We were quick off the mark after breakfast this morning as we had a two-and-a-half hour drive west across fertile plains to rediscover the Pacific Coast near the town of Carmel. It’s at this point that US Highway 1 dons the mantle of the famous Big Sur, a coastal helter-skelter with the Pacific Ocean to the right, a single-lane route of world renown which has lured adventurous drivers for almost a century. So that’s what we did today – we drove the Big Sur!

 

 Not all of it in truth, because you can’t do that ever since a landslide took out a section of the highway about 50 miles south of Carmel. So we took in about 30 miles of this glorious coastline before simply turning and driving right back to where we’d come from. So did about three thousand other cars today, this being the Sunday before Memorial Day holiday and one of the busiest (one Ranger said it WAS the busiest) of the year. Huh! Was that going to stop George and Mary on their adventures? Not a chance!

Our couple of hours up and down this great road was punctuated with stops every so often at one or other of the hundreds of “turn-ins” (laybys) on the ocean side of the road to look over and see what the Pacific was doing at that point, the shapes of the coastline, the surf, the cliffs, the beaches, the winding road, the birds and the boats. We took it all in with little or no comment, just looking and thinking. It was wonderful and I was happy Lady Burton was there at my side to share it with me, to gaze over that immense ocean and wonder if we’d ever see it again for real. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve seen much more amazing things on this incredible journey, but just being on the Big Sur ticked a box for both of us. If they can drive it then so can we, and if we can drive it then so can all of you. We’ve taken it on because the opportunity has presented itself and we encourage you to do likewise if you ever get the chance.

At Rocky Creek Bridge

The fog was never far away

Nor here!

Just don’t do it on the Sunday of Memorial Day. Because, when we started our journey back up the Big Sur we got 8 miles from the starting point then met the queue! We’d set the iPhone to navigate us round to Monterey (yes, the famous Monterey of the 1967 Music Festival – think Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin, Ravi Shankar etc) – and the dashboard information told us we’d be there in 80 minutes! We scoffed at this and assumed a malfunction until we turned one corner and met the others, thousands of them! From there it was literally nose-to-tail, 4 miles per hour. Surprisingly we were both uber-cool about our predicament and just put on some classic rock radio channel to help us wile away the hour and a half of 1st gear stop/start. At one point, on came Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” which drew some great air-guitar moves from me (the car wasn’t moving, remember!) and then followed Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” which just seemed perfect for where we were.

Oh no!

Look what’s crossing today!

Once free of the traffic, I put my foot down and headed south for the hotel, an hour or so away and it was already 18.10. Five minutes later, having rejected going into Monterey, I suddenly had a thought that I’d never get the chance again so did a rather nifty U-turn at some traffic lights and drove back into Monterey Beach. We parked up, walked to the beach, took our shoes and socks off and walked into the ocean, to be specific, the Pacific! We’d done it! The waters healed us of the frustration we’d held in so well in that ridiculous traffic jam and we smiled and hugged one another.

Mary paddling!

A walk along the pier followed then we grabbed something to eat and headed back to the car. The 50-minute drive down to our hotel, Keefer’s Inn in King City, was the first time we’d really driven in the USA after dark but we got here safe and sound and we’re watching the Memorial Day Concert on TV. It’s been another brilliant day and I for one am absolutely shattered. So “Goodnight!”

A Pacific selfie!

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