Vacation in Carmel: Big Sur

Today our aim was to spend some time down the coast in Big Sur.

Bixby Creek BridgeWe got in the car and drove down Route 1. It was so typical – sometimes completely foggy (10-20 feet visibility), sometimes bright and sunny, and everything in between.

We got to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to find it warm and sunny. We had a picnic by the Big Sur River, which would have been really peaceful if there weren’t construction workers building a bridge as a park improvement, mere feet from where we were sitting.

The hike I really wanted to do was partially closed, so instead we did the Buzzard’s Roost hike. It started out along the Big Sur River, lush with redwoods, and climbed for a couple of miles. Then, the flora changes very suddenly, and we were surrounded by manzanita (one of my favorites). Fortunately the day was sunny and clear (kinda hot, actually!), so we were able to see the ocean from the top of the trail. The peak wasn’t otherwise scenic, though – the apex featured a small building with a large antenna on top.

We headed back down, and I played in the river just a bit. I wished I had brought my Tevas – then I really would have spent some time in the water.

We drove over to the pat of the park that featured the biggest redwood tree in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the Colonial Tree. We found it to be somewhat underwhelming.

As we left the park, Dave suggested that we check out Pfeiffer Beach. It wasn’t until we got there that we realized that it wasn’t part of the State Park system, so we had to pay another fee (to the U.S. Forestry Service). We made our donation to the federal government, and thankfully were able to get a parking spot.

Whereas it had been very warm just a mile inland, it was chilly and VERY windy on the beach. I was shocked at the people who were sunbathing, and the children playing in the cold Pacific water. The sand was beautiful, but the winds were extreme. There was a cove with some really cool rocks, though, making really interesting breaking waves and tidepools.

As we headed back to Carmel, we took the advice of AAA magazine and checked out a couple of little spots in the Big Sur area. We stopped at a place called Nepenthe, intending to get coffee at Cafe Kevah. Unfortunately, it was closed, but the shop there was open, so we poked around just a bit.

Then we found the Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, not quite hidden behind a (quaint but very expensive) Shell station. We got cafe mochas, sat on the patio, and watched the cars go by. Very relaxing way to wrap up our Big Sur experience!

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