Jordan and I spent 2.5 weeks in April and May of 2016 driving the coast of California. If you'd like to start at the beginning click here.
We left San Luis Obispo midmorning with roughly three hours of pure driving time left. I'm not sure why I went into driving the Pacific Coast Highway naively but I didn't think we'd have opportunities to stop. I assumed we would admire the scenery from our cars! Silly me.
Our three hour drive turned more into a six hour drive!
Very quickly, after leaving SLO, the elevation rises and you truly are driving on the coast on a very narrow, two-lane road. A few minutes north of Hearst Castle (which if we had a full day we probably would have visited) but south of Big Sur, is a little stretch of beach where you can view the Pacific Coast Highway's Elephant Seals!
There are road signs so it was easy to spot when we could pull off into a small parking lot. One website said the viewing season is December-March but we were there in April and the seals were still there. The Elephant Seals, flopping around on the beach, were pretty goofy looking!
There are many points during this drive where you'll lose cellphone signal, so I highly suggest refueling your car or using the bathroom any chance you get. Some of the stops it's encouraged to purchase an item at the gas station in exchange for using their bathroom. I panicked many times that I wouldn't be able to last until the next rest stop, so we stopped a lot!
Speaking of panic, I experienced some anxiety at different points along this drive. I don't mind the idea of heights but edges/balconies cause my stomach to toss and turn. At multiple spots on the drive, I road in the passenger seat with my eyes closed because I was convinced we'd blow over into the ocean. I believe it was a mixture of a greasy lunch (there aren't many food options so next time I'd make a PB & J), pregnancy hormones and my lack of experience driving in mountainous regions. Curvy roads with mountainous cliffs do not exist in the midwest!
^ Rolling hills on one side, ocean on the other.
Looking back, Jordan and I didn't really leave enough time to thoroughly enjoy our time in and around Big Sur. We both felt rushed to catch the light and anytime we lingered somewhere too long I'd worry I'd need the bathroom. Seriously, not being near a bathroom is a problem in pregnancy!
Next up: Bixby Canyon Bridge!