For those who don’t know, State Route 1 (SR 1) is a major north-south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S. state of California. (from Wikipedia)
Since moving to California, Nick and I have had it on our list to drive highway 1 all the way north, and all the way south. We drove the northern portion during our road trip to Seattle in February of 2013, and we’d driven as far south as Monterey together. Earlier this year, we began planning a trip to Disneyland, and decided to finish off the southern portion of highway 1 during that trip! We broke the trip up into three chunks – day one would be driving as far south as Cayucos with a stop at Hearst Castle along the way. Day two would find us meandering our way the rest of the way to Anaheim, and then a three-night break as we spent two days exploring Disneyland. Day five of the trip, we’d head the rest of the way south to San Diego with a stop at Balboa island, and then spend two nights in San Diego, before heading all the way back home to San Jose along the I-5 (a much faster way to travel than the 1, which winds its way along the edges of cliffs and through beach towns).
We left early on our first day (Saturday June 21st) because we wanted to make it to Hearst Castle by the time our tour began at 3pm. We took the fast route to Carmel since we’d already driven that part of the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), and then stopped for coffees in Carmel before embarking on our journey down the 1.
Our next stop was Big Sur, about an hour down the road, where we found some stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Bixby Bridge, and the first hitchhiker (“John”) I’ve ever picked up! I was a little disappointed in the hitchhiker experience – although Nick tells me that they’re usually a little more talkative and willing to share stories – John was pretty quiet and mostly kept to himself – although, he did tell us that this was the fourth time he’d hitchhiked down highway 1 – apparently, this is something he’d do every time he felt bored with whatever job he happened to be working at the time!
We offered to give John a ride as far south as Hearst Castle, where we’d be then turning off the highway and heading to our tour. Along the way, we made a quick stop at Elephant Seal Beach to gawk at the huge elephant seals rolling around in the sand!
From Elephant Seal Beach, it was just a quick hop over to Hearst Castle.
Now, when Nick first told me he wanted to visit Hearst Castle, I thought it sounded super lame. I’ve been to Europe a couple of times, so I’ve seen my fair share of castles that are hundreds of years old. However, as soon as I looked up pictures of the castle, I knew why he wanted to go. It’s not an old stone castle by any means. It’s a huge mansion built by William Hearst around 1919…and that description doesn’t do it any justice at all. Check out some of my photos to see for yourself…
After strolling around Hearst Castle for the afternoon, we were ready to head to our first night’s accommodations in Cayucos. We used AirBnB to book a cute little beach house and spent the evening chatting with the owner, drinking wine, and eating the most amazing scallop tacos at a little restaurant called Taco Temple in nearby Morro Bay. WOW, we would go back to Taco Temple in a heartbeat – highly recommended for other folks driving through.
Stay tuned for part 2 – Disneyland!!