point at Point Lobos.
This egret could not have been better posed if I had set her there myself. Or maybe the backgrounds make any pose perfect.
The same egret, from the other side of the point.
Another sea otter with a seagull waiting for scraps. When the otter went down to feed, it was funny to watch the seagull behave just like we did yesterday when the humpback whales went down to feed: turning our heads in every direction, floating randomly, saying “where is he going to pop up again?!?”
Us! (timer mode)
Us! (selfie mode)
The turquoise waters of Granite Point Beach.
Every color was so intense. #nofilter (or very little filter, at least!)

Moving onward into the heart of Big Sur, I was loving it. It was a perfect weather day, including soft tailwinds, a butter-smooth road surface, and world-class coastal beauty scrolling by in an endless loop. Which made me mad at the two or three asshole drivers that prevented Rett from feeling the same thing. The road was generally shoulderless, hilly, and curvy, and though traffic was light, there were enough “nutters” (drivers who squeeze between oncoming traffic and us in order to pass) to keep Rett consistently terrified and unable to see, much less enjoy, the beauty around her.

What made it even worse is that our strategy of waiting out the weekend had largely been her idea, and it had worked. Yes, traffic wasn’t ideal, but it was so much better than it otherwise would have been. I wanted her to be proud that her idea to take advantage of our flexibility had defeated the mobs of uncaring tourists and given us this place to enjoy in relative solitude, but if she couldn’t feel that, I at least am so thankful to her for making it the unparalleled experience it was for me.

I imagine cows living with this view must have better-tasting milk/meat!
Bixby Creek Bridge, made famous by “some TV show” (Big Little Lies) that contributed to the overfilling of Big Sur, according to a woman we spoke with back in Santa Cruz.
#FindRett on Bixby Creek Bridge
Bixby Creek Bridge and Big Sur looking back north.
Endless expanse of ocean. How many whales are under those waters?

Upon arrival at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, we were surprised to find ourselves suddenly camped inside the cool dark redwoods again! The coast road had been much drier and relatively treeless, but the slight inland turn was enough to sustain the southernmost population of redwoods. The large hiker/biker area was empty, and with our relatively-isolated location in the campground with a bathroom/shower building right next door, it felt a whole lot like our first redwoods stay at the northern end of California, where we were lucky to feel like we had the place to ourselves. Rett’s home-made beef-jerky ramen was the perfect cap to a great day.



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2 responses to “Monterey, CA to Big Sur, CA”

  1. Kenneth Gregie Avatar
    Kenneth Gregie

    WOW! Nature sure made it easy for you to capture some beautiful photographs. The first egret picture with the deep blue of the ocean, then the sea green color with the white foam, the dark brown rocks, the golden rock and the white egret–all those intense colors in a gorgeous arrangement in one place easily made that my favorite. Kudos to the photographer too.

    1. neil Avatar

      Thank you for making my love of the egret-photo feel well-founded, it’s one of my very favorites as well. And very little back-patting of myself there, since as you note, I pretty much didn’t do a darn thing for that photo, basically just stood and snapped it, and even did very minimal post-processing. It was all just right there, looking just like that!

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