Santa Barbera, CA to San Francisco, CA. 6 hours and 45 minutes. 334 miles.
When I woke up this morning after another successful night of boondocking, there was a dense fog hovering on the Pacific Coast Highway. When I unlocked my car and shoved open the door to the backseat to stretch, I looked up at the sky and shouted to no one in particular, “Oh come on! It’s Big Sur day!” Two men lounging and eating breakfast in the bed of their truck two spots away looked up at me like I was some kind of lunatic.
I had driven all across the country under a near-cloudless sky only to hit the coast with an obstructed view. I nearly went back to sleep.
After a quick breakfast from my road trip cooler and a stop for hot coffee, I was Northbound again listening to today’s audiobook of choice, “Sorcery of Thorns” by Margaret Rogerson. (In case you were wondering, this book is spectacular). I made two stops to seal-watch through the fog along the coast, all the while becoming more irritated with the weather. Thankfully, the fog started to lift around noon, just as I was rounding the cliffs into Big Sur.
If there is a paradise on Earth, this is where you’ll find it.
The first stop on my Big Sur bucket list was Pfeiffer Beach. However, Pfeiffer Beach only has one parking lot, and it was full when I rolled up. I thought to myself, no problem, I can just find another parking lot. But I was quickly informed that there were no other parking lots. So I asked if I could park somewhere else, uber back, and walk down of my own accord. I got a flat “no” and was shewed away by a uniformed California State Park attendant. So consider yourself warned: If the lot is full, you’re not going.
But not to worry. There are hundreds of miles of gorgeous California coast for you to enjoy. Just 30 minutes down the road, you’ll hit Bixby Creek Bridge, which you might recognize from the opening credits of “Big Little Lies.” And just five minutes later, you’ll hit Garrapata Beach (snapshots below).
I drove through Carmel-by-the-Sea and saw no sign of Clint Eastwood. So I stopped for lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey and picked up some fudge to-go at one of the local shops. I took my time scoping out all the local filming locations for Big Little Lies. For all my fellow road trippers out there, Monterey is a must-stop on Highway 1. The views were as gorgeous as promised, and the seafood was delicious.
My last stop of the day was Shark Fin Cove. I read online that Shark Fin Cove was supposed to be this gorgeous hidden gem. But when I arrived, there was a drunken teenage party in full swing, and the place smelled like beer and pot and dead fish. Gorgeous? Yes. Hidden gem? No. Not to mention, the hike down to the beach was no easy feat. I didn’t stay for long, but I was sure to grab some beautiful pictures of the cove. It really does look like a shark fin!
I write to you now from the backseat of my car at the H. Dana Bower Rest Area, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I am exhausted, I smell like fish, and everywhere I look, I see tourists. (Unfortunately, this rest area is also a popular viewpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge. That didn’t come up in my research.)
I truly don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight. It’s 10 p.m., and this place is still packed. I would put my headphones in, but I don’t want to be caught unaware if some drunken fool (and there are a few) tries to break into my car. So the headphones will remain off, and I will have to suffer through. That’s all for now. Goodnight, world.