Day 50 – Tall Trees And California Route 1

Monday, October 11, 2010
Miles To Date: 
7 411

The first day of our two day drive from the Bay area to Los Angeles began with us visiting Big Basin State Park. Its a short drive from San Jose and is best known for its redwood grove. We took the main trail around the grove and saw a number of trees similar to the giant sequoias of sequoia national park. The two species differ in that redwoods are taller and thinner than the sequoias, and sequoias are a lighter brown in colour.The main tree to comment on was called the ‘Mother of the Forest’, which was the tallest tree there at 327ft. Compared to General Sherman at 275ft it was tall, though it isn’t the tallest redwood in the world – that is in Northern California and is 379ft.

After the state park we met California Route 1 at Santa Cruz and drove on to the Monterey Peninsula where the towns of Monterey and Carmel are. We chose Route 1 as opposed to Route 101 since it hugs the coast, and is therefore far more scenic despite being the slower option. In Monterey we had lunch right on the Pacific. The ocean was very rough and some people even got splashed while eating – luckily we didn’t! Next we moved on to Carmel which is known for being a pretentious little town, full of art galleries and shops selling the kind of ornaments you have to wonder who buys. It was pleasant to walk around though, and it reminded us quite a bit of Jackson, Wyoming (only without the dead animals in every shop window).

Continuing on Route 1 next brought us to the Big Sur region of coastline. The area is quite unique, in that mountains up to over 5,000ft high rise almost directly from the Ocean. As a result it is very sparsely populated, but provides incredible views now that the road has been carved into the mountainsides along the shore. It was an enjoyable drive, though probably more striking if you haven’t seen everything we have seen in the last few weeks! Driving alongside some of the lower mountains reminded us both a lot of the A9 between Inverness and John O’ Groats.

Towards the end of the Big Sur region we stopped at a viewpoint where elephant seals are known to reside. We saw a large colony resting up on the beach, and it was interesting to see them shuffling around and fighting one another. While we were there the sun also happened to be setting. A major benefit of being on the West Coast is that the sun seems to set right into the ocean and it was a beautiful sight.

Our motel for the night is in a small town called Morro Bay which is right on the coast. Its the most basic motel we have been in for a while but it will do before we finally reach the cousins in LA tomorrow! As for the town, it is mainly a fishing port and seems very quiet.

Photo(s) of the day: a burnt out redwood, Mother of the Forest looming above the others, and sunset over the Pacific.