"...I decided to visit California for a year or two to see its wonderful flora and the famous Yosemite Valley. All the world was before me and every day was a holiday, so it did not seem important to which one of the world's wildernesses I first should wander."
--John Muir (1868)
Traveling south from Santa Cruz, we follow the curve of Monterey Bay along the seaside towns and agricultural fields spilling out of the Salinas Valley. Truly a cornucopia, this valley produces lettuce, strawberries,
artichokes and other foods that ship to the entire country. We stop at a veggie stand in Watsonville and buy artichokes (5 for $1!!), berries, squash, kiwis and avocados to take with us into the hinterland for we know there
are no stores where we are going.
Big Sur (El grande pais de la Sur) is not a town or a county or a peninsula or a state. It is a vast, ill-defined land where rugged mountains meet the sea and where artists and writers have been drawn for
more than 70 years. The road is California Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, and runs roughly 90 miles from Carmel, just below Monterey, to San Simeon where William Randolph Hearst built his castle. Highway 101 runs parallel to
1 about 30-50 miles to the East and in between is a roadless, rugged, steep and hostile wilderness. Hwy 1 was built using convict labor and was completed in 1937. Dozens of towering bridges span the frequent canyons that meander out of the coastal mountains. Electric service didn’t reach into Big Sur until the 50s.
Even today, the few hardy souls who live there must have a burning drive for isolation, inconvenience and extremes of all kind... but the beauty of the scenery makes all that seem insignificant.
Big Sur coastline with the Bixby Creek bridge in view
We’ve had reservations at Kirk Creek campground for months. Landing one of the edge-of-the-bluff campsites was an obsession with me once I first read about this campground. So here we were, finally arrived
at site #21 for a week. No electricity, no showers, no drinking water, pit toilets, no cell service, no internet, no stores, just this view from our site:
Moonset and the milky way from our campsite
So my next few posts will make up for a week off the grid with pictures of some of the unique places of this special area.