The California Central Coast - An Unforgettable Visual Experience at Nepenthe

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Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Visit Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, California


 Big Sur views near Nepenthe Restaurant on the Monterey Coast, Big Sur, CA

This post has nothing to do with Carlsbad, where I live, nor the information I have about my community happenings, inventory, market conditions or other useful tidbits.

It IS about the beauty of the California coastline, which was truly revealed to me on my trip last weekend up the Central Coast from San Luis Obispo to Monterey (and ultimately to San Francisco).

A trip along Route 1 north from SLO to Monterey is an amazing visual experience. One cannot help but be in awe of the gorgeous landscape, the power of the ocean against the edge of the continent, the triumph of construction to create an incredible 2 lane road at the edge of the mountains overlooking the sea or extraordinary homes perched on cliffs, and the raw power of Mother Nature that never ceases to remind us who is in control (witness the landslides that periodically close parts of the road).

There are a few horror stories of cars being crushed by falling boulders and at least one person being swept over the cliffs by rocks.  Sort of puts things in perspective with regard to humankind versus the environment.

This drive is not one for the faint hearted, or someone in a hurry, but IS one for someone who appreciates the natural beauty of land and sea...and who has a few hours to enjoy the time it takes for this drive. You won't find lots of shopping, restaurants, or other touristy stuff, so forget it. And because of the twisting, narrow roads (and some traffic) you won't be speeding along at the rate most Californians achieve on the freeways.

Oh, and buy your gas before you get started - I paid $4.59/gallon for premium at Ragged Point.

 Elephant seals at a preserve along the Monterey Coast in CaliforniaThere is so much one could write about, but the area that impressed me most was Nepenthe, a famous restaurant at the south end of Big Sur (probably the most famous enclave along the Central Coast).

Since we decided to stop for a break, I took time to take a bunch of photos that capture, in my mind at least, the incredible beauty of the California coastline. [See Nepenthe in Wikipedia for interesting references on the origins and meanings of the word].

[photo of elephant seals on beach at right was taken at a state beach not far north of San Simeon, home of the Hearst Castle and just south of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse - they have established a significant colony there - hundreds on the beach]

Nepenthe Restaurant is on the upper level ('bout 800 feet above the ocean), with extraordinary views - the restaurant has been a part of the area for over 50 years.

There is also a gift shop called Phoenix (didn't take that in so can't comment), added in the mid 90s, and another patio area for cafe dining. Lunch and dinner is served, but who cares what you are eating with these views. The design and construction is typical of properties (residential and commercial) in this area...contemporary, rustic, lots of wood, and preservation of the natural landscape and trees wherever possible. One can imagine sitting there for hours, simply enjoying the natural beauty and the allure of this amazing area of California.

 Views along the Monterey Coast south of Big Sur, CAObviously, because I am a REALTOR, I was especially curious about the real estate. You can't really see much since what homes there are have been built below the cliffs, hidden behind massive gates and trees. But you can envision living along the coast with endless ocean views, beautiful mountains, and regular visits of fog that obscures your views, but with the trade-off of being miles away from any amenities.

But if you can afford the price, who cares - homes for sale in Big Sur (that I found) start around $2 million (and that is for a smallish home on multiple acres with a couple of bedrooms).

Fortunately major efforts are made to not disrupt the landscape, and of course the difficulties and costs of building in such a challenging environment keep development at bay, and prices incredibly high. You pay a price for privacy, but I am so thankful they are doing what they do to preserve thisbeautiful coastline.

This area is absolutely worth a trip if you have not been there. There are some terrific places to stay along the coast (albeit rather pricey): Ranch Post Inn and Ventana in Big Sur are two that spring to mind (I've eaten lunch on the patio at Ventana - great food and great views). There is also a place that looks wonderful, with great views, at Ragged Point (Ragged Point Inn), south of Big Sur (but don't buy their gas!!). This is a great trip for a weekend visit to get away and relax. Don't forget your camera.

Enjoy the show!

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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I've done that Route 1 coast drive and it's one of the most spectacularly beautiful places I've ever seen.  You are right.  Some areas are not for the faint heart of folks like me with acrophobia.  But, as long as I wasn't driving, I was O.K. 

 

What on earth are you driving that drinks premium gasoline?

 

Jun 06, 2007 09:19 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
This is one of my favorite restaurants. I've been many times.. I just love it. I took my dad here a few years ago. We played golf at Pebble Beach and ate dinner here. It is a trip I won't ever forget. My wife and I talk about this place often. This post brought back a lot of memories.
Jun 06, 2007 12:26 PM #2
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Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Jeff ~ thanks for taking me along on your virtual "road trip!"  I love the rugged coastline of Big Sur.  Your photo show was very well done...

kk 

Jun 06, 2007 01:16 PM #3
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, Lenn. I had been from SFO down to Big Sur but not up the whole coast. Really wonderful. And yes, I am spoiled with my leased car. Gas mileage is decent BUT you gotta do the premium thing.

Now I have to drive, cos I get motion sickness VERY easily. It's OK if I drive but even on twisty roads I feel funny after a while. Stopping to take pics help! :) 

Jeff

Jun 06, 2007 01:29 PM #4
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, Jeff. We did not eat there as our destination was Monterey, but we plan to go back, perhaps for a weekend. Glad you enjoyed it - it is memorable, for sure.

Jeff

Jun 06, 2007 01:35 PM #5
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, KK. It was hard to limit the pics since I took a couple hundred on the whole trip to SFO and back. While it was sunny it was a bit hazy so things are not as clear as I would have liked...but then it COULD have been foggy!

Hmmm. Maybe a film loop of more photos, just in case anyone is interested. Thanks for visiting.

Jeff

Jun 06, 2007 01:38 PM #6
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Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Jeff

Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of our spectacular coastline. A friend and world traveler told me long ago, in his opinion CA has some of the most amazing coastline in the world...and I still agree.

SLO  (aka central coast) has been a very well kept secret, sort of a sleeper area in the past, yet like many places is exploding with growth. For me personally, the only thing that could be any better would be biking down the coast in a small group, but those narrow roads are a concern.  Sort of like the 17 mile drive in Monterey, last time I was there no bike lanes...maybe it's changed?

Thank you again

Jun 06, 2007 05:00 PM #7
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Lynda- Thank you for your comments. It would be am amazing trip, but a bit treacherous - no bike lanes, narrow roads, and probably some crazy drivers. Some areas before you hit the mountainous part would be fun and fairly safe. We didn't see any cyclists in the mid section but there were at the south end near Hearst Castle and when we were up near Half Moon Bay the next day.

Jeff

Jun 06, 2007 06:06 PM #8
Rainer
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Randy Young
Greenwood King Properties - Rosenberg, TX

Man, for a minute there, I thought that first pic was one that I had taken!

Yes, HWY 1 makes for some spectacular shots. Being an hour away from Monterey and Santa Cruz and being related to the owners of The Ragged Point Inn has definitely spoiled me. I make sure I always have my camera with me when I go.

Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

Jun 06, 2007 06:14 PM #9
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Marlene Bridges
Village Real Estate Services, Inc. - Laguna Hills, CA
Laguna Homes|Laguna Condos|Laguna Real Estate
Hi Jeff - Except for the $4.59 a gallon, it sounds like you had a wonderful trip.  The drive on highway 101 is an unforgettable experience.  So glad you took the time to smell the roses along the way.
Jun 06, 2007 07:04 PM #10
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