For whatever reason, this place makes me want to break out into Little Mermaid songs. I want to spin around a colorful hill and sing, “Look at this trove. Treasures untold. How many wonders can one cavern hold? Lookin’ around here you’d think. Sure, she’s got everything.” And while I may not have forks and cool-looking treasures, I feel like a virgin explorer, discovering something untouched for the very first time, despite the hundreds of tourists holding their iPhones in the air.
Every curve of the PCH is stunning but Big Sur is the million dollar picture perfect vignette. I’m happy to say that it’s easy to spot, as there’s zero service in the area. So don’t go at night if you’re paranoid about The Hills Have Eye’s characters throwing spontaneous spike strips in the middle of the road. You’re not tweeting, instagramming, or calling anyone here, which sometimes has its charm. Just say no to electronics and yes to nature and old-fashioned good conversation. Say yes to Big Sur – a stunning drive off the PCH. Take a leisurely trip, follow your nose like Toucan Sam to the intoxicating smells of fresh pine trees and actual fresh air. The hills are alive with the sound of bright blue water and I’m happily enjoying the outdoors in its intended state – clean and vibrant.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
There are some people in this world that enjoy a great hike. I am not one of them. I want to see the big payouts as soon as possible and move on. There is too much to see to be wasting time walking. I respect Big Sur because I can see all the major highlights easily. I can walk through a tunnel, see a gorgeous waterfall on the beach, and check out the redwood trees within an hour. There are many other beautiful trails to see but absolutely not necessary and that’s all fantastic with me.
The Coast Cafe
You may drive by this cafe and ask yourself out of all works of art to put in front of an art gallery, why that one? More importantly what is that? A sweet ass in process? A nice rack? Or maybe a webbed-stemmed cherry? I have no idea what-so-ever but luckily that wasn’t the focal point of my lunch.
As you can tell, I’m both immature and know nothing of fine art, but I can appreciate hobbit-esque windows, bomb bacon pesto sandwiches, mocha espressos, and a great view. Life is better with chocolate, bacon, and a beach but I never imagined I’d be able to have all of them together. My story could easily have had a happy ending here in this moment but believe it or not, there’s more.
I had heard of the great hot springs in Big Sur and of course wanted to give them a try. There are 3 natural pools in the area: Sykes Hot Springs, the Esalen Institute, and the Tassajara Zen Center. The trip to Sykes is a strenuous 6 hour 10-mile journey, while crossing chilly rivers. The Tassajara Zen Center is an 18-mile trek. I’m not doing ANY of that, especially when there’s chocolate and bacon around. So my only real option to experience a hot bath in the Big Sur wilderness is a reservation, only offered 1:00 – 3:00am, at the Esalen Institute. Why the most inconsiderate hours possible? Are the owners literal night owls? I couldn’t tell you, but I still made an effort, although very small, and slept through that opportunity. Yep…
The Bixby Bridge
We timed our arrival perfectly with the sunset, which I’m incredibly happy about. I’ve now come to the conclusion that sunsets seen by jagged cliff shorelines are the most dramatically beautiful in the world. We sat there with a group of tourists from various countries in silence. Every second the sun inched down towards the water felt slightly more intense than the last. If you’re ever in this area around mid-day, see the Big Sur falls with a splash of color and make it to this historical bridge just as the sun starts to perform its finale. It will be the perfect end to a fantastic day.
© Faith’s True Tales 2016. All original words and images by Faith Brady.