Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Budget Friendly (and dog friendly) Big Sur

Big Sur is a dream, and I was certain before we'd even made it there. Forget the zebras in San Simeon, or the elephant seals in Cambria, or the random deer (and I swear, I saw one buffalo) along the road. It's cold in Big Sur, and it smells like wood and pine everywhere. We spent Night 1 in Ragged Point, where I fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves, and when was the last time that was a thing for me? Maybe summer of 2012 and I won't get into where or with who.

Day 2 was spent driving further up the coast for more sunsets, the most extraordinary views and the Henry Miller Library. We'd hoped to snag a late night reservation (1am-3am) at the Esalen Institute's hot spring baths (you can only reserve the morning of, over the phone with a credit card), but it was all booked. 


Things I learned on this trip:

There are only two radio stations in Big Sur (103.5 and 95.3). Sometimes there are none.

What I always thought was just the Pacific Coast Highway is actually California State Route 1 (comprised of the PCH, Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway and Coast Highway at different points along the way).

Gas is upwards of $5/gallon once you pass Ragged Point (northbound). 
There's wifi. But there's mostly no wifi. Where there is wifi, it's spotty. Like, the connection might be strong enough to post a pic on Instagram, but not strong enough to be able to retrieve emails.

Customer service is not great, and  you'd think it would be considering you're staying in such an expensive region. One girl working at Big Sur Bakery was catty when I asked about their wifi password. "Uh, we don't HAVE wifi here," she said. We overheard a bartender at Nepenthe say condescendingly that he hoped "that couple over there" would only stay for drinks. What's wrong with people? 


STAY

Garden rooms at Ragged Point Inn are dog friendly ($159-179) with a $50 pet fee. There are also ocean view rooms (no dogs) for the same price. The views and the sunsets are straight out of an oil painting. 

Riverside Campground and Cabins is dog friendly ($120/night). A cabin with two double beds has a firepit outside (hope you know how to make a fire, cause I did not), but the bathrooms are communal. There is a $20 pet fee per night. There's a river that runs through the site and the staff has dog towels on hand in case your pup decides to go for a swim.

We snuck into one of the nicer resorts to use their sauna and showers the night we stayed at Riverside. I won't say which resort or where, because I want to be able to do this again someday -- and the couple who tipped us off wouldn't be happy if I gave away their secret. 


EAT/DRINK

Big Sur Bakery was OK. 

Nepenthe Restaurant- cheesy, bad service, great (sunset) view 

Post Ranch Inn- impossible to get in even for drinks. We were sent away twice; first time we were told to come back at 5:30. At 5:30 we were told to check back in 40 minutes because the bar was "full."

Gave up and went to Big Sur Taphouse, where the locals (AKA people who work at Esalen, Post Ranch and Ventana) hang out. There is wifi here and the food is good.

The breakfast at Big Sur River Inn was honestly better than Big Sur Bakery and the people who worked there were nicer, too. 


SEE

Henry Miller Memorial Library- this was my Big Sur happy place. Free coffee, tea on the outside deck. Lots of books available for purchase. Donations accepted. 

There is the much smaller, less appealing library in Big Sur, but there's wifi there so it serves a purpose. 

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park- got to see tealish waters and a dwindling waterfall, picked a piece off a plant I have yet to identify (it's still in my car). 

Bixby Creek Bridge- All I could think was, how many people have thought about jumping off this thing,and has anyone actually done it? 
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