Dictionary definition: 1. extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension or fear. 2. extremely good; excellent
People use this word so habitually that it becomes meaningless; however today I am happy to use it myself. I have been to a place in accordance with both definitions.
What has reduced my vocabulary to a single word, uttered with a breathless wonder? I will tell you. Only a few days ago I was standing on an empty beach alongside the River Merced in the heart of Yosemite Valley, surrounded by vast slabs of granite in all directions and facing one of the world’s iconic mountains – El Capitan.
The nausea, the dizziness, the swollen ankles and shortness of breath may have been the result of mild altitude sickness – after all this valley floor is still 4,000 feet above sea level – or possibly the 4 mile hike from the…
The remaining leg of our road trip south to San Diego unfortunately took us through the enormous sprawl which is Los Angeles. I was not looking forward to this part of the trip and if I hadn’t been the driver I might have kept my eyes firmly shut. However, we did have a treat in store – an overnight stay on the Queen Mary which is berthed at Long Beach.
I managed to miss the turn off to the PCH which would have taken us through Venice Beach, and instead found myself on the vast network of freeways that encircle and cross this city. I wasn’t going to try and find my way back though.
And after a lovely night on board this wonderful old liner we had a pleasant drive down the coast to Dana Point in Orange County where we had to join the Interstate 5 freeway into San Diego. At this point we were driving on fumes so I didn’t attempt to take the longer route into the city along the coastal road.
So if you are not already car sick, then please join me on the last leg of this road trip into San Diego where you can have some free time. The Final Leg of the Journey
Our next stop along the PCH road trip was in Santa Barbara. Located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles (City of Angels) the stretch of coast along the southern stretch of Santa Barbara County is often referred to as “The American Riviera” presumably because its climate and geography are similar to the north Mediterranean coast in France known as “The Riviera“.
We set off amid blue skies wishing we could turn around and head back to Carmel to see those incredible views we had missed yesterday. But we had no time to do that as the OH was due in San Diego in a couple of days time. So once again we delayed breakfast aiming to visit the little town of Cambria and find some of the olallieberry pies we kept hearing about.
Keep your eyes peeled along this stretch of the PCH as it runs very close to the ocean. The American Riviera
a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. The Big Sur has been called “the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States”, a “National Treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development” and “one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation.” Wikipedia
With a description like that is it any wonder that I wanted to drive along this road?
Leaving Carmel behind we continued down the PCH heading for Deetjens where we had a delicious late breakfast at the Big Sur Inn. The scenery along the way is stunning. Despite cloud and rain and fog enshrouded cliffs it was still stunning.
What are you waiting for? Get into the car and lets explore the Big Sur
Once upon a time and not so long ago I was a much more adventurous spirit. On my first trip to the wonderful state of California I decided that instead of flying between San Francisco and San Diego we should hire a car and drive down. I say ‘we’ but in fact it is me as I am the only driver. Looking at a map I also decided that the fun way to do this would be to travel along the original Pacific Highway and not the new and quicker route the 101.
The PCH (Pacific Highway) is one of those iconic drives that should be done in a pink Cadillac convertible with the top down making the most of the azure blue skies and brilliant Californian sunshine with plenty of Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas CDs on board. In reality this was February and an open top car was not an option.
I planned several stopovers along the route so we didn’t have to rush down and could have the opportunity to stop along the way and visit places, admire views. I hadn’t really taken into account the February weather. Even in California the sun don’t shine all the time.
So, if you fancy a road trip then fasten your seatbelt and let’s get going to Carmel, where once Clint Eastwood was the mayor. San Francisco to Carmel