We had been driving for 6 hours with little fuel left in our car and our tummies. But we didn’t care. Or at least I didn’t. Over the next mountain, would be the mother of all places to find myself on our West Coast road trip. A place that I had heard about via Kerouac and once met friends. The only place that would make a vegetarian like me settle for chicken cup-a-noodles for dinner. I didn’t need to search for anything else. The car and my tummy could wait. I had found what I was looking for. It was time to rest and be still.
The sea swell is bigger and the water stays cold here. Red woods meet cliff sides and campgrounds stay full. It’s a place that allows you to comfortably retract from civilisation but where you can still find organic milk for your tea and the most memorable pain au chocolat for breakfast. The sun sets over the ocean and gum trees grow the way they would at home – with no hesitation and with plenty of falling, heavily scented leaves. The birds fly in flocks, the elephant seals wiggle and spar and gardens of wild flowers grow atop the hills.
We didn’t have an agenda. Just to camp by the cliffs, among the trees, to drive south then north again and to explore every place in between. We found many places worth noting – a deli lunch in San Simeon, a field full of yellow, a lucky last camp site, a sunset worthy dirt road, a waters edge restaurant, gum nuts, and eventually gas (petrol) for $6 a gallon.
I had been searching for a place like Big Sur. It didn’t let me down. I often romanticise places and their memories, building up the positive parts in my mind and mistakenly leaving plenty of room for heightened expectations. But Big Sur, I really do feel, is a place that will always live up to the size and beauty of its name. I certainly wasn’t disappointed on arrival and I know that my next visit will be just as good as the time that I found myself for the first time there, content by its beauty – rested and still.