The Big Sur

With California being America’s third largest state, and with some world renowned scenery and mother nature peppered around its 250 mile wide and 770 mile long land mass, Han and I had decided to hire a car for 10 days to travel firstly South, to and through the Big Sur, before theoretically over to Yosemite National Park and beyond.

The Big Sur is a small area of coastal land around 3 hours South of San Francisco that is generally regarded to be home to one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world, so as we picked up silver economical Hyundai Elantra at the early hours of 9am, we were excited and eager to get moving away from a city that we felt we had expunged enough energy on with so many other places to see.

The drive down was uneventful yet strangely liberating, a small freedom of not relying on public transport, and as we hummed and sang along to the advert-ridden American radio, we soon found ourselves looking West over the Pacific Ocean winding round twisting turns and up and over natures natural obstacle course. We wondered when the Big Sur actually begins; a small pullover and a consultation of the travelling bible, chapter 24 verse 5 – the world according to Lonely Planet of California – and we realised that we had actually been driving for around 30 minutes through what people regard as The Big Sur.

With nowhere to stay that night we checked out our options and what there was to actually see along this coastal region. After some thoughts, blind finger pointing and knowledgeable discussion we decided to head to a first-come-first-served campsite midway along the region. 30 minutes later and we arrived, found a suitable patch of numbered land and set up home for the next 3 nights; one the many advantages to travelling is the ability to arrive at accommodation options mid week and book them before the extremely busy weekend rush.

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We spent the rest of the day driving some more of the coastal route, driving over the famous Bixby Bridge, a 98m concrete arch span that chops off the old 17 miles of windy road that used to head up and around the valley, and stopped and took the usual tourist photos at the usual tourist spots. Being camped 40mins into the single lane highway, these views were to be our welcoming friend as we traversed them multiple times every day whilst we were there, but they never lost their charm or appeal.

Near the area were two highlights that jumped out at us from the pages that we both felt like we wanted to see – firstly the world famous (everything seems to be world famous in America) aquarium in Monterrey and secondly a scenic road known as 17-mile drive.

The Aquarium turned out to be costly, but most definitely worthwhile. The highlights were a wonderful jellyfish exhibit that is housed in a dark conclave that helps illuminate these weird and wonderful alien life-forms slowly drifting up and down the waters, flashing their bioluminescence glow in a slow ethereal floating calmness , along with a 4pm feeding show in one of the main ‘sea tanks’.

17 mile drive was again costly, but not so much worthwhile. Although the route was very scenic, and if you are a golf fan you’ll be awed as it winds its way past 4 famous courses (including Pebble Beach), but we felt as though the scenery was lacklustre compared to the Big Sur, and although we found ourselves wanting to be awed, it all felt a little forced.

Over the next day or two we found ourselves taking some short strolls to various beaches and outcrops, visiting a fantasy ridden waterfall that drops 50 feet into the ocean in a small palm tree ringed cove, and enjoying a beer or two while cooking, camping and relaxing back at base camp.

With the US government still at a standstill and all national parks shutdown however, our final time to visit the ‘world famous’ National Park of Yosemite was drawing to a close, and we had to make other plans for where to visit next. With 5 days left on the car, we reviewed the options, turned on the ignition, rolled down the windows, stuck on some suitable American born rock and roll, and headed North for a visit to Lake Tahoe.

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