Just back from a great trip to Big Sur and I offer the following as encouragement/enticement for fellow LF newbies and as thanks for your helpful suggestions to my initial post prior to this trip concerning accommodations in that area.
I stayed Sunday through Wednesday at the Big Sur Lodge, a family-oriented series of duplexes and four-plexes, located within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Although the 4-plex unit I stayed in was sufficiently large and convenient, I would have preferred one of the end units (# 37 or 38) at the far side of the grounds for their more quiet location. There were plenty of vacancies at the Lodge as well as at other places in the area such as Tickle Pink Inn, the Ventana, and at what I found to be the most charming place of all, Deejen's Big Sur Inn where I stopped to inquire about rates for a probable future stay. I was given a tour of some of the Inn's accommodations by their genuinely gracious hostess. While the Inn is a bit more expensive place to stay than the Lodge, the former is steeped in charm, quaintness and character (not to mention LOW six-foot?
ceilings) not found in the latter. OTOH, I was warned that this non-profit historic Inn's walls are "paper thin" - unchanged from their original 1930s redwood construction.
Photography possibilities along the sweeping Big Sur coast are endless but my supply of Quickloads was not. Fortunately Camera West in Monterey is not too far away. Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park features McWay Falls which empties onto the beach and is worth the short easy hike but there is no beach access so bring a long lens. The falls in Big Sur state park is much more approachable and is reached via trail through groves of coastal redwoods; but due to the tall trees this is a relatively low-light situation making focusing difficult. Pfeiffer Beach and Garrapata state park and Andrew Molera - not to mention the famous Bixby Creek Bridge are all great Big Sur locations (pray for fog). Except for a strong deluge that kept me indoors for much of one day, the weather was good and moody alternating between mist, fog and sun.
Traveling the 20 plus miles one way to Point Lobos State Reserve had its advantages in that I was always treated to new photo opportunities along the way. Those of you who have been there know that the Reserve itself is photography heaven. From sea lions, seals and otters to deer and sea birds, beaches to tide pools; mosses and lichens to wildflowers, pines and that-jewel-in-the-crown, the gnarly windswept "Old Veteran" Monterey Cypress clinging to life on granite cliffs there's something there for everyone.
Going in mid October and during the week was perfect for avoiding crowds; there were relatively few visitors in the Reserve so I didn't have to compete or wait for a spot from which to photograph. But be forwarned that according to the locals Big Sur attracts crowds EVERY weekend.
This was my first photo trip as an LF newbie so I learned a lot about backpacking with LF gear, what works well or not. The used Zone VI modified Pentax digital spot meter that I picked up at Samy's the day before my trip seems to have worked well. The Gitzo 'pod and RRS ballhead worked flawlessly so I'm glad that I invested in good equipment although I'm still recovering from sticker shock. In a first for me, and in both cases on initial use only, my Quickload holder jammed once and the Polaroid 545 holder jammed twice. There were several occasions when I found focusing on the Tachihara ground glass particularly difficult but hope that the Satin Snow replacement that I just ordered will be a major improvement.
For a number of reasons, I didn't get in as many shots as I expected to but I'm so encouraged by my results that I'm already planning my next trip.