Coasting

Today, I find myself asking why there has been such a long gap since my last post. It has nothing to do with a lack of material to write about, nor does it have anything to do with school being overwhelming (considering I had a 6 week long winter break). I guess I just have to be honest and admit that I have been lazy. Instead of enhancing my writing skills by divulging into a world of literature and story telling, I have fallen into a routine that involves HBO Go induced excessive naps….

Yes, I have literally bored myself to sleep…

So, getting things back on track I will crank up my days of blogging by starting with a tale of my favorite place on the wild California Coast, BIG SUR!

Although I have spent countless adventures on this rocky, redwood blanketed coast line, this particular trip had the anticipation of being extraordinary. Andrew was coming up from Irivine to see my homeland before we returned to Humboldt and I had an urgent calling to impress him with the Monterey Bay’s outstanding bio diversity.  And since I visited his home earlier that month and had an amazing time experiencing southern California from a local perspective, I knew I had to respond with an equally eye opening adventure (and let’s be honest, where better to start than Big Sur?!)

By 11 pm the night before, the official head count was in. Andrew had arrived from Irvine just hours before and was quickly informed that he would be rising around 7 am for an early start.  The list went as followed: Andrew, Danielle, Clark, Steen, Nick, Otto, and yours truly. My father traded me vehicles and I informed the gang that two members would have to jump in the bed of the truck due to a severe lack of compartment space. 7 am found us passed out in varied areas of my parents home as my demon Jack Russel, Bixby, proceeded to wake us up with her excessive kisses and truly aimed paws. Danielle and I jump out of bed to pack supplies while the rest of the crew struggles to find their wits after a night of mild beer drinking. Right on schedule we cram into the truck as my trusty DJ Danielle finds the music that suits us all best. Oh how the comforting tunes of bluegrass on a sunny morning give rise to a sense of endless possibilities an adventure may bring.

The ocean greets us near Garrapata State park with a massive pod of nearly 150 of Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus). We obviously cease the opportunity and park at the nearest turn out. Following a trail towards the coast we reach a panoramic view of the Pacific. Dolphins moving gracefully through the waters, a jagged coastline plunging into a blue ocean, and friends all around me, I could have gone home satisfied with just that! But the adventure was only beginning…

We continue forward after a few minutes with our dolphin friends, each of us agreeing to drive the long road to south coast in search for jade. The music is turned up, the windows are rolled down, and yet we still attempt to make conversation by yelling over it all. About 20 miles south of the town of Big Sur, Steen knocks on the window informing us that he has a pressing need to pee. Being the slightly reckless driver that I am when under the influence of windy roads and light hearted vibes, I crank the wheel right and park in a random turn out. As Steen seeks relief, Andrew peers up at the dark silhouette overtaking the sky. To his luck and our excitement, Andrew has spotted the critically endangered California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)!  We soon after discover a second condor perched on a cliff about a 50 yards above us. Overcome with severe excitement we remain parked on the side of the narrow highway until the condor’s get tired of our constant oh’s, ah’s, and hell yeah’s.

Our drive eventually finds us at Willow Creek where I give the noobs the run down of jade hunting before we begin auditing the rocks. About a half an hour into the search we all settle into our rhythms and without a word we are carefully and yet frantically digging through rocks, lifting small boulders, crawling into dark spaces, and hoping we might find ourselves a nice piece of jade to take home as proof of our skills and magic. The sun falls past mid day and we all come to the conclusion that there is no jade to be found. Sandwiches are consumed and soon enough we are heading north.

We make frequent and necessary stops along the drive back to Monterey. Beach access points, secret trails, the infamous Big Sur Bakery! All along the way being sure to identify as many bird species as possible (to everyone else apart from mine and Andrews dismay) as well as sharing stories, knowledge, and absurdities with one another. After a quick stop at the general store for rootbeer and candy (we’re children, I know) we jump back in the truck and head up my favorite dirt road that cuts through the darkest redwood grove in the coastal mountains. Old Coast Road offers a strange sort of magic. I have experienced a lot of special moments under that redwood canopy, all shared with close friends or family members.

Owls can be spotted in the later hours of the day and evening, as well as an array of other wildlife. However, considering our groups high spirits, we were satisfied enough with a drive that only yielded ingredients for fond memories. At the highest point of the road where it opens up to a view of Point Sur as well as the expanse of the green pastures making up El Sur Ranch, we climbed out of the truck and took a series of self timer group photographs. None of them involved boring poses and artificially held smiles; all of them included strange movement and uncontrollable laughter.

At the roads end we follow along the cliffs of a canyon that opens up to the Pacific Ocean. The gorgeous Bixby Canyon Bridge ensures safe passage over the steep canyon walls as we find ourselves watching the sun move slowly towards the cover of blue.

Every time I leave Big Sur, it’s always with a tinge of sadness. The place is truly like nowhere else. I have seen the Napali Coast of Kaui, HI, I have driven farther South on the PCH, and I certainly know all about the jagged coastline of the Pacific North West. Yet even still, nothing quite compares to my Big Sur.

As we followed Highway 1 away from my haven, I found myself satisfied with the day. Not just because it was so full of good times, but because I finally had the opportunity of sharing my world with someone who is beginning to mean a whole lot to me. Andrew loved Big Sur more than I had hoped and I honestly couldn’t have asked for more.

On a side (but entirely related) note, I have confirmed the fact that adventure is best when shared.

All photo’s featured in today’s blog taken by Andrew Underwood.

Happy Adventuring

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