South to Santa Barbara

At the end of a month, we started to feel at home in Monterey. We had deciphered its maze, cracked its code, and simplified its ambiguity. But, just as Monterey became part of our everyday lives, it has now already lodged itself comfortably in our memories.

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The Big Sur Coast from California State Route 1

For the month of October, we have moved about 200 miles (322 km) south down the California coast to the clement city of Santa Barbara. To reach our October home, we drove down California State Route 1, irrefutably one of the world’s most scenic road trips.

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Fog rolling across the Big Sur Coast

Speeding along Highway 1, our scenery meter red-lined as soon as we crossed the Carmel River and entered Big Sur, the longest and most fetching stretch of undeveloped coastline in the continental Unites States. Until 1937, the 90-mile route through Big Sur was a rugged horse and wagon trail. Today, a crooked two-lane road hangs precipitously by its asphalt finger tips to the sheer and crumbling cliffs.

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Rare Monterey Cypress trees at the “greatest meeting of land and sea”

Our first pit stop in Big Sur was Point Lobos peninsula, sticking out like a hitchhiker’s thumb at the south end of Carmel Bay. Called the “greatest meeting of land and sea”, it is where eroded rocky shores are greeted by crashing waves and expansive ocean vistas.

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The powerful waves of Garrapata Beach

Secluded pockets of sand and hidden beaches fill coves all along the crenulated Big Sur coast. We found an unusually accessible stretch of sand at Garrapata Beach. Walking the shoreline, we saw caves, nooks, and arches excavated by the powerful waves, and a clear freshwater creek flowing out to sea.

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We pulled off the road to take our Bixby Creek Bridge picture

Back behind the wheel, I slammed the brakes at the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge, one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world. Amidst all the natural wonders of Big Sur, a manmade bridge is the most photographed feature? Foreign tourists actually stop their convertible rental cars in the middle of the highway to take its picture.

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Point Sur Lighthouse

As we motored deeper south into Big Sur, we lost a lot of tourist traffic in the obscure remoteness of the coast. From a distance, we spotted a beacon of light radiating from the top of a great wedge of rock. Upon closer inspection, we had sighted Point Sur Lighthouse, the only 19th century light station open to the public in California.

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Morro Rock, “The Gibraltar of the Pacific”

Like all road trips, there were things that we missed. One unmistakable landmark was Morro Rock along the central California coast, where we started our month-at-a-time adventures back in February. As with Monterey, these familiar surroundings were also once part of our everyday lives, but now reside nostalgically in our memories.

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Our home for the month of October

At the end of our road trip down California State Route 1, we arrived in Santa Barbara and parked in the driveway of our monthly apartment rental. Turning the key to the front door, we will also try to unlock the vagaries of this new place, until it too feels like home.

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Will you be giving me treats in Santa Barbara?

Blogger’s Note: I wish to dedicate this post to my mother Mary Lou, in celebration of her 81st birthday. She is a big fan of our blog, and we are big fans of her lovely personality and lively sense of humor. Happy Birthday Mom! 

11 thoughts on “South to Santa Barbara

  1. Thank you for following along, and for your generous comments. John Steinbeck, R.L. Stevenson, and Henry Miller were also inspired to write books here. I don’t know how they could concentrate long enough, with all the beautiful scenery and things to see and do.

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  2. Is that bridge on Highway 1? I have wanted to drive down that stretch of highway, but I would have to make sure my husband had his eyes closed at the time. He hates all bridges, and that one would give him nightmares. But the rest of the photos were gorgeous! Hope you have a great time in Santa Barbara!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ann. The famous Bixby Bridge is on Highway 1 about 15 miles south of Monterey. Perhaps you can blindfold your husband and take him for a ride down the coast. He will love the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and the smell of the fresh ocean air. You can stop at the bridge and take a nice picture, and even bungee jump over the side if you want.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks gorgeous ! Enjoy. We are in Santa Monica … last min trip. Would love to meet halfway or something and catch up if it works out. Late notice I know…if not enjoy your October spot. Best , Pieter

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  4. I have probably traveled up and down Highway 1 20 or 30 times and have never seen that lighthouse! I’ll have to keep an eye out for it next time. I’m really looking forward to reading about your adventures in Santa Barbara! The home you are staying in looks wonderful. Are you going to get over to the Santa Ynez Valley? Los Olivos is lovely and there are some fabulous wineries around the area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janis, The Big Sur Lighthouse is open to the public two days a week, and you can only visit it on a 3-hour docent tour. The tour was thorough and well presented, and the views were vast and towering. It would also be a very good place to watch the grey whale migrations during the winter and spring months. Thank you for the Santa Barbara ideas. I will certainly be following up on your recommendations.

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