Following our morning hike at Montana De Oro we hit Highway 1 heading north once again. Our first stop, of many, on this leg of the trip would be the ritzy Hearst Castle. Paige had been before and she said it would be worth the quick detour. Growing up right near the Biltmore House, the largest privately owned home in America, I agreed that this would be a cool site to see and compare the two. After parking the van in the lot, we bought our tickets, watched an impressively done Imax film on the the estate, and boarded buses up to the castle built high up on one the mountains overlooking the ocean. We took a guided tour of the main building and then decided it was time to head back down and hit the road.
Certainly worth the stop, and not much further down the road, we had our next roadside attraction, an elephant seal beach. Loaded with over a hundred fat seals of different varieties, they were fascinating to watch do hardly anything but lie around. Occasionally they would struggle into a new position or partially submerged in the breaking waves. Seeing these animals in the wild was a very cool experience since prior to this, I have only seen them aquariums or zoos.
As we drove on, the road grew windier and worked its way higher and higher. The small brown hills we started out in quickly became rocky cliffs hundreds of feet above the ocean below. It was very apparent we had begun our drive through the world-famous region of Big Sur.
Stopping at numerous roadside pullouts along the way, just about every view rivaled the one before. We stopped at the scenic McWay Falls State Park to see the famous waterfall that plunges to the beach below. Just as picturesque as we imagined, the spot was crawling with annoying flies so after snapping a few pictures and realizing there was no way down to the beach below, we headed onward.
Finding a campsite in Big Sur turned out to be more challenging than we expected. Our first choice was completely full so with a quick Google search we found a second option that ended up being a great spot. The biggest advantage was clean showers, electricity to charge cameras and phones, and a nice couple camped next to us in their renovated VW van. They were a pleasure to talk to and had recently returned to the U.S. after roadtripping through New Zealand. We were very eager to hear about their travels and they were curious about our rental campervan.
The things you expect to see, are sometimes equally matched by the people you meet along the way.
Next Up: Part 4, Santa Cruz to San Francisco
Also published on Medium.