HWY 1 Road Trip Continues
The second portion of our trip starts over 100 miles north of the bay area. With 750 miles to go, we cover the scenic central coast. We leave the Casino overnight parking and tackle two long days of driving gives plus one slower and relaxing day to land at a beach campground just north of Santa Barbara.
If you missed the first portion of the trip, we explored the Redwoods National Park area and checked off this magnificent bucket list item. Here’s the previous post.
A uniquely colorful, rocky beach under golden bluffs made this a scenic yet somewhat disappointing stop.
I’d never been to a “glass” beach and was expecting something more dramatic. We weren’t the only ones walking out to the top of the bluff and wondering where the glass was! Steve climbed down to the waters edge to scoop up the small colorful pebbles. They’re small and you need to get up close to see that they exist. We tossed them back down to the beach, walked around a little bit more before hitting the road.
Point Carrillo Lighthouse
By the early 1900s the California coast was known as a dangerous sea faring route. The rocky shoreline and dense fog were cause for more than a few sunken ships.
By this time, the dense old growth forests north of a growing San Francisco was driving lumber demand which mean more cargo ships traveling up and down the coast. There was a need to protect the growing number of ships navigating along the coastal route delivering lumber.
This is one of 21 California lighthouses. Silent watchers of the shore and offer navigation help to ships passing by.
We finished the lighthouse walk and hit the road after 6:30. Anxiety set in as I realized we would not be arriving until 8PM and sunset was about 7:30 that night.
We arrived in the dark last night. I don’t enjoy night time drives in total darkness especially when our front lights were not working at their normal brightness levels. Fortunately, Steve handles the truck and road with care and our high beams did work. With very little oncoming traffic, we arrived safe and sound.
Our early morning was not foggy but still gloomy.
The morning gloom matched my unrested feeling. I woke up too early, determined to leave earlier than ever and not repeat another night time journey. As soon as there was some light, Cooper and I took a look around outside.
We walked out towards the end of the road and this is a good image of the twisty road in this stretch of HWY 1. Can you see the road on both the right and left side of the image?
The camper was just a little ways behind me as I walked out towards the trees to catch a glimpse of the ocean. You can imagine how slow going it is when the road is a twisty up and down 2 lane path. Travel on HWY 1 is very slow especially in a big rig and I underestimated how long it would take us. And now, slowly is how we started out the morning drive.
This next stretch of road was getting some major construction work done as we passed by new, heavy duty railings and some major new retaining walls along the cliffs.
About an hour later, after the construction section, we stopped for a breakfast break. Steve was still trying to mitigate a noise so it was time to crawl underneath.
While he crawled around, I got our smoothies, let Coop out and watched the sea lions and birds.
17 Mile Drive in Monterey, CA
Originally a carriage drive through the Del Monte Forest, it is now a scenic drive along a pristine section of coast. Cypress groves, sea lions, beautiful beaches does’t quite describe it.
Admission is $11.25 per vehicle. Afterwards, I learned, that you can apply $11.25 as a restaurant credit on any Pebble Beach restaurants $35 min bill. There are 17 points of interest and you get a nice map at the admissions gate. Make sure to plan some time to visit; I could’ve easily lingered in a beach chair if we had a little more time.
This is another bucket list item. I’d previously got to check this off my bucket list however, since Steve had never been, it was a worthwhile stop.
After Monterey we drove back to the more inland highway, Highway 101 and continued south. No more scenic stops tonight just a drive to our next Harvest Host overnight spot.
That evening we enjoyed a late dinner at the Sea Pines Golf Resort and had a very restful sleep. The next morning, we finally could slow down. Our campground check in isn’t until 2pm and it was only about 2.5 hours away. We lingered a bit getting breakfast, enjoyed a short walk, then drove just an hour south to see Pismo Beach.
Home to 10,000+ migrating monarch butterflies annually at its coastal Monarch Grove of Eucalyptus trees. A chance discovery when I’d identified a stretch of roadside parking that we could navigate and do a beach hike.
We enjoyed walking on the Meadow Creek trail. This trail is technically a boardwalk which was very cool and allowed us to walk quite a ways around the sand dunes. The Pismo Beach State Beach campground is also here. This is a campground I’d love to come hang out at for a few nights. It’s very popular! Book a site early if you want to make this your base camp for seeing the central coast.
After we finished the boardwalk, we made our way back to HWY 101 and made for our late morning and lunch time stop, Solvang.
Danish settlers found their home here in 1911. Known as the Danish capital of the USA, it is a big tourist attraction, or trap, depending on how you look at it. You’ll find windmills, bakeries, restaurants and shops. It’s a nice walking village with many diversions to attack your wallet.
It’s also home to the historic (and deadly) conversion practices of the catholic run Missions. An 1812 earthquake demolished a majority Mission Saint Ines’ original structure. They restored the mission and there’s a section of these arches that remain as original. Today, it is an active Catholic church serving the local community.
El Capitán State Beach
Sitting high on oak covered bluffs is our campground and our final night on the coast. After all those miles and this was a treat. We were graced with perfect weather and a shady campsite to end our whirl wind trip.
Appetizers on the beach and sunset was such a nice way to wrap up this big adventure. The next morning we saw many dolphins. I was quite mesmerized watching dolphins up until we had to leave camp. After many shaky videos we finally caught a nice jump!
Scenery and story is even better in video (especially the dolphins at the end). Take a watch and tell me what you think!
This was fun trip; traveling to new places (Spokane, WA and the Redwoods) along with new experiences (River Rafting) and seeing friends and family through out journey. Great thank you to Terri and Hans in WA, Melvin and Jeanie in OR, John and Roberta in OR, and Lance and Terri in CA for letting us driveway surf along the way. Driveway surfing combined with using our favorite Boondocker’s Welcome hosts and a couple Harvest Hosts along the way, made this an inexpensive 3 weeks (other than fuel, of course).
Thank you for stopping by and joining our journey!
The 17-Mile Drive along the coastline in Monterey looks gorgeous!! Sounds like you lucked out at El Capitan State Beach with that sunset, beautiful weather, nice campsite, and the dolphins.
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Every once in awhile, everything aligns for a beautiful stay. I left feeling that my $53/night rate was an acceptable value. If it was bad weather or noisy neighbors, I would’ve felt differently!
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