McWay Falls, Big Sur | Week 9 | Peak a Week

My mom and I have a semi-ritual (meaning we usually do it, but if it doesn’t happen we are okay, too) of driving up to Big Sur for both of our birthdays. We’ve been doing this since I was about 18 years old. That’s a long time, people.

May is my mom’s birthday month, so up the coast we headed. I was excited to take her to McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park because even though we’ve been to Big Sur many times, I knew my mom had never seen the Falls.

We could have gotten on the trail closer to the road, but I think entering the trail from the tunnel makes a much bigger impact.

The tunnel to McWay Falls

And what a beautiful view it is. You have to wander the well-plodded trail a few hundred feet till you see it, but when you do…

McWay Falls

After wandering the homestead/waterfall trail, we took it a bit south towards a hidden campground. This hike can barely be called a hike — it’s short; in fact it is shorter than short, but hike it is (all the maps and guidebooks say so.)

Hiking behind McWay Falls

The campsite is really lovely. Really beautiful. And really not protected at all from any stranger just walking through it to get a view. I asked one of the guys camping here (I asked him on the trail, not at his campsite) how it was camping here with all kinds of other travelers just tromping through his campsite. Not great, he admitted. Too bad, because what a location.

McWay Falls campsite

We continued the trail south. These signs… they are like little beckoning fingers to me. Come closer come closer. I use much resistance to stay away. Mostly.

No no no

The beautiful view looking south. Can you see the flat-roof house in the trees? What a life.

Big Sur coastline

Because I’m still in love with the black sage, I share with you some Black Sage in Big Sur.

Sage and bee

Black sage

I don’t know what this is and the picture is completely out of focus and yet I still love it.

Little flowers

McWay Falls is only one part of this hike. It is really just a part of the Julia Pfeiffer State Park. There are a few little meandering paths you can take.

Fire hose

Afterward McWay Falls we jumped back in the car to continue to drive north. Our destination would be Nepenthe for a late lunch and pie and the Phoenix Bookstore for browsing and creative dreamings.

It was my mom's birthday


We got a ledge seat looking directly west. Lovely.

The view from Nepenthe (direct west)

The birds were out in full force. We are used to the crazy Stellar Jays and their crazy Jay ways. But this day our entertainment was provided by a lovely male Acorn Woodpecker…

Woodpecker in the tree

… who wanted our food …

Our food

… and was successful in getting several french fries from us.

The woodpecker

Week 9

Treebones & Ragged Point | Month 2 | Sur a Month

I wanted KB to join me on a Beach a Week adventure and I thought going to San Simeon Cove would be perfect. It’s a family beach with only a few people on the beach at any time. She was game and we headed up the coast with her recently turned one-year-old, Ryder (aka happiest baby ever.). He’d nap as we drove north.

We got close to San Simeon and Ryder was still fast asleep. Kristin didn’t have the heart to wake him (also known as did have the common sense to let him sleep). I said, “let’s keep going north!” And so we did. Piedras Blancas? Ryder was still asleep. Ragged Point? Still asleep. Gorda?


Gorda meant close enough to Treebones, so we decided to hit up yurt central to take in the views, the little shop, and maybe some lunch.

I mean most definitely lunch. And most definitely this counted as my April Sur a Month visit.

Lunch spot at Treebones

We split an organic beet salad (grown there) and a killer BLT+A. We had the pick of spots so chose front and center at the bar overlooking the ocean. We wanted whales, but only saw swallows and humming birds. (An aside: one of the groundskeepers said that he heard the swallows show up once the whales’ migration finished, so maybe that explains the early swallow sightings.)

Hummingbird dining on Pride of Madeira

April may well be the height of the Pride of Madeira blooming season. Blooming Pride of Madeira is one of the things I look forward to the most when winter is winding down and spring is gearing up. This year has been epic. Best blooms ever, up and down the coast.

Treebones building

I have to give a quick shout out to Monica at Treebones. She was really nice and made our little stop even better because she was so friendly. Thanks for the awesome service, Monica. After lunch we bid Treebones adieu and headed back down the road towards Ragged Point.

Pride of Madeira at Ragged Point

Which was also sporting a lot of Pride of Madeira.

KB and little R

KB and Ryder

Little sparrow singing his song of love to the Pride of Madeira

Pride of Madeira


We did finally make it to San Simeon (featured last Sunday in Week 5 Beach a Week). A great day all around.

Dan’s Big Sur Birthday | Month 1 | Sur a Month

Sur a Month, first of twelve.

Dan’s birthday. Favorite people. Favorite campsite. Favorite place on earth. It was pretty good. Highlights (besides being with these people who make my heart so warm): Shane’s amazing campsite Paella (he made two: one gargantuan and one smaller and vegan), buying a Henry Miller book at the Henry Miller library, singing around the campfire and fully appreciating the new car-camping foam mattresses. First time ever sleeping well in a tent.