Big Sur California

The Road Trip – Big Sur

Big Sur home to one of my 2018 favorite feel-good tv shows, Big Little Lies, no joking if I say that I watched the full season one on my a flight from London to Los Angeles earlier this year. But this time flying to LA I made sure to not put the onboard entertainment on, I would need my sleep because Road Trip mood is on! (This post is not prepaid advertising from anyone but I will, however, leave some useful links throughout the post for you) 

I´ve been looking forward to this trip for as long as the trip has been planned! (Which in my case is always last minute, but in this case actually almost two months!) That I was going to Los Angels for a collaboration with Waldorf Astoria had been planned for a long time (two months) but adding a road trip through Big Sur and Yosemite was added last minute and I was so excited! I boarded Brittish Airways BA0283 from London Heathrow to Los Angeles LAX international airport. Tony who was coming with had already landed from Toronto a couple of hours earlier and had picked up the rental car, bought snacks for the road so that we could get going straight away.

Bixby Creek Bridge

We made it to Bixby Creek Bridge just after sunset and took help from ´sunseeker app´ to see exactly when and where the sunrise would be the next morning, checked into our hotel in Carmel and went straight to bed. The sun would peak up from behind the mountains at exactly 08:10 the next morning, meaning we would need to leave by 06:00 drive for 40 minutes to give us enough time to scout out the best location for our morning sunrise shots. My body and brain were still on European time so getting up early was no problem for me when the alarm woke us up at 05:00 am, it was in the middle of the day back home.

´The typical Instagrammer´ 

There were a few of us early birds there and we respected each others space, knowing that we were all there for the same reason, to get the perfect shot when the sun would peek up from behind the mountains and hit the bridge, counted in minutes, if not seconds when the light would be just perfect… but in that exact moment a man who happened to´just drive´pass decided that our photo location was, in fact, the perfect one, and gladly invited himself and his wife to enjoy the view, right in front of our lenses. I am not saying that we owned the spot, but the timing couldn’t have been any worst, we let him snap his photos and after a while we politely let him know that we had been waiting for this exact moment the past hour, he arrogant looked at us and made an effort to stay just a little bit longer 😂

Bixby Creek Bridge was built in 1932, prior to the bridge residents of the Big Sur area were cut off during winter due to the at times impassable alternative roads 18km (11 miles) inland. In March 2017 it was battered badly by winter storms and was closed for rebuilding over a six months period, isolating Big Sur and the classic Pacific Coast ‘bucket list road trip route’ I can only imagine how quiet and peaceful it must have been for the residents over the six months period it took to rebuild the bridge, I wonder if they prefer us tourists being there or not. I mean, it must be great for local businesses, but I wonder if they would rather hear birds singing every morning than traffic jam and crazy tourists…like myself.

When I travel I wonder how many beautiful places in this world that I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for social media. Today when I look for inspiration where to go I open Instagram, if none of my favorite travel accounts haven’t already shared the spot, I search on either ‘location tag’ or ´hashtags´ do my research and off I go. “Back in the days” (making it sounds like I am really old) when I did my first backpacking trip I used a LonelyPlanet travel guide, the first one that I had was ´South America on a shoestring´I have around 50 photos from that trip, all printed and put into a photo album. That trip lasted for over six months. Today I take around 200 photos a day when I travel, and I rarely print them. What do you prefer, digital memories or printed?

When we searched hashtags and ´Bixby Creek Bridge´location it was difficult to find photos with a new, different angle and I found it difficult to get inspiration. It was also our first day on the road and even if Tony and I have known each other for years…or at least two, and worked together before, a combination of jet lag and getting camera shy made it even more difficult, it takes a while to get comfortable taking pictures with someone. Luckily we had over two weeks to get to ´camera know each other´so I didn´t see it as being a problem. Bixby Creek Bridge is 280 feet (85m) stunning architecture and surrounding nature make it no wonder that it is one of California’s most photographed bridges, a must visit when in California.

What sets a ‘travel storyteller’ apart from “a normal traveler”? Friends asks me when we can go traveling together, and even if I’d love to take all my friends and family with me on all my travels, getting up at 05:00 am in the morning, when on holiday, stay at one location for hours to get that one shot that you’re happy with and then stay up late every night editing, is not for everyone, when traveling this way it’s important to do that with likeminded, someone who also has a passion for photography and don’t mind getting up early or/and stay up late to get the perfect light, patient, patient to get the perfect shot with no one else in it, I love it, but I know for fact that it’s not for everyone. Ask me anything about this if you’re curious.

To sum up, drive the iconic Pacific Coast from Los Angeles, make a few stops along the way, take the windows down and play Phantom Planet ´California´ on highest volume.

We stayed for a couple of hours, took photos and enjoyed the view before we drove to Pfeiffer Falls/Valley Train and Oak Grove Trail loop but the trails were all closed and we made the decision to continued south to Limekiln which was amazing too. It was out of our way as our planned road trip would take us North/East to Yosemite, but I am all up for spontaneous detours.  It was an easy, level hike through scenic towering redwoods, waterfalls and historic limekilns (which I learned has nothing to do with lime 🍋😂) There´s also a campground and beach, but you´ll need to make your reservation well in advance at We didn´t camp here but continued our trip north, next stop Yosemite and I´ll share my favorite Top 5 from there, stay tuned!

xx Maria

Photo credit Tony Edgar, find him here: @tonyedgar 

Read more about Bixby Creek Bridge at

Read more about Limekiln Park at

Read more about Big Sur at


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  1. irfan benli
    November 30, 2018 / 3:04 am

    Always loved yr stories in the way that you wrote down.Waiting for the nect one.Best regards fm İstanbul.

    • pilotmaria
      November 30, 2018 / 10:32 am

      Thank you so much for reading it, I love writing and storytelling so it means a lot that you’re here.

  2. Rainer Schwager
    December 1, 2018 / 9:06 pm

    I also enjoy reading your stories, especially when they are about places I have been. But also from places I have yet to visit.
    I live only 200+ miles north from Big Sur (Santa Rosa) and have been along that part of Hwy 1 several times. Never gets old. My all time favourite road trip…Passed this bridge often, but never stopped. Will do that next time…

  3. Rita
    December 11, 2018 / 12:06 am

    Hi Maria

    Loved your post! I have a question , which camera would you recommand for beginners? I am starting to love taking pictures but its very limited with my iphone
    Lots of love xoxo

    • pilotmaria
      December 11, 2018 / 9:43 pm

      Hi, thank you for your comment and reading my post. My first “real” camera that I used was a Canon 70d, I kept it for a few years before I started to feel limited with it and I learned a lot. I am also a huge fan av Sony´s RX cameras, small compact but powerful toys. Hope it helps 🙂

  4. Avinash
    January 19, 2019 / 5:52 pm

    Hi become a commmercial pilot at what stage we need to start getting prepared… I am looking for my daughter… she is although very small… just 5 now .. but wanted to start at the right time … we are in Dubai currently but originally from India… where are the best flight schools …?

    • pilotmaria
      January 19, 2019 / 6:15 pm

      Check out my previous posts about under ‘a Pilots diary’ to see in detail the route that I took 🙂

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