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Driving the coast highway

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Drive the Pacific Coast Highway.
San Francisco to Orange County

This drive is spectacular, terrifying and satisfying. The scenery of course is gorgeous and the vistas ethereal. However, for those even slightly afraid of heights, the 75 miles through the Big Sur will be unbearable—and since there is no way out once your in it, other than to tough out the rest of the drive on Route 1, you should scratch this off your list. But if you can drive through blind hairpin turns, with no guardrails and sometimes no paved roads, 1003 feet from the Pacific surf (3 feet horizontally and 100 feet vertically) this is a drive you will never forget. Once you pass Ragged Peak going south you will soon come to a beach which is twice a year the migratory stop for thousands of elephant seals. Then San Simian and Hearst Castle, which I would skip except to see how tacky a megalomaniac can make one mountain top if he will devote a bottomless fortune and 25 years to the task. Further south, forget the Route 1 signs which will take you through some not very scenic back country and cities, and just keep the ocean to your right as you wind through the little towns and beach communities and past at least one whale watching spot.

I rented a convertible, took 3 days to drive this stretch, hiked in the Big Sur, and took hundreds of photographs. If you do it, please post your experiences.


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