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Fill up the car with gas and travel up the coast through Big Sur on Highway 1 to Carmel, one of the most scenic drives in the country. Starting at San Simeon, site of the spectacular Hearst Castle, Highway 1 winds its way along the coastline.

Check road and weather conditions before leaving – the area is prone to rock slides and the drive is to be avoided during wet weather. The road is narrow and one lane in both directions. But on clear, sunny days, it provides some of the most spectacular scenery along the Pacific Coast.

The drive should be done in a leisurely way, both for safety and to savor the surroundings. It’s about a 90-mile drive, but allow extra time for several stops to admire the views, take photos and perhaps enjoy a brief hike. The area near Bixby Bridge is a popular spot to relax and take in the scenery. The Nepenthe Restaurant and Café Kevah, both at 48510 Hwy. 1, are favorite spots to stop for lunch or a snack with their sweeping views of the ocean. (jrabold.net provides several other scenic stops on this route.)

Big Sur initially attracted my attention through the writings of Henry Miller, who lived for years on Parthington Ridge. His library presents an interesting stop along the way. Miller was just one of several writers and artists, including Jack Kerouac and Edward Weston, who called Big Sur home.

I’ve also heard of stockbrokers and other professionals in L.A. who gladly gave up the rat race for the simple life in Big Sur. Big Sur’s zip code of 93920 has about 1000 residents. According to the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, the town was voted “Best Place to Play Hookie” and “Best Romantic Getaway” in 2008.

Once up at Carmel, check out the Tor House at 26304 Ocean View Ave. The structure was built from stone over a series of years by the poet Robinson Jeffers. Tours are given hourly Friday and Saturday from 10-3.

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