Saturday, April 5, 2014

Travel: Pacific Coast Highway Weekend Road Trip - Central California Coast - Day 2, Part 2 (Big Creek Bridge, McWay Falls, Big Sur, Pfeiffer Beach, Bixby Bridge)

Day 1, Day 2 - Part 1

Continuing North
Bixby Bridge View - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Nokia Lumia 1020.
The drive north from San Simeon is beautiful. The road becomes curvy and rises higher above the ocean, hugging the rocky cliffs. There are long stretches between potential stops.

While the scenery was certainly great, it wasn't quite as breathtaking as I had imagined it would be. We had small bouts of carsickness. This part of the drive was the longest. However, we discovered that Big Sur is an amazing and diverse area, worth the effort to get there.

Big Creek Bridge
Big Creek Bridge - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill. I used the weeds in the foreground to add depth, color and interest to what otherwise would have been an ordinary image.
Big Creek Bridge - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
The first large arch bridge that Highway 1 crosses going north is the Big Creek Bridge south of Big Sur. This bridge was built in 1937 and is impressive to see. The stop here was very short, but it was good to stretch the legs and breathe in the coastal air before continuing on.

McWay Falls
McWay Falls View - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
McWay Falls - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
McWay Falls And Cove - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
The next stop along the Pacific Coast Highway was McWay Falls, which is located at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It's about a half mile hike from the parking lot to the McWay Falls viewing area. The hike was pretty easy and our young kids had no problems with it.

McWay Falls was quite crowded. This was obviously a popular waypoint for travelers, and it was easy to see why. The waterfall and cove were really stunning. The vista was one of the best we saw on the entire trip. Access to the surrounding areas is limited, and access to the beach is forbidden.

There are a few other trails at this place that looked interesting, but we didn't traverse them. For those into hiking, this could be an all day stop.

Big Sur
Green Forest - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Flower Color - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Tree, Fence - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Big Flower - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Big Sur River - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
After leaving McWay Falls we made our way to Big Sur, a small community hidden in a redwood forest along the Big Sur River. We discovered that the Big Sur area is one of the most beautiful regions in all of California.

We stopped at a gas station/mini mart/restaurant (there are several of these type places along the highway) and had a snack outdoors under the trees. There was a short trail that lead down to the river and the kids threw a few rocks into the flowing water. It was very pleasant.

The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was right there. We briefly drove through it on Highway 1, but did not stop. It's a very scenic area.

Pfeiffer State Beach
Window Rock - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200. I gave this image a "vintage" look in post-processing to differentiate it from the thousands of other nearly identical photographs taken by others.
Light Through The Window - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Red Hill Bird - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Purple Sand - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Beach Boy - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Rocky Splash - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Light Tree - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
We backtracked slightly and turned down a narrow and curvy road to discover Big Sur's best kept secret: Pfeiffer Beach. This place is spectacular and was a highlight of our trip.

Pfeiffer Beach is a large sandy beach with crashing waves. Big rocks portrude out of the ocean. There's an arch or "window rock" that the waves splash through (it's officially called Pfeiffer Keyhole Rock). A small creek runs down the middle of beach. The entire place is surrounded by tall hills.

There is also purple sand at this beach. Most of the sand is white and not purple, but it doesn't take long to notice patches of purple sand scattered throughout the shore.

I'm not sure that there are too many places more beautiful than this. It is a must-see for anyone traveling to the Big Sur area.

Bixby Bridge
Bixby Bridge Monochrome - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Bixby Bridge - Big Sur, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
The final stop on the Pacific Coast Highway before heading to Monterey for dinner and sleep was the famous and historic Bixby Bridge. This arch bridge, built in 1932, has been used in movies and television shows, and is claimed to be one of the most photographed sites on the west coast.

We arrived with the sun low to the horizon, so the lighting was wonderful. The coast was really beautiful in the warm sunshine. We took in the view, and I captured a few photographs.

The stay was short and we soon were back in the car to complete our coastal Highway 1 tour. We planned to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium the next morning, and that would prove to be the exclamation point to the end of an unforgettable journey.

Day 3

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