Go West: from Sequoia National Park to the PCH

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Sequoia National Park

After a few days in Arizona and Nevada, we’re back in California! We’re driving west, in the direction of the coast, aiming to be in San Francisco in a couple of days. But before that, we planned a little excursion to go see the sequoias, those huge trees (the biggest in the world!) that grow in this region. Some of them are several thousands of years old, can you imagine? They’ve witnessed centuries of history. Everything around them has been changing in the craziest ways, and they’re still standing.

Sequoia National Park

I gotta say, with my meter sixty, I was feeling very small in the middle of those giants in Sequoia National Park.

The nature is beautiful. If you ever go there, you should definitely climb on top of Moro Rock: the views on the valley are breathtaking!

Apart from that, you’ll be able to walk among the trees, observe bears (if you’re lucky, but we didn’t spot any unfortunately), strike a pose under General Sherman (the biggest tree in the world, 3000 years old!) or drive under the famous Tunnel Log like the tourist that you are. ;)
Sequoia National Park Tunnel Log

Once again, we didn’t really have time to stick around, since we still had quite a drive to achieve before sunset. But first: lunch! We found this sandwich place called Sierra Subs and Salads on Foursquare, it was located on the side of the road, just out of Sequoia National Park. And as an amazing coïncidence, their sandwiches turned out to be the best we’d had during the whole trip!

Pismo beach

We finally arrived in Pismo beach, right on time for this gorgeous sunset.

Luckily, we still had time the next day to go for a walk on the beach and dip our feet in the Pacific ocean! We couldn’t stay longer, but honestly, I can’t say I would have wanted to. Pismo beach wasn’t as nice as I’d expected. But hey, it was just a stop, our real goal of the day was the Pacific Coast Highway – a.k.a. PCH!

Pismo beach Pismo beachPacific coast highway

Apart from the fact that it’s the most scenic route I’ve ever been on (with the ocean on one side and amazing nature on the other one), there are a few pretty unique things to see on the way up north.

For example, the elephant seals in Cambria!

Cambria elephant seals

If you’re ever around, please don’t miss them! They took over a beach and spend their days all together, napping, fighting over whatever, cuddling, bathing. They’re very fun to observe, we stayed there over half an hour, watching them like an episode of Big Brother :D
Cambria elephant seals

And voyeurism makes you hungry, so after that, we stopped at a pretty little restaurant/deli called Centrally Grown. I loved it, but it was the most Californian cliché place ever: organic and local food, all-wood-everything deco with a rustic look, pizza baked in an oven in the garden, rich customers tasting wine all day at the bar… We had a delicious lunch, and the veranda upstairs is also supposed to be a good spot to watch whales, although we didn’t see any. Mostly, what I liked was listening to other people’s conversations ;)

Centrally Grown CambriaCentrally Grown CambriaBig Sur

Once our stomachs were full, we got back on the road, driving along Big Sur, which is how they call this portion of the coast. Next stop: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, to see the McWay falls!

Mc Way Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Because of a landslide (happens a lot in this region), this source lands directly on a beach that’s closed to the public, but that you can watch from a point of view if you walk a little bit away from the road. A great place to watch the sun set…

Mc Way Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

A little further on the road, we stopped at Nepenthe to have dinner. This charming place is located on top of a cliff, offering a magnificent view on the coast and the ocean. The building was once just a cabin, that belonged to Orson Welles among others, and was turned into a restaurant in 1947 by the current owners. They built around it and added a huge terrace with a fireplace, creating one of the cosiest, most iconic places on Big Sur. Caught in the magic of the moment, we ordered a bottle of champagne that we sipped while enjoying the views. When our table got ready, we decided to splurge and enjoy their delicious beef. It was a bit expensive, but sooooo good! #treatyourself, as they say, right? Especially when you’re in such a unique place. Plus, on that night, we were staying at a Motel 6, so I guess that compensates!

Nepenthe Big Sur

The next day, in Monterey, we decided to each get a City Pass, that was valid there and in San Francisco, and allowed us to visit a few of the places we wanted to see. It’s kind of expensive (a little bit under 100$), so make sure you only get it if you’re going to visit all the places they recommend, otherwise it might not be worth it.

Our first visit was the Monterey Aquarium, which is supposed to be one of the coolest on earth. And it’s big, that’s for sure! We saw all sorts of fish, octopuses, seaweed and jellyfish, and learned a few things about marine biology. It was all very interesting, although I have to say I wasn’t very impressed. I don’t see what it had that the aquarium in Berlin, for example, doesn’t have. So I’m not sure it’s worth the entrance price (39$ without the City Pass), but I’m still happy we went!

Monterey Aquarium

I did fall in love with the neighbourhood where the aquarium is located. It’s very cute and clean, and if you go around the buildings to watch the ocean, you get rewarded with this kind of view… not bad, heh?

Monterey Bay

Next week, last but not least article about this dream road trip: we’re going to San Francisco!