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Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

***Initially this trip took place in February, my lazy and busy ass never got around to finishing the saga.  I have a moment right now and am about to do such.  I am going to attempt to write it as things were experienced and feelings that were felt then, despite my attitudes on certain issues are at press time.  If you are a surflog reader keep that in mind if you feel my mood inconsistent with such.  If you have just stumbled upon this piece and want to be brought up to speed before continuing on or need to refresh your memory on where we left off check out Part 1: Big Sur, A Land of Endless Possibility , Part 2: Blind Exploration , Part 3: Testing the Waters.  Its old and dated, but worth the read so enjoy.***

Ahh the beauty of the wilderness.

Ahh the beauty of the wilderness.

My final day up in Big Sur country I was besides myself on what to do and how to make the most of it.  It’s true that few people, with the exception of my father can pack as much activities in a trip as I can or a day for that matter.  Don’t get me wrong, few can be as lazy as me either.  I can spend three hours sitting on the couch staring into space.   It just depends on the particular day, week or year.  At the moment I have been in high out put mode leaving little time for nothing days.

In all truth I wanted to run around looking for more surf.  Isn’t that always the agenda when surfing is involved?  One of the surfing’s rule book main rules is “never bring your girl friend on a surf trip if you really want to score”.  I have never really toted around a non-surfing girl friend before and had no experience with such.  Normally if she doesn’t surf then we always travel separately.  It sounds a bit selfish, I know, but as I wrote in the very first installment of this Big Sur saga I have a surfing problem.  Surfing always comes first, always.  No point in me ruining her trip or  her ruining mine.

Thus far this trip had been the same thing.  What I had initially wanted to be a semi-romantic weekend and a way for us to try and do some relationship damage control after the incident on my birthday (see the February2014, the 2-2 and 2-3 entries) began with me dragging Heather all over the coast trying to find some kill-able surf.  In her defense she was a good sport about the whole thing.  Feeling a bit guilty I decided that we could drive into Carmel on our last day.  She mentioned multiple times (woman have a way of doing this) that she would like to go there.  Besides I figured that there was beach there too and where there is a beach there are probably some surf-able waves.

Making the most of the meager offerings at Carmel Beach

Making the most of the meager offerings at Carmel Beach

I also had not realized that the drive up to Carmel was only about thirty minutes or so making it very do-able.  After two days of being in the woods I was about ready for some civilization anyway.  We got there uneventfully, though scenically whimsical.  Being the asshole I am I managed to get us right to the beach.  Coastal access signs might as well be like a dog whistle for a surfer.  We pulled up to this really grand beach.   It was as gorgeous as a beach could be.  The sand was bleached white, the ocean was a coral blue, to the north was nothing but the green of a golf course and all around were these lavish estates.  It looked like a scene out of “Life styles of the Rich and Famous”.

People say Santa Barbara is Beautiful and it certainly is, but I think Carmel has us beat.  Really, what I think it is, is the fact that it rains there so everything is green all your round, while here in SB we go through long periods of brown.  This particular beach also had a wave that was not bad.  The wind was sort of side shore/off shore and surf was about cheat high plus with A-Frames.  There were a handful of people scattered up and down the beach.  I was on it.

One of the many section floaters I did to get me to more close out.

One of the many section floaters I did to get me to more close out.

As I was stretching on the beach some “local” tried to give me some shit about going back to Santa Barbara (J7 is a Santa Barbara brand).  He yelled some hardly audible bull shit at me.  I looked at him, waved and smiled and then paddle out about a 100 yards down the beach from him and his buddies.  Like I said there were peaks up and down the beach all rather similar looking.  I saw no point in causing a raucous.   I got a few, but it was a little more walled then I would have liked it to be and all the sets were closed out with few corners.  I did a quickie as to not piss off Heather too much.  I was also interested in seeing  a bit of the town.

The main drag, Carmel.

The main drag, Carmel.

I was really impressed by the town of Carmel.  Cleanliness wise it was so much nicer then Santa Barbara.  I saw very few homeless.  The place just felt a bit more classy to me all around.  I think it is because Santa Barbara is really broken into three shopping sections, Downtown, Montecito and  Upper State, while in Carmel they just have a few block radius.  I am not being a hater on SB, it is my home after all, I just think if we could clean up some of the bums and panhandling on State Street it might class the town up a bit.

Carmel

Carmel

We meandered about the town for a bit taking in all the sights there were to see.  It was mostly just strolling along window shopping considering the fact that we could not afford to eat or buy anything due to the upscale nature of the town.  It was nice to take in some of the architecture and enjoy all the little parks through out the town.  I would call it time well spent.

Large fig tree in Carmel.

Large fig tree in Carmel.

Cool Charlie Chaplin painting we came across on our walk about.

Cool Charlie Chaplin painting we came across on our walk about.

It was getting late.  I wanted to check out the Mission, but we also had a long drive back to Santa Barbara ahead of us.  It would have to wait for another trip. I am always fine with leaving something more to do.  The plan was to stop at the local grocer in town and pick up supplies to do a little beach front BBQ on this chill little spot I found along the PCH the previous night.  It seemed a great spot for a sunset BBQ.  I noticed there was also the possibility of some surf potential too.  Always the ulterior surfing motive.

The problem with doing a BBQ when you have nothing is the fact that you need to get everything or get innovative.  The food was the easy part.  I bought a pair of cheap tongs and found some plastic silverware.  I still need a cutting device.  I bought a pack of razor blade edges for a buck.  It would do.  I got some veggies,  two nice steaks,  some mesquite and strawberries for dessert.  It was on.
MillCreek21414We got to my little spot and sure enough not only was it the pristine picnic spot I had thought, but it was all I had hoped in a surf spot and more.  I had stumbled upon the wave completely by accident the previous day when Heather had to use the restroom.  I had found a Big Sur Emma Wood.  From the actual picnic area the surf spot is invisible.  If you follow a little dirt path, cross a small creek, you will come around a head land into a small cove about 400 yards wide.  The cove had cliffs on both sides and some boulders on the outside to the south.  The entire cove was protected from the wind.

I am sure in a rainier season this creek runs a bit faster. On this day it was easy crossing.

I am sure in a rainier season this creek runs a bit faster. On this day it was easy crossing.

At the southern corner of the bay there was a left coming in that looked more then kill-able.  It would feather off the outside boulders before standing up on the inside sand bar creating an end section that is a high performance surfer’s dream.  Airs, hits, reverses, anything was possible and the best part was the landing was in sand.  There was even a right that the left would reform into on the other side of the peak.  I stuck mainly to the left.  I had a fucking ball.  It was not bigger then head high, but super fun.  I bet with the right wind it would barrel.
MilCreekSeq1I had an hour of light left and the cove was situated perfectly for evening light too.  Heather pulled out the telephoto and ran off a few shots while I went to town.  Sure it was a little on the crazy side to go surf some off the beaten path spot in the middle of shark land during peak feeding hour, but how could I not go slay some peaks.  It ended up being the best surf of my trip so I am glad I did.
BigSurFeb14_2-332After the surf I lit up the grill and cooked a fine meal of roasted vegetables and steak.  We even indulged in a nice bottle of syrah though I was only able to take one glass off of it since I had to drive us home.  It was a great ending to an interesting and fun trip.  While most couples were spending Valentines Day at some restaurant that was over crowded and staff over worked spinning their wheels for an oblivious clientele who were duped in going out as a result of a made up holiday, my chick and I spent it eating in the sunset and drinking under the stars.  I even  bought her a rose while she was waiting in line at the butcher counter and surprised her with it at the table.  Sometimes even a scoundrel like myself can be romantic.
BigSurFeb14_2-526On a final note I would like to say that I was very taken with Big Sur and will certainly be looking to spend some more time there in the near future.  The surf potential is really endless.  All your ability to score is dependent on is your commitment, dedication, time and level of crazy.  I for one plan on making many more surf excursions to this special piece of the California Coast.

 

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***If you have just stumbled upon this piece and want to be brought up to speed before continuing on or need to refresh your memory on where we left off as a result of my lack of diligence and procrastination as a blogger check out Part 1: Big Sur, A Land of Endless Possibility and Part 2: Blind Exploration***

This wave definitely looked kill-able and from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff.  I have learned many of time in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so.  I eve had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike.  If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it.  Next time...

This wave definitely looked kill-able from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff. I have learned many of times in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so. I even had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike. If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it. Next time…

Finally after much traversing south down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 we came upon a small nondescript parking lot that by location appeared to maybe be Sand Dollar Beach.  I would also like to note that I had began to notice for the past few miles lots of areas that appeared to be surf-able while driving past.  Sand Dollar, being completely unmarked happened to be the first parking area I came to since I had started to see lots of surf.  I pulled up to a gate house that was closed, though the lot was open with an honor box for the $5 parking fee.  I was at a loss to understand what exactly I was paying five bucks for considering it was an unprotected beach, and unattended parking lot with no amenities other then a sketch ass water less prison style bathroom.

Its funny that in a place as remote as Big Sur there is still room to have your money taken from you around every corner.  I was surprised a fucking squirrel didn’t try and extort ten dollars from me to watch my car and “keep it safe”. Whatever, at this point my long search was over and surf was found.  Just to be sure I ran half way down the trail to the beach to make sure it was surf-able before donating my five smackers.  Yes, I am that fucking cheap.

Sand Dollar  Beach Big Sur

The $5 view. Certainly far from epic, but it was clean and surf-able. I was on it.

By this time it was early afternoon and a rather splendid one at that, especially for central California.  The sun was still out and the temperature warm.  Heather and I were stoked to spend a chill afternoon on the beach.  I pulled both my boards, my 5’10 and my 6’1 step up.  With no one out and nothing around except for huge cliffs and rock formations I had no way of gauging how big it was out there.  I don’t know what it is about once one gets above Point Conception, but all scale for actual wave size and power are out the window for me.  I guess I am and always will be a pampered Southern California surfer.

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this...

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this…

We loaded up and headed down a trail about 200 yards or so down to the beach.  As we descended down to the beach  I was able to get a better lay of the land.  As far as wave height, I still had no idea.  Could be head high, could be double overhead.  I would find out soon enough.  After coming down a few flights of stairs we found ourselves standing in the middle of a large beach closed in by a massive cliff headland to the north corner and a series of copious rock formations to the south end. The sand was of an almost dark green pigment.

I pulled out my step up since now at beach level the surf was with out a doubt a bit more size able then I had initially intended.  I did not know for certain, yet estimated that it was surely over head on the outside.  In a futile attempt to get the lay of the land I took a walk to the south side of the beach to see if there was anything with more shape then what the break had to offer.  Maybe I would find some tucked away reef or wedge between or even inside of the rock formations.  I found nothing of the sort, but between two of these enormous rocks was a deep water channel that looked as though it could provide an easy paddle to the outside.

Unsure of the potential hazards of taking that route I decided against it.  I really had no idea what was under the water there and to be honest did not want to find out.  The paddle out from the middle of the beach where we laid camp looked annoying and long, but seemed to me to be the safest way to go.  Also I have a saying I have always lived by my entire surfing life by: “if you cant make the paddle out through the impact zone then you have no business being out there”.  This mantra I especially try and hold to in places where clear channels exist.  The last thing any one who surfs should do is put himself/herself in a situation that is beyond said surfer’s skill or fitness level.  If you can’t handle the beating it takes to make it from the beach then you probably should not be out there in the first place.  I have seen and even saved one kook too many that got in over his head as a result of an easy channel access.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Keep in mind that the place was pretty deserted aside from one or two other couples on the beach.  The one dude that did have a board with him, had a long board and was bailing.  Judging from the conditions I assume he had a look and decided to not paddle.  Ironically the place is pretty much written up as the most user friendly beach for surfing in all of Big Sur, maybe with a jet ski.  It looked far from friendly, cold and a lot of work for little reward seemed more like it.  While exploring the beach I found all these pale greenish little rocks rounded and smooth from the ocean that looked like jade.   I am pretty sure it wasn’t although I read later on some where that Sand Dollar Beach is also called Jade cove because of the green stones that litter the beach.  People do on occasion actually find pieces of jade down there.  Whether the few I took with me are jade or not is beyond me.  They looked cool and fancied by them I slipped the little green rocks into my pocket and walked back to where Heather was chilling.

By this point I didn’t know what to do.  As I was watching it the surf conditions were steadily becoming more rough by the minute even though the wind was dead still.  Literally ten minutes prior it was glassy.  Big Sur, go figure.  The sensible part of me was ready to bag it.  I didn’t come up to Big Sur to surf anyhow and at least I tried.  It had been a fun a day.  Why not just hang out and enjoy the beach with my girl?  Unfortunately the obsessive compulsive side got the best of me and I found myself suiting up for no other reason then the fact that I was there and the initial objective was to get wet and that was exactly what was going to happen. I for whatever reason decided to put my step up away and pull my 5’10.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience.  Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

Making the most out of the mess that it was out there.

I walked to the water’s edge all suited up hood and all.  I figured the water had to be cold and with nothing but white water as far as the eye could see I knew I was going to be spending more time under the water then on top of it.  The waves were breaking way out side as I began to work my way through the first inner bar.  Then I moved on to the second.  By the time I cleared this I had no idea where I was.  The current was all over the place.  From that vantage I had a good look at what the outside had on offer.  Overall it looked like a bunch of giant close outs that I did not have enough board under me to even deal with.  Meanwhile the second bar I was sitting on was offering some head to over head reform that was pretty sick looking and way cleaner then the outside.  It was a bit hard to line up with all the turbulence and current, but I made the most of what there was to surf.  I figured at the very least it was worth a twenty count.   Heather had the camera out and somehow managed to get a few shots despite all the mess.
BigSurfSeq2Believe it or not it was not as cold out there as it looked.  After an hour or so of working my arms in search of kill-able reform and figuring I pushed the shark attack envelope enough for one day I opted to call it quits.  I accomplished my goal and found a few waves.  I also learned a bit about the erratic and volatile conditions of Big Sur.  In particular an age old lesson I get constantly schooled on whenever I am north of Santa Barbara is that the surf is always way bigger, way meaner, way trickier, way more powerful then it looks from the beach.  You think by now after all  my travels, trials and tribulations this would have hit home by now.  It never does though proving Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.  I sort of feel like that is exactly what surfing is all about.  Sometimes we do get different results.  Maybe surfing is insanity?

A glimpse of what is to come...

A brief moment of victory in a session that was for the most part filled with defeat.

I floated in stoked to have gotten wet and ready to make the most out of what was left of the day with Heather.  To her credit she took all of the surf photos of that I have used in this piece.  Who would have thought a chick from Ohio with no beach or surf background could manage to snag some decent pics?  Go figure.  I came in and shed off my neoprene.  It was still warm and sunny on the beach.  Since I never have to time to actually hang out and relax on the beach at home this mini vacation was the perfect time.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey.  Cold water is still cold water.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey. Cold water is still cold water.

My plans of a nice sunny afternoon on the beach were quickly thwarted by a crazy dense fog that rolled in with the blink of an eye.  With this fog came a very eerie bone chilling cold air.  That was it for us, we were done.  Heather and I packed up and headed back to the car.  Both our tummies were rumbling for a repast back at the cabin in front of the fire place.  Of course we had absolutely no food and no idea where we could buy the antipasto spread we were looking to enjoy with our wine.  Our first stop was this chill bakery/restaurant ironically called “The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, where we procured a cup full of fresh local olives and two specialty croissants.    I figured just in case we find nothing else at the very least we could make a meal out of that.  I must say from the little I saw and ate from there I would highly recommend and I will with out a doubt stop there my next time through.

The warm fire we couldn't  wait to get in front of.  Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

The warm fire we couldn’t wait to get in front of. Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

Then we came across a bull shit deli/market that was technically hardly one or the other.  One thing I will tell you about Big Sur the scenery may be free, but everything else is far from it.  Be prepared to pay top dollar for everything.  Even though its only 30 miles from Carmel one  would think it was on the fucking moon with how over priced everything is.  Long story short (ha, that’s a laugh with anything I tell) we spent a combined $70 on olives, croissants, a cucumber, two tomatoes, cheese, salami, prosciutto, bread sticks and a bottle of syrah(which was one of the cheaper purchases).  That being said I made a pretty bad ass antipasto platter that paired great with the wine.  It was excellent way to end a fun day of adventuring.
bigsurplatter

 

Day two of our fun tilled Big Sur adventure was over.  Tune in next time for part 4 of this epic saga of a romantic getaway gone wild!  Well as romantic as a trip with a surfer can possibly be.  I promise more great pictures and maybe even some tamer surf?  Find out in Part IV: The Final Juant.

A glimpse of what is to come...a northern Emma Wood?

A glimpse of what is to come…a northern Emma Wood?

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The North Side of Point Sur.  Notice the sick little left hander in the background.  I will only say this about the photo, it was shot about a mile away.  Translation, that wave is way bigger then it looks! Harder to get too as well.

The North Side of Point Sur. Notice the sick little left hander in the background. I will only say this about the photo, it was shot about a mile away. Translation, that wave is way bigger then it looks! Harder to get too as well.

There is a place just north of San Simeon, and south of Carmel that will change one’s perspectives on life in general. A mere seventy some odd miles of coastline, Big Sur is an expanse of vistas and adventure locked into a desolate speck of California that is awe inspiring.  I am a person who has traversed a large part of the coastal world, seen and experienced many amazing things in my life time.  What I came across on my recent trip into Big Sur left my mind blown and my heart longing for a simpler life.  My inner yearning for an existence beyond the reaches of man was once again rekindled.  An answer was posed to the question: “There must be a better way?”.
Big Sur, Northern CoastFor over ten years I have been avoiding this seemingly daunting stretch of coastline.  “Don’t waste your time with Big Sur if you want to surf” said one surf guide.  “The only true locals are the sharks and their brand of localism will kill you” said another.  I even found a statistic claiming the only killer Whale attack in North America ever recorded on a human happened in Big Sur to a knee boarder.  Throw in gnarly erratic weather, frigid water and heavy fog and lets just say I was always far from eager to make my way through.  The only time I travel up the coast is to get waves and rather then waste it and swell on a shot in the dark I have always focused my energy between Monterey and San Mateo Counties where the options and score probability are way better.

The last time I actually did drive the PCH down Big Sur was with my parents.  It was night time, the fog was so thick I could barely see five feet in front of me.  Both my Mom and Dad were passed out, while I clung to the edge of my seat, my ass so tight it could turn coal into diamonds, traversing this crazy windy road with sheer death at times on either side if I was to make a wrong move and go off the road.  When we finally got to San Simeon, our projected destination it was two and a half hours later to go eighty miles and I was so wound up I needed a fucking drink.  Of course the liquor store was closed and the bull shit motel had no mini bar.  I found myself frantically knocking at the night manager’s office to see if he had a nip.  Lucky for me most night auditors are drunks and the guy was stoked to share a flask of whisky with me.

Bixby Creek Bridge, pretty in the day light, but at night with intense fog an easy way to die.

Bixby Creek Bridge, pretty in the day light, but at night with intense fog an easy way to die.

Fast forward back to recently, Heather and I had been talking about doing one of those cliche romantic couple get-a-away type trips for sometime.  Truth be told I had never really been on such a trip before and thought maybe I have been cheating myself all these years.  Also I never have dated the type of woman who would have been interested in such.  Lets face it most of my romantic dealings with women are lucky to last past dropping her off in the morning. This whole serious relationship thing has been completely new ground for me with a harsh fucking learning curve.  Fuck I thought getting proficient at surfing was tough.  It’s a cake walk compared to this.

We decided that we would get a little place somewhere in the woods for a few days in February as sort of a birthday gift/engagement gift.  I wanted to go someplace beyond the reaches of both cell phones and internet.  I really was interested to get away and have some quality one on one time with my lady sans interruptions from the rest of the world.  Whatever the needs of the real world wanted it would have to wait a few days.  Originally the plan was to go find some snow and get a little cabin up in the mountains somewhere.  Then Heather mentioned Big Sur and around that same time a friend of mine from back east had just recently spent some time there and had a rather good time with his girl.

I wanted to try and leave surfing out of the equation as best as possible.  Those of you who are or know die hard surfers know that if you put a surfer near the coast with a chance of scoring waves it will consume him no matter what  the initial objective of the trip was.  As I stated earlier I had not ever really considered Big Sur for a surfing destination thus leaving it in the scope of a potential destination.  We managed to find a cute little cabin in the woods just as we had hoped.  I decided to pack a step up and a 5’10 just in case.  The idea of surfing Big Sur was more of a novelty then anything else to me.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience.  Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience. Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

Just like that the trip was set for February 12-14th.  Believe me going away for Valentine’s Day was not part of my plan and only painstakingly added to the utter cliche of the whole endeavor.  Trust me I cringe at the thought of Valentines Day.  Fuck I wrote a great little piece on the whole fake Holiday: “#@%% Valentine’s Day“.  You can click the link to visit that blog for some fun Lisanti anger blindly targeted at yet another bull shit day.  I must say I was rather looking forward to the trip all things considered.  I never get to do anything different these days being I am so locked into the monotony of my daily routine. Heather and I rarely get any real quality alone time together either, considering our very contrasting schedules and lives.

The Journey North
BigSurFeb14-111
The plan was to leave early in the morning Wednesday the 12th and slowly work our way up Pacific Coast Highway taking in whatever sights came our way.  I hate rushing anywhere when I am on vacation.  Half the fun of taking a road trip some place is the act of getting there.  I have been on some trips where the actual process of getting there turned out to be more fun then the actual objective. Of course thanks impart to an impromptu dinner engagement the previous evening and bit too much wine those great laid plans of an early departure were all but forgotten.  

Instead I decided to go surf New Jetty considering that Heather was still fast asleep, not packed or ready to embark upon an early north mission.  When God closes a door he opens a window after all and in this case it was meager but rip-able new Jetty where I managed to get into an altercation with some stupid kid.  So maybe it wasn’t such a great window after all.  Still I got a few.  I you feel so inclined you can read about that bull shit session in the February SurfLog, the 2-12 entry.

New Jetty 2514

New Jetty living it up in the worlds best average wave and winner of the “better then nothing” category.

In classic Lisanti fashion we did not get on the road till around 2 pm.  Not that it was a really big deal or anything.  At that point I had come to the terms with the fact that it was going to be long past dark before we made it to Big Sur.  My only worry was the difficulty of finding the cabin considering the remoteness of it’s location.  Then again I figured we could cross that bridge when we came to it and it would only add to the adventure. The only positive thing about the late start was not having to worry about traffic since it’s pretty desolate up north and we were timed perfect to just miss the start of rush hour in Santa Maria and the end of it in San Luis Obispo.  The trip was smooth sailing all the up.

When we got into SLO I headed for the coast.  The wind appeared to be on it, but I had that st small hope of being able to find something to surf for feeding hour.  Morro Bay was all blown out.  One guy was paddling the State Beach there, but conditions were far from inviting.  Rather then waste time getting all cold and frustrated attempting to surf trash  I decided to keep cruising while day light was available.  Plus I was hoping to get up to this beach just north of Hearst Castle that is one of the largest elephant seal rookeries along the central coast.  I had missed it on my last trip.

The iconic Morro Rock, Morro Bay

The iconic Morro Rock, Morro Bay

We weaved our way up the coast in the waning light in all its golden red splendor.  The ocean was on one side and the vast coastal hills to the other.  Everything had all the makings of a perfect sunset and I hate wasting one.  I found a chill little spot to pull over just under Point Piedras Blancas.  There we watched the sun slowly sink beyond the horizon into the ocean.  Behind us was the silhouette of Hearst Castle sitting on its hill top perch.  Every time I see that impressive structure I cannot help but imagine what it must have been like to watch a sunset from one of the many verandas there.   Nothing puts a day in perspective for me better then a good sunset.

Hearst Castle, a must visit if one finds himself on the Central Coast.

Hearst Castle, a must visit if one finds himself on the Central Coast.

Luckily for us the beach with all of the seals was only a few miles away and we got there with just enough twilight left to see the scene.  As soon as I stepped out of the car I was greeted with the craziest seal sounds I had ever heard.  There was barking, screaming, cooing, snickering, snorting and howling.  It was almost comical.  Then I got to the bluff and the entire beach was littered with seals.  It was rather entertaining and if not for the darkness and intense cold I think I could have stayed there for hours. The show had to go on and we were still a good few hours from our targeted destination.

For awhile there was nothingness as far as the eye could see.  At most times I was the only car on the road in the darkness.  After a good forty minutes of driving we entered the southern most part of Big Sur, Ragged Point. There was a small little resort area there called, you guessed it, “Ragged Point”.  Thinking it might be our last look at civilization for God knows how long I decided we should stop and see about getting dinner.  I also would like to mention that I forgot to grab my Central California Tour Guide book, only grabbing my surf guide and the weakest on of the three I had at that.  Figuratively and literally in the dark we decided a bird in the hand was better then two in the bush.

The restaurant there was certainly bit on the fancy and pricier side than I was hoping for. Beggars can’t be choosers and in the rush of our late departure I also failed to pack adequate groceries for a journey into the uncivilized unknown.  I pride myself on my ability to understand the terrain I am entering on any trip I decide to take on.  I was this time around distracted by other stupidity going on in my life prior to departure and therefore found myself completely unprepared and thus had to wing it.  Alone I don’t really have a problem with that, but with Heather in tow I felt a bit more uptight and nervous of our situation.

My expectations for this place was that I was going to shell out a lot of money for a less then stellar meal.  Believe it or not I was rather shocked at the quality and portion size of our food.  Heather ordered a very tasty sauteed jumbo scallop dish and I had a Lobster Pot Pie that easily had  six ounces of lobster in it and was so tasty I considered stopping in on my way home.  Whatever the case if your ever in Big Sur I highly recommend stopping for at least one meal at the Ragged Point Dinning Room.

After a our splendid meal it was back on the road for us.  We were graced with a full moon and a very clear night making  driving conditions as good as could be asked for in Big Sur.  Seriously the moon was so bright I could nearly seemas good as if it were day. We drove the windy road in and out of the craggy coast line.  About thirty minutes in I decided to pull over and have a look at my surroundings. Heather was sound asleep in the passenger seat as I stepped out onto the seaside cliff and looked out.  Everything looked amazing in the silvery moon light.  I had not seen so many stars since my tenure in New Zealand. The ocean was shimmering as the waves crashed in and out of the cliffs below.  There was some type of rock formation out in the ocean as well that was just getting pounded by the force of the waves.   It was a surreal moment and reminded me just how lucky it was to be alive to experience such an amazing moment of solitude.

Our Cabin was about another half hour or so in the actual town of Big Sur.  When we got there it was after ten and everything was closed and not a person was stirring.  The cabin was off the Highway 1 down a non-nondescript dirt road.  Basically what this came down to is that the road was near impossible to find.  I was given the most vague directions possible: “look for a big tree with a group of mail boxes near it.  Road is passable by all vehicles but may be  seem intimidating if your not used to country roads.”  This is all I had to go by.

After almost thirty minutes of driving around in circles I finally came to what I thought to be the road up to the cabin.  “Accessible by all Vehicles”, well I guess that is a different understanding for different people.  In my little Civic coupe that is very low to the ground this muddy, rocky, root filled, pot hole ridden excuse for a road seemed like it was going to be near impossible.  Coming into to it we passed a rusted out tow truck and a beat up atv.  We figured that must be the Calvary to help get guest out who get stuck.

Our cute little cabin in the woods.

Our cute little cabin in the woods.

This creepy ass road through the woods in the dark with no one in sight just had a very “Deliverance” sort of feel to it.  Then to make matters worse the road began to climb at like an 18% grade.  How my car made it was beyond me.   Sure she bottomed out a few times, but came through no worse for the wiser.  We finally got in front of this cabin and it is full on looking a bit like “The Evil Dead”.  I was waiting for Bruce Campbell to show up with a chainsaw attached to his arm and start hacking away at the rape tree.  Actually it was a cute little cabin and I think both of us were very happy to get inside.  As soon as we were settled I built us a warm fire, which we wasted no time in snuggling down in front of.

Nothing rewards a long journeys end like a warm fire.

Nothing rewards a long journeys end like a warm fire.

From there it was into bed for us with excitement for what adventures tomorrow would hold.  I was hoping to find some waves.  Both of us were interested to see all the sights that we missed arriving in the dark.  Among all things it was nice to leave all of our troubles of the real world behind and fins a little time in seclusion with just us and nature.  In my opinion you cant ask for much more out of life then that.

For more Big Sur Adventuring check out Part II!!!!!!!
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