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Exploring Big Sur

California continues to amaze us. Variety around every turn, sweeping vistas, great food, plus fun and inspiring people everywhere. Counter to how we usually travel, this period of time (has it really been almost three months?) has us traveling like a couple of retirees, hanging out in beautiful locations until we’re ready to move on. That change has been fantastic, and a new taste of travel for us since we usually hop from place to shiny new place day after day when we travel. Instead, we’re connecting with nature at a leisurely pace, visiting and meeting local friends, and not feeling rushed.

Big Sur, the fabled area framed to the north by Carmel and the San Luis Obispo county line to the south, was stunning. (Check out our travel map to the right for perspective.) Rising from the ocean in steep cliffs from the Pacific Ocean, with cell phone signals a mere gasp, we quickly learned why it attracts people from around the world. Hiking, biking, animal watching – whales, condors, and much more – and solitude were the main events, all under sunny blue skies, which is rare for January.

Even more than usual, life is chock full of fun people, places to see, work to do, and exploring to be done, and so this post is simply a photo essay with captions to tell the story. One thing is for sure: the 10 days we spent in Big Sur merely whet our appetites for this beautiful piece of the California coast, and we will absolutely be back.

Over and out from Morro Bay!

Dakota

Glowing jellyfish with long tentacles at the super-cool Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Glowing jellyfish with long tentacles at the super-cool Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Sardines whip around and around in a tank at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Sardines whip around and around in a tank at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Point Lobos vista south of Monterey.

Point Lobos vista south of Monterey.

 

Redwood Queen stretches her wings and gets ready to fly.

Redwood Queen stretches her wings and gets ready to fly.

Point Lobos sunset with pelicans on Bird Rock.Point Lobos sunset with pelicans on Bird Rock.

Three cormorants sun themselves in the late hours of the day in Point Lobos.

Three cormorants sun themselves in the late hours of the day in Point Lobos.

Thugnasty Chelsea.

Chelsea thugging it up in Point Lobos.

 

Cheery Chelsea.

And the counterpoint pantomime smile! 🙂

Parked overnight in Big Sur on Highway 1 on a starry night.Parked overnight in Big Sur on Highway 1 on a starry night.

A deer munches away on dinner in Point Lobos State Park.

A deer munches away on dinner in Point Lobos State Park.

Another morning view from our van in Big Sur.

Another morning view from our van in Big Sur.

The impressive span at Bixby Canyon Bridge. (Click to view full size, it looks much better!)

The impressive span at Bixby Canyon Bridge. (Click to view full size, it looks much better!)

Ocean foam in Point Lobos State Park.

Ocean foam in Point Lobos State Park.

A twisting Highway 1 cuts through Big Sur.

A twisting Highway 1 cuts through Big Sur.

Pretending I like alcohol at Nepenthe, a gorgeous redwood restaurant overlooking the Big Sur coast. I wound up sipping my (super strong) Manhattan a couple times and then giving it away to a young guy who regaled us with stories of backpacking the Appalachian Trail in -5 degree weather. He deserved it more than I did.

Pretending I like alcohol at Nepenthe, a gorgeous redwood restaurant overlooking the Big Sur coast. I wound up sipping my (super strong) Manhattan a couple times and then giving it away to a young guy who regaled us with stories of backpacking the Appalachian Trail in -5 degree weather. He deserved it more than I did.

A chair carved into a stump in Big Sur.

A chair carved into a stump in Big Sur.

 

An old college camping spot, Salmon Creek.

An old college camping spot, Salmon Creek.

An inquisitive little guy checks us out at a Big Sur vista point.An inquisitive little guy checks us out at a Big Sur vista point.

A redwood seedling at the base of a scorched older tree. Redwoods have dormant seeds that grow in burls (big bumps) that crack open in fire, starting the next generation.

The next generation: A redwood seedling at the base of a scorched older tree.

Sun spots on the Pacific.

Sun spots on the pillowed Pacific.

This one's for Chelsea. (Point Lobos State Park.)

A message from years of ocean waves wearing away a rock. (Point Lobos State Park.)

Dew on  some Big Sur greenery.

Dew on some Big Sur greenery.

Top of the Overlook Trail at Julia Pffeifer Burns State Park watching condors circle below.

Top of the Overlook Trail at Julia Pffeifer Burns State Park watching condors circle below.

Enjoying the vista at the top of Soberanes, an amazing (and hard) hike at the northern tip of Big Sur.

Enjoying the vista at the top of Soberanes, an amazing (and hard) hike at the northern tip of Big Sur.