I have a special place in my heart for California's central coast. But I didn't reserve this space until only very recently, when I made my first trip to Hearst Castle in the spring of last year.
Before then, the central coast was but a blip on my proverbial travel radar. The only other times I'd made my way through this part of the state were when I took a road-trip with my parents from Southern California back to our home in San Francisco and the time I drove up Highway 1 with my friend, only to miss most of what was sure to be the beautiful coastal scenery because we left too late in the day. The former was a trip for me to tour college campuses in between my junior and senior years in high school and the latter was a last minute decision to take a detour route for our trip back to San Francisco. After all these years in California, I had never taken a dedicated trip to the Central Coast. Simply put, I've been seriously missing out.
It wasn't until I met my girlfriend, Nina, that I made the effort to venture out into California's vast wilderness. For her, the Central Coast has always been one of her favorite destinations in the world. The lush green landscapes and the blooming wildflowers during the springtime, the cool Pacific breeze, the endless coastal mountain ranges offering the most scenic vista points, and the freedom-granting drive along the winding roads of Highway 1 - these are the many reasons why Nina pushed me to take a weekend trip with her when we started dating.
A year later, we've already visited the Central Coast three times. We've run our feet through the silky sand dunes at Pismo Beach, enjoyed locally sourced meals at Centrally Grown in San Simeon, traversed the many elegantly ornate rooms at Hearst Castle, and tasted wine at an estate in Paso Robles. We've eaten seafood in Monterey, said hello to ranch cattle along the highway in Big Sur, and had a peaceful Italian dinner in the quaint little town of Carmel.
Every trip we take to the Central Coast grants us an opportunity to take a break from the fast paced world we live in, even if it's just for a short time. It's amazing to think about - how both of us live in areas of California that are bustling urban hubs creating monumental economic impact, yet just few hours drive away is a peacefulness unlike any other.
As our 26th President and environmental champion Theodoore Roosevelt once said, "there are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." There are indeed no words. Just an individual and their experience with nature.
From our most recent trip to the Central Coast two weeks ago: