Cali-forn-ication 2014 Day 1 and 2

Our family spent the week of Christmas driving between LA and San Francisco and all points between, it was an unforgettable experience.  We decided long ago that we wanted to share as many adventures with our children as possible.  We strive to teach them to explore the world around themselves and to be curious….

We set out on our California adventure on December 23 and landed in Los Angeles that evening.  We headed to Vandenberg AFB in Lompoc, CA for a restful night.  The drive was four hours and mostly freeway, but once we got about 30 minutes from the base we found ourselves on a dark, windy road with magnificent views of the night sky. The stars were plentiful, bright and amazing to see; the kids woke up and got to see the starry night.

Next stop Highway 1.

Christmas Eve was an unforgettable day with an unexpected stop along the way.   Morro Rock was quite the treat with lots of wildlife.  We saw lots of gulls, in fact they were everywhere, especially on people’s cars.  After walking around a bit and watching the rough Pacific Ocean waves crash on the beach we noticed squirrels, nestled in between the rocks.  We called them sea squirrels, but apparently they’re ground squirrels.   We walked around the rock one of nine volcanic plugs that resides along the Pacific coast.  All nine run in a straight pattern for approximately 12 miles from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo. We were also lucky enough to see a raft of sea otters and a sea lion.

Morro Rock Gulls and ground squirrels waves crashing

Next we enjoyed seafood at the harbor at a tiny place called the Little Hut.  Their specialty was fish and chips. Josie and I enjoyed shrimp and chips and I tried the famous clam chowder, but I was not very impressed by the rich, thick porridge-style concoction.

We continued our drive along one of the most beautiful areas in the world.  The road started to get closer to the ocean and curvier as we entered the Big Sur area.  We stopped at Hearst Castle and toured the visitors center and learned all about the castle and its former inhabitant newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst.  We also stopped and checked out the colony of elephant seals.  We learned about their life and watched as two juvenile seals sparred on the beach.  We stopped at Ragged Point and found a beautiful vista to take photos. Continuing our drive until just before sunset.  We stopped and took in this amazing view and then drove the short distance to our cabin for the night

.juvenile male elephant seals sparring for dominance elephant seals molting Big Creek Bridge Christmas Eve sunset Big Sur

We stayed at Big Sur Lodge located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  We ate dinner and decided to get to bed early.  The next morning, Christmas Day, the kids woke to a surprise that Santa had found us in California and filled their stockings with goodies for our hike.  After a delicious breakfast at the lodge restaurant we hiked through giant coastal Redwoods to Pfeiffer Falls and then to Julia Pfeiffer Burns Beach to look at the McWay 100 foot fall.

Julia Phieffer Beach falls IMG_9320

View from Julia Phieffer Beach

We drove the hour from Big Sur to Monterey along Highway 1 and enjoyed the beautiful views of green rolling hills, cattle, lighthouses and the Bixby Bridge.

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