Thursday, March 30, 2017

California Road Trip: A Purple Sand Beach!

It's not easy to find. But I was determined. Or, maybe I should say Mr. UR was determined. But that's usually how it goes with us. I see a photo of somewhere I want to go. Mr. UR works the logisitics. And if it becomes complicated, then I feel bad that it's taken longer than expected or it's well...complicated. But Mr. UR doesn't give up. Especially if he's got some time in it. And a purple sand beach - I was intrigued. I've been to a black sand beach, a green sand beach and a red sand beach. But never purple. And he found it. A beach with purple sand.

But let's back up and go over directions. First, it's name is Pfeiffer Beach. Not to be confused with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is where Big Sur Lodge is. And it's not Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. That's where the famous McWay Falls flows into the Pacific Ocean. The beach with purple sand is Pfeiffer Beach and it's at mile marker MON 45.64. If you're heading south the mile markers count down and the turnoff is on the right about 1/2 mile past the Ranger Station. If you're heading north, the mile markers count up and the turnoff is on your left about 1/2 mile past the post office.

Once you find the turn-off you will drive  Sycamore Canyon Road - a single lane road - no campers or rv's allowed - keep going, keep going (about 2 miles)- until you get to the ranger booth. Admission is $5 and the beach is open until 8pm. There are restrooms available at the parking lot and even though it's a beach there is no swimming allowed and no lifeguards. Dogs are allowed on a leash. Oh, and there are a few picnic tables. Which we would've liked to use except it was raining. But that was ok cause it kept the crowds at bay.

Is the sand really purple? And if so, why?

The sand really is purple. It almost looks a bit tie dyed. And it's purple color comes from the manganese garnet deposits found in the surrounding rocks. (Most sand is quartz which is why it's light in color)

So, most importantly, is it worth the effort to find Pfeiffer Beach? Well, that depends. If you're thinking of a tropical Hawaiian beach or laying on the sand in Florida with the waves gently lapping up on shore, then you might not think it worth it. My answer would be that it was one of my favorite beaches I've ever been to. 

I mentioned earlier that it was raining. Which made Pfeiffer Beach into a beautiful, windswept, purple sand beach that to me was a little slice of heaven. This was also the weekend of record breaking storms in California. The waves were crashing, smashing, surging, overtaking - and any other words you can think of for wildly rolling waves hitting the coast like crazy.

Other than purple sand, Pfeiffer Beach is known for Keyhole Rock. Keyhole Rock is exactly what it's name says - it's a large rock sitting in the Pacific with a hole in the middle. Photographers come from all over to get that special photo of the sun setting through keyhole rock. Unfortunately for us, we weren't going to catch the sunset that day but we were able to sit and be mesmerized by the waves crashing through the rock. 

So now I've seen purple sand. And the perfect moody, windswept beach with a large rock with a hole in it. We walked back to the car with sandy and muddy feet to eat our lunch in the rain. Worth it? You bet!

A life update: With the exception of a few weekends, we have been on a travel hiatus as we prepare to sell our house. It was a great family house but now that our grown kids live all over the planet, it's easier for us to go to them. We are putting the house up for sale very soon and hoping to downsize.Mr. UR has been doing most of the work while I have been sifting through boxes from the attic - lots and lots of old toys - and doing a bit of spiffing up for the sale.  I, for one, am ready to get this behemoth (5 bedrooms and an office) on the market and have more time to travel - or at least, have less house to upkeep!

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

STAY: North Carolina's Sanderling Resort

We have been vacationing on the Outer Banks - barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina - for years. Before kids, we used to rent a house there with couples from college.  Then when kids came along we returned with them to enjoy the beaches, visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, and see if we could spot the famous wild horses who live there. There was a beautiful hotel that we would pass in Duck built in the Nags Head style of unpainted homes with large porches and roofs that mimic the dunes. The Sanderling Inn. (Which has since been updated to Resort)I had heard that it was expensive to stay there. So I didn't give it a second thought.

Fast forward to our last visit to the Outer Banks. There are now more hotels there than there used to be. Since we were only staying for a few nights and most rentals are weekly, I started  looking into hotels. I stumbled upon the Sanderling, remembering it from long ago. Set in the town of Duck, the Sanderling is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. Sunrises and sunsets.

Recently voted in the top 10 of North Carolina's hotels by Our State Magazine, the Sanderling was offering off-season rates. (They regularly offer specials to military personnel and special rates for different seasons) So I called them up and lo and behold, we were staying at the Sanderling!

A Four-Diamond resort that has been recently renovated, the Sanderling is known for it's service.When you hear Four-Diamond or Resort you might think that it's stuffy. Pretentious. But there's none of that here. You can do as little or as much as you want. 

 There are three buildings of accomodations, a spa, vacation home rentals, two restaurants, 2 bars and 2 pools and a hot tub. Staff will provide beach chairs for you whereever you would like, set up local activities including a wild horse safari tour or golf or tennis or set up spa time for you. There are lounges with reading materials in each building. And those rockers - 
they're available on most of the porches.

We stayed in the North Inn with a balcony overlooking the pool and hot tub. Our room came with a smores packet for smores at the fire pit and our own rubber duckie for the bath. Since we were there off-season, one of the pools was closed as was one of the restaurants. But the spa, hot tub, fire pit andthe Life Saving Station restaurant were open.

We spent our time in the hot tub and the beach chairs overlooking the ocean. We witnessed a sunrise and a sunset. We drove into Corolla for breakfast  - if you go to First Light for breakfast, you must, MUST get one of their fist size biscuits. And we enjoyed a glass of wine on our balcony on those out of the world comfortable chairs.

If you're heading to the Outer Banks and you would like to stay at a Four-Diamond resort known for it's service and spa, then give the Sanderling Resort a look. Check the website or give them a call. You never know if you will fall into a special. And then you could be staying at one of the top ten ranked hotels in North Carolina!

This post is not sponsored. I just got a really good deal - first night at off-season rack rate and the second for $29.

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Travel Blog Party, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute!