For the last day of the long weekend we decided to head south down the coast to a picturesque region of California known as Big Sur. We decided to make McWay Cove Waterfall our final destination, nearly three hours drive away. On the way we figured we might stop at another waterfall, Pfeiffer falls. Armed with the Perfect Plan off we went.
Stopping briefly in the pretty beach town of Carmel-by-the-sea (I think I’ll have to go back!) for petrol and coffee (barely drinkable – so far it seems that capucchinos here have to be half froth!) and some chit-chat with the staff (“I’d like to go to Australia“, said one, “but I hear you guys don’t like Americans!“) we continued down the road.
We followed Highway #1 which meanders along the coast all the way down to Los Angeles and, between Carmel and San Simeon, provides stunning views. OK, not as good as the Great Ocean Road but at least in the same ballpark. Highway 1 was built over 18 years mostly by prisoners and completed in 1937. Those guys had their work cut out, this region is treacherous with sheer cliffs that plunge to the ocean.
After passing Bixby Bridge and the Point Sur Lighthouse we arrived at the Pfeiffer state park. A short hike (20 mins) later we were at Pfeiffer waterfall.
Nice. But a little disappointing really – we all expected something, well, American size.
However, Pfeiffer falls was notable for another reason – it was my first contact with stupid Americans. The vast majority of the people I’ve met here have been lovely, intelligent people. The family that we met that day were anything but.
We’d been staring at the falls for maybe ten minutes when two brats appeared. They were noisy and rude, yelling at each other. Naturally they jumped the rails and headed up the steep side of the waterfall, straight past a sign that literally read “Danger. Loose rocks. Steep Cliffs. Keep Off”. I’m not sure what part of the sign they couldn’t read.
By this time their parents had arrived and we kinda figured they’d settle down. But no. The mother just starts taking photos of her boys with a digital SLR that she barely knows how to use. The father encourages them. “That’s the way boys!”
Loose rocks are sliding under their feet as they continue to climb higher up the steep cliffs. Looks dangerous. Maybe the sign had a point.
Finally they’re out of sight and the mother (still taking photos) gets a bit panicky and the father (still encouraging) calls them to come back down. As the boys descend one of them, the lower one, cries out and clutches his head. His brother, above him, had dislodged a rock which had clocked him in the head. He cries for a bit but is obviously not hurt too badly, nonetheless I ask the mother if she’d like me to go up and help him down. She barely acknowledges me.
Lower boy finds the rock that had hit him in the head and, in anger, throws it down below him. It’s a sizeable rock, about as big as a shoe. Another tourist, at the bottom of the falls, has to jump out of the way to avoid it.
We left. I was getting angry. So there was my first meeting of stupid Americans. At least it was memorable.
[Cam also covered the incident]
We continued south down Highway 1 for another 20 minutes, passing the Nepenthe restaurant, and arrived at our destination, McWay Cove Waterfall. A very short walk (totally flat, anyone could walk it in under ten minutes) later and we were staring at a fantastic waterfall that fell some eighty feet (sorry, 25 metres!) to the ocean. Gorgeous!
The only way to top that view was watching the setting sun from the magnificent Nepenthe restaurant, back north up the road. The food and service was great but the view spectacular. Highly recommended!! Book ahead though or, like us, arrive well before sunset as it gets packed.
With the two and a half hour drive home our big day in Big Sur came to an end. And the end of the Thanksgiving long weekend. Work tomorrow. Oh boy.