Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It Gets Exciting

Leaving San Simeon State Park and continuing north on CA 1, we wondered when the road would live up to its reputation for being a nail-biting experience.  Although there is a small town called Big Sur, the Big Sur name commonly refers to the 90-mile stretch of rugged coastline from San Simeon north to Carmel.

For the first 10 miles, it was easy going.

But soon the road narrowed and acquired the turns and hills for which it is known.

(I know it looks like Ron was driving on the wrong side of the road, but that's only because of my cropping.)

Then to make things perfect (ha!), there was also construction.

And the super-sized chain link fencing to keep rocks from falling on the road made me wonder just how dangerous this drive is.

Everyone told us not to take an RV on this road, but I felt confident because we would be on the inside, away from the shear drop-offs.  I never realized that meant my side of the RV would be hugging the scary rock wall.  By the time we traveled the 40 miles to Kirk Creek campground, my back hurt from leaning to the left, subconsciously trying to move the RV away from the rocks.

The current road was completed in 1937 after 18 years of construction and with the aid of convict labor.  You can see how it was carved out of the cliff.

Upon arrival at the campground, all the sites were reserved or taken except two.  One was way too unlevel, and the other was small.  But, never fear, Ron can squeeze into a space like nobody else.  Maybe not so surprising, we were the largest RV there and most of the campers had tents.

Look at our gorgeous view out the side windows.

Although the view out the front could have been better.

Being without phone or internet (Yikes!), it was back to the AAA book for touring advice.  They picked Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park as a gem, so off we went.
The park is popular for three reasons.  First is the scenic bay with its unbelievable turquoise water.

The next is McWay Falls – a spring-fed ribbon of water that falls 80 feet to the beach below.

And the final is the history behind the location.  Only some walls and terraces remain of the Waterfall House owned by Helen and Lathrop Brown.  Just imagine living in this gorgeous spot.  Helen donated the land to California and specified that it be named after her friend Julia who lived her whole life in the area and whom Helen called ‘a true pioneer.’

Ron, what’s that over your shoulder?  Is that a black vulture just waiting for somebody to stop moving?

Although that was my first guess, I then thought, “Duh, (forehead smack), why would they tag a vulture?”  Although it didn’t seem large enough to be a condor, it was a juvenile one!  By checking condorspotter.com, I discovered number 65's name is Redwood Son and he was hatched at Big Sur.  He just turned 3, but it seems condors don't mature for 6-8 years.  On average, they live to 60!


  1. Spotting a condor - wow now that is exciting. And I know what you mean about leaving to the left. I'm usually pretty good on most roads but Pike's Peak had me leaning. That turquoise water is beautiful.

  2. You had said you were following our path from last year so I figured you'd find the fabulous boondock site we had just up the hill from Kirk Creek. Sorry you missed it. We also imagined what it must have been like living in the Waterfall House. That is such a beautiful place.

  3. I had always associated Condors with South America. This stretch of coastline known has featured in many movies. Do you see many motorcyclists riding it?

  4. WOW..I wanna drive that road, LOL at your trying to will the RV away from the rocks...I LOVE the condor, Redwood Son he is a beauty but couldn't they make those tags a bit smaller? Why not a leg ring I wonder...I saw a bear on someone else's blog post and it was wearing a big ugly radio collar and an ear tag--it kinda spoils the idea of "wild and free" Ron is the Man for fitting into that spot!!

  5. Wow ... a condor ... and so close. Great sighting.

  6. I loved that drive, but we weren't pulling our RV. What a great shot of the condor. I've only seen one and that was this year at the Grand Canyon.

  7. Why not lean left on the left coast? :cD