My Travel Map

My Travel Map

26 August 2010

California Road Tripping: PCH

The Pacific Coast Highway, the PCH. Ever since I heard about this great drive, I've been itching to do it, and this road trip out to Cali was a perfect time to do so. Missy, Bailey, and I took two days to drive from San Fran to L.A. down highway 1. It was beautiful beyond words, and of course, these pictures truly can't do it any justice. We lucked out on weather the first day, and the second day was quite overcast. However, the gray skies gave it a much more rugged and remote feel, which was very cool in its own way.

Just south of San Fran...surfers galore down here, and plenty of beaches for it with some spectacular backdrops. Now if only the water wasn't so cold and well-known as hunting grounds for great white sharks...

We only did a section of the PCH... and a small section at that. It runs north of San Fran on highway 1 as well along most of the Northern California coast. When 1 ends, you can switch to US 101 and drive the rest of the way up the coast, hugging it the entire way, until you reach the Canadian border. Now that we know we'll be out in L.A. for the next few years at least, I'm going to make sure we make an epic trip out of that. L.A. to Vancouver anyone?

After our fiasco in Yosemite, we learned not to leave Bailey in the car with the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Here she is keeping a close eye on Missy and I with one of the many, many farmers fields along the coast in the background. Did I mention this is in December? California really is a naturally blessed state.

Pidgeon Point...this is where Missy and I got engaged.

Santa Cruz. Missy fell in love with this pleasant little city by the shore. It did seem pretty picture perfect and a straight up beach town.

Further down the coast things just got more spectacular..

This was one of those drives where we perpetually fell behind schedule thanks to sooooo many unplanned stops to check out the incredible views. There are pullout points all along the road and a ton of spectacular viewpoints...each one seemingly better than the last.

We stopped and set up camp at a little place just south of Big Sur... it was spectacular and we were treated to a lovely sunset.

The setting sun just lit up this cloud that was slowly but surely creeping down the mountains and threatening to engulf us in glowing pink splendor.

Missy setting up the tent so we could hide from the glowing pink splendor. She was one hell of a trooper...considering we got engaged that day, she had no problem camping out and enjoying a dinner of microwaved burritos and Bud ale. Well, I guess that's why I'm going to marry her, eh?

Like I said above, the next day was quite dreary and overcast, but that just totally created its own feel and didn't at all ruin the spectacular feel to this stretch of highway. It did limit the visibility a bit though.

It's no wonder that the PCH and Australia's Great Ocean Road are compared so frequently. They are very, very similar. I'm not going to pick favorites either...they both have their perks, and I can't think of too many points for either on the down side.

There is a huge elephant seal colony and Piedras Blancas near Hearst Castle. These things were almost hunted to extinction in the past, but their population is rebounding thanks to safe havens like this beach and the efforts of countless volunteers at seal rescue centers along the coast.

These things were enormous! You would have to be totally crazy to go down on that beach with them...the big males would have no problem crushing a human.

Wait....what's this? Why does it feel like we're in Denmark all of the sudden? What happened to the mountains and the ocean and hippie California? Welcome to Solvang...a little piece of Denmark smack dab in south-central California! Settled by Danes originally, Solvang (that name just sounds like a dark fortress you'd find in a place like Mordor or something) is now a wine-enthusiasts hot spot. Being just northwest of Santa Barbara, it is surrounded by vineyards and there are wineries galore in the town and surrounding countryside. It was a pretty neat little stop, though I have to admit, quite bizarre.

They are very, VERY proud of their Danish heritage in Solvang. They even have a statue of Hans Christian Andersen.

We stopped into this place on the corner for some wine tasting. You could spend days going to all the various places offering wine tasting in Solvang, which I'm pretty sure a lot of people go there to do.

Another sunset... at Malibu this time.

What trip to L.A. for a first-timer (Missy) is complete without a trip to beautiful (ha) Hollywood!

When I first went to L.A., Hollywood was one of the things I hated most about it...the place is tacky like the city of Niagara Falls. Oh, and what's this? Scientology! Yay. But seriously people...seriously? L. Ron Hubbard (who has a shrine devoted to his life and legacy here in Hollywood) wrote science fiction and has a well-known quote that goes something along the lines of "the way to make a million dollars is to start a religion"... can't argue with that. Then there is that rumor about him betting Carl Sagan that he could start a religion that people would actually follow... I guess Sagan had a naive sense of faith in humanity. Should I get started on dianetics? No...I should not... look it up though. That is some crazy sh..

Oh Hollywood...ok I'm done infuriating myself.

Pasadena, now this is what I'm talking about! A beautiful little town with an intelligent population thanks to Cal Tech and JPL being located here. We stayed with our friend Stefan, who has this amazing little pad right downtown there. The thing that blew my mind is it has this small town feel yet it is smack dab in the heart of L.A.'s sprawling mess. I liked it.. a lot, and it has done a lot to change my original all-around dislike of L.A.

That's it for stop Grand Canyon

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