Friday, January 4, 2008

Driving Highway 1

Highway 1, near Big Sur, with the unique Cypress trees that grace that area of California.

We who live in California often take its majestic beauty for granted. We're used to the jokes made about the crazy people who live here, about our healthy food habits and our dislike for cigarette smoke. And about the air pollution in Los Angeles, the risk of earthquakes, and the occasional mudslide that can destroy homes in about 3 seconds. Oh yes, the fires. Those too. And the fact that we're very spread out, so there's little or no rapid transit in this state. We all insist on driving cars everywhere. But if you take all that out of the equation, we're left with some spectacular scenery, unlike any other place on this earth. We have Mt. Whitney, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Redwoods way up north, plus just the incredible awe of the city of San Francisco. We have really big mountain ranges from north to south, including nine (yes, NINE) national parks, countless state parks and beach preserves. In the south, we have more mountain ranges, deserts (actually southern California is mostly desert land, but because we hydrate it, it's become more like one big oasis), the Salton Sea and Death Valley.

It isn't often that anyone who lives here drives Highway 1, though. It actually goes from the Mexican border to Oregon, but when we Californians talk about "Highway 1" we're usually referring to a section of it that goes from Morro Bay, about mid-state to Carmel. It's about 100+ miles of very curvy, torturous roads. Takes about 3-4 hours, depending on traffic. People driving on this road are mostly tourists, there just to soak in the vistas. Or the myriad of people who actually live along that coast. Every time I've driven the road I wonder about these people who live there - what do they do for a living, so far from civilization (they probably like that aspect of it), how often they go to the grocery store (not often, I'd guess), or how they manage not having a restaurant nearby to go out to dinner once in awhile (there are almost zip-zero-nada restaurants along this stretch of road).

We headed south from Monterey. The day was absolutely perfect. Sky a sunshiny blue, water perfectly clear. No wind. Temps in the 50's. The plu-perfect day to drive Highway 1. We stopped often to take some pictures.

South of Big Sur.

Don't fall! That's a couple of hundred feet down there. You can't see them, but there were hundreds of sea lions swimming all over this stretch of rocky shore. They were cavorting and barking to beat the band.

Just one look up rather than down.

And one short glance back toward the north.


Toffeeapple said...

What a wonderful country! We in England rarely get to see your land as it is - usually just resorts or cities. Thank you for posting the pictures, I hope you'll let us see more?

Carolyn T said...

Gee, I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos. After all, I am a food blog, not a travel site, but the scenery was just so beautiful I couldn't help it!