It was tough to leave our primo site in Limekiln, but we were heading to a meet up with our Alto buddy and her many dogs, so it was ok. As we covered the remaining section of the Big Sur coastline, we kept looking for an obvious marker for where the massive slide of 2017 had occurred. That one cut off Big Sur from the south for a whole year while they fixed it. A Google search told us it was two miles south of Ragged Point, and that is not correct. Once you pass that small town, you are basically done with the cliffy part and you enter into much tamer landscape.
As you approach San Simeon State Park, you pass by Hearst Castle, which has been closed for quite some time due to damage on the tiny winding road that the shuttle buses use to take tourists up to the castle grounds. That road is a nail biter, so I can imagine it getting washed out after a big storm. Our campsite was up in the primitive campground known as “Washburn.” We got a nice site on the edge where you can catch an ocean view. That seems to be where the big rigs like to go and there were lots up there with us.
Happy campers in their natural habitat
We had plenty of daylight left so we took a drive into the nearby town of Cambria for ice cream and dinner out. Calorie counting restaurant food is kind of a guesstimate, but I had a craving for Mexican and got a delicious shrimp taco with rice and beans at Las Cambritas. Calories were probably fine, but I could tell the sodium was a lot higher than I have now gotten used to. We then headed over to Moonstone Beach to stare at the ocean, because you can’t do that too much. Linda met us for a bit of a walk and a selfie at sunset.
Tiny biker down on the road
Richard had a crazy ride in mind for the next day, which Linda and I were happy to traverse in motorized vehicles. The beta he got said that Santa Rosa Creek Road is about eight miles of beautiful and then you hit “the wall.” We all concur with all of that. The road is very very narrow the whole way and is in very bad shape for a lot of it. I do tend to worry on roads like that about cars coming the other way and me falling off the edge trying to get past. Thankfully, there was hardly anyone else on the road. And when they say “the wall,” they are not kidding. It starts to get steeper after the eight mile mark and then you turn a corner and it seems like it goes straight vertical. Richard insists the grade hits a maximum of 13.2%, but I don’t believe it. Suffice to say, Linda and I both thought “holy sh*t” in our respective off roady cars and were super impressed he was able to climb that using just legs. We stopped at the top of a ridge at the summit and waited for him to catch up. I was also prepared to turn around and go back down to rescue him if the wait became concerningly long. No need though, as we spotted his tiny little powerhouse body on the road below. He told us that he actually fell over at the wall because he was not in his lowest gear (his triple) when he hit it, and couldn’t stay upright. He had to go back down and come at it again, but then crushed it. “He’s an animal,” Linda declared.
Outdoor cooking set up
Coming down from that climb, we took highway 46 and turned left on 1 to go to Cayucos. This is also a fun little town with shops and restaurants, and famous for being the home of the Brown Butter Cookie Company. Richard had more than earned an ice cream. I had not, but got a small one anyway. We walked around town a little and I tried to find a replacement dragon charm for our daughter, who lost the one she bought in Morro Bay. No luck. We returned to Dory where I made a Blue Apron outside.
Another sunset shot
For sunset viewing, we tried walking on the trails near the campground. That was a great idea except that as soon as we stepped off the trails and into the tall meadowy grass, all the ticks in San Simeon hitched a ride, mostly on Linda’s dogs, but she got bit and we found one crawling on Richard. Blech!!
So many Elephant Seals
For our last full day in San Simeon, Richard rode and we drove ten miles north to see the elephant seals. Linda made a squirrel friend in one of the vista points along the way. They are clearly very used to humans. There is a specific stretch of the coast where hundreds of elephant seals congregate with such regularity that people built boardwalks around them as permanent viewing areas. They are funny creatures. They lie on the beach, making belchy or motorcycle sounds, while throwing sand on themselves. Sometimes they decide to fwumpy fwumpy breakdance their big huge bodies along the beach. I would not want to be an elephant seal because their lives actually seem quite hard. We hiked a trail that hopped from one seal viewpoint to the next. We saw the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse on the horizon and you can only visit there if you have a guided tour. We made a note to do that some day.
If any place is likely to have dragon charms, this one is.
For the rest of the day, we hung out in Cambria. Richard rode there and I barely found parking. There was a farmers market happening downtown and there were lots of people in a small town. Richard helped me successfully complete the dragon charm mission and daughter is pleased. One last sunset on a much cooler and windy evening, and that was a wrap for a beautiful three day stay.
Nice site with a bit of an ocean view
The weather actually got genuinely hot for a day or two while we were there. Other places in California were hotter, including home, so we were glad to be on the coast. But we were not ready for that much of a temperature shift quite yet. I went from sunset viewing in a sleeping bag jacket in Half Moon Bay, to taking off blankets and thinking about air conditioning in less than a week. I tried putting up the awning for shade, and unfortunately, while pulling it through the keder rail, the corner by the strap started to rip. We are super bummed about that, but I will see if I can reinforce it and save it. Meanwhile, we had our Aluminet and that went up very easily, providing some nice cooling for Dory. I got a little umbrella a while ago that I can clamp onto my Nemo chair. I like that a lot because it is easy to manage and provides targeted, and moveable, shade. I also still really like the cooking table for hot weather so I can manage lots of ingredients and gadgets while keeping the heat out of Dory.
Bye bye buddy!
As we left the campground on Saturday, we met Linda one last time at the dump. We sure know how to have fun together. As she turned left onto 1 and we turned right, we were remarking on how nice of a stay that was. Cambria even has the potential to be a place we could get our daughter a place in town while we camp. Great place to stay on the south side of the Big Sur area.
Total miles from Limekiln: 43.6, 15.6 mpg, 1 hour 58 min. Site 237, very nice. Great solar, no hookups. Water spigots in Washburn, plus vault toilets. Close to dumpsters and there were lots of flies. Pretty good, but not always solid, cell for both. Dump station below in main campground. Potable water.
7 thoughts on “San Simeon (3)”
Cambria is a nice place to visit. I was there a couple of times several years ago.
It was really fun! So many little shops to explore.
such a great trip report, and happy you got to camp with Linda! Makes me remember our trip to Hearst Castle and Morro Bay in what feels like a million years ago. Your spring vacation was awesome!
Yes! We were reminiscing about how scary that shuttle ride was. I wonder how the road will be after they fix it.
Still think it was better in the dark so I couldn’t actually see the drop offs! Btw, loved your trip posts for your Easter vacay and happy you got to Seacliff and Marianne’s one more time.
Love all the elephant seals!
Oh my gosh there were so many!