The Winding Road – Highway 1

 There is a small seaside town about two hours north of where we live; a charming place, filled with home-grown berry pies, antique shops, rolling pine-covered hills and a great arcing bay called Moonstone Beach.
 There is a wooden walkway around this bay,
bounded by rope and post,
inhabited by gulls and the occasional sea lion.
 The coastline is dramatic here,
rugged and noisy,
colorful and dizzy-making.
The waves crash over rocks,
some of them as high as the ‘mountains’
found in the eastern half of this great country of ours.
One of them even has a name: Morro Rock. 
Our destination was north of there, 
a place called Cambria – pronounced
two ways, depending on which side 
of the town you choose to believe:
or C-A-as-in-came-MBRIA.
It’s spelled Cambria.
 We took four days away, right after Christmas,
with our oldest daughter, her new husband and her three sons. They rented a house-on-the-hill; we rented a room at the Fogcatcher Inn. Good choice. The walkway pictured above was just cross the parking lot.
 One of those four days, we all took a drive,
up Highway One toward Big Sur.
If you’ve never done this, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to 
Especially if the weather is clear.
It’s winding and wild, breathtakingly beautiful,
and typically California. 
Much more California than either 
Los Angeles or San Francisco. 
Those cities are magical in their own unique ways, but this?
This is the real deal, the pristine beauty 
of desert mountains hugging the sea, 
wildflowers, strange sea creatures 
(for another post – amazing), 
and views up the wazoo.
 Lisa packed us a wonderful picnic lunch and we took it up above the highway, on the road to the New Camaldoli Hermitage Retreat Center (I posted a couple of pictures from that glorious place in this post.)
 That ribbon of road is the famous One – stretching for 70 miles of steep turns and high cliffs between Morro Bay and Carmel. We went about 2/3 of the way up. (The retreat center is near the beginning of the Big Sur Wilderness Area.)
 We took a few quiet moments to explore the chapel building after we ate our lunch and the light was just right to the north, making interesting patterns on the walls.
 The wild pampas grass was mostly sticks, 
except for this one bend in the road,
where we caught a glimpse of the furry fronds 
waving at us as we followed the curve.
 The rock formations at the inlet to Julia Pfeiffer State Park are unusually captivating, filling pictorial calendars across the state. 
We’ve been blessed in our lifetime to travel a number of coastal highways – 
The Garden Route in South Africa, 
the Cinque Terre in Italy, 
the cliffs of Dover and Cornwall and Devon in England, 
the Burren in Ireland 
(and the fingered south west coast on that magical island).
And I’ve got to say that this is a match for any of those 
in natural beauty and heart-stopping drama.
 We came back down the road as the sun began to set,
following its path for miles and miles.
It was a restful time, rich in beauty and good company.
After the busyness of the holiday season,
and before the rigors of my mother’s move to assisted living,
these four days provided respite, refreshment, re-connection.
I am grateful beyond words to live where I do,
to have easy access to places like this,
 to have a husband and family who tolerate my excessive ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every rock/stick/shell/bird/cloud or wave and who actually encourage me to take more pictures.
Even in the middle of messiness, pain and loss,
life is good. God is good. And Beauty soothes every bump.
Sharing with L.L. and Laura B tonight, because they are so kind as to invite us to do so every single week:
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  1. What magnificence!

  2. Your words and photos leave me feeling almost as if I’ve taken a mini-getaway with you. I love that part of our beautiful land. My daughter and her husband and their 3 boys live at the far west end of Malibu and do a lot of exploring and hiking and surfing in your part of California. The opportunities for enjoying God’s creation seem endless.

    Thanks for your beautiful post today, Diana. 🙂


  3. These are views I have always longed to see! You gave me a roadmap.

    My parents always loved Carmel, and my mom’s father was from Eureka.

  4. What a treat to see such lovely photos of lovely ocean places! Thank you for sharing. May God bless you abundantly today.

  5. Wonderful post… breathtaking photos! Your narrative is poetry.

    Someday I’ll get to visit this part of highway 1 and California.
    I’ve only been on highway 1 from the Marin Highlands up to Mendocino – that is a breathtaking ride as well. And I’ve only been there once or twice.
    My community has a provincial house up in Los Altos Hills, and I’ve been there to give retreats. But I’ve never been south of Carmel in California.

    I very much enjoy your blog.

    Best wishes from Anne

  6. We took that ride a couple of years ago Diana. It is simply breath-taking. You live in a very beautiful part of the world!

  7. We first drove Highway 1 from Pacific Grove and Carmel to San Luis Obispo back in the 70’s. Now we have repeated it many times and take every opportunity to do it again. Your pictures and words give life to that beautiful journey as well as any we’ve seen. Thank you. We plan to do it again next month. Blessings Diana.

  8. This is amazing, and the photos breathtaking. We honeymooned in San Francisco and went north a ways across the bridge. That’s all of California I’ve seen–40 years ago. You’ve made my heart pant.