The massive and powerful waves of the Pacific and the jagged rocks at the bottom of the California coast constantly meet with such intensity and force.
To say that the fate of any poor soul who gets caught in between is bleak is a great understatement. But from the safe and distant haven above, atop the cliffs, this dangerous scene transforms into panoramas so stunning, so breathtaking that one might be inspired to risk descending down to it just to experience its beauty at close range.
Such is the magic of Big Sur. And one could not look at its beauty without trembling with inspiration.
It was here in the Big South where I decided to celebrate (or lament, depending on one’s perspective) my thirtieth year of being alive and find some calm. Or perhaps just buy myself time to lick my wounds.
Whatever it was I was trying to find, I couldn’t tell you for sure. And whether or not I found whatever it was I was trying to find, I couldn’t say either. But I definitely found something.
In this quiet retreat just several hours north of Los Angeles, where Kerouac himself found temporary respite from alcohol abuse, there is great power vibrating from the sea and the land itself. But there is also a peaceful and soothing feeling that could cure the weariest traveller and convert the hardest skeptic.
Here, the wind blows strong but clean, and the Santa Lucia Mountains stand majestic yet also humble and ever green, even in the grayest of winter. Here, the land is preserved and the tranquility is ever so carefully maintained, with general stores standing in place of food chains and a few rustic cabins replacing a sprawl of modern concrete buildings.
Here, endangered California condors fly unafraid and so close to the land, you can almost feel the wind under their wings. Beaches are wild with weeds and sea fans washed ashore. Redwoods grow high and undisturbed. Creeks run clear and steadily. Cows pasture and sea otters wade happily at their leisure. And occasional predatory cats feast at their hearts content, without any fear of starvation.
Here in Big Sur, between the stunning Bixby Bridge in the north and Ragged Point in the south, is a seemingly endless land of daunting temperament and of gentle treasures – from snow-white waterfalls to blue-green coves to unexpected delights and secret nooks and passages. It’s a land of wonderful contrasts so spectacular and inviting you’d want to stay forever.