Roving Retrievers-Tails and Trails
A “tail” of two Golden Retrievers (and their humans)as they travel west:
Day 59, Arroyo Grande, CA-Carmel, CA 145 miles, 4 hours 45 min
California’s Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway, stretches down the state for over 650 miles. Today’s trip will take us on some of the most scenic and exhilarating 120 miles of “The PCH”. Symbolizing the beauty of California’s coast, it’s a must do for those who want to experience the raw beauty as the Pacific Ocean meets land for the first time in almost 10,000 miles.
We chose this route from Arroyo Grande today as we have always wanted to experience the drive. Time wise this is not the most efficient route as the road serpentines along the coast with hairpin turns and drop offs into the ocean, some over 700 feet down to the crashing ocean below.
It was May 2017 when a mudslide occurred causing millions of tons of earth to fall into the Pacific taking part of highway 1 with it and changing the shape of the coastline forever. Buried in over 40 feet of rock and mud for more than 1500 feet, the road was closed for over 14 months. Having recently reopened we knew we needed to check it all out.
We jumped on PCH 1 as we departed Arroyo Grande, within miles we see the Pacific as we pass through Morro Bay. Rolling grass fields meet the ocean offering scenery that is both beautiful and benign, but that’s about to change. As we continue north toward San Simeon traffic signs warn semi trucks that they should not travel past San Simeon.
We pass through San Simeon and see signs for Elephant Seal Vista Point. Quite a few cars are parked in the area as we come up to it so we decide we need to find out what is going on. We park the car and walk 10 feet to a wooden fence to see baby elephant seals lying next to the fence. Adult males were just below, not 50 feet away, their size…enormous! MJ and Bobby have their noses right up against the fence wishing they were on the other side. Like us, they have never been up close to anything so strange. The young seals are quite the communicators, barking and yelling for no apparent reason other than to pass the time. We saw two males challenge each other which was quite the spectacle but it was very short lived. A park ranger was on site and explained all the seals on the beach had been there for weeks already, their hierarchy already determined so the dominate male was simply reminding the other one who was in charge. Trust me, I knew exactly what the ranger was talking about! An easy 45 minutes and we needed to get back in the car to get on with our day.
Not too long after we were under way the terrain changed quickly. Cliffs jutted out of the water 1,000 feet or more into the air making one wonder where the road would take us. Well, it took us up right along the shore! Cliffs 500 feet or higher with shear drop offs into the ocean. Speed limits posted at 35, (which may have been about 25 mph too fast), with caution signs at every turn to slow down. The road twisted, turned, climbed and descended so much I thought I was on the road to Hana! It was very difficult to keep my eyes on the road while trying to take in the scenery all while trying not to forget about the traffic behind.
GPS told us we still had over 60 miles to go to get to Carmel, I was wondering how the dogs were going to do as they were both standing up in the back panting. I don’t know if dogs can get car sick or not but I knew we were about to find out. To be honest, I was feeling a little queasy from time to time myself.
At one time or another most, if not all car manufactures have filmed their cars driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. There are several points of interest, Ragged Point, Big Sur, and the Bixby Bridge to name a few. Bixby Bridge may be the most familiar but as soon as we crossed the bridge I looked over my left shoulder, the view from that exact location so familiar it was as though I had been there 100 times before.
As much as I wanted to the ride to keep going, I also wanted it to end. Enough was enough and I know the boys certainly had enough. GPS told us we were only 5 miles away from our destination as I began to question its accuracy. There was no end in sight! And just as quickly as it began, we found ourselves back in civilization. Immediately we drove into town and in minutes we found ourselves in front of our hotel.
Carmel prides itself on being the friendliest dog town in America. Dogs are welcomed everywhere. As we checked in at the front lobby we are told to walk the five short blocks to the beach and bring the dogs. The beach at Carmel By The Sea allows dogs to be off leash. We decide to take the dogs and as promised, there are 100+ dogs on the beach playing, running, and fetching. Bobby immediately breaks into a full out sprint to start his doggie meet and greet. Sniffing, chasing, and jumping like never before. MJ gets into the action too although on his terms and at his pace. MJ’s full out sprint these days is a modest trot at best and if a dog comes up to greet him he has no interest in, that dog gets snubbed in a way that makes the Queen of England look like she needs to improve her skills.
Sue and I quickly find out the dog owners are as social as their canine companions. We meet several locals who are happy to tell us all the places we need to bring the boys, the best restaurants that welcome pets, and hikes to take them. After a long walk down the beach we decide to climb the stairs back up to town and are treated to a walk that takes us past some of the most beautiful sea side homes I have ever seen in my life. Once back in the hotel room a quick snoop on Zillow shows us the best we could ever hope for is a stay at a local hotel in Carmel, the well has to be pretty deep to be able to buy in this town!
And so it goes, another day of travel behind us, the boys did well again in the car and were treated to one of the best doggie days of their lives. They will sleep well tonight as their adrenaline was soaring earlier on the beach playing with all their new BFF’s. No doubt they will be treated to the same fun tomorrow and more!