The most pleasant place for a traffic jam!

8 Apr

From Paso Robles we took highway 46 to the coast, this travels through velvety green undulating hills until it reaches the Pacific Highway 1. Turning right onto highway one we had our first views of this stretch of coastline. High surf advisories had been in place since Friday and the swell and breakers were huge. We pulled in at San Simeon Beach to eat our lunch (a veggie sandwich purchased at Farm Stand 46 en route!) and watch the breakers roll on to the beach.


After a night in the State Park camping area we drove a few miles along the road to visit the famous Elephant seals. There is always something here to observe whatever time of year, at this time there are moulting adults and some young seals on the beach. Since our previous visit in the spring of 2009 the pathways have been much improved as the area has been incorporated into the State Park system rather than being run by a volunteer organisation. The volunteers are still on hand raising funds and answering questions from the many visitors each day.


Not sure what question this little fellow was asking – maybe                                    ‘Oi! you…why you taking pictures of me?’


‘But, I am lovely aren’t I?’

By evening we had arrived at Plaskett Creek State Park, the sites we found a little on the small side for us, the roadways were very narrow too for our larger vehicle, eventually settled on a spot where we could get level. We later realised we had probably chosen the only site on the whole camp ground with an ocean view – all be it through the trees and in the distance.


The access to the beach is across the highway and down a cliff walk to some steps. The beach is quite pebbly to begin with but at low tide a wide sandy bay emerges. Warning signs about sudden high waves are not to be ignored. As we walked the beach the breakers suddenly became rougher and the water swept in much higher up the sands sending families playing there scuttling to the stones for shelter.


Comfortable in our location we opted to stay for a second night stay, during this time we picked up on information that Highway 1 was experiencing closures due to construction. The word was that the road would be open from 9am on Wednesday. Up early and on the road we soon saw signs stating road closed… we decided they had just not been removed after the overnight closure and pressed on. We were wrong, we arrived at the ‘flagger’ to be told the road was not expected to open until 4pm – and even that was not certain. The construction of a new bridge entailed blasting and clearing a rock slide, with this sort of work nothing can be certain.

We drove back the seven or eight miles to the State Park and informed the volunteer there of the closure so they could pass the correct information on around other campers. We then headed back to a spot we had seen on the cliff top overlooking the ocean to spend our free time in the sunshine.


At around 3pm we set off and joined a long line of others awaiting the opening of the road. I should probably explain at this point that the ‘alternative route’ would have been 30 miles up a dirt track before hitting black top to take you over the high hills – not suitable for us or many of the other folk waiting. other than that we would have to back track to highway 46, back into Paso Robles, pick up the 101 … a 180 mile detour; we were prepared to wait!


Many of the travellers were out of their cars and enjoying the sunshine and the view. We detected an English accent in a voice below our window – Robert struck up a conversation with Neil on holiday with his wife and two girls. Once more the ‘small world’ syndrome struck us when we heard they live very close to our birth town in the Midlands – his wife’s family living very close to where our home is now in the north east of England!

At 4.35 the road finally opened and the long string of traffic made its way slowly passed the construction right on the bend of the road high above the ocean. Many construction workers waved us on whilst they kept a constant eye on the rock above. On the other side another long line of traffic was waiting to pass to the south of the construction, hopefully they all got through before the road was once more closed until 7am next morning – perhaps.

We were a little sad to have to rush the few miles from here to Big Sur town, we would have liked to stop more at the overlooks to enjoy the view. With this in mind we thought it best to stay over at Big Sur State Park so that next day we could drive more slowly along the coast to Monterey. We found we were too big for the sites at the State Park but were allowed to stop over in the day use area, fine by us, it was much quieter than the campground would have been and suited us fine.

We needed to stretch our legs after the day of imposed inactivity and followed a trail which said it would take us over the river, through the campground and back to our parking area.




Part way along we came to this old cabin used in the late 1800’s by the son of a pioneer family, long disused I found the one rose outside the door quite poignant.







Arriving at the bridge we had hoped to cross we found nothing but some large concrete supports with no platform – a work in progress we think. We turned around and retraced our steps back to haRVey.


This unspoiled area of the coast never ceases to impress me with its grand views.

Eventually we arrived in Monterey intending to drive a part of the bay where we had previously watched the sea otters playing. We turned off the highway but missed the correct turn and arrived at the entrance to 17 mile drive, a private road which you pay a $10 fee to drive around. We had not driven this before so decided to pay our fee and see what it was all about.

The road travels through some up market residential areas amidst tall pine trees before coming to the ocean where plenty of pull in picnic stops are available to enjoy the view. Not having had internet for a while we took the opportunity to stop off in a picnic spot, log on to retrieve our mail, enjoying  a cup of coffee while we did it. These are the impromptu stops we love.

I got out the binoculars to look for otters and spotted seals playing in the waves. I watched them for a while then looked above the water at the rock the waves were breaking on. What I had thought was green vegetation I was surprised to discover was lots of seals!


We exited 17mile drive at ?gate and joined the highway 68 this time finding the P1250755location we had intended previously. The wind was blowing very strongly as we once more sat beside the bay. Waves lashed the rocks and not a sea otter in sight. We hoped they were safely sitting it out on a rock somewhere too.

After this we parked up alongside the green area at Pacific Grove. This is holiday for the schools around here and many were making the most of the sunshine even though the wind was cold. Walking around the small bay here we scanned the kelp beds for the otters who love to hunt and sleep there. Eventually we spotted one, then another, too far off to get decent pictures but enough for me to be happy I had spotted them.

I tried putting in one of our pictures at this point, you really would not have known it was an otter… but we did! So – another splashy water picture instead.


Laguna Seca Raceway was to be our camping area for the next few nights with a surprise in store for Robert. More of this in his blog at especially interesting for anyone who likes cars!!!!


2 Responses to “The most pleasant place for a traffic jam!”

  1. Val April 8, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    We stayed at the Laguna Secca campground in 2003 and thoroughly enjoyed it too. We did not get to ride around the track but am so happy Robert did.

  2. Liz Staats April 9, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Make sure you guys take in the Aquarium, it is so worth it. Also if you can drive up to Moss Landing and have a great fish meal at Phil’s Fish Market. Santa Cruz is also a funky kind of town. My son cooks over at the O’Mei restaurant (Fusion Asian Food) and he is a good cook.

    And you should be visiting Monterey during the Historic Car Races, such fun which is in August. Each year is a different car/model featured.

    Looking forward to seeing you guys.

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