Saturday, January 5, 2013

Highway 1 - California Route 1 - What we've seen so far!

Happy New Year!!!

This year is up to a great start! I was contacted by two different people, and my work is going to be part of 2 art shows in the new few months. I couldn't be more excited about this! 

I also took a big step and bough a new camera. So far I haven't had a chance to go on a day trip to test it out in the field, but I have been using Bomber, my dog, as my muse and the quality of the photographs has really impressed me.

I agree when people say that the camera doesn't make the photograph, but it is nice to have a camera over which you have more control and that offers more room for artistic expression. I'm very happy with my new toy! But, of course, I will continue to use my other cameras as well. They have been so good to me, I wouldn't just demote them to storage.

Now, on to this week's post...

I have written many posts that talked about California Highway 1. This is probably because this road is one of my favorite roads in the entire world!

Since visiting California for the first time in 2007 and driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, until now, having officially lived in California for almost 3 years, Joe and I have driven about 680 miles of Highway 1 on California, all the way from Huntington Beach in So. Cal to farther passed MacKerricher State Park way into Mendocino County.

There are so many more miles to discover in this wonderful road that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the great state of California and which came into existence in 1934.

This blog post is my very small tribute to Hwy 1: the highway that treats you to some of the most beautiful coastlines in the United States.

This road was build slowly, starting with the portion that runs through Big Sur. Interestingly enough, it feels like the road is also slowly going to disappear as sea levels rise and erosion keeps claiming segments of the road as time goes by.

However, the love for the road seems to keep it up and running. Just last week, when we were heading to Gualala, a portion of the road in Sonoma County has fallen down. By the time we drove back, the detour was gone, crews were working on the road, and a lane had already been put in place.

Not only does Hwy 1 connects several coastal cities and communities, but it also provides access to many beaches, parks, and hiking trails along the coast, most of which are totally unmarked, making them very peaceful and exciting to explore.

Some of the photos in this blog include images of the sandy beaches of Southern California like Santa Monica and Venice Beach. 

Farther North, the Highway opens access to several State Park beaches and other beaches that are considered superb surfing destinations. One such beach is Rincon, the beach where Kelly Slater, Surf World Champion, still practices his moves.

In this stretch, Highway 1 runs right next to the Pacific ocean, wedged in between the water and the mountains, until you reach Santa Barbara. Here, the Highway becomes decorated with palm trees and it takes the name of Cabrillo Boulevard, after the Portuguese explorer.

After Santa Barbara, you find many towns like Pismo Beach, a place Monarch Butterflies have claimed as their habitat. San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay are also on the way, and so is Piedras Blancas, a protected area where Elephant Seals go to mate, give birth and relax in the sun, always under the protective watch of the Friends of the Elephant Seals volunteers ( To see these giant animals, you simply have to pull off the Highway into their big parking lot and get out of your car.

But before you reach the Piedras Blancas Rookery, you can take a detour to go visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Perched on top of a mountain and surrounded by green fields where wild zebras ran free (if you don't believe me, google it!), Hearst Castle is a wonderful architectural monument built by the newspaper magnate, William Hearst, and is now open to the public. A visit to the castle is well worth it if you are ever in the area.

Except of very small towns, there is not much between San Simeon and the amazing wilderness of Big Sur. This is where Highway 1 becomes very dramatic and incredibly beautiful. Here you can camp on an ocean cliff, or head father inland into redwood forest. You can also explore waterfalls like Salmon Creek waterfall, which is the biggest one in the area, or you can go to the Sandollar Beach to soak up the sun. Of course, there are countless hikes in the area, most of them right off the Highway.

The farther North you drive, the more town you see, but they are still very spread out. The Northern section of Big Sur has several State Parks and a bit more accommodations to choose from.

Then, Highway 1 passes through Carmel, a fancy little town that people love to visit on vacation. Soon thereafter is Monterrey Bay and its aquarium (still on the list of places to visit!). After that there are several towns, some big like Santa Cruz, and some small, like Pescadero, Montara, Half Moon Bay and others. Pretty much then you have entered the Bay Area.

In San Francisco, Hwy 1 has many names and goes through the city and out of it through the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area all the way to Point Reyes. 

In Point Reyes you can do many things: you can go hiking along the coast, you can visit the lighthouse, or you can soak up the sun (if it's sunny!) on the beach. No matter what you do there, you'll have fun because the area is very beautiful!

Continuing North you go through Bodega Bay, a quaint little fishing town that is also popular as a vacation spot.  And, from there, we have made several stops along the way but I can't quite remember the names of all the town. The main ones we stopped at have been Gualala and then, after crossing the Navarro River, we have gone as far as Fort Bragg, MacKerricher State Park and other towns farther North into Mendocino County.

By the way, Mendocino County is one of the most beautiful stretches of Highway 1, I think!

This is my brief photographic (and written) tour  some of my experiences with Highway 1. I can't wait to get back on it again soon. No matter how many times you are on it, there is always something new to see, some new animal to spot, different colors in the water, and just an overall different experience that only has one thing in common: how magical it feels!

Hope you enjoyed this week's photos. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at

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