Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Big Sur River Inn

The captivating fire place at the entrance of the Big Sur River Inn.

The place we call home away from home, is the Big Sur River Inn, that dates back to 1888. This quaint and tranquil place on highway 1 has always welcomed us when we wanted to relax by the river. The property originated when Jay Pheneger acquired a 160-acre parcel from the federal government and gave his name to the creek that bounds the River Inn on the south. 

A few of the suites that face the river.
Here's the view from our suite.
Time to relax!

Barbara and Michael Pfeiffer, who had already homesteaded and were farming near Pfeiffer Beach, purchased the Pheneger property. In 1926 John - Michael and Barbara's son - took over the land on which The Big Sur River Inn now stands and his daughter, Ellen Brown started the River Inn in 1934 - on the east side of the road.

Ready for dinner.

Dinner was too good for my own good.

Back to our suite to hear the river from just outside our door.

Esther replaced her mother as Big Sur Postmaster (Esther was careful to point out the title is not Postmistress... but Postmaster) and the Post Office was moved to the River Inn, situated where the HeartBeat Gift Gallery is today.  After some extensive remodeling and before he reopened for business, Hans did a traffic survey by standing at the Highway for one whole day to count cars. "Seven went by," he reported, "and every one stopped for gas." So he knew that the enterprise would be a success. With lots of help, Hans built the General Store and lodging units ten through fifteen. He rebuilt the dining room and "fixed it up fancy." Esther reminds us that there was a stream running right through the middle of the dining room with a little bridge crossing over it.  People admired the "indoor bridge" and stopped by again and again to see it.

Back for breakfast before we head to Carmel and then to Pfeiffer Beach.
Before we hit the road we go for a walk around the river.

The property is beautifully landscaped.
The purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach is just one of the many natural wonders in and around the Big Sur area.

The Pfeiffers and the Ewoldsens started a tradition at the Big Sur River Inn of fine food, excellent service and warm hospitality.  In 1988, a small group of family and close friends formed a partnership to carry on that tradition.
Back from Carmel we made another stop for lunch at the property restaurant.

Some wine to start off our 20th year wedding anniversary.

Enjoying the moment.

Some ice-cream for the kids and some gas for the car is the perfect mix to end the perfect vacation.

But to our family The Big Sur River Inn is a place we love to reflect and relax before moving on to our next chapter in our lives. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Next Stop: Big Sur and The River Inn!

MacWay Falls

So after a few days of exploring Yosemite, we then cut across the state and headed to the majestic coast of Big Sur, California, one of those seascape landscapes that can remain forever in your mind upon arrival. Now I understood why the first settlers fell in love with the enchanting land.  From Yosemite, the landscape transformed into an Oak-filled landscape that reached all the way to the sea where land and sea meet in a primitive but yet rhythmically transforming way. The scenic highway 1 offers many turnouts to enjoy the scenery in order to take photos of its beauty.  As we got closer to our destination, The River Inn, we seemed to stop at every turn in order to take that perfect photo of the stunning rocky landscape by the sea.

Pfeiffer Beach

Although Big Sur offers many lodging opportunities, for years our family tradition has been to stay at the historic River Inn,, a hidden jewel in Big Sur, strategically located on Highway 1 next to a beautiful river.  Perhaps, the small lodge attracts many tourists from all parts of the world because it has been around since 1888, which was then named the “Apple Pie Inn.”  I happen to love apple pie!  When we first discovered this place, it was during the summertime at midnight.  My wife and I were so tired that all I remember was checking in and waking up with a million dollar view!  From there, the rest was history!  


A hearty breakfast or a romantic dinner by the large fireplace was ideal to mend all your worries. If that isn’t enough, you can have lunch on the wooden lawn chairs by the river or directly on the river.  The simplicity of the inn allows you the luxury to do whatever you wish, from sitting at the bar or simply sitting on a bench with your significant other to enjoy a glass of wine.  For families, the inn also offers a heated pool and an outdoor barbecue.  It is also the perfect place for an unforgettable dream wedding. But for writers or those seeking to escape from it all, the inn offers the ultimate perk: privacy along with the serene sounds of the river—or better yet, a disconnection from civilization! As a frequent traveler, I have experienced many high-end resorts but the simplicity of this little inn is often hard to find. 

But the thing I love the most from the River Inn is that it is my central point in which I use to explore the many natural wonders around that area. You see, Big Sur is a photographer’s paradise and I indulge on the scenery.  The breathtaking coastal landscapes, such as Pfeiffer State Park, Pfeiffer Beach and Los Lobos State Park, are just some of the many places you can go to in order to absorb the best that nature has to offer.  If you don’t believe me, just enjoy these photos!

Enjoying MacWay Falls

Yosemite: The Land of Hope and Wintery Landscapes

If telling you that I’m in awe of this place is an understatement, that’s because it is just that. After fourteen years of not stepping into this majestic place, I decide that it was time to visit once more with my wife and two preteen children. While most people visit the park during the spring and summer, a rare wintery wonderland beckoned all of our senses.

Let me now review some well-known facts on this awe-inspiring place. For one, Yosemite National Park is home to the world’s largest granite monolith, El Capitan.  It is also home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, Yosemite Falls.  As you enter the park, you are quickly absorbed into winding roads that are contoured by a variety of pines, oaks, firs and cedar trees to name a few. There is even one lone Elm tree in one of the meadows in the valley floor. The elevation ranges from 2,000 to 13,114 feet!  

I traveled during the month of January in the New Year and it was a beautiful winter wonderland to say the least.  The snowcapped landscape made the geological landscape all the more incredible.  The snow covered the meadows but the waterfalls were still flowing from the immense cliffs.  If you pause to admire the wintery waterfalls, you could see the cold water transforming into snow while piling up at the foot of the waterfall, which then it turns into ice. 

As a writer and a photographer, I wanted a one-on-one experience with nature.  Therefore, I contacted a couple of good friends that have vast experience all through out the park.  I explained to them my many restrictions and my endless wish list.  John and Gabe at, listened and for the next couple of days, they proved me wrong.

John and I enjoying the beauty of Bridelveil Falls.

They first took us on a gentle hike, into a wintery landscape along the Merced River.  As we hiked and stopped to take photos of the beautiful snow capped mountains above us, they enchanted us with the history of the park by telling us the many stories of the Native Americans, John Muir, the Gold Rush, the glaciers and the first pioneers that helped protect this park from the pillaging of the land. Their expertise in the region was priceless as they are very aware of the weather and its patterns.  To make a long story short, we were caught-up so much so on the place that we even forgot to eat!  Now, that’s a rarity. But as the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words…here are some landscape photos courtesy of me, Joseph Gutiz, to prove my love for this wondrous place.  Enjoy!

A rainbow of snow is a rarity indeed.

The oldest standing structure in the Yosemite valley floor.

Getting ready for my next fine-art masterpiece. 
The family enjoying the wintery landscape.