***Update March 2017: Heavy coastal storms have caused incredible damage to California’s Highway 1 through Big Sur, one of the most scenic and popular motorcycle routes in the world. Before you take off for a coastal adventure check the road status. Much of the coastal highway is closed. Los Angeles Times Reports on Hwy 1 closures. Click on the link and read the article which gives an overview of the problem and provides contact information to CalTrans updated road conditions.***
Motorcycling Coastal California San Francisco to Big Sur in winter…
We live in Sacramento, a Northern California city that receives a touch of all seasons. This winter we seem to be getting rain and more rain, which is putting an unacceptable impediment to our regular motorcycle schedule. So after 2 weeks of constant rain, we could stand it no more and had to plan a long weekend out of the rain and on the motorcycles. On Monday, the extended forecast leading into our eagerly anticipated long weekend pointed us to the desert. So, a plan for a trip to Death Valley began to unfold. But by Thursday, the Desert was also receiving rain and Caltrans and the Park Service reported many roads leading to our Death Valley destinations were closed. However on Friday morning the forecast for San Francisco and south looked dry and warm enough (43-53 degrees). With a new destination we headed out.
Within a few miles we were forced to the first of what became a weekend of many detours. Highway 37 was flooded, forcing us to take an alternate route to the city. No problem, we were at the Golden Gate Bridge in under two hours. It was a brilliantly clear day, perfect for photos of the bridge from Conzelman Road and chasing down the backside to Bunker Road then through the old army base. Then we cross THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE and head south by Lincoln Ave with fantastic views of the bridge over our right shoulder, passing the Sutro Bath Houses and onward to the Cliff House. We didn’t stop this time at the Cliff House but it is a fantastic place for sight seeing and fine coffee. We carry on south viaGreat Highway a s it winds along the coast with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean dotted with surfers enjoying the sunshine and bobbing around on top waiting for a big wave.
Not really having a plan for this trip, we are free to stop anyplace. We decide to stop early in Pacifica to get a room, clean up and find a place for dinner. Sometimes no plan is good. We were delighted with our accommodations found on Hotels.com at the last minute. We chose the Pacifica Beach Hotel. It was reasonably priced and offered a HUGE luxury spa tub and a great restaurant with full bar. We enjoyed early drinks overlooking a south facing cove and then moved to the dining room where we dined at a window table with a full view of the cove.
Saturday was to be a long but exciting and beautiful day as the plan was to motorcycle along Pacific Coast Hwy 1 through Big Sur and end up at San Simeon after visiting the Giant Sea Lion breeding cove. We left Pacifica heading south and travelled along the coast through Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel. We stopped briefly for photos, bathroom breaks, and to drink fluids but didn’t take our real first rest until lunch at Rocky Point. We love the restaurant there overlooking the Ocean.
As we travelled south we began to see road signs announcing closure of Highway 1 south of Big Sur. We looked for possible alternatives along the way but discovered land slides had closed all of the usual routes we might have used as alternates to cross the mountains to Hwy 101.
We continued south not wanting to believe the road was really closed. After all, it was a spectacular day, clear and sunny– and the road was loaded with traffic seemingly all headed south.
Surely this many people wouldn’t be going south if the road was closed! We enjoyed the trip through Big Sur, stopped for photos and shared the vista views of the ocean, water fall, coves and all the beauty with many other travelers. We saw a few motorcyclists too, everyone deterministically heading south, ignoring the closed road signs. When we reached within 15 miles of our day’s end destination, the road was barricaded. A few people were stopped, hanging around pondering whether or not to defy the barricade and continue. I saw one man walking ahead on the road to check it out. I tried to convince Jon that we should investigate, perhaps a motorcycle could get through. He would have none of that breaking the law stuff. He made me turn around. We got to do Big Sur twice this day. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I have ever travelled this way before in the northernly direction. We stopped to enjoy the sunset and thereafter carried on in the dark, cold night, along the twisty road with fogged up face shields following the caravan of blurry tail lights of the other weary hard headed travelers.
We ended this day in Pacific Cove at the cozy Deer Haven Inn. Modestly priced and within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean, our room had a fire place and was a perfect abode for cold and weary motorcyclists. We showered, changed and walked to the Fishwife Restaurant on Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove, CA. The meal was fantastic and I would love to go back anytime to dine there again.
Having two more days to this trip and with all plans gone astray, Jon was faced with the challenge of trying something new. Trying something new is fun and adventuresome but it comes with a little pressure for the man wanting to make sure his wife enjoys the ride. He spent a little time with the maps and we headed out to places he’s never been before. We went inland and visited the Pinnacles National Park. The roads were sooooo much fun!! I am sure a motorcyclist was on the planning committees when the routes throughout this park were laid out. Traffic was scarce so we were able to enjoy speeding along the curves and the dips and elevations—exhilarating like a roller coaster.
At day’s end we arrive to Hollister where we dine and check in for a night’s rest. Tomorrow brings challenge as we take these big bikes for off-road riding at Hollister Hills Recreation Area.