Big Sur

We are exploring Northern California this summer and checking out some of its most beautiful spots. On this family road trip we went to see McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and laze around Pfeiffer Beach.

Halfway to Big Sur we crossed the picturesque Bixby Bridge.

bixby bridge
bixby bridge
bixby bridge

McWay Falls was our first destination. It is an 80-foot waterfall that flows year-round.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns leased pasture from the Browns. A daughter of the first permanent settlers in Big Sur, she was less than a year old when she arrived there with her parents in 1869. She eventually ran the ranch for her aging father: caring for the stock, milking the cows, plowing, planting, mowing, maintaining substantial flower and vegetable gardens, and keeping the machinery in repair. In 1915 she married John Burns, another homesteader, and settled with him at Burns Creek, just over the ridge from McWay Creek.

Helen Hooper Brown became an heiress to a $10,000,000 fortune when she was orphaned at 16. She and her husband  purchased Saddle Rock Ranch in 1922. Julia and Helen formed a close friendship during the last years of Julia's life (she died in 1928, just a few years after the Browns' arrival). Helen wanted the park named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns.

The Browns' first house on the promontory was a rough redwood structure. In the mid-1930s they replaced it with a sumptuous two-story mansion named the "Waterfall House."

In deeding Saddle Rock Ranch to the state, Helen Hooper Brown specified that the land to the west of Highway 1 should be "unmarred by further construction or out-of-place man-made improvements" and that the Waterfall House should be made into a "museum for the custody and display of indigenous Indian relics, flora and fauna of the California coastal area, and historical objects pertaining to the Big Sur country."

If the house was not made into a museum within five years, it was to be razed. In the end, various obstacles kept the state from acting. Five years passed, and in 1965 the house was torn down.

Things can change quickly in Big Sur. In 1983 a huge fire and, two years later, landslides altered the topography of McWay Cove. A beach formed. Where once the waterfall plummeted directly into the sea at all times, today it meets the water only when the tide is in.  (Source: www.pelicannetwork.net)

 

DSC_1335.jpg

We spotted whales from McWay Falls.

big sur

I always think California beaches are cold and more suited to jackets than swimsuits. I was surprised that it was actually warm. It felt so good that a few of us managed to nap on the beach.

big sur
big sur
big sur

I wanted to see Pfeiffer Beach because of the "windows" in the rocks. The view is spectacular at sunset. However, we were there in the middle of the day so just imagine these photos with a dramatic magic hour lighting, ok?

pfeiffer beach
pfeiffer beach
pfeiffer beach

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Photos in today's story were taken by Dr. Ricci Sylla, an ObGyn by profession and avid, snap-happy photographer at all other times. She likes taking pictures mostly of food, but since the recent population explosion in her family, cute nieces and nephews show up much more frequently in her Picasa files. She hearts cake, ice cream, macarons, cotton candy and fancy desserts! 

 

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
47555 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2315

Pfeiffer State Beach
Big Sur, CA 93920