Pacific Coast HIghway
Trip Start May 11, 2012
22Trip End Jun 08, 2012
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It was 25 miles to the coast through rolling hills of purple and amber with dark green trees and rows and rows of grapevines along the way. We passed through hills and valleys of productive land. Steve learned from the desk clerk at our hotel, whose brother grows grapes and almonds, that 8 acres of grapevines nets him a lot more money than 40 acres of almond trees. And that is the beginning of the chain that ends up in those expensive bottles of wine that we drink.
After about 20 miles we came over a ridge, and there she was…the Pacific Ocean, a mixture of turquoise and dark blue water, sprinkled with white caps as far as the eye could see
The PCH runs right along the water, a road cut into the mountain side, winding around the contours of the rocks, with bridges over the rivers and creeks where the water flows down the mountain and into the ocean. And the vistas were incredible. It is a rocky coastline with only a few small beaches along the way. And taking photos today was a challenge, because the temperature was only in the high 50's and the wind was blowing from the north at about 50 MPH.
We drove through national forests and state parks all along our route, so there were no houses on ledges looking onto the water…well perhaps we saw 2 or 3 in the 120 mile drive. The land was just as nature had created it, save the road that allowed us to witness the grandeur that was this incredible ride. And the State of California provided visitors with many turnoffs to view the vistas and take photographs, which is why I took so many beautiful pictures. And at these turnoffs, there was an abundance of squirrels and birds. At one stop, I got out of the car to take some photos and when I returned, there was a squirrel between me and the car door
At one stop we saw elephant seals laying on the sand sunning themselves and further down the road there were hundreds of them on a beach, laying almost lifeless…one might have thought at first glance that they were dead, but they were very much alive. According to the signs, the males are about 5,000 pounds and the females about 1,600 pounds.
As we moved on, the wind was stronger and to get out of the car became a challenge. Since we were going north, the wind was always on my side when we stopped and I had to struggle to keep the door open long enough to get out and get back in. I don’t know if this is normal for the area, but I rather doubt it.
As we moved north, the mountains changed in appearance…they were mostly covered with green grass and trees and bushes and wild flowers, sometimes ragweed, and sometimes a bright red ground cover dotted with bright red flowers
The road was narrow, and it followed the contour of the mountains. The signs attempted to discourage RV’s, but many passed us, often with their wheels on or over the yellow line. The speed limit was sometimes 20, sometimes 25, sometimes more, but it was never more than 40 MPH. At one point I was reminded of the drive through Mesa Verde and all of those mountain hugging hairpin turns. Danger and beauty collide. And the turnoffs were shear cliffs towering over the water, with fences to discourage getting too close to the edge.
After we passed through Big Sur, the road began to weave away from the water and back again until we arrived in Monterey. We attempted to drive the 17 mile road around the Monterey peninsula, but at some point, where the road passed Pebble Beach, the guard wanted $9.75 to proceed through and we declined. It was getting late and we headed back to our hotel to check in. Now, Rudy…be nice.