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Big Sur

We took this weekend as an excuse to head down to camp in Big Sur. With Jen’s schedule, we had to squeeze it into Friday afternoon through late Saturday night, but that’s ok because it’s just a short jaunt down south. I love it out here.

If you’ve never driven on Highway One, go. Go now. It’s one of the most breathtaking drives you’ll ever take. I read somewhere that the majority of visitors to the area never stick around, but only drive through, stopping alongside the road at the many turnouts to enjoy the scenery. We did that a few years ago, so it was nice to take a couple days and soak more of it in.

The landscape of this place is always changing. No, really. There were two landslides in the last couple months that took out this measly little two lane road. We passed through one area twelve miles south of Carmel which was hastily squeezed into one lane because two months ago, a landslide ripped down the hill and eradicated half the freaking road. Click that link and look at the pictures. No new asphalt was added, and you can see where the seaward lane was severed, leaving only a few dangling pieces of the inland side. I’m not sure how long it took to become operational again, but it looks like the highway corps just flipped Mother Nature the bird, kicked the broken pieces of the southbound side down the mountain, and opened it back up with a timed light so only one way could proceed at the time. Hell yea. The other landslide occurred farther south than we drove and is still closed, which is good because it apparently still looks like this. Mother Nature can be a petty bitch sometimes. But don’t worry, it’s safe.

We set up camp that night and headed down to Pfeiffer beach, which was a secluded beach with some beautiful rock formations. You’d think it would be warm in California this time of year, but it was still a little chilly, and on this beach it was compounded by the fact that the wind was strong enough to knock you over. I still made Jen stay so we could explore and take pictures.

I discovered a beer that night that Jen actually enjoyed, a Hefeweizen, and I plan on exploiting that fact in the future. There are a lot of microbreweries out here I need to explore, and I’m positive they all make a Hefeweizen. We camped near the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park at a nice little place by the river amidst the redwood trees.

We spent most of the day at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and walked a few of the shorter trails. We then took it upon ourselves to walk up Mt. Manuel, an eight mile round trip with three thousand feet gain in elevation. We didn’t make it all the way, but I’d like to think we did at least seventy-five percent. The views were spectacular and you slowly rose above the coastal mountains overlooking the sea, and could finally look down on those smug rich folk sitting atop the far-off mountains in their multimillion dollar homes.

Don't let the brush fool you. That's a near vertical drop-off

The trail wasn’t too bad. It was well laid out and not altogether too steep, but man, in some places it was a sheer drop off of a few hundred feet, cleverly masked by a bunch of underbrush. We passed countless places on the trail where still-visible landslides had taken out most of the hill above and below the trail, leaving only a path the width of a couple feet through which to pass.

I went for a dip in the frigid Big Sur river to cool off. We tried to get back to the more scenic part of the gorge by bounding over slippery rocks, but after getting stuck and talking to a couple of gypsies, we figured it was more time than it was worth, and there was more of Big Sur to see before the sun set.

Our end of the trail was at that waterfall which lies at the heart of Big Sur. We still had a little while left until sunset but we wanted to stick around for the grand finale. Being that drunken revelry is generally frowned upon in these types of places, we discreetly filled our Nalgene water bottle with a Pinot Noir from the Mondavi family winery from the week before, and did a little more exploring. What we found was a secluded enclave surrounded by boulders and funny-looking pine trees, right upon a cliff above the water. It was spectacular. We had that little place to ourselves and were able to watch the sun set in peace, without all those dirty tourists around.

Gods, I love this woman

And if that weren’t enough, as we started driving back north in the twilight, I screeched the breaks in front of cozy little place called the Big Sur Inn. At least, that’s what I think it was called. Every other building on this road, of which there aren’t many, seems like it’s called Big Sur Inn. It was a romantic little hideaway with a few dozen rooms and a quaint little restaurant. We parked there for a few hours and had a dinner, me with my roast duck and Jen with her lamb ribs. The food was delicious and the setting was just perfect. After dinner we made the drive back to our apartment, stopping along the way to gaze slack jawed at the expansive star-filled sky.

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