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USA Radio
June 17, 2014

Big Sur and Cambria

After yesterday’s ambitious itinerary, we were ready to indulge in the slow-going stretch of this rugged seascape, Big Sur, California (also known as El Sur Grande, or the Big South). For those who need a refresher, it’s the more remote, 90-miles of coastline south of Monterey—and 300 miles north of Los Angeles (yep, where Hollywood movie magic happens.)

Rise and (almost) shine 
We got up early to cloudy skies. Time to cozy up for breakfast at the Post Ranch Inn. At breakfast we found ourselves talking about how impressed we were with the views from our rooms and the warm welcome we received. The Post family has transformed this 100-acre plot of land from a working ranch to the modern luxury resort that it is today. Did we mention the stunning views?

Highlight of the drive: the famous Bixby Bridge 
One of the tallest and most photographed bridges in the world, this dramatic, two-lane bridge spans Rainbow Canyon and holds passengers literally suspended in between mountains—an architectural and natural wonder that’s thrilling to drive, but not for the faint of heart. 

Pit stop, the Santa Lucia Mountains 
The rain really picked up. Convenient and oh so hospitable, the Lucia Lodge took us in for a spell. Hungry or not, the restaurant menu tempts you with locally grown produce and homestyle meals. The gift shop features local artisan crafts (many made from locally found jade), camping supplies, yummy baked goods and of course, local vinos. 

North of San Simeon
As we leaned into the afternoon, we made our way to the endearing Ragged Point Inn. After a walk on the beach, we had a storybook late lunch, nestled by a fish pond (no sea lion sightings this time). Charming, no?

Making new friends, smelly ones
Elephant seals at the San Simeon Vista Park, to be exact. We pulled over to see these creatures in their natural habitat. Don’t miss this! Even without a zoom lens you’re likely to see hundreds of male, female and baby seals—depending on the season—as close as 10 feet away! But don’t forget your nose plug. It’s an amazing sight, but we can’t say the same for the smell.   

Cambria anyone?
It was time for a new setting. The West Village of Cambria, California is home to the Moonstone Cellars. Opened bottles of their award-winning wines, gratis stories and lessons of wine making by the owner made it a memorable visit. 

Dinner, à la the United States of Awesome 
Yep, time for the most famous of American fare: a cheeseburger with french fries and onion rings (did we mention it’s our friends’ new favorite?). We weren’t messing around, so we headed straight for dinner at the Cambria Pub and Steakhouse. 

Casual but upbeat, comfy and inviting, our experience at this restaurant sums up what we’ve enjoyed about California living so far. We all agreed we could get used to this lifestyle!

Insider’s tip
Collect memories
As the two-lane highway carries you along the crags, there are photo opportunities at every corner. So don’t be afraid to stop and grab a shot even amid fog and overcast skies, breathtaking backdrops abound. You will regret it if you don’t!

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