Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Big Sur Recap

If you follow me on social media (and if you don't, you should ;) I'm @CarleeMcDot on all platforms), you may have seen I went radio silent over the weekend. The reason was the hubby and I were off-the-grid, exploring Big Sur with my parents.

When you think "Big Sur", you think "Bixby Bridge", right?!

You see, the Padots and McClurgs swap holidays - one year it is his family's Christmas and the next year it's mine. 2018 was supposed to be the Padot's turn and instead of us going back to Michigan, my parents were going to come out to California and we were going to do a trip to Big Sur. Well, we wanted the weather to be halfway decent, so instead of planning the trip around the holiday, we pushed it back a couple months - hence an April 2019 trip to Big Sur. {Side note: We ended up flying back to Michigan for Christmas this past year, so we lucked out with seeing my family a second time!}

Hiking around at the Maumee Bay State Park during our Christmas trip

My parents flew into town on Wednesday afternoon. They stayed at our place that evening and then the four of us (Walt sat this trip out... he had a blast staying with friends who love him like he is their own) hit the road Thursday morning.

Big Sur or BUST

The first stop was San Luis Obispo. It was around lunch time and on a previous trip the hubby and I stopped at a sandwich spot {High St Deli} we really enjoyed so figured it'd be a perfect break to stretch our legs and feed our bellies.

Such a yummy sandwich joint ;) 

On the drive we also stopped to see the elephant seals shortly after Hearst Castle. All of the males were gone (so we didn't see any with the "funny" noses), but it was still fun to see the huge mammals and learn a few facts about them.

Although you are pretty far away from these seals, you can still tell that they are HUGE!
The adult males can get up to 5,000 pounds... THAT'S TWO AND A HALF TONS! HOLY CRAPOLY!

Eventually we arrived at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (we decided instead of camping, we'd stay at the Big Sur Lodge so we had a few more accommodations since my parents were joining us and we weren't sure what the weather would be like). There was a slight debacle when our "cottage" ended up not having a kitchen in it (and we had packed all of our food so we could cook our meals), but we made it work. Thankfully everyone was gracious with my slight large oversight.

Hubby was trying out my dad's zoom lens for his phone.

Friday morning we decided we would get our hike on. The hubby and I had done our research and had a handful of spots we wanted to check out and explore (when we were in Big Sur in 2016 for the marathon, the pup was with us and there were many trails he was restricted from going on, which meant we missed out on them too). The first stop was Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Unfortunately due to severe storm damage, all of the trails were closed (as was the entrance station and parking lot), but we were still able to see the McWay waterfall from the pullout just passed the entrance sign.

It might not look like much in the photo, but I promise you, it's gorgeous! 

Next on the agenda was Limekiln State Park. The last time the hubby and I were in Big Sur we had stayed a couple nights at the campground and really enjoyed hiking around on the trails so took my parents. The daily fee was $10, but it was well worth it in our opinion. The weather was your typical misty, rainy, somewhat chilly day, but the tree canopy gave us some shelter from the storm. We hiked to the kilns and on the way we went to the falls. I was sure my parents would not want to trek to see the waterfalls because there were quite a few river crossings, but they ROCKED it (Ryan and my dad made a railing out of a long stick for my mom to hold onto when she crossed on stones and logs)!

Had to get shots with all the crew...

Had to get my drink on ;) 

Left: The beach at Limekiln State Park /
Right: The original kilns used to purify the limestone that was sent to San Francisco as building material in the 20s and 30s!

We also stopped by Andrew Molera State Park but due to the trail damage from the storms the only thing this spot was good for was the public restrooms... We ended up getting in a hike of a little over a mile, but for the most part we were just looking for the trails that were supposed to be open (apparently we missed the warning on the website that said "Hikers must ford the Big Sur River to access these areas. The river is waist deep and the crossing should only be attempted by those in good physical condition with experience navigating strong currents." - OOPS!).

The last stop for the day was the Bixby Bridge. If you've seen a graphic depicting Big Sur, you've probably seen the famed bridge. Thankfully by the time we got there the clouds broke open for a bit and we got some sun. (And since it wasn't yet the weekend we didn't have to fight the crowds - SCORE!) I know most people take photos of the bridge from the west, but I actually prefer going down the dirt road on the north side so you can see the bridge with the ocean behind it.

This bridge was built in 1932 and is still stunning!

On the way back to the car we found a log book, so had to sign our names before we left.

Saturday we decided to head to Monterey for the day and drive the 17-Mile Loop at Pebble Beach. It was $10.50 per car, but with all of the stops (some we spent longer at than others) it took us about 4-hours (so it was about $.65 per person per hour, which wasn't too bad ;)). Our favorite stops along the drive were Bird Rock (we stood there for a while watching all of the birds, seals and sea lions on the rock and the sea otters in the kelp) and Spanish Bay Beach (we walked on the boardwalk along the beach for quite a while). Seeing as the hubby works for a golf brand and my parents enjoy the sport (both playing and watching it), it was fun to see the infamous course (and everything that surrounds it).

Some of the views at Spanish Bay Beach

This Lone Cypress is the tree the Pebble Beach logo is created from (but a recent storm has damaged some of it)

While in the visitor center we were able to sign a canvas that will be used during the event. 

Not sure if you can see it, but below the birds (and above the waves) are seals and sea lions
hanging out on the rock as well. 

The flowers around the area were awesome. The picture on the right is one of the tee boxes at a hole - not too shabby, right?!


After we finished the 17-Mile Loop we walked around Cannery Row and the Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey.

On the way home we ended up stopping at a nearby campground that had a restaurant (Fernwood) and grabbed some dinner. I got a veggie sandwich, the hubby had an Impossible Burger, and my parents both had burgers. The food was yummy and it was conveniently located (since our cottage didn't end up having a kitchen we had to make due with the food we brought and were able to prepare - which mostly meant eating breakfast and lunch in and going out for dinner).

The veggie sandwich had pesto and homemade hummus, lettuce, red onions and sprouts (I got it without the tomatoes and cucumbers,
but you could always keep them on it). The shoestring french fries were pretty delish as well! YUM!

Sunday was another hiking day, but we stayed at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We started the morning with Buzzard's Roost Loop and on the way back to the cabin we made a couple pit stops by the Colonial Tree (which I kept calling the colossus tree) and the Homestead Cabin. By the time we got back for lunch we had racked up over 7.5 miles of hiking.

In the 4 mile round trip hike we gained over 2,200 ft of elevation.

Some rock art I found at the summit.

Not sure if you noticed, but I found a red rubber ducky on our hike and brought him to the GIANT tree.

Aren't these Red Columbine flowers awesome?! They look like they are wearing a crown. 

The hubby had mentioned he wanted to see sea otters while we were in Big Sur and the following day we saw some, so I figured I'd make my "wish" known - that I wanted to see some banana slugs, and, by golly, we came across quite a few.

These are about the size of hot dogs and are bright yellow - so fun!

After a slight missing key fiasco (we thought we had lost our car keys, but after about 90 MINUTES of searching and almost having to break into the rental car we were finally able to find them), we went back out in the park and hiked the Valley View trail. It seemed like the fog would start rolling in around 4pm every day, so we were a little nervous we wouldn't have a great view, but the haze held off and we were rewarded with some stunning sights.

We didn't see any mountain lions while in Big Sur, but we saw our fair share of nature!

How kind of them to put a bench at the lookout/ turn-around spot!

We went to the coast every evening to try and catch the sunset, but like I mentioned, the fog and clouds never really allowed us much of a picturesque moment. Nevertheless, the views were gorgeous and the company was amazing!

You can see the haze rolling in on the Naval Facility island

Most of the fields had fences up to keep the roaming cattle in.

These flowers sort of just looked like leaves that the tips had turned red. 

Trying to be artsy ;) 

Our cottage had a fireplace, so along with catching the sunset on a daily basis, we also got to hang out in the living room with a cozy fire roaring. I'll be honest, I don't always love smelling like smoke, but sitting by a fire (whether it's at a campfire, a fire-pit or an indoor fireplace) is definitely a favorite place of mine {s'mores make it even better ;)}. And seeing as we didn't have Internet, TVs, radios, etc, chillaxin' by the fire was the perfect way to wind down after a long day.

After a fun weekend away, it was time to head home (not only did we miss the pup and my parents have to fly back to Michigan, but I have two MAJOR races coming up within the week - #Ragnar4Rett and the Boston Marathon!). It's never easy getting back into the swing of things, but thankfully the memories we made from our trip will last a lifetime!

Have you ever been to Big Sur?


Kristin said...

Big Sur was my very first marathon! So beautiful and holds a special place in my heart!!!

San said...

what a fun trip. i am so glad you got to hang out with your parents.
my parents love that stretch of the coast and when they visit again from Germany (hopefully next year!), we'll probably go down there again :)

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for your Big Sur recap! We are heading there for the first time next weekend and I've been reading the sites furiously to find out what's open and what's not. This sounds like a great itinerary!