Deemed one of the most popular drives in the United States and beyond, it is truly worth it to take some time off to do the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) drive. Truth be told, you could easily spend a month (if not more) fully exploring all that the Pacific Coast has to offer. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the drive from Long Beach to San Francisco, with plans to see the Oregon coast by car later this month.
The drive out of Long Beach started slow but once I hit the coast, I was in awe at all the surfers that were chasing waves in open water. It stretched on like this for miles. Maybe in my past life I was a surfer, because I’ve always been drawn to the unique way they balance themselves against rushing waves. Amidst chaos there is a sense of calm. I love it. Additionally, there were several places to stop along the way, beautiful cliffs and spectacular views of the coast and that point where the ocean meets the sky. Stopping at these vistas always captured my attention, not just for the view, but also the diversity of the people who stop there. Different cultures, different languages, all experiencing the same sky.
I decided to make my overnight destination Carmel, making there by nightfall for one night, and then a peaceful day of exploration followed by another restful night before hitting the road again. I didn’t know much about Carmel other than it seemed like a good place to stop because I didn’t think I’d make it a few miles further to Monterey by night. I’m so glad I stopped here. My first night, after getting settled into my hotel room, I went out to eat and met a couple on their honeymoon. They were spending it on the PCH, taking the same trip that the groom’s father did when he got married. What an awesome tradition. I enjoyed their stories and the random crossing of our paths.
After a decent meal, my body reminded me with a dramatic yawn that I had been up all day, and I retired for the night. The following morning I had lunch and then met up with my copyeditor, Jennifer, who also happened to be traveling the PCH with her fiance. We in no way planned to be in Carmel at the same time, but I’m happy we were. Both having a love for art galleries and nick-nacks, we immediately set out to explore and roam the streets. Parting ways late afternoon, I spent some down time in my hotel room before heading to the beach to watch the sunset. This evening can be read about in full detail here, but I will at least tell you that the view of that sun setting over the horizon, and the array of vibrant colors, literally took my breath away.
Following this I stumbled upon a french restaurant, La Bicyclette, which provided a lively ambiance and my final meal. It also gave me the chance to make new friends with a Lebanese couple that sat at the table next to me.
That evening I packed my bags so the next day’s check out would be a breeze. And by morning, my car was loaded and ready to go. I did the infamous 17 Mile Drive from Carmel to Monterey. It cost $9 to do, cash only (which is exactly what I had on me…thank goodness!), and it was worth every penny. You could easily spend a day (or more) on this drive, stopping at the beaches for picnic lunches and meditating in the natural surroundings. I did it within a couple hours, taking time to stop at various lookout points, and take plenty of pictures.
I had lunch in Monterey, then headed inland to my next destination, San Francisco, where I was visiting a friend for 2 days. And then, up I went to Portland. This time, I was more concerned about time than views, because it was already a 10 hour drive as is. Oregon is another beautiful state to drive through, and I absolutely love that I don’t have to get out of my car to pump gas at the gas stations (talk about great service!).
Now I am settled in downtown Portland and well into exploring my new home.