DAY 7 – On the road

Heading south on America’s most scenic highway

May 8 2010

According to Genesis 1 the seventh day should be for recreation. Thus, I decided to travel from Stanford to my next destination Los Angeles along one of the most scenic coastlines you can find in creation (to avoid confusion: I am not a creationist); on Highway 1. I highly recommend this route (if you have enough time – it took me about 9 ½ hours including short breaks, mostly for taking photos). I also recommend to travel south since then you have the most scenic views to the right and it is easier to stop at the numerous vista points which are mostly located on the coast side of the road (and started to appreciate navigation systems – more and more during the following days in L.A.).

Ready to start.

I started at 8:00 in the morning at the Stanford Guest House. After about 1 ½ hours on Interstate 280, State Route 85 and US Route 101 via through the Santa Clara Valley and then over the mountain ridge on State Route 156 I reached State Route 1 north of the Monterey Peninsula. Here, the scenery is quite flat with wide plains – but this should change soon. In Monterey you have the choice to use the 17-Mile Drive around the peninsula but I decided to skip this since I did not want to support a gated community with a 9.25 $ entrance fee. The next town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, is known to be the residence of Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff. Kappelhoff? OK – she’s better known as Doris Day. South of Carmel I stopped for the first time to take some photos of the Carmel Bay and the Monterey Peninsula. Next stop was Carmel Highlands where – see the picturesque rocks and cypress trees.

Carmel Bay and Monterey Peninsula.

Carmel Highlands: rocks and cypress trees.

Next two stops were Rocky Creek Bridge and a vista point a little south of Bixby Creek Bridge (both built 1932) – surely one of the most photographed views at Highway 1. Looking south one can see Point Sur – a potato-shaped rock with a famous lighthouse on it (which is still in operation). Not far south of Point Sur the road detaches from the coastline and goes across the mountainous heart of Big Sur with impressive sequoia trees. Where the road revisits the coastline I noticed a temperature inversion over the rather cool sea marked by thin mist layers.

Coastline at Rocky Creek Bridge.

Big Sur: coastline with Bixby Creek Bridge looking north.

Big Sur: sequoias and sea mist (looking south).

At the next vista points Borodna Ridge and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park the road comes very close to the cliff and I enjoyed the scenery very much on this beautiful sunny day. Further south the coastline becomes less rocky and a nice hilly terrain starts to spread out between the mountains of Santa Lucia Range and the sea. This region is known for its large population of elephant seals.

Flowers, Rocks and Water at Boronda Ridge.

Coastline at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park looking south.

Elephant seals near San Simeon.

On top of one of the hills the towers of a prominent building catches the eyes of every visitor: Hearst Castle – the eclectic residence of an eccentric media tycoon and art collector, William Randolph Hearst. I stopped at the visitor center for a short break and purchased a brochure about this unique estate; for a guided tour I did not have enough time (maybe next time).

Hearst Castle Visitor Center.

But still many miles to go on. Near St Louis Obispo State Route 1 merges with US Route 101 and leaves the coast for a while reaching it again at Avila Beach. Santa MariaSanta Barbara – here the Channel Islands came into view. Ventura – then US Route 101 goes again across some hills and enters the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. A last ridge (Santa Monica Mountians) to overcome on Interstate 405 and I finally reached my destination, the UCLA Guest House. Nice welcome, parking next to the house, and after a short rest and telling a friend who lives in LA that I safely arrived I took the car to drive on Sunset Boulevard via Beverly Hills and Hollywood to Los Feliz and back (just on time during sunset) in order to get a first impression of this impressive City.

Destination: UCLA Guest House, Los Angeles.

One Response to “DAY 7 – On the road”

  1. Lela Dash Says:

    Many thanks for the well prepared narrative. SLO Town is one of the most stunning areas on earth. Refreshing air together with pleasant men and women as well as a minimal criminal rate help it to be so. If possible be able to write much more relating to San Luis Obispo and as well enlighten the World what a terrific place that it is.

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