We grudgingly left Santa Clara – it was a relaxing, chill couple of days, and so good to catch up with friends after quite a bit of time driving on our own. The only thing that made driving off on Monday morning exciting was that we were headed to Big Sur! I’d driven the LA-San Francisco route a few years ago with my friend Jessica, but we were headed to Monterrey and didn’t take too much time to explore the area. I was also eager to share it with Nick – it’s one of my favorite areas, and I couldn’t wait for him to see it.
On our way we decided to stop by Santa Cruz to check out the kitsch boardwalk – a little slice of Americana for Nick. We didn’t brave the deep fried twinkies as it was only 10am and we thought it might be a little too early to clog the arteries, but we did wander around and check out the scores of kids just out of school for the summer giving their chaperones a good workout. Summer vacation has got to be one of the best things in the US – three whole months of no school, summer camp, warm weather, no parents (someone has to do some work). I loved that feeling! I was always ready for school to start again in the fall, but there was so much to look forward to in June. We also checked out the surf scene – there were quite a few guys braving the cool day and choppy waves. Of course, the water is so cold they’re wearing full wetsuits – Nick would feel right at home (brr, Cape Town waters…)
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us. When we stopped off in Monterrey, Carmel and Pacific Grove it started to drizzle and the sky was cloudy and grey. I imagined what it would have been like if I’d gone to Monterrey Institute of International Studies, which I had been accepted to back before I took the job in Sudan. I’m sure it would have been a great place to live, but I might be in a totally different place right now! We did the 17 mile drive, which was pretty even in the greyness. The cyprus trees looked somewhat haunted in the fog and mist.
We started on the road towards Big Sur – not a specific town, but a general area along Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a wildly beautiful area, with a bout 6 or 7 state parks (my favorite is Garrapata state park – who thought it was a good idea to name a park after a wood tick?). Being the start of summer most of the state parks were booked up, even on a Monday night, but we found a great private campground right near a little stream and set up camp. I was excited to be able to go to Napenthe, one of the most beautiful restaurants ever for dinner and the sunset. My mom had raved about it years ago, and Jess and I checked it out on our drive through the area a few years back but just had a drink there. Nick and I spend a few gorgeous hours drinking amazing wine, eating awesome food, and best of all watching the sun set over the Pacific. The sky had cleared from its earlier rain, and the clouds that still remained provided the perfect canvas for the amazing pinks and golds. The hills lining the coast all took on a rosy glow – we couldn’t keep our eyes off of them! Truly one of the most beautiful places.
We had planned to do some hiking the next day, but unfortunately the weather still didn’t cooperate. Instead, we kept on South and enjoyed the scenery along PCH. The weather started to clear as we got nearer to our destination. We passed San Simeon this trip – I’d been there before, and we started to realize if we were ever going to get anywhere that we’d have to make some choices (otherwise we could spend months in California alone!).