Sunday, November 25, 2012

Escape to Paradise in Big Sur, California

Self-photography @ Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Was it only nine days ago when I wrote about "A Big Sur Vacation?" Where I was dreaming of looking down at the clouds that kiss the mountains and the sea? Big Sur's haunting came to reality when early morning of Sunday before thanksgiving week, we drove to Big Sur for our much needed escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. We were lost for seven days experiencing Big Sur's natural wonders again. However, time flies so fast when you are having  rest and recreation therapy. Before I knew it, vacation is over.
Big Sur's Coastline
Big Sur is at the edge of Central California coastline, where the mountains plunge into the ocean. Though in between two of California's big cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, yet Big Sur is mostly remote, mostly wild, and mostly natural place. Big Sur is a long 7-hr drive from San Diego, with shorter daylight this time of the year, we decided to make Morro Bay our stop-over city before entering and after leaving Big Sur.
 Oceano Sand Dunes
When we drove to Morro Bay on Sunday, it was raining, however, we were lucky enough that the rain stopped when we reached Oceano Sand Dunes Natural State Reserve, which is South of Morro Bay. The sand dunes is right next to the Pacific Ocean (top left in the photo collage above) and Oso Flaco Lake (top right in the above photo collage of Oceano Sand Dunes). This sand dune is a lot different from the desert sand dunes we have been since it is in between two bodies of water and also next to a very green farmland. 
Morro Bay, California
This was the first time we have stayed at Morro Bay, since we usually drive directly to Big Sur in our previous Big Sur vacations, however, this time, we decided to break the drive to Big Sur and explore places South of it, such as Oceano Sand Dunes, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. 
Wild Nature, The  Migration of Monarch Butterfly @ Pismo State Beach (can you count how many are there?)
Monarch butterfly migration occurs between October- February, where there are several places along the coast where you will find butterfly groves. Though I love all our experiences in this trip, but probably my most favorite part is seeing thousands of monarch butterfly clustered like dried leaves on top of trees. They are wintering in the trees to hide from the powerful whipping of frigid Pacific coast wind and also their shelter from rain. 
Driving from Morro Bay to Big Sur, we stopped by Cambria and San Simeon for some sightseeing.
Elephant Seals @ San Simeon, CA
Seeing elephant seals, and other wildlife along the coast is always a sight to behold. When we reached Big Sur, our first hike was at Limekiln State Park.
 Dwarfed by Redwood Trees and a Moss-Covered Tree @ Limekiln State Park, Big Sur, CA
@Limekiln State Park, Big Sur, CA
We spent our nights at Big Sur River Inn, which is nestled amid towering redwoods along the Big Sur River and very close to the places we will be exploring and hiking at Big Sur. 
view from Big Sur River Inn
Among the places we explored aside from Limekiln State Park were Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Partington Cove, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Pinnacles National Monument. I will write more about them in my later posts. Meanwhile, here are some photos from the places I mentioned. 
McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
a cloudy day at Partington Cove
enjoying the purple sand beach @ Pfeiffer Beach
Dusk @ Pfeiffer Beach
Powerful Waves @ Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Calm Waves at China Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Pinnacles National Monument
Pinnacles National Monument
Before the trip, I had been wishing to see the rare and critically endangered California Condor in the wild. Though I missed capturing a condor in flight ( my camera was still in my backpack when the condor flew above me), but I was lucky enough to spot a condor perched on top of a tree.
California Condor
How I wished I had my zoom lens when I saw this condor, but sadly, I only have my 24-105 mm lens with me thinking that I will not carry such weight of a zoom lens on a steep hike. I had a lot of other birds in flight, but I believe they were most probably turkey vultures, I will share those pictures in my later posts. 
Another one I wished to see in this trip are the sea otters, and we were blessed to see not only one or two sea otters, but a lot of them! 
Fun to Watch Sea Otters (photo by my hubby)
We sure had a fun Big Sur vacation, all my wishes realized ( seeing condor and sea otters in the wild ), with a bonus of experiencing the butterfly migration. 
Fewer but Closer 
So thankful for our fun escape, that my heart still keeps on jumping for joy!
Jumping for Joy 
Now, vacation is over and back to reality, which meant unpacking, doing laundry, grading papers, lesson planning, and blogging, :). Thankfully, reality is as sweet if not sweeter than a vacation, but we all do need an escape once a while. Happy and thankful for that peaceful escape to paradise for 7 days in Big Sur. 
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  1. Breath taking views! It is indeed a paradise, beautiful beach, and sunrise and sunset colors!

  2. what wonderful pictures, it is so wonderful to visit this place

  3. wow, awesome trip photos. I love the butterflies, very pretty photos!

  4. Weeeeeee!!!!!! You left me breathless wonderwoman! Those migrating butterflies are so beautiful and the view of those awesome skies and waters is so amazing! Those trees are magnificently huge and your shots with nature here make me dream I could visit the place one sweet day :)


  5. Wow! love it,all your photos looks like in Geography. I agree with you Betchai, we all need getaway or else I go nuts if stay at home all the time. I don't care if it is in the park ;)

  6. My God, I feel like I am also touring the place with your pictures, I love the clear water it reminds me to take a shower real soon coz it gets muggy here already.

  7. I do enjoy site seeing through your lenses. It is so much different than what I can see with my own eyes. Whew, those are breath taking photos.

  8. Your photography is superb, such gorgeous captures!

  9. wow the butterfly are so beautiful..
    I have not seen so many of them together in a wild.. very beautiful

  10. WOW! Look at all that beauty, amazing! How lovely are those sea otters, the elephant seals are so cute, the sunset dreamy, the views charmingly gorgeous and the water so pristine! You couldn't have summed up the place better in your last line - the place is indeed paradise. Thank you for breathing life into it for all of us here :)

  11. I am glad that you had this relaxing escape to absorb the beauties in nature. Such stunning and pretty images.
    But you know, your jumping for joy photo, looks to me as if you're doing a Karate move :-) Have a good week, superwoman!

  12. back here again and jumping for joy with you Betchai!!! those look like really powerful waves and the elephant seals look so joyful...those butterflies really look so amazing...I could be jumping with glee at the sight! you cut your hair shorter? you look definitely great and all the more young looking and pretty inlove with nature! happy coming back from paradise....

  13. I don't have to go to Big Sur anymore :) I'll just look at these lovely photos you have captured and I can imagine myself standing in the same spot where you stood and marveled at the beauty of nature right in front of you. Majestic!

  14. I said this is beautiful while scrolling down.

    I said the same again, and again.

    I have to say they are beautiful at the end.

  15. OMG! the photos are breathtaking. these photos are more than simple life, betchai. plus those waterfalls and seascape and beautiful sceneries. i so envy you for this vacation.

  16. All the views are so beautiful! And how wonderful to see the migrating monarchs!! :D

  17. Very breathtaking views! I thought I was in The National Geographic! You really have the eyes for nature, Betchai.

  18. Again Nature at her best. Great and breathtaking photos, betchai. Kaya nga lagi kong inaabangan ang post mo. Free online tour kasi.

  19. Sis, i am so happy for both of you guys, you do explore the world like tomorrow would not come. the breathtaking pictures and your unforgettable experience just makes me wow whenever you share such an amazing photographies

  20. wow your photos are amazing. i wanted to go to a place like this where there is no people around. i hate crowds, and waiting on a long like just to get a ticket on a ride. this is more fun, more refreshing. thank you for sharing all your photos.

  21. amazing photos...what a great adventure...nature beauty is incomparable!

  22. oh am geeeeeeee! how will i ever pick a favorite from all the vacations you had, Beth! each vacation is planned in a way you could maximize seeing all the wonders of nature has to offer. i guess i will keep saying this is the awesomest vacation you had everytime you write about your latest adventure. hehehehe!

  23. thats paradise lost and re gained...
    liked that water fall pict

  24. Another stunning and breathtaking photos! Like, Papaleng, it's like doing a virtual tour just by reading your post and looking at those brilliant snapshots of nature. But nothing will ever beat being there for real and I hope we can do that one of these days.

  25. I don't know what to say but I am truly inspired and envious with how your vacation goes. It is like you have seen another paradise here on earth.

    Thank you very much for sharing the joys of simple life through your blogs. Those photos are awesome and beyond description.

  26. A big WOW is what I've said while I am scrolling down my mouse to see all of your photos here,spectacular! You are so lucky to witness those!

  27. I love the first photo! :) So lovely.

    I envy you Ate. You get to go anywhere and have a great adventure. You already!

  28. You took marvelous and stunning photos. They gave me the feelings of just taking a relaxing vacation with you..Thank you!

  29. Jaw dropping photos once again...I love the dreamy look of the first picture...amazing capture..Kudos!!!