San Francisco Day 2 - Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz

Taking advantage of the time differences between Virginia and California, Kristin and I were able to get out of the hotel very early on Monday morning. Our goal was loosely to drive down to Monterey via the fabled Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). After stumbling a bit on the directions and stopping for gas and coffee we were on our way.

We didn’t hit much resistance in the form of traffic, as we were apparently going in the reverse direction compared with the commuters. We were soon out of the city and into the fog of the hills. I had hoped for some clear weather in order to see the ocean clearly, but that wasn’t in the cards. The fog was persistent and all-encompassing, but nevertheless beautiful.

I am sure that this particular sign is ignored thoroughly

I am sure that this particular sign is ignored thoroughly See this image in full size

I found it well suited for some moody black and white photography; the bluffs and the fog mixed together to create a gloomy, lonely feeling.

Bluffs covered in the early morning fog, just south of San Francisco

Bluffs covered in the early morning fog, just south of San Francisco See this image in full size

We pulled over at one point to take pictures of the succulents, which were very green when compared to the gray all around them.

The green holds on for dear life against the strong wind

The green holds on for dear life against the strong wind See this image in full size

Beautiful wildflowers and succulents

Beautiful wildflowers and succulents See this image in full size

Pacific coast bluffs

Pacific coast bluffs See this image in full size

Bluffs topped with succulents

Bluffs topped with succulents See this image in full size

One shot in particular I had to run down a very narrow pathway to avoid being hit by cars. One smug fellow in a Porsche thought it would be funny to buzz his car as close to me as possible, despite him being in the opposite lane. I was not enthused, but was happy to come away with a memory of the scenery.

I jogged across a narrow walkway on a bridge to get this one. I wanted to remember the view!

I jogged across a narrow walkway on a bridge to get this one. I wanted to remember the view! See this image in full size

Looking over the edge we saw a pathway that led to a beautiful beach. Upon the beach someone had built a tower out of rocks about five feet tall. I tried to add smaller rocks to it but didn’t succeed.

Rock stack overlooking the Pacific

Rock stack overlooking the Pacific See this image in full size

Another view of the rock stack from afar

Another view of the rock stack from afar See this image in full size

The top of the stack of rocks

The top of the stack of rocks See this image in full size

A lone picnic table overlooking the fog

A lone picnic table overlooking the fog See this image in full size

Up on top of the bluff looking out

Up on top of the bluff looking out See this image in full size

Heading further south we came upon Pigeon Point Lighthouse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_Point_Lighthouse). Built in 1871, it is still the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. Cool!

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse See this image in full size

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse See this image in full size

1871. Cool.

1871. Cool. See this image in full size

We spent a good amount of time exploring all of the features around the immediate area. On fascinating bit was the nook directly to the south of the lighthouse itself – the waves crashed in and sprayed up in a great show of power.

Looking down around the lighthouse

Looking down around the lighthouse See this image in full size

After staring in amazement for about a half hour we continued down the highway towards Santa Cruz, where we wanted to grab some lunch. Halfway there the fog cleared and we were left with a brilliantly clear sky. We pulled off a Greyhound Rock to see what sights it had to offer. We were greeted with a great view of the ocean from the parking lot.

A gorgeous view appears!

A gorgeous view appears! See this image in full size

We are starting to see something awesome

We are starting to see something awesome See this image in full size

Heading down a steep trail the view started to present itself.

Greyhound Rock

Greyhound Rock See this image in full size

The view from Greyhound Rock

The view from Greyhound Rock See this image in full size

Only when we were fully down were we able to take in the full, breathtaking view.

Another view of Greyhound Rock beach

Another view of Greyhound Rock beach See this image in full size

We hung around the beach for a while, enjoying the relative warmth of the sun. We also spent some time watching the three fishermen who had set up camp nearby.

On the beach at Greyhound Rock

On the beach at Greyhound Rock See this image in full size

A fisherman on the beach

A fisherman on the beach See this image in full size

Kristin writes in the sand at Greyhound Rock

Kristin writes in the sand at Greyhound Rock See this image in full size

Birds are unaware of the horrible fog just north, it seems.

Birds are unaware of the horrible fog just north, it seems. See this image in full size

Continuing on to Santa Cruz, we found ourselves suddenly warm. From the cold of the low 60s in San Francisco and into the fog, Santa Cruz was a relatively balmy 75 and sunny. We parked easily (it was a work day after all) and walked down the wharf, where we saw some wild sea lions enjoying the weather.

Sealions were basking in the sun off the wharf

Sealions were basking in the sun off the wharf See this image in full size

On the floating platform, looking down at the seals below

On the floating platform, looking down at the seals below See this image in full size

A view to luxury

A view to luxury See this image in full size

Fishing in blue water

Fishing in blue water See this image in full size

A seagull looks at the fishing boat just offshore

A seagull looks at the fishing boat just offshore See this image in full size

We walked to the end of the wharf and ate at an upstairs Mexican place. Enjoying the view with delicious food and micro-brewed beer was pure joy.

Mmmm, micro brewed beer. Delicious.

Mmmm, micro brewed beer. Delicious. See this image in full size

After eating we meandered a little while around the town before heading back to the car, on our way to Monterey and its well known aquarium.

They looked ominous

They looked ominous See this image in full size

Boats up for rent on the wharf

Boats up for rent on the wharf See this image in full size

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