stillhowlyn's travels 2007 travel blog

Historic Bixby Bridge

This rock holds memories!

Pounding surf!

Don't back-up, Howard!

The "other" side of the road!

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

A belly scratch would be nice!

Big guy coming in from a swim!


Crashing waves, rolling fog, sheer rocky cliffs, and sharp bends and curves always make our trip down the Big Sur Coast Highway an unforgettable experience. With all our "pull-overs" for photos and to let traffic pass this became another "all day" 90 mile drive. Poor Howard's arms were indeed tired with all the hairpin turns, especially in the last 20 miles or so toward the south end. I was quietly thanking God for this very fine Pac Brake that keeps us slow and steady on steep down hill runs!

Again, the pictures are what this is all about. The "rock with memories" is a funny story that happened several years ago when we had our '91 Dolphin and were still novices. We had been driving along as today though the weather was becoming increasingly more foggy with rain so we came upon this rock and thought it would be a perfect place for an "overnighter"; sort of hidden from highway view. This was around 4 or 5 p.m. so we proceeded to pour a glass of wine and have a snack in celebration of our lovely view and lifestyle.

As it got darker and the rain heavier we heard sirens and flashing red lights roaring by. Soon there was a knock at our door and a CHP said there had been an accident down the road. He had spotted us as he went by and came back to tell us that parking is not allowed, especially overnight, on any portion of the Big Sur Highway. Well, at this point it was about 7 p.m., and after a couple of glasses of vino, we had really made ourselves at home and were fixing dinner. We pled our case for unsafe driving conditions, etc. and he readily agreed and did not even give us a ticket! I would not suggest trying this now!

Located just off Highway 1 at the north end of San Simeon, the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is home to a population of around 8000 elephant seals. From December to April, the beaches fill with the animals during their mating season, and pups can be found learning to swim. These incredible animals spend 6 or 7 months at sea, swimming, diving and eating without going to shore. They are deep divers and can feed at 3-4,000 feet and only need to surface ever couple of hours for a few minutes to replenish oxygen supply.

Those pictured above are juveniles. The big bulls, weighing as much as 5,000 lbs., arrive later in November. Then the pregnant females will give birth, mate again with the egg staying dormant until they have nursed their pups for 4 months and gone back to sea to fatten up. The newly weaned pups are called, what else, Weaners! Amazing!

We stay at the San Simeon State Beach and always prefer a boondocking site in the Washburn area, high up on the hill overlooking the ocean ($9 per night). There are also hookup sites down below. A real plus is the 3.3 mile trail which runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat.

We did not go to Hearst Castle this time but would highly recommend it, though obviously very touristy. We did spend an afternoon in nearby Cambria, also very touristy, and had a great lunch outside at the Main Street Grill and then did some shopping.



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