Growing up on the California coast, there are certain things we take for granted: The fact that the ocean is always immediate, that the landscape in and around home is dramatic and beautiful, and that the weather is mostly pleasant. Not until I went to college in St. Louis did I truly understand and appreciate the singularity and wonderfulness of the California coast.
Having moved back to California after college, I now try to savor in these aspects of home that I once took for granted. A few weeks ago, I had some commitments down in LA with family. Upon our return home to SF, we were debating whether to take the efficient albeit ugly/boring I5 route or do some portion of Highway 1. Since we have been blessed with lots of rains this year and are now fully into Spring, the entire Californian landscape is lush and chock-full of blooming wildflowers and California poppies. With this in my mind, we decided to take Highway 1 between Morro Bay & Carmel for our journey home (with some 101 snippets through Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara which was equally verdant and beautiful).
Winding along the coast we passed through Morro Bay with its giant rock, San Simeon where high up on a hill we caught glimpses of Hearst Castle (worth a visit if you haven't been), and Big Sur with a lovely late afternoon stop at McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge. There are plenty of places to stay along the way if you have a desire to spread out the drive or throw in some hikes, otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.