Gibraltar of the Pacific

Whenever we go on a road trip, something always unexpected happens, which helps to make the experiences that we have, even more memorable.  This was certainly true of this day.

Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"

Morro Bay “Gibraltar of the Pacific”

Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"

After leaving San Luis Obispo, we drove through Morro Bay, known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific”.  It is dominated by a 23 million year old, volcanic plug that reaches 581 feet tall.

Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"

At a distance, it appears to just rise straight up with no gradual rise in sight.  

Growing up, we went camping a lot as a family.  Our first camping trip took place in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"

Seagulls make their homes along its walls and you can drive around part of it.

Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"
Morro Bay "Gibraltar of the Pacific"

A causeway extends out to the rock that cars can park on.  People can walk up and down the causeway or simply sit on a nearby bench and watch the waves.

 be careful, especially during periods of high surf

Of course, you do have to be careful, especially during periods of high surf.

two old surfers

Surfers by the dozen were out this morning and two old surfers were discussing their most memorable rides.

It was while we were sitting and watching the waves that we received some unexpected attention.


This curious seagull flew onto the hood of our car and spent the next several minutes watching us eat our lunch.  I am sure that he was trying to figure out how to get inside so he could steal whatever we were eating.

I say ‘steal’ because that is what seagulls are very good at doing.  That being said, he was very cute, but determined.  As we started to pull away and drive off, he was thinking of coming along with us…


It was so funny to see him trying to decide whether to try to hitch a ride with us or not.  He eventually decided to fly away.

Our route today would take us up the famous stretch of Highway 1 throught some of the most picturesque scenery along the rocky California coast.  It isn’t the fastest way up to Northern California, but it is the quite beautiful.

As we drove through the beautiful, small town of Cambria, I saw some water conservation signs, which were quite original.

California Road Trip: Day 5 – A Volcano, Whales, Rocky Shores and an Unexpected Hitchhiker
California Road Trip: Day 5 – A Volcano, Whales, Rocky Shores and an Unexpected Hitchhiker

They are quite creative, aren’t they? 

Cambria to Monterey

This stretch of Highway 1, from Cambria to Monterey, is a windy road flanked by grass land, forest and stunning coastline.

stunning coastline

Do you see that little shiny spot in the ocean?  That is a whale!

We were driving along the highway when I noticed not just one, but three whales swimming close to the beach.  Even though I spent my first 20 years, living in California and have visited countless time since then, I have never seen a whale swimming in the ocean – until this day.

To say that I was excited, is an understatement.  We pulled off at a viewing area along with other travelers who were just as excited as we were.  The whales were slowly making their way north.  I am no expert on whales, but they may have been gray whales.


As I mentioned earlier, we went on a lot of camping trips and one of our favorite destinations was Limekiln, which is south of Big Sur along Highway 1 in California.

California Road Trip: Day 5 – A Volcano, Whales, Rocky Shores and an Unexpected Hitchhiker

We would camp a little higher in the hills surrounded by trees and then walk down to the beach and climb on the rocks.  I have a vivid memory of my dad standing on a rock and getting drenched unexpectedly, by a large wave while my mom fed us Vienna sausages from a can.  It’s funny what you remember from you childhood.

campground years ago with our much-loved yellow and blue tent

Here is a photo of our campground years ago with our much-loved yellow and blue tent.

tall redwood trees

Almost to our destination, we drove through Big Sur with its tall redwood trees.

Big Sur Lodge

We walked through the woods for a while and then stopped off for an ice cream cone at the Big Sur Lodge.

 large redwood trees

This is the southern edge where the large redwood trees grow, reaching up to 250 feet in height.  Further north, they can reach 350 feet.  Later in our trip, we will visit on of my favorite places with majestic redwood trees.

California coast is filled with wildlife

The California coast is filled with wildlife and stunning beauty and I was so grateful to have had a chance to experience it again.

California Road Trip: Day 6 – Butterflies, Baby Seals, Fairytale Cottages and a Crown Jewel

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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