Monterey, Pebble Beach and Big Sur

Monterey Wharf

Our first stop on Highway 1 was Monterey. It was a short stay, and the best thing about it was the guest house: Hotel 1110. The staff were great and the breakfast was fabulous. I’ve learned over the years that, when you look at a foreign map, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of a place. It was so with Monterey. I’d underestimated the distance from the guest house to the wharf, and I ended up making the journey on foot several times over the 18-hour stay.

And, continuing the theme of disappointment, downtown was cheesey, and verging on deserted. During dinner, the waiter was checking his watch every few minutes, and whisked our plates away as soon as the knife and fork came together. It wasn’t even closing time.

Pebble Beach, Monterey

It was therefore great to get back on Highway 1 the next morning. The planned route took us to Big Sur via Pebble Beach. The route through gated Pebble Beach is grandly named 17 Mile Drive, and takes you round some big houses, green expanses and picturesque coastline. It even has a famous tree, the Lone Cypress, which (as you can see) isn’t actually alone at all.

Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach

With the frivolities out of the way, it was time for the scary bit of the journey: the drive down Big Sur. Big Sur is a mountainous coastal region. I say scary — the guidebooks and websites were all warning me to take great care in this remote part of California, and to make sure I had plenty of fuel in the tank, and food and water packed, in case we got stranded. There would be no mobile network signal (dan-da-daahh!). This was alarming enough without finding out about a massive landslide the day before the flight, which would necessitate a major route change — on tiny roads though the mountains.

Halfway down Big Sur, the side of a mountain had slid across the road into the sea and gobbled up Highway 1. The local authorities had decided it was easier to rebuild the road on top of the landslide, it was that big. As we got nearer to the landslide, the roads became bad, and large construction vehicles and men in yellow jackets were hard at work. Oh, heck.

Big Sur, California

It turned out that the mountain roads were fine, and it was a great drive. I was worried about nothing. But, as I was driving, and we had a long way to go, there are no photographs. Sorry. But sometimes you just leave the camera alone and appreciate the views.

Agave and Pacific, Big Sur

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