We’d hoped to head out along Big Sur, taking the One north all the way to Santa Cruz from SLO. The storm had been heavy though, and we were warned that the One would be closed and the visibility no more than a few feet. The idea of driving one of the most spectacular coastal highways in the world and not being able to see six feet in front of us, let alone the actual coast, was a little heartbreaking. Not to mention it would take an age. I was worried and grumpy, but Jordy, being the calm and wonderous being he is, said we should take it a few miles and just see how the weather faired. And I’m so glad we did. The road cleared through the hills and as we wound down to the coast, and the miles of beach ahead, the fog was lifting and the view could not have been more amazing. A clear, blue day has nothing on the atmosphere of the silver sky we beheld, melting into the ocean and glimmering away on the rough waves as the sun peaked through the clouds. It was truly something. The Big Sur drive itself is slow and winding at the best of times, but I hung out car windows taking pictures and we pulled in at tidal pools to watch herds of elephant seals nap on the dark sand. The road becomes steep and winding as it heads to Monterey, and the rugged edges and cliff tops, old stone bridges and deep canyons down to the coast feel timeless. Few were out on this stormy day and it made for a very special afternoon, being the only two souls on a grey beach. We made it slowly to Santa Cruz where we were staying with an old friend of Jordy’s. This particular friend grows chardonnay and lives out in the redwoods. We arrived long after sunset, winding our way north of the town and not knowing quite where we were, so waking up to a view of these trees stretching high and mighty outside the kitchen door was breathtaking. I know of no better way to get through a night of too much wine than the cool fresh air and sight of the redwoods in the morning mist.
North of San Francisco (a town deserving of a whole other post), we wound through the lovely Point Reyes National Park. We’d hoped and planned to take lunch at the highly anticipated Marshall Store, for what we’re told are the best oysters in the country, but it was closed for the day. We’d know this if we’d bothered to check their website or phone ahead, but in the end were not so worried, as it was a drive worth taking and a coast worth seeing. Nor were we worried that the ‘clothing optional’ hot springs we’d hoped to visit further north were closed due to the weather, as it meant we got to spend a whole morning deep in Montgomery National Forrest, marveling at redwoods and rambling green ridges, thick with lichen and deep in fog. We took a hundred pictures between us but none of them quite capture the light or freshness of the day.
The stretch of California, climbing along most of the west coast makes for some of the most varied and lovely parts of the States I’ve seen, and we barely touched the surface in the few weeks we were there. My big dream is to hit Yosemite one of these days, though certainly not in mid-winter, as it is now. This weather is fine, but it suits raincoats on the coast and the climbs of the north and travelling with your favourite guy.