After we left San Francisco on Thursday morning we started our drive down the coast, stopping first in Pacifica and then in Santa Cruz. The stretch between Pacifica and Santa Cruz kind of reminded me of the drive through Tillamook from when my cousins and I drove the Oregon coast last summer; fairly flat and full of farms with mountains off in the distance. Of course, it didn't literally smell like cow (it did in Tillamook, known for it's dairy industry). Before we got to Santa Cruz we pulled over on the side of the road to go down to Shark Fin Cove, a deserted area of the coast that has a massive rock that looks like a fin poking out of the water. Pat made us slide down this "trail" to the beach below because there was a sea bridge and once we spotted it we had to be close to it. This massive seaweed material was all over the beach. It kind of looked like dead snakes or aliens that would come alive and strangle you and reminded me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when Harry and Hermoine drop down into the trapdoor and they land in the Devil's Snare. If Devil's Snare was a real plant, these seaweed pieces would have been it.
When we arrived in Santa Cruz we went to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and met my friend Kelly for lunch. I ate a hamburger and about a thousand french fries. Kelly told us that we *must* go see the surfers in our afternoon exploration so we headed straight there after lunch and watched about a hundred of them sitting out on their boards while massive waves rolled in. After I had my fill of watching the surfers (I think Pat could have stayed there for the rest of eternity) we went over to the boardwalk. It was like a much nicer version of Coney Island but was completely empty because all of the rides were closed. There were these amazing colorful sky pod thing-ys that went back and forth. For some reason they reminded me of that movie Pleasantville and a lot of cotton candy.
We arrived in Carmel Valley later that night and our Airbnb was a tiny house!! Pat and I were very excited about this and had booked it solely for the fact that it was a tiny house. It was actually minute - with just a bed, small kitchen, and bathroom, but was perfect since we were going to be spending most of the time outdoors. Each morning we sat outside and ate our breakfast on the little patio overlooking the valley.
The drive from Carmel and through Big Sur was truly magical. It felt like a land combined with Jurassic Park and Dr. Seuss as we drove down winding roads that scaled cliffs with very blue waves crashing below. The fog was so intense that sometimes we couldn't see anything, but as we gained elevation we would pop out of the clouds and everything would become green and sunny, with a layer of clouds below. It's kind of hard to describe and I feel like pictures don't really do it justice, which means that you should just go see for yourself!
My favorite place was McWay Falls, a beautiful, mermaid-y lagoon complete with a waterfall and palm trees. The water was a crystal aqua with the Devil's Snare seaweed things floating in it. Who knew that all magical things could exist in one location. We could have stood there for hours but all of a sudden a massive fog rolled in and we couldn't see anything anymore. Afterwards we did a hike in the same park and talked about our perfect timing of arriving at the falls before the fog came. On our way back through Big Sur we stopped for a late lunch at Big Sur Bakery, which is totally amazing and has giant cacti scattered throughout the property.
Then, because we have bottomless pits for stomachs, we stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea and ate a chocolate and caramel covered pretzel that was actually more like a giant pretzel-shaped churro. Carmel-by-the-Sea was very fancy in patronage and stores (we went into one store that just had soaps in crazy shapes) yet gave me some North Pole vibes, if the North Pole was in California. I know this sounds nuts, but everything there was very small and that means a lot coming from myself - a very short person. The houses were just very low and hobbit-like and I kept thinking to myself, "who built this place?" Maybe I should move there.
Anyhow, this trip gave me major determination to explore more of the West Coast, and to one day do a full drive from Vancouver to Mexico. If I was legit I would hike the Pacific Coast Trail but based on how my slide down a sandy path on the way to Shark Fin Cove went, I think that's not a great option. I wish we'd had more time to explore Big Sur but it just gives me all the more reason to return one day.