Leaving the big City behind, I drove south with traffic seemingly building up due to the rush hour when I departed, but eventually giving way to smooth fluid traffic. After months and seemingly years of hearing everyone talk about the Big Sur area, I wanted to see whhy everyone speaks of the area with such excitement! To be honest, I was more impressed with the Spanish coast, and the Mendicino and Marin County coastline drives more than this! I'm sorry ~ though there were some great scenics, I just like the other visually-appealing drives instead as they offered more in my opinion. Everyone who has ridden with me in any car knows I love to drive curvy narrow cliffside roads and this was NO exception ~ when I reached the Big Sur area.
Friends had "warned" me about a very steep hill leading to the Big Sur area, but surprisingly I didn't see anything.... not one steep "plunge" at any point. I have been to Italy and their Sorrento cliff scenery and drive were more narrow and hair-raising than this! I must confess that contrary to rumors, I am not a car racer of any sort BUT I do know my car.... I don't use brakes that often driving these curves and if I do hit the brakes on a tight turn, it's probably because the slow car in front of me (there were many) is going toooo slow! Now it seems I even missed a waterfall in the Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Monterey County), but I had not read anything about this or any waterfall in any research I did before the trip, nor did anyone I know who has gone to the Big Sur area mentioned any waterfalls.
On the other hand I was able to see a California Mission finally! Carmel Mission is located off the busy streets and before this mission, I had already drove by another mission.... it was was well worth the stop there to enter and learn a bit of history.... and to see how those in the mission lived and worked. Open to the public is the Basilica of the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, and it's a basilica worth seeing. As I walked through the area, preparations were being made for a wedding.... what a grand backdrop for a wedding and imagine: to be wed in a place founded in 1770!Okay, I do apologize to others who have been to the Big Sur area and think I do not appreciate the "beauty" of the lovely drive and scenery, and I do admit: it was! But - and a very big BUT - I truly believe I have seen better and "worst".
Do YOU like being in a car that's holding on to the curves and twists and turns of a narrow mountaintop road? Enjoy the feel of a vehicle that is "one with the road" whether down- or uphill? Come join me for a ride and see how often I tap my brakes - if I do at all - driving downhill on narrow and tight curves.... with the ocean on one side and the cliffs and rocks on the other!
For the night I slept in the back of my car with a sleeping bag I haven't seen or used since I left Eugene.... car camping wasn't comfortable at all and I now wonder if the years are beating me up? I usually stop for the night at a rest area with plenty of trucks but on HWY 1 on the coast, there doesn't seem to be room for a rest area let alone any safe-looking spots where I could park, and sleep safely and silently. For the very first time in my short life, I "checked" in at a RV park and was surprised by its size and facilities!! wow!! Before bedding down for the night was able to see reddish-pink clouds at sunset through the trees to keep me happy!! ;-)
I avoided the Hearst Castle like a plague... it's located high upon a mountain with its own road and entrance, though it can be seen from the highway and that's where I snapped a pix.... I don't really need to see luxury and nicely-kept grounds after spending a night in the back of my car!! Am sure the elephant seals I saw later were more exciting and interesting than the castle though am sure a few of y'all would disagree with me.
Almost a year ago friends in Wisconsin told me about the drive to Big Sur and even described a stop before reaching the famous Bixby Bridge. They also told me of a very steep drive before reaching this very bridge but I didn't experience any drop in pressure or attitude and wonder if this could be something old and now replaced with a new road as the highway during this section seemed new and recently paved. I've seen steeper hills in SF!!
When I reached the bridge the fog was coming in thick toward the tops of the coastal mountain range. Back-tracking I did find the vantage point mentioned by my friends, and was lucky the fog had disappeared. The sky was full of nice clouds though it was several hours too early for the sunset unfortunately, and I was not about to wait around. I had decided to bypass HWY 1 and take HWY 101, discovering later the highway was packed of cars and delayed the trip but still, I had a good time.