Entries in Pacific Coast Highway (6)


Pacific Coast Highway Album: San Francisco & Muir Woods

Last in a five-part series (see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

A view looking up Lombard Street, the famous “crooked street” in San Francisco.

We concluded our tour in San Francisco.

Left: San Francisco harbor, with Alcatraz in the distance. Right: The view down Lombard Street.

Left: We had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. The view looking back at San Francisco was hazy indeed, and a photo of the bridge itself impossible. Right: Just turn the camera 90 degrees to the left, and the view is a completely different story.


Muir Woods has some of the last old-growth Coast Redwoods near a major city. (The rest of them are much farther north.) By 1900, most of the original redwood forests had been cut down. Muir Woods remained intact mainly because it was extremely difficult to reach. Businessman William Kent bought the 295-acre site in 1905 and donated it to the Federal Government. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it a national monument in 1908.

Left: Entrance to Muir Woods National Monument. Right: A view of the redwoods from a distance (actually taken after we had left the park).

Left: Yup, they sure are tall. Right: There are many downed trees in the park. Though the redwoods are among the longest-lived trees, they do eventually fall after 1,000 to 1,500 years, or so.

Left: Note the odd growth pattern of the tree on the right. Right: Robert inside a “fairy ring” of related trees. Note the fire damage on the large center tree. There hasn’t been a major fire at Muir Woods in 150 years, but many of the trees have lingering scars from past fires. Though fire damages redwoods, it seldom kills them. They actually benefit from occasional fires, which kill off less hardy species, opening the canopy to sunlight, and making room for new redwood seeds to germinate.

Left: A waterfall. Right: Sometimes, a fallen tree blocks the path. Here, there was just enough space to squeeze through.

Left: The bulbous structure is called a “burl.” Normally they are closer to the ground, but this one is up in the air. Eventually, a new trunk will sprout from here. Right: Father and son inside a hollowed-out tree trunk.


Pacific Coast Highway Album: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Fourth in a five-part series (see part 1, part 2, part 3)

There is plenty to keep you busy along the waterfront in Monterey, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Cannery Row, immortalized in the John Steinbeck novel, is now crassly commercial, as if Disney were operating it. The aquarium, at least, is entirely genuine.

Left & right: A shark in the kelp exhibit.

Left: The aquatic bird exhibit. Right: A school of small fish.

Left & right: Jellies.

Left & right: The coral reef exhibit.

Left & right: South African penguins. The one in the left foreground is molting.

Left & right: We give the penguins the last word.


Pacific Coast Highway Album: San Simeon to Monterey

Second in a five-part series (see part 1, part 2)

The segment of California Highway 1 between San Simeon and Monterey offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The road is two lanes for most of the route, twisting and turning through mountain passes. This was about a three-hour drive.

Left & right: Not long past San Simeon, there’s an outlook onto a beach where California Seals sun themselves. They didn’t budge during the time we were there, except to spray sand onto themselves with their flippers. We were fortunate to see them, as it was the third week of March, and their beach season ends around April 1st.

Left: I have to assume this is a father and pup. The larger individual seems too bulky to be a female. Right: No seals in this photo, but this is the view at the same stop, just a couple of hundred feet north.

Left & right: The road to Monterey

Left & right: The road to Monterey

Left: The Bixby Bridge, built in 1932. Right: The view beyond Bixby Bridge.


Pacific Coast Highway Album: Hearst Castle

Second in a five-part series (part 1 here)

We left Morro Bay for the 30-minute trip north to Hearst Castle, in San Simeon. William Randolph Hearst’s family had, at one time, amassed some 300,000 acres of coastal property. When Hearst inherited the land from his father in the 1920s, he started construction on Hearst Castle, an enormous mountain-top mansion where he ran his media empire and entertained his friends. The castle was eventually donated to the state, although tens of thousands of surrounding acres are still owned by the Hearst Corporation.

You arrive at a visitor’s center at the base of the mountain. The castle is a long way in the distance. The photo above is as good a zoom shot as we could get. It’s actually a close-up taken from the photo shown at right, which gives an indication of just how far away the “castle” really is. A tour bus takes you up the winding road to the estate.

Four different tours are offered. We took the one recommended for first-time visitors. We had a shade more than an hour at the mountaintop, but allowing for the bus ride either way and the National Geographic film shown at the end, it turned into a 2½–3 hour visit.

Left: The gothic spires of the main house. The grounds also have three elaborate guest houses, which we didn’t photograph. We also didn’t get any shots inside the main house (it was too dark). All of the rooms we saw were decorated in a gothic pre-renaissance style. One can appreciate the artistry of it, but it’s not a style I would choose in my own home. Right: Around the grounds.

Left: Around the grounds. Right: Egyptian statues on the grounds, the castle’s oldest art works.

Left & right: Mr. Hearst wanted his guests to appreciate the view, so we shall.

Left & right: More of the view.

Left & right: The massive Romanesque outdoor swimming pool. It was under repair at the time of our visit. Normally, it would be filled with water.

Left & right: Architectural details around the outdoor pool.

Left: The indoor pool is, if anything, more spectacular, though hard to capture through the camera lens. Oddly, though this pool is indoors, the guests had to go outdoors to reach it, as it has no direct entrance from the house. Right: One last look at Mr. Hearst’s vast lands.


Pacific Coast Highway Album: L.A. to Morro Bay

First in a five-part series

My son and I took a four-day trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (Cal. Rt. 1) from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He took all the photos. I present them here with minimal commentary.

Day 1 took us from L.A. to Morro Bay, a trip that would take about four hours by the inland route, but took us around six and a half along the slower Pacific Coast Highway, with ample stops for photo-ops and food breaks.

Smoggy Los Angeles
Left: All of that L.A. smog you read about is really true.
Right: Scrub brush along the way.

Left: The vastness of the Pacific. Right: Robert and me.

Left: Rocky outcrops like this one are common along the route.
Right: So is scrub brush. 

Left & right: Rocks and mountains along the coastline.

Left:We arrive at Morro Bay, known for the Morro Rock. It appears to be out in the middle of the bay, though in fact there is a man-made road to it. Climbing the rock is illegal, as it is home to endangered bird species. Right: Boats on the bay.

Left & right: We don’t find much excitement in Morro Bay, aside from the sunset.

We leave this post with one more sunset shot over Morro Bay.



My son and I are off to California to visit my brother’s family. After a couple of days there, we’ll take a long drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Blog posts will be either scarce or non-existent for the next 10 days.

 So much for that! Our trip started out as a comedy of cancellations.

In the first place, my son was supposed to fly from Tampa to New York on Friday night. Then, we would have flown together from New York to California on Saturday. His trip to New York was cancelled (JetBlue, natch!), so I spent another $280 to fly him on Delta from from Tampa to California direct.

Then, my flight to California on American was cancelled too. Now, here’s the rub: when there are a bunch of cancelled flights during a busy travel period, you’re usually stuck for several days, because all of the later flights are pretty close to fully booked. So, I can’t get out to California till Monday.

Assuming no further snafus, we’ll at least get most of the vacation we planned, although I’ll only have one evening with my brother’s family before we hit the road.