Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘North California’

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!!!!!!!
BigSurFeb14_2-479

Advertisements

Read Full Post »