Headed south from San Francisco, California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway is a must. The iconic route hugs the shore as it climbs and drops and curves amid never-ending views.
We broke our drive into short pieces so we could take our time and enjoy the views. It’s well worth it! Our destination, as we left San Francisco around lunchtime, was the Ragged Point Inn. It’s a rare property right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean south of Big Sur.
The drive was peppered with overlooks and pull offs where people stopped for selfies and panoramic shots of the coast. Road repairs were also clear. The road near Big Sur was washed out in a landslide caused by heavy rains in May 2017. Fortunately, it’s all reopened, but the damage is still evident and ongoing repairs dot the road with orange caution signs and traffic cones.
The goal was to arrive at the inn before sunset as the description of the view boasted “million dollar views” from our cliffside room with a balcony. We arrived about an hour before sunset, giving us time to order dinner from the adjacent restaurant and get settled.
Decorations and furnishings are classic ‘80s-style giving the initial impression that the room is dated, but everything is meticulously maintained, clean, comfortable and shows very little wear and tear. We decided the flashback decor was charming and fun!
We took advantage of the complimentary full menu restaurant room service (COVID restrictions mean outdoor dining or take-out) and ordered up steak and scallops to enjoy al fresco as we relaxed on the tiny balcony.
Below our room, waves crashed on the rocks and cascaded onto the shore. The soothing sounds quickly became a gentle, almost musical background to our conversation. It was a no-brainer that we would sleep with the window open and the fireplace lit to stave off the nighttime chill.
We awoke to a typical summer fog bank covering the world like a gray blanket. I wondered how anyone can live in a foggy place. It made me want to snuggle back under the covers and sleep the day away, but we had a reservation for a wine tasting near Paso Robles at lunchtime. It was time to rise and shine! We walked over to the restaurant and sat near a beautiful fire table surrounded by blooming, lush gardens as we enjoyed a big breakfast.
Back on the road, the sun was working hard to burn through the fog. About 30 minutes from Ragged Point, we saw a cove with a small beach completely occupied by elephant seals. We pulled into the parking lot at Piedras Blancas to get a closer look at these magnificent beasts.
We watched the males sparring on the beach and in the shallow water offshore. We marveled at the grunting and snorting, laughing at how much it sounded like really loud belching. An informational flyer told us the seals on the beach were most likely males this time of year and can grow up to 5,000 pounds. Families and couples sparsely wandered along the viewing walkway overlooking the seal-covered sand. We made our way back to the car and headed south, the sun beginning to break through the fog, bits of blue sky suggesting another sunny, California day was in the making.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Take the time to marvel at nature as you explore it.
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