Our week up in Cambria wasn’t all the same routine. In our rental house, we found a couple of books by Ron Stob on the Backroads of the Central Coast. We’re folks that like to get off the beaten path and so decided to load up Adventure Dog and to spend a day finding some of these back roads.
Our trip took us north out of Cambria towards San Simeon. Most people might know of San Simeon as the home of Hearst Castle, but it is also home to one of the largest elephant seal rookeries on the west coast. We had stopped here many moons ago on our first trip down the Central Coast and read that this time of year is prime birthing season.
The beach by San Simeon was a mosaic of elephant seals. Bulls, cows, and pups were all around. In fact, we got to see the very “circle of life” tableau of seagulls fighting to get the placenta and afterbirth scraps from a just-happened-before-we-got-there birth. The place was pretty crowded with people as well as seals, so we kept the Pennster in the car for this stop.
We wound our way up the Pacific Coast Highway enjoying the sights of our crystal clear day (a benefit of the entrenched Santa Ana) along the southern edge of Big Sur. If you’ve ever taken this drive (and you should if you have the chance) the vistas are spectacular. I had mistakenly thought that the ride was also pretty much just CA-1 the whole time as the coast range is a pretty large impediment to heading east.
Our books however described a small road (Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd) that winds it way through a series of some-might-say terrifying switchbacks up and over the coast range. The road was larger than a single lane, but certainly not two car widths across, which is interesting in a road without guardrails and thousand foot drops. Adventure Dog apparently didn’t like switchbacks, or maybe the guardraillessness of the road, because we heard about it the whole way up the crest. We stopped at several spots to take in the stunning panoramic views.
After cresting, we stopped and had ham sandwiches at a little turnout and Adventure Dog’s mere presence scared off some lingering deer. (I’m pretty sure she didn’t see them.) We made our way into some back country of sloping hills and gnarly live oaks that looked like a magical world out of an Eyvind Earle painting.
Before too long, the golden hills turned to ranches and the ranches turned vineyards and we were in the outer reaches of the Paso Robles wine region. A few delicious tastings seemed like a perfect way to cap off our day before following the setting sun back to Cambria.
Don’t you love a good road trip?