You're driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), which hugs the dramatic California coastline near the Oregon border, to the sun-drenched beaches of San Diego.
And, as happens on any road trip with world-class views beckoning, you eventually stop at an overlook, in this case the Julia Pfeiffer Burns Vista Point in Monterey County near Big Sur. This is where your already awesome trip suddenly gets better. As you look up to gaze at a giant bird gliding far above, you look down and see a life-size, biologically correct stone mosaic of the iconic California condor at your feet. Suddenly you know you've just glimpsed the condor in its natural habitat.
A few steps away, you look down and see another life-size replica of a 50-foot gray whale with her baby, also rendered in subtle shades of natural granite, inlaid into the pavement. And if you're lucky, as you turn to the sea you'll spot one of hundreds of gray whales that swim along the shore in this area every year.
It doesn't end there. As you keep driving down the PCH between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, you will be treated to seven different vista points, each with multiple interpretive displays to inform and inspire you about the wildlife, natural landmarks, and history of the local area.
You never knew an overlook could be so inspiring.
How these beautiful interpretive displays of art and nature came about is a story of extraordinary vision and teamwork that involved the California DOT (Caltrans) landscape architects, field biologists, and a small but internationally renowned waterjet company based in Iowa, called Creative Edge.
Creative Edge Master Shop became involved when California DOT (Caltrans) contracted them to create the design, artwork, and installation for the interpretive stone mosaics of four different native animals-a California condor, a gray whale, a sea otter and a California brown bear-in three different vista points along and near the Pacific Coast Highway.