Note: fill up your gas tank BEFORE heading onto the California Coast Highway 1!
Why? Because gas is NOT cheap! It’s always a little tricky when taking a road trip with a rental car not knowing how big your gas tank is, and not how far you can get on a tank of gas. I really wished our rental car had the feature where they tell you how many miles you have left.
Well, as you may have figured out by now, we didn’t fill up our gas tank nor did we pay attention with how much we gas we had left. It’s a pretty amateur road trip move.
We pulled into one of the few gas stations on the California Coast Highway 1 right when our gas light turned on! And it cost us an arm and a leg! And as you can see in the sign above, we would probably not have made it to the next gas station 40 miles north if we didn’t pull in to get gas. For $5.99/gallon it was the most expensive gas I’ve ever paid for.
Gorda by the Sea also seems to be a good little stop on the road if you need anything else as well. The mini mart has a little espresso bar and benches outside. It sure was a busy little stop when we were there.
Continuing on our weekend trip to Monterey from San Diego via the scenic route up the California Coast Highway 1, we made a couple little stops along the way as we saw lookouts (and only if they were easy to turn into).
The stops really made the drive a bit easier for Yuntiha.
At our first stop, there was a big sign that read “Los Padres National Forest Picnic Ground Willow Creek.”
We didn’t really know what we were looking at beyond the California Coast Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean. I’m sure there is a significance to the rocks etc, but we were just happy to stretch our legs, breath in some fresh ocean breeze, and enjoy the view with both our feet on the ground.
We got back on the road after taking a ton of pictures of the same things. This next little stretch was quite interesting when we drove up through some sort of tunnel thing made out of stone.
This is actually the Pitkins Curve Bridge and Rockshed. This bridge and rockshed was build after a landslide in 2000 causing the highway to be closed for 30 days. Pitkins Curve Bridge is engineered to allow landslide materials and loose rocks to continue to fall. (source)
Most our drive remained pretty gloomy. I guess that would be the normal overcast along the coast (we get that in San Diego too), but it was making the drive a bit draggy. On occasion, when we peeled our eyes off the road and the coast and looked to our right we saw a few peaks of blue sky and green mountains.
And at the very next opportunity we had, we turned into the next lookout. I was quite excited to not be following the same car anymore, because the car in front of us was driving quite slow, couldn’t stay in it’s own lane, and never bothered to go into a turn out to let people pass. It was a drag.
And with that, I thought we had made it to a good destination spot on the California Coast Highway 1; Bixby Bridge? I was wrong, but it was a perfect view of another bridge; Big Creek Bridge.
Although it was not the very iconic Bixby Bridge, this lookout stop was a perfect spot to stop and learn a little about the road, mountains, and water.
The Big Creek Bridge is one of 7 concrete bridges along the California Coast Highway 1 known as the Big Sur Arches. It may not be Bixby Bridge which is located further up north; the Big Creek Bridge is just as beautiful.
According to the signs displayed at his lookout, I learned that the California Coast Highway 1 traverses some of the steepest coastal slopes in the contiguous U.S. The roads wind along the the coast on this high cliffs; yielding amazing views!
And then we got back on the road to cross The Big Creek Bridge. And because of ongoing construction, there are temporary traffic lights on the Big Creek Bridge. There is only 1 lane and 1 way traffic on the road for a small section of the highway.
There were so many more lookouts and stops on the California Coast Highway 1, but these were the only stops we made except for McWay Falls, Big Sur; our next stop.