A Road Trip Down California’s Coast: Big Sur

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 “I’m planning a big trip down the California coast this summer,” my grandma told me during one of her visits to our house in New Jersey.

“I want to go!” I burst out.  As a teenager, I was already ‘California dreamin’.”

She said, “let’s do it!”

California Dreamin’

It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school.  I was about to turn 17-years-old and I was going to take my first trip to the west coast – a land of sun and sand and cute California guys.  It was a fantasyland that I’d only seen in the movies. Although I wasn’t sure if we would make good travel partners with me being more than fifty years her junior, but I really wanted to see California.  So away we went.

Lisa Lubin 1989 Grandma in San Francisco

Me and New Friend                                                                   …and Grandma

Big Sur

And now twenty some odd years later, I am finally back in beautiful Big Sur.

Big Sur Wheat Grasses

This is where the western edge of the U.S. plunges dramatically into the sea. Here, Highway One, one of the country’s most scenic drives, hugs craggy cliffs high above the ocean’s rim.  Dramatic thousand-foot ledges drop off into the Pacific Ocean, stunning bridges span inconceivable chasms, and towering coastal Redwoods populate forests just uphill from the foamy sea. It’s a wonderful mix of sea and forest air all in one dramatic and peaceful place.

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge at Dusk – Now

Bixby Bridge spans rainbow canyon and at 260 feet high, it is one of the world’s highest single span bridges. The first time I was here, the frequent fog obscured most of my view…

Bixby Bridge Fog

All I Saw of Bixby Bridge – Then


Big Sur Panorama

Big Sur Panorama


McWay Falls

I was very excited to return to McWay Falls in Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park, as one of the views I remembered most.  Why? Because as my love of photography grew in high school, I snapped a photo here with my Ricoh-XRM SLR that I was proud enough to use for my invitation to my exhibit at the Senior Art Show later that year.  Check out the back of the card (the front was the photo) that was created on the first Mac I ever used in my art/photography class at Randolph High School.  This was when Zaph Chancery was cool!

Senior Art Exhibit Invite

Oh, Zaph Chancery


McWay Falls on Film

McWay Falls – Then on my film camera


Big Sur - McWay Falls

McWay Falls – Now on my DSLR


Disclosure: Samsung was responsible for my trip to California and for gifting me the Samsung Galaxy SIII that shot some of the photos shown here.  As always the views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of Samsung.


  1. says

    It’s cool to see the contrast of a few decades in your photos! I love going to places that I went when I was younger – just being in the same place sends you back to another place in time. :)

    • says

      I did love finding my old photos. Who am I kidding? I’ve loved taking photos since then and had them organized in an album with the rest of mine!:)

    • says

      Thanks Andi! It really is breathtaking there. So much in the USA is. We are lucky for such a diverse landscape in our own backyard.

  2. says

    It’s amazing how much has changed when you go back to a place after 20 years. You’ll stand in the same places, viewing the same things, breathing in the same smells, and everything will be different. The passage of time has taught you to appreciate different things than you did previously. And that is a wonderful thing, because it means every time you visit a place, it’s always a new experience.

    Thank you for sharing these photos from the two trips.

    • says

      Thanks so much Bill. So true. Experiences can be altered by all kinds of things…for me mostly the people i meet and connect with.

  3. says

    I was just in Big Sur for Thanksgiving. It’s becoming a Thanksgiving tradition with friends and I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to spend an annual trip. There are so many great things to photograph!

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