Free weekends and time off are hard to come by with a spouse in the military. So when Gerred was awarded a long weekend off in February, we knew we had to take advantage of it. Upon hearing the news, we immediately pulled out a map of California and traced our fingertips across the west coast until they came to rest on Big Sur. For our 4-day weekend, we wanted to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature and each other on a Big Sur road trip.
On the Road
We packed our car to the brim with camping gear and embarked on our journey early Saturday morning. During our 7 ½ hour road trip we talked endlessly, sang loudly and off key, and listened to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as well as podcasts like Serial, The Truth, and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.
Halfway into our trip, we stopped in Newhall, CA for a pick me up at Honu Coffee. Gerred tried a Tsunami, one of their signature drinks made up of cold brew, coconut, banana, and ice cream. He praised it as one of the sweetest treats a Gerred could have. While I sipped down my first cold brew coffee, I became a cold brewliever.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
When we set out to hike at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, I was not prepared for the most challenging hike of my life. In fact, we planned to hike the easy 3 mile Oak Grove Trail but found it was closed due to fire damage and instead proceeded to hike the strenuous Mount Manuel. This 8-mile round trip hike is brutal, beautiful, and worth the challenge for seasoned hikers.
+ Tip: Please know your limits. If you are a newbie or do not have proper hiking footwear, find another trail at the park.
We wound our way around mountain curves placing one foot in front of the other trying not to look down for fear of the sheer dropoff below. The best part of the hike was at mile 3 when we were so high up in the forest that we towered over the redwoods beneath us.
+ Tip: Make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen because you’ll be out in the sun for portions of the hike. Start your hike early to summit and return before the sun sets.
We arrived at Pfeiffer Beach just before sunset and were surprised to find that the beach was not crowded. In fact, it felt like a secret beach with only a few footprints in the sand and a lagoon overlooked by a sentry mountain. All we could hear was the sound of a trickling stream and the waves breaking on the rocks.
Hidden in the rock formations were captivating tidepools containing anemones and little crabs. A rock face near the tidepools opened before us like a door to the setting sun. Bright orange light trailed through reminding us to find a spot to look out for sunset. We took our cue and found a big rock to sit on and watched the sun dip into the sea. It was my first California sunset and altogether extremely romantic.
+ Tip: Bring some wine and a picnic blanket.
Now I know you must be thinking, there has to be more to Big Sur than just Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Pfeiffer Beach and you’re right. Our Big Sur road trip wound up being so big that we actually divided our journey into two parts.
So stay tuned for more Pfeiffer named locations and a major celebrity encounter in our Big Sur road trip part two!