Epic Road Trip (Day 17)

Published on August 13, 2015

Today I traveled through San Francisco and down Highway 1 for 240 miles to San Simeon. I started the day early so I could avoid San Francisco traffic and was able to get some great early morning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge before crossing and having a light breakfast and coffee in Montara.

I started out finishing the highway drive down the 101 to the north bay's harbor and Golden Gate viewing area. It was an early day - up at 4:30 AM - but it was worth it to beat the traffic and see the Golden Gate largely alone. There was another photographer who showed up and someone out for their morning run, but I was able to enjoy the view and the sun rise.

From there, it was over the bridge, refueling in Daly City and down the coast. The traffic was minimal, but I waited until after I got out of the city to stop for coffee and a bagel at Here Comes the Sun Coffee House. I rested a bit and enjoyed the ocean view from their patio, then it was off to Highway 1 and the coastline beyond.

I wound down the coast, enjoying some twists and turns through Half Moon Bay and passed a great deal of farmland. Sadly, no photo opportunities of Happy Cows presented themselves, but the views were spectacular. Just south of Pescadero, I found the Pigeon Point Lighthouse (and Hostel). Being a fan of lighthouses, I needed to pull over and wander a bit. The surf crashed and even cloudy the views of the Pacific were pretty amazing.

After leaving the lighthouse behind, I wound down the highway into Santa Cruz (and more traffic) before stopping in Moss Landing for lunch at Lighthouse Harbor Grill. It was really more of a brunch since I'd had such an early start to my day. I seemed to be better at picking my meal stops than my overnight stops, but I started spying places I'll definitely plan on hitting the next time I go for this trip.

Finished with my coffee and brunch, I was off toward Monterey (and, again, more traffic - what is it with every city in California?). It was there that I refueled the bike. After meeting the other Fury rider in the Redwoods, I was a little more confident about my fuel economy, especially at the relatively low speeds of the PCH. I rumbled in with 126 miles on my tank and the low fuel light hadn't even kicked on. From there, I kept going, looking for more coastal views and winding down the highway.

I hit the most traffic in Carmel, but once I was beyond that, the road opened up and I was off on smooth curves toward Big Sur. The road turned twisty and and climbed to give plenty of sweeping views of the coastline. There were a few spots where 15 mile-per-hour turns were hiding behind broader turns, so in this section, it's especially important to pull off and enjoy the views (a lot of the drivers on the road weren't, so I stopped frequently and let them keep going).

The road calmed a bit around the Esalen Institute (about 16 miles south) before getting very interesting leading up to and beyond Ragged Point. By this time of the day, Ragged Point was exceptionally busy, so I let everyone else stop and kept going down the coast. I passed by a few viewpoints, including one viewing area for Elephant Seals, which I vowed to backtrack to either later that day or tomorrow.

Following the descent from Ragged Point, the road opened to smooth curves and open land to the coast on to San Simeon. There, I found my hotel, some dinner, and enjoyed my room's patio and a well-earned Oatmeal Stout from Barrelhouse Brewing Company. The fog was coming in faster than the sun was setting, so the sunset was lackluster, but a quiet evening recuperating was the order of the day.

Tomorrow, would be my last day on the coast - time to savor the sea air.