California’s Highway 1

Michelle from Anywhere at Home

Part of the Pacific Coast Highway, this roadway stretches from Orange County up to Mendocino and is far more exciting than taking I-5 between Silicon Valley and LA.

The first day was an uneventful drive, and found us in a roadside campsite in Pismo Beach. The website claimed we would hear the ocean all night; instead we heard the cars on Highway 1 and shivered from the ocean cold. But it was cheap, and only minutes from Monarch Butterfly Grove, where we stopped early the next morning. Thousands of butterflies converge in this eucalyptus grove every winter. We walked through the mist and watched as they gathered, camouflaging as leaves.

anywhere-at-home-san-simeon-zebra

Zebra at San Simeon, California

San Simeon is a must-stop to visit the elephant seals at the Elephant Seal Rookery. We had also hoped to get a glimpse of Hearst Castle, but in the fog it was impossible. Instead, we spotted a zebra from the highway, and immediately pulled over. There is a family of zebras that roams the ranches near Hearst Castle, a relic from the days of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

anywhere-at-home-big-sur

Big Sur, California

The first time we drove north on Highway 1, I was enthralled by Big Sur. How had I lived in California for so long and not seen Big Sur? The road curves drastically alongside the edges of cliffs, with lush greenery on one side and an ocean view on the other. At times the road was so winding, it seemed likely we’d shoot off the edge into the water. A storm was brewing, and so we drove through Big Sur quickly. The rain came when we were in Monterey, and we headed inland to return home.

>>Next: Iceland