That moment when your eyes and heart see the same thing and it takes your breath away. That's Big Sur. Over and over.
Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is a vacation in itself. I slid open my window, camera in hand and snapped away not wanting to miss a second of its beauty. The sun glistening on the most gorgeous, variant blue waters, the feel of the cool air on my face, the smell of the salty ocean air, and the faces of wonderment and excitement all around me...already, this is the place I want to come back to year after year!
Growing up in Waveland, Mississippi, the beach was at my front door. I can still recall the feeling of yearning, even anxiousness to get to her waters edge. That excitement and contentment still lives within, especially when she is in my sight.
I loved Big Sur Campground & Cabins, our home away from home for this trip. Woods and water (not rain water) are the perfect combination, in my opinion for a camping trip. From the moment you arrive, the staff acts as if they have been on pins and needles waiting for your safe arrival. After the friendliest of greetings, it was time to set up camp among the redwoods. With the smell of burning fire in the air and the fantastic energy of everyone around us, we explored our surroundings which included the greatest playground at a campground to date, according to my little campers, and the coolest tent cabins that I have ever seen! And just so you know, don't waste any time trying to post one of the fabulous pics you just took as you drove down Highway 1...there is no reception! (Tip: if you walk towards the entry of the campsite, go across the cool bridge, veer left towards the mailboxes which are down the little hill near the retreat center, you will get a few bars! What can I say? I went exploring this option for my readers, of course!) Be sure to bring your coffee cup as you make your way down there--FREE delicious coffee at the camping store awaits you!
And now, Riding with Rien Rose:
This time, we went to Big Sur. It's a fun, beautiful, charming place. When we got there, I was very excited. Seeing all the trees is a gift if you live in Arizona. That's one reason I liked it a lot. Once you park the RV, you can do many things like go to the park. Their park is very, very fun. It's like you are in a park, but it has all of YOUR favorite things. There is a lot more of Big Sur, but that's what I wanted to tell you for now.
-Rien Rose, 8
Our first stop was Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where we completed a few short, easy hikes, one which lead to the famous, protected McWay Falls, an absolute stunning view. The contrasting colors of the trees, rocks, and water were enamoring and tempting...if only we could get down to that beach!
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is known to be one of the best camping locations on the West Coast, with two hike-in only sites (sorry, RVers). It's obviously no surprise why this location is most coveted.
It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.
Finding a place to eat that will have something appealing to everyone can be tricky, but not if you go to the Big Sur Lodge Restaurant at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. I sat sipping a refreshing Arnold Palmer just admiring the trees through the amazing windows of the Lodge while the kids played Tic-Tac-Toe on their menus--can you say relaxing? Families were riding by on their bikes, hiking across the shaded bridge, or birdwatching in the distance. With it's lovely setting, excellent service ("someone" thought it took too long...maybe he was just starving!), and affordable food that my children raved about ($10 for children's meal with beverage), this was just the perfect place for us to reenergize before spending the afternoon at Pfeiffer Beach.
We did stop at a few other places along the way to check out their menus, but it was too fancy for their liking. Here's my picky-eater son, Tripp's, take on his dining experience:
"I like the food at Big Sur Lodge. It is a really long wait, but it is worth it. I like the Chicken Tenders. The Big Sur Lodge is a good place." Tripp - 7
We tried to get a dinner reservation at the highly recommended Nepenthe Restaurant, but unfortunately, the times did not work for us. My only regret of this trip was not making a reservation in advance, as I would have loved for us to be there at sunset...oh, well, NEXT TIME! Joseph salvaged my disappointment by grilling a "melt-in-your-mouth" tenderloin (leftovers for the rest of the trip) that we paired with a salad. Breakfast when we are camping is our very favorite to prepare, surely giving any of the surrounding restaurants a run for their money. Plus, my décor is cuter, right?
Pfeiffer beach...purple beaches off the beaten path
Pfeiffer Beach is NOT located at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park as the name suggests, but just a few miles away down an unmarked road. Ask any of the park rangers or locals and they will send you in the right direction. As you can tell from the first picture below, the unpaved road to this beautiful, secluded beach is only one lane, so you might want to leave the RV at the campground. Parking is available, but scarce. Some people chose to park on the highway and hike down to the beach, but it's a few miles, so we took the jeep. Kids placed bets on the ride down whether purple sand even existed and then scrutinized it once they discovered it was indeed a reality. The rock formations are magnificent and discovering all these new sights, sounds, and textures together is the best...I love watching them take it all in.
play is the greatest form of research.
I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Surrounded by the most astounding views, Point Lobos State Reserve was much like a nesting toy with each trail revealing another beautiful surprise. Providing many unique opportunities for family learning, it was definitely our favorite! The kids loved exploring the tide pools and observing the seals and other animals in their natural habitats, but simply playing at, what seemed like their own hidden shore, Gibson Beach was their highlight! Even though the water was freezing and the waves kept crashing through their sand constructions, their enthusiasm for this new experience never wavered!
you, me, & the sea
How we love you, Big Sur! Thank you for all the lasting memories that you provided our family. Until next time...