And I think, after visiting the castle, we then drove further up the coast to Big Sur. But maybe not. Maybe I just think I went there because how could I not have gone there if we lived in LA for those three years. Isn't it a place that everyone goes? Didn't we drive up the coast back then? Look at the views? Take in the trees? I'll have to ask my parents. See if they know. Or if they only remember the Hearst Castle pool, too.
Because I am not sure if I've been before, this visit this weekend to Big Sur was my first visit. As it was my husband's first visit, too. We had planned this trip a while ago. More than a year ago actually. Around our anniversary, 2014, but then the plans fell through and here we are now.
We had a full weekend, starting with a drive from Ojai to Morro Bay on Friday night. It took five plus hours due to early season mud slides on the 5 that closed the roads and moved everyone over to share in our trip. A stop in Los Olivos certainly helped and finally, we were in Morro Bay, for a deep night sleep and a planned early start to our day.
We left Morro Bay Saturday morning to work our way up the coast, stopping first at The French Corner Bakery, in Cambria, for perhaps the best cinnamon roll I have had in a long time (vegan diet be damned). And then worked our way along Route 1, stopping only once to take in the view and twice when the road became a single lane and we had to wait our turn. And then we were there, in Big Sur, which was not quite what I expected. Less a town and more pockets of restaurants and resorts, trails and campgrounds, scattered along the coast when the land became wide enough for something more to be built.
Now I can talk about the views and the trees, the smells and the sounds. I can share our delicious meal, perched high over the ocean at the family owned restaurant, Nepenthe. And tell you about the most amazing chocolate cake that we had for dessert. Or the ride we then took north of Big Sur, where the beauty of the coast became even more profound and we realized that the trip down from the north was even more spectacular then the drive up from our home. I can share our discovery of a resort called The Ventana Inn and Spa and how lovely it was to sit quietly in the sun towards the end of our day and plan our trip back - hopefully with our kids - perhaps next spring.
I can share all these things and more, but what really sticks with me was our stop at the beach as we made our way back to Morro Bay for another night of rest.
The sun was just getting to that low-in-the-sky point where the light is just right. Not quite pink yet but softer. And we hit a stretch of road that was flat, and pulled away from the edge with about a quarter mile of brush between us and the ocean. We parked the car to stand outside and just take in the freshness of the air and the beauty of the sky. And there, right next to where our car was parked, was this small, wooden stair, built just for us and beckoning us over and through the prickly bushes and low beach grass to the edge of the cliff.
It was not too high. Only about twenty feet or so. And we had watched, as we made our way along the often used path, a young man walk towards the ocean and disappear over the edge. There was a way down.
When it was our turn to climb down to the soft, wet sand, the sun mirrored our movements, sitting deeper into the sky, now reflecting pink against the sides of the bluff. Save for the man and his friends off to the right, the beach was ours and we walked away and around large rocks to a part of the sand that was empty and waiting for us.
The water was cold, too cold to swim, though the thought crossed my mind. Still we took off our shoes and our feet took in the coolness of the ocean tide as we waded along the silent shore. And soon the sun was gone. Nestled deep into its watery nighttime home and we knew it as time to go.
The remnant of light still echoed along the water and sand, and up the rocks and bluff we climbed. Easier than going down. And we followed the path back to the worn, wooden steps and over to the road and to our car. And we continued on our drive, towards the darkened sky in front of us as the last bits of dusk began to dim behind our backs and out over the ocean.