Whistle-stop Santa Cruz to San Simeon

As we drove out of Santa Cruz, we were met with fog all the way to Monterey but sunshine and blue skies awaited. We drove past Cannery Row, Fishermans Wharf and followed the beautiful Ocean View Boulevard round the tip of Pacific Grove where Point Pinos lighthouse, the oldest operating one on the West Coast, sits.

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I wondered what the lighthouse keeper would write in the log book if there was a shipwreck, and found an entry from 1905 under Emily Fish’s watch – only the second female lighthouse keeper.

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Driving on down to Carmel-by-the-Sea were lots of upmarket shops and cafés, with Carmel Beach stretched out along the coast at the bottom of the hill. We felt the warm sand squishing under our feet as we walked across the gorgeous white sands.

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Back on the road, along the famous Big Sur stretch of Highway 1 from Carmel to San Simeon, the ‘June Gloom’ (fog) was definitely hanging around a lot more than we had hoped but there were still some amazing views.

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We headed south stopping at many a vista point, including Bixby Bridge over Rainbow Canyon, which is one of the world’s highest single span bridges.

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I managed to snap Point Sur Lighthouse, dramatically shrouded in fog on top of a rocky hill. The next big landmark for us was the McWay Falls, part of the Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Dropping 80ft straight onto the crescent shaped beach, it’s California’s only coastal waterfall.

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Although this coastline should be spectacular, the fog kept most of it from view so we made steady progress. Twisting roads with varying camber kept us focused before we happened upon Elephant Seal Rookery. A delight to behold and thoroughly entertaining, they sounded like a group of blokes on a very bad day!

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We arrived in San Simeon at nightfall, just in time to get a delicious, generous sized burrito and half a litre of sangria from the nearby Mexican restaurant, El Chorlito.

On a random note, there is a water shortage in the area – kind of ironic given it is surrounded by so much…

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