Tag Archives: state park

Out on the Open Road, PCH style.

I’m in San Francisco so of course I need to spend some time out on the open road, PCH style. I caught up with the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacifica and it immediately changed over from an interstate to a two-lane road snuggling the coast. My route today was going to take me to Half Moon Bay, then Santa Cruz and Capitola, capturing all the goodness along the way.

There are several California State Parks along this stretch. I stopped at Gray Whale Cove State Beach just south of Pacifica.

PCH, Highway 1, California

The beach, also known as Devil’s Slide, is in a sheltered cove surrounded by cliffs that drop suddenly into the ocean. Gray whales of course can be seen hanging around the shoreline.

PCH, Highway 1, California

It’s a secluded beach and nudist friendly. At the time I was on the trail and from those I saw on the beach below, all were fully clothed. πŸ™‚ I didn’t take the steep trail down to the beach.

PCH, Highway 1, California

Parking was opposite the curving highway, so be careful when crossing. The road seems like the autobahn in stretches. There had been rumors that the beach was going to close due to state budget problems, but will remain open for now. Common on California, it’s too beautiful and scenic an area to close!

PCH, Highway 1, California

I also checked out Pomponio State Beach south of Half Moon Bay. It’s a more open, public beach.

PCH, Highway 1, California

Two of my aforementioned destinations straight ahead.

PCH, Highway 1, California

In Half Moon Bay, I stopped at Sam’s Chowder House for some great seafood and scenery. I parked alongside the PCH, also known as Cabrillo Highway in Half Moon Bay. Checkout the vehicles out on the open road.

PCH, Highway 1, California

I’ve just seen the sign telling me where I’m going, what about looking back to see where I’ve been. Don’t worry Pacifica and San Francisco, I’ll be back!

PCH, Highway 1, California

The PCH is also known as California State Route 1. Almost forget to capture the 1.

PCH, Highway 1, California

State parks and foodie stops check. Now time to pull off before Santa Cruz randomly at signs of a beach. I pulled off onto the dirt and captured the sand, ocean, beach and coastline. Looking west I waved hello to Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand and points beyond. πŸ™‚

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

Shots of being out on the open road? Of course. Had the Top Gun soundtrack going much of the ride. It’s a California-based movie, but more importantly it brought back great memories of my time on the PCH growing up.

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

It was a great morning and afternoon out on the open road, PCH style. Checkout my previous post on my time at Sam’s Chowder House that day and the New England Clam Chowder deliciousness. I also stopped at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park before reaching my destination. It’s Santa Cruz and Capitola time, stay tuned.

Where are your favorite places to stop along the PCH in California?

California: Pigeon Point on the PCH.

On an early afternoon day I was cruising south on the open road on California’s PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) towards Santa Cruz when I saw signs for a lighthouse straight ahead. I knew where my next stop would be. I pulled off of Highway 1 onto Pigeon Point Road and found myself at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Right away within the park I saw the Piegon Point Lighthouse. The 115-foot lighthouse, one of the tallest in the country, was built-in 1871 and first lit a year later. Unfortunately the lighthouse itself was not open to tour, as it’s currently in the middle of a major restoration, but your allowed it walk around it. I did though catch a lucky break. The fog and clouds started to break along this part of the coast.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

The lighthouse is still in use today, using one flash every ten seconds the past 125 years, to uniquely identify itself to ships from other lighthouses along the coast.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

Right alongside the lighthouse is the The Pigeon Point Hostel. It was the first hostel I’ve been around, that I can recall, in the United States. πŸ™‚ Lot’s of their guests, as well as tourists, were hanging outside along the wooden look-out deck that extends past the lighthouse to the edge of the coastline.

Capture the open waters of the Pacific…

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

…and the scenic and colorful immediate coastline. I didn’t see any on this day, but you can see whales and seals along the shoreline.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

You’ll notice picnic tables and grills available as you walk along the deck. Relax, unwind, and barbecue along the ocean.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Checkout the coastline to the east from the various trails and other lookouts within this California State Park. One beautiful shot after another! πŸ™‚

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Stopping at Pigeon Point was a highlight during these PCH travels. For picturesque views of a historical lighthouse and the coastline and ocean add this spot to your itinerary. Tip: To make a weekend out of it and stay at the hostel, make a reservation months and months in advance.

What other lighthouses would you recommend checking out in California? On the West Coast?

Bonus Photo of the Week: Detroit Skyline from a Harbor.

Got this Detroit skyline shot while walking the trails in the harbor at William G. Milliken State Park. This is the first urban state park in Michigan. Just off to the left is the Detroit river which flows into this harbor. Became inspired to visit here after seeing this shot.

Detroit - William G. Milliken State Park harbor

Florida: Out on the Open Road by Foot.

Most of the time I’m driving or are a passenger in a vehicle out on the open road, but recently in Florida I decided to mix it up. It was time to hit the open road by foot. It was an early humid morning in Pensacola, Florida and I decided to make the long walk down Gulf Shores Highway to Big Lagoon State Park. That was only the beginning.

Gulf Shores Highway links downtown Pensacola with the bridge to Perdido Key. At times the Big Lagoon is alongside on the south side of the road. I’m getting close.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park sits naturally along the Big Lagoon as well separating the mainland of the Florida panhandle from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll find lots of nature trails, birds and wildlife, beaches and is a popular spot for campers.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I got to the entrance and could see the visitor station off in the distance. Not seeing a map beforehand I figured right past that would be all the action. Little did I know.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

At the entrance the ranger handed me some maps and he charged me $2, the walk-up rate. Lot’s of vehicles and campers already started passing me by. I wondered how many people do they get randomly walking in.

Well I started in, figuring after the first turn I’d see something, nope. Then the second, third, fourth and more, nothing.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

After each turn this is what was in front of me.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Not much to speak of on either side of the road. I didn’t really see or hear any wildlife yet either.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I’d become a soaked mess due to the humidity and fast rising temperatures. Pleasant picture I paint I know. The hot conditions probably made the walk seem longer then it really was. Where’s the scenery I asked? At the same time I smiled, because I realized, I’m out on the open road, by foot this time! It was a nice change of pace.

After about an hour inside the park and lots of walking and other vehicles, trailers and campers passing me by, I could see the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge off in the distance that connected the mainland with Perdido Key and the Gulf.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I must be getting close to something I said. Well lo and behold shortly thereafter there was scenery. The Big Lagoon, harbor and boats, were all right in front me now. I captured another romantic picnic table setting. That seemed to be a theme on this trip. Another beach picnic table setting I captured while walking just east of here.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

After lying on the bench of the picnic table for a while to relax I found a small pier so I decided to sit down, chill and just stare at the view. Lots of boats and traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge headed towards Perdido Key and down the road Lower Alabama. The white multi-story building behind the harbor, The Oyster Bar Restaurant & Marina, caught my eye. I know where to stop next time.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I captured some more shots along the Big Lagoon. Lots of sand and beaches nearby.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

A small boat ramp. Where’s that kayak or canoe when I need it?

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

The water was calm and there were only a few fisherman around so it was quite peaceful.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

The high-rise condos and hotels dotted the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, showing how close I was.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I didn’t want to leave but it was time to start the journey back. I found one of the nature trails to take back through marsh and the campgrounds, which was actually a shortcut to the exit. The sound of wildlife was in full swing now. More on that in a future post.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Canoes! I wonder if I could have taken one?

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Why didn’t I find this nature trail on the way in? No matter. I wouldn’t have had the chance to be on the open road inside the park if I had. πŸ™‚ I covered more ground in the park as well. You also gain a much different, more detailed perspective walking from A to B versus driving and passing lot’s of little things by. πŸ™‚ I definitely want to experience this again soon.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Well it was back to walking down Gulf Shores Highway and where I was staying. Checkout Big Lagoon State Park when your around Pensacola and Perdido Key. What other Florida state parks would you recommend? What was the last state park you visited?

Photo of the Week: Lake Erie from New York.

Captured this photo of Lake Erie from Lake Erie State Park in Brocton, New York during my weekend trip around the southern part of the lake. This park is right off the Great Lakes Seaway Trail which goes through Pennsylvania and New York. There is a beach down below. So calm, so peaceful, a great place to just chill for a while.

Lake Erie, New York