February 16, 2009

Big Sur and the Central Coast

We had an incredible trip to Big Sur and the Central California coast. Even with a forecast of rain throughout the long weekend, we headed out on Thursday, with every intention of staying until Monday. I had just purchased a Snugtop camper shell for my truck on Monday, so a little rain wasn't going to mess up our travel plans.

We left around ten in the morning, which put us at this Elephant Seal rookery just before a very cold sunset. It was an incredible sight; we saw everything from bull fights to pups nursing. Instead of watching National Geographic or Animal Planet, we were right there, just a few feet from an incredible sight (and smell).

We stopped for $20 fish and chips at a roadside place on the Coast Highway in Gorda, and then made it into the Fernwood campground in the rain and well after dark.

When the sun came up, we found that our site was spitting distance from the Big Sur River, which was flowing heavy with silt from the rain. There is a dozen sites on each side of the river, but trailers and big RVs aren't allowed over the old bridge. It was amazing to see people tent camping in six-inch deep mud and pouring rain. Most of these diehards were fly fishermen working the Steelhead in the river. There were flush toilets and very hot showers, but Sherry and I would have a hard time giving the campground much more than two tents on our rating scale of five tents (even if it was dry).

Most of the rain on our trip was at night, and we rarely needed more than a sweatshirt during the day. The muddy campground made rubber boots mandatory in camp, but otherwise Andy is modeling the trip uniform.

The town of Big Sur is filled with tie-dye shirts, dredlocks, and burned out hippies. I went over to the bar to use their WiFi to check my email. Some old flower-child saw my laptop and said, "Oh, my cats would love that little computer!"

We headed up the coast, hoping to make Monterey in decent weather. Andy normally professes to be afraid of heights, but the lure of these jagged cliffs drew him out like a true explorer.

The rugged geography, the gorgeous Monterey Cypress trees and the rough weather made for some incredible scenery. We spent three days going up and down this coastline.

If we ever make it back during the summer months, we want to take the three-hour walking tour of the Point Sur lighthouse.

The Aquarium at Monterey Bay has doubled in size since our first visit over a decade ago. We went on a fantastic back-stage tour where Andy was brave enough to sample a live worm from the feeding station (video below!). We saw their sea-water filtration facility and got in the way of an aquarist who was feeding the sharks.

This was an incredible trip, filled with wonderful experiences. Perhaps that is why I chose to give the disaster of Sunday morning its own posting rather than pollute this post. This is the first time we've taken the Caboose more than two hours from home, and while it performed fantastically, eight hours in the truck is a long haul. We will definitely have to break up the long drive to and from Zion this summer into two days.

I've put together a five minute video of our trip, including footage of Andy eating the worm. Enjoy.


family tents said...

wow..looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

It might be a bit far for a one day drive, but I might suggest the Virgin River Campground, in the Virgin River Gorge. We stopped there for some sight-seeing on our trip to Zion last year.
(for our trip we stopped at state line - gambling; Mesquite - gambling, and then on to Zion)

Steven C. Karoly said...

Looks like you enjoyed the trip despite falling trees.

Eight to 10 hours is my limit pulling the tent trailer (Lightly larger Coleman). You should be able to find a Nevada or Utah state park at the half-way mark.

Our favorite highway-side campground in Oregon is the Valley of the Rouge SP between Medford and Grants Pass.


Michelle said...

I have to say, every time I camp in Mammoth, I always wonder what would happen if one of the trees or a branch!) fell down. Now I know. Bummer...

You should compile all your "adventures" into a book one day...


Amy Wagner said...

Wow what an experience you guys had watching those seals and there pups, nothing better in the world to see that first hand and yo right not watching it on Animal Planet. I love camping but there is a but, I am not a huge fan of sharing the bathroom with a million other people, but I have to say where you stayed it looked amazing even with all the mud you spoke of.

Anonymous said...

WOW !!! It's like I was there in the video !!! Where are the hotdogs ??? Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the woods !!! Well never the less good to see NO ONE was hurt.... Thanks God for the deflection....

So for the lesson plan, don't park under or near trees in the forest when you go camping !!! Does a tree make a noise when it falls ??? YOU BET IT DOES !!!


Camping KĂžbenhavn said...

nice post, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

WOW! tree branch aside that trip looked fun. now i can tease andy about eating worms. some of the best memories are made from moments when you endured the most. that trip looked fun
also, thanks for putting up with the ladies this weekend. i really could have stayed to 2am scrapbooking. ****WENDY****

Camping Equipment said...

Wow that looks incredible! I would love to make it out to the west coast for a camping trip and I would love to go climbing, it just is like a different world than over here in South Carolina. What kind of Camping Equipment do you use?