Highway 1 - L.A. to San Francisco

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Pacific Coast Highway, or "the One", is one of the iconic roads in the U.S. It goes right up the west coast and for the most part is perched precariously on the precipice. The winding highway seems to hang off the side of the gorgeous cliffs that plunge dramatically into the Pacific Ocean. Right away we were in for a visual treat. We drove through Malibu and were introduced to some of the gargantuan estates that rise from the peaks of the surrounding hills. We even passed the Scientology Church of Malibu; Meg was hoping to see Tom Cruise or Will Smith, but alas it was not meant to be. We decided to take a break from our pretty drive by stopping in Santa Barbara. This town is well put together and State Street is an absolute shopper's paradise. It has trendy shops, coffee houses, and movie theatres. There was no shortage of fashionistas strolling with their hands full of designer shopping bags and non-fat-soy-lattes. What was most interesting about this clean and cute town was the surprising number of homeless people. There was quite a contrast of different types of locals all going about their respective days. Very intriguing. After a brief walk to stretch our legs we headed for our destination for the night, Cambria.
Cambria is a small town with a big identity and a vibrant artist culture. Seemingly every other store is a gallery or artist's showroom. Even the restaurants and shops are decorated with the artwork of the local talent. They are very proud of their local identity and rightfully so. The town had a wonderful feel and the people were arguably the nicest we have met anywhere in our travels. Everyone went out of his or her way to say hello and make us feel at home. The people running the Inn we stayed at were quite pleasant and the eateries in which we visited had a knack for customer care. We couldn't resist drooling over the bakery products - even they looked like pieces of art! It was a perfect place to stop even though it was hard to leave. However, Big Sur was calling.
Big Sur is a 90-mile stretch of coastline that is a stunningly beautiful hiker's paradise. We thought the drive from L.A. to Cambria was nice but it didn't compare to this. Shortly after we left Cambria we came across an Elephant Seal colony on the beach. As we had never experienced one of these before, we had to get out and take it in. These animals are absolutely massive beasts (hence their name we guess). It was amazing to see them just going about their daily routine seemingly oblivious to our presence. See the video for a bit of what we saw. Although we could have watched them all day we wanted to get some hiking in at Big Sur. We stayed at the Big Sur Lodge in the heart of the area and home to endless hiking trails and stellar ocean views. Unfortunately Mother Nature has been a little angry in the area and most of the parks in the region are closed as a result of the forest fires that have wreaked havoc over the last year. They are expecting more of the same and are calling for even more severe droughts this year. We did manage to do a couple of trails that took us through some beautiful Redwood forests and we even saw the only coastal waterfall in California. Once we got back to the lodge a family of deer were waiting for us outside our cabin. Not a bad day at all!
The next morning we headed to San Francisco. We decided to take a lunch break in Santa Cruz. It was a quirky town filled with odd shops and restaurants. We do believe that the "beach bum" way of life was created (and perfected) here. After a few arguments with "Carla" our GPS device, we finally made it to beautiful San Francisco!

Megan and Kevin
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