Beach Bum for a weekend
Around 11:00 I packed up the tent and drove up towards Big Sur, stopping at the
southernmost grove of coastal redwoods (found it quite by accident, I was looking for a
place to pull over to use the restroom! lol). I also stopped at McWay Falls, a graceful tall
waterfall that empties directly into the Pacific Ocean, supposedly the only one that does.
Although the state parks in Big Sur were full, there are several private campgrounds and I
found a campspot along the Big Sur River and next to an albino redwood tree. Still haven't
quite figured that one out... Its needles were cream colored, and it was a short tree, more
of a bush really, so it was living, but not thriving. There were other redwoods surrounding
it so I figured it must be deriving its nutrients from another tree since it could not
photosynthesize...?

That night I drove over to Pfeiffer Beach, which is on Los Padres National Forest Land
down an unmarked road. I struck up a conversation with the fellow in the entrance fee
booth about how I was surprised it was Forest Service land (most of the land on the coast
is private or State Park land). He let me in for free once he found out I was a Forest
Service employee  And so I spent several hours down there, but I think I was the only
single person on the beach  Even the dogs I saw were paired up! lol There are a couple of
arched rocks off shore and I took a whole roll of b+w film photographing that lovely stretch
of sand...
(Click here for those photos)
On Sunday I drove up to Carmel and met my sister and brother-in-law at the Mission where
they were married last year. We drove down to Point Lobos State Reserve and basically
hiked the perimeter of the park. We saw lots of sea otters, one a mom carrying its baby on
her belly. We also saw sea lions, harbor seals, a peregrine falcon, and lots of other birds.
The north side of the park is amazing... gigantic old twisted Monterey cypress clinging to
the towering cliffs above clear turquoise blue water. Beautiful...
I had dinner with them in Carmel and then we parted and I headed back south to Big Sur. I
stayed at another private campground under a cluster of redwoods and that night it rained
and it was quite peaceful hearing the drops on my tent all night.

Yesterday morning I woke up, packed up the wet tent, and headed south. I cut back to the
east on the Naciemento Road, a crazy Forest Service road that climbs straight up the
mountain. And I thought Hwy 1 was twisty, turny, and cliffy! This road is amazing. You climb
straight above the ocean and wind over grassy headlands that are dotted with yucca and
other desert plants, but then you wind your way back into wet valleys dotted with
redwoods. From desert to rainforest in the matter of a hundred feet. Incredible!
Eventually the road winds its way down through oak woodlands and the drier east side of
the Santa Lucia Mountains. There are a few nice campgrounds in that area, and I didn't see
another soul for about 40 miles...

On the eastern side I stopped at the San Miguel Mission, one mission I hadn't visited yet,
but was disappointed that I couldn't see the inside of the church which was damaged by the
Dec 22 earthquake. Then I cut back over to Hwy 46 on a back road and eventually made my
way back to the Central Valley and then the Sierran foothills and then home.

So I guess I got my first 3 bag nights in for the year, albeit they were car camping bag
nights. Looking for another 7 or so next month :)


Pfeiffer Beach Black and White Photos
Big Sur Summer 2003
Big Sur Fall 2005
Big Sur Spring 2008
Point Lobos 2008
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I'm back at home after a long weekend spent on the amazing central California coast. I did
not have any plans except for meeting my sister and brother-in-law for a hike on Sunday
somewhere north of Big Sur. I like doing trips like that, just go and see what you see and
let the wind take you where it blows.

Friday night after work I drove the 3 hours or so to San Simeon and managed to find my
way about in the dark and find a decent campsite at San Simeon State Beach. In the
morning I walked on the beach there for a few hours. It was a glorious mild-weathered
breezy morn. I just moseyed about watching snowy plovers and examining the driftwood. It
was nice to have no agenda, nothing I had to do...