Friday, June 29, 2012

Norcal Anniversary Trip Part 3

The morning after our first night, Boyfriend and I decided to get up early and head up the coast to do some exploring.

We used our breakfast vouchers from the Beach Bungalow at one of the designated restaurants, Frankie and Lola's. I'm not really that much of a breakfast food person, but it was free, so I was down for it.

Boyfriend got an omelet called the "Nom-Nom" (Awesome name, right!?), which had cheddar cheese, ortega chili, crimini mushrooms and sausage served with black chili salsa, while I decided to try their "famous" French Toast Brûlée Souffle Flambe. Frankie and Lola's describes this french toast as French bread soaked in crème Brulée, baked in the oven(soufflé) and topped with a caramelized praline topping(flambé), and let me tell you, it was damn good. It was served in a ramekin and was kind of like a bread pudding. It was freakin' wonderful.

After breakfast, we packed up the beast and drove all the way up to Big Sur National Park, which took us about an hour and a half with all of the construction they're doing on the 1. Boyfriend had bought a book with Big Sur hiking trails in it, so we picked a few and decided to try them out as we made our way back down to Morro Bay. 

Here are a few of the places that we visited:

1. Pfeiffer Beach: If you get a chance to go here, do it. Pfeiffer beach was probably one of my favorite places we visited. The road, Sycamore Canyon, to the beach itself is unmarked, but you can find it if you drive south a half mile past the Big Sur State Park Ranger Station. It's a little road off to the right side. If you follow this little windy road down, you'll see a big sign for the beach and eventually you'll be led to a parking lot with bathrooms, where you'll pay $5. From there, you'll take a little trail to the beach. This was probably one of the coolest, most picturesque beaches I've ever seen. 

2. Big Sur Gorge Trail: Our next stop was not far up the 1, inside the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Heading north past the road for Pfeiffer Beach, you'll turn right into the Park itself, marked clearly with big signs. There is an $8 parking fee. You'll follow a little dirt path along the edge of the water. It's absolutely beautiful. Technically, dogs aren't allowed on the trail, but it was the middle of the week and no one was around, so we sort of snuck Toby in. And although I may be too chicken to do it again, I'm really glad we did bring him. He had a blast in the water!

So Toby thinks he can rock climb, and then gets himself stuck in compromising positions. Good thing Boyfriend was there to help him down, or he would have jumped down to the rocks.

3. McWay Falls: McWay Falls is one of the most recognized images of Big Sur. It is a waterfall that is created where McWay creek falls into the ocean. SIgns for the falls are clearly marked, and you can either Park in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and pay a parking fee, or you can Park along side the road for free and get to the trail that way. We opted to park in the lot so we could take a longer hike (The parking lot is on the inlaid side of the 1, so to get to the falls, you have to cross under the Highway via a tunnel. We ended up not having to pay since someone leaving gave us their day pass on their way out!) Once you get through the tunnel under the Highway, there is a clearly marked fenced trail that you can follow to see the falls. Unfortunately, you can't actually go down to the falls, but it's still a pretty sweet view from above. If you follow the trail around, there are more spectacular ocean views and the foundation of a house that once overlooked the falls. This was probably the most tourist-y hike we took, but it was truly amazing to see in person.

4. Big Sur Taphouse: Ah, the Big Sur Taphouse. The place were Boyfriend and I got stranded for four hours waiting for a tow truck last March. Not only is it a really cool place with a chill vibe, but it definitely has some sentimental value to it now. This place has an amazing beer and wine selection and some pretty damn good food pairings. The guy that I'm assuming runs it has been there both times, and it's really clear that he puts a lot of thought and passion into the selection of food and drinks that the establishment offers. He suggested some really unique and really awesome beers both times we visited, one of which was the rare Firestone Wookey Jack, an American Black Ale that had Boyfriend so excited that he bought some to take home. We also ordered bruschetta and a ruben sandwich to tide us over until dinner. This is one place that I really, really wish we had here in SoCal. This will definitely be a regular stop whenever we head up the coast.

5. Limekiln Waterfall Trail: Heading south down the 1, you'll hit Limekiln State Park on the lefthand side. Enter the park, pay a $10 parking fee, and park in the little lot directly in front of the pay station, in front of the bathrooms. The trailhead is directly to the left of the bathrooms. This was another trail that wasn't dog friendly, but we brought Toby anyway. Of course he had a blast, but we definitely saw why it wasn't a dog friendly trail. The hiking book we got was published a few years before the fires in 2008. The book said nothing about the destruction of the trail. It wasn't exactly an advanced hike, but it was certainly more difficult than we expected. You can see remnants of the original trail (railings and bridges and side supports that were burned and destroyed), but the trail now is pretty rugged and challenging. There are a lot of makeshift creek crossings that I had a hard time with since my balance isn't so great, and we had to climb through and under a few fallen trees, but it was totally amazing once we got to the end. Boyfriend ended up climbing the rocks up the falls (And Toby tried to follow!). This was probably my favorite hike. There was just enough of a challenge to make it really rewarding.

6. Limekiln Beach: If you head back to the parking lot of Limekiln State Park and follow the lot to the huge bridge of Highway 1, you'll see the beach. It was pretty cool and there were lots of nearby campsites. We decided to make this our last stop since we had an hour of driving to get back to our hotel, it was the end of the day, and we were exhausted. And Toby and Boyfriend got a little more water play time in before we headed back down the coast.

By the end of the day, Boyfriend, Toby and I were so exhausted that we couldn't even bring ourselves to get real food. We ended up driving through a Morro Bay McDonald's and bringing it back to the hotel. We spent the rest of our night drinking beer, watching movies, and spending some quality time together in our awesome room at the Beach Bungalow

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