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mkword 04-22-2012 01:51 PM

Road Trip - Route 1 California - 2012 550i
Just north of Big Sur on Route 1.

Our daughter's spring break turned out to be a school trip to China.

Instead of hanging around the house, missing and worrying about her, I suggested to the spousal unit that we take a trip of our own. A road trip up the coast of California ... Route 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco and beyond.

We hadn't taken a good long road trip since we broke in our 2010 X6 (R.I.P.) by taking a trip to Sedona, AZ and this would be a great way to really enjoy our new 550i.

Instead of slogging through the traffic of the 101 from LA to Ventura and Santa Barbara, we decided to cheat a little and head over the grapevine and take the 5 to Lost Hills ... where we got off on the 46 and headed down the old highway where James Dean was killed, through Los Robles and onto Cambria on the coast. This would give us more time on the parts of Route 1 that we really wanted to be on.
Cambria coastline.

From Cambria we drove to Big Sur the next day and stayed several nights at the Post Ranch Inn ... which sits high on a 1200ft ridge right over the ocean.
Post Ranch Inn and the Pacific ocean.
Every dinner at the Sierra Mar restaurant comes with a wonderful sunset.

The Inn offers rooms looking over the ocean, or looking back into the mountains of the Ventana wilderness. They also have "tree houses" -- units built on 10ft high stilts in among the giant redwoods.
Tree house rooms at Post Ranch.

Since the restaurant there (Sierra Mar) sits on stilts over the ocean and we'd be there often, we elected to take one of the "mountain" units. Turned out to be an excellent decision. While views of the Pacific were often clouded over, we had a perfect clear view of the mountains.
Mountain House unit with a fireplace I kept roaring most of the time.
View of the Ventana wilderness from the deck of the unit. A stainless steel hot tub is just out of view in the lower right corner.
Hiking in the Ventana wilderness.

The only way I felt good about leaving Big Sur was knowing we were getting back into our 550i and cruising in sport mode through the swinging curves of Rt 1 along some of the most beautiful coastline on the planet.

We drove through Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay and hooked up with an old friend who has a house that looks right down on Mavericks. (For non-surfers, Mavericks is probably the biggest and most famous U.S. giant wave spot outside of Hawaii.)

Then on to San Francisco. And then an extra day trip to the wine country north of the city.
North Beach area of San Francisco.
Russian Hill area of San Francisco.
Lombard Street.
Trolley on Nob Hill.
Drying room at the Littorai Winery - halfway between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay.
Chariot of the Gods. Our 550i gets a short rest as we tour the winery.

The 550i with sports package, active roll stabilizer, sports transmission and numerous other goodies was pure pleasure to drive. My wife easily gets car sick, but the suspension of the 550i was so tight and balanced that she never felt even the slightest bit queasy on the endless twisting curves of coast highway. Long road trips like this one really highlight how BMW has managed to evolve the 5 series into a vehicle that truly balances the potentially conflicting elements of a luxury sports sedan. It is supremely comfortable and quiet and the miles of freeway glide by underneath it as if you were flying at 30,000ft. At the same time, the car is patiently waiting for those moments when you need to accelerate or corner tightly at high speed. Even though you feel swaddled in luxury, you never feel separated from the road. The twin-scrolled turbo is silky, yet just a little pressure on the gas pedal will push you back into your seat as the car launches ahead. Going from 60mph to 90mph happens in the blink of an eye and is possibly what this car does best.

*Big Sur and Cambria photos were taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5. All San Francisco photos were taken with a Canon G12. The two photos at the winery were taken with a Canon50D. First Rt 1 photo was taken with Canon S100.

GarySL 04-22-2012 04:35 PM

Excellent travel log, albeit those 'tree houses' appear to be in coast live oaks not in giant redwoods.

Btw where did you stay in the City?

mkword 04-22-2012 06:52 PM

True about the trees. The redwoods are there ... just not as close.

We've stayed at and liked a bunch of different hotels in SF over the years. We're currently into the Ritz-Carlton on Stockton.

We had a small suite there on this last trip, but when I asked if we could extend our stay another night, they said they had completely booked all their suites and if we stayed it would have to be in a regular room ... to which I said fine, no big deal.

The morning we're supposed to move out of our small suite for a reg. room, we get a note from the front desk clerk telling me a "much better" room has become available.

So the bell man shows up, gets our bags, gives us our new keys and takes us to the new room ...

I've been upgraded before ... but this was ridiculous.


Originally Posted by GarySL (Post 6787954)
Excellent travel log, albeit those 'tree houses' appear to be in coast live oaks not in giant redwoods.

Btw where did you stay in the City?

GarySL 04-22-2012 07:42 PM

Ridiculous indeed! Nice!

tmvE39/E53/Z32 05-02-2012 11:50 AM

Great trip

Dave 330i 07-08-2012 06:41 PM

Enjoyed the pictures. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

zachiepie 07-13-2012 08:18 PM

Holy smokes, I gotta figure out how to get upgraded like that.

This post makes me want to do two things: 1) Take a PCH roadtrip, and 2) Get a 5 series.

Great post.

Spice Trader 09-13-2012 02:20 PM

great post!

positiveions 09-22-2012 09:40 PM

Nice trip, nice photos.
There is a big difference in lens and quality of photos. I have a canon 50D. I love the quality of photos that the camera produces.

The Wine Guy 05-25-2013 07:32 AM


I love to see people enjoying life and pictures say it all.

You've inspired me to take my "6" up to French Blue in St. Helena for breakfast.

Y'all have a great Memorial Day weekend!!

mja 05-28-2013 04:59 AM

thanks to OP for great pictures and trip ideas; as my wife and I are planning process for the Route 1 drive from SF to LA

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