Monterey, CA to San Simeon, CA / 2016-07-01

Our morning started with expectations of a wonderful breakfast.  We had saved our dining credit at Monterey Tides for a blow out breakfast, which consisted of cinnamon Rolls, crunchy French Toast, croissant breakfast sandwich, bacon and chocolate chip pancakes.  And, amazingly, we overspent our dining credit, totaling a $90 breakfast!  Stepping outside to load the rest of our belongings, we were surprised to continue to be able to see our breath.

After breakfast at Monterey Tides

It is late June – we surely didn’t expect this type of weather.  But, as a store clerk in Pebble Beach told us the day before, this area experiences an Indian Summer, with the heat rising the most in September and October.  So, we started south.  Our first stop was at Point Lobos State Reserve, which promised great views, nature, hiking and tide pool exploring.  After the experience with tide pools from the day before, the girls were excited to show Weston and I how to look at tide pools.  We explored a few places (like Weston Beach) that were notorious for tide pools, but could not find much.

Weston at Weston Beach!

It was then that we learned that tide pools are best explored in the lowest tide and we were looking in high tide.  Our timing had been lucky they day before.  A little more exploring at Point Lobos and then we headed further south.

Lila enjoying Point Lobos

The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway on this stretch may be one of the most beautiful drives in the entire United States, if not the world.

Beautiful view along the PCH
Looking back at a bridge crossed earlier
I climbed down this path (there I am at the point)

It does take a while to drive up and down the winding road, and to continue to pull off to enjoy and take pictures of the amazing vistas, but it was well worth it.

One of the highlights was Bixby Bridge, which is a famous landmark and used in many commercials.  We took some great photos from this place.

We then made our way into Big Sur and into Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  We hiked a few easy trails with the stroller and enjoyed some quick time in the creek, along with a stop at the Campfire Center, a large gathering place where they hold meetings and show evening movies.  The kids and Brooke put on a few shows before we ate some snacks and headed back into the car.  Our next two attempts to stop were unsuccessful due to the crowds.  Both the Pfeiffer Beach (which has a purple hue to it) and the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (which owns one of two tidefalls in the United States) had no parking left and were not allowing more visitors.  One thing that we encountered on the way was what I call Bike Hikers.  Essentially, bikers with camp gear traveling along the PCH.  We traveled on through the rest of the drive with a few more scenic stops and finally a stop at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery just off the PCH near San Simeon to watch the Elephant Seals lazily enjoy the beach and bark at each other.

Elephant Seals

Hunger was beginning to call us and we were near our stop for the night, so we drove a bit further south into Cambria, CA for dinner at Indigo Moon yelp_icon.  The experience was underwhelming, though the reviews had been great.  Finally, after a long day of traveling and a few disappointments along the way, we checked into our hotel for the night, the San Simeon Lodge yelp_icon, around 8 PM.  Brooke was asleep within 15 minutes while I stayed awake to plan our drive for the next day, headstrong that with better planning I could create a better day.

This is day 11 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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