“Today, this day was a brimming cup,
today, this day was the immense wave,
today, it was all the earth.”- Pablo Neruda
As I left Santa Barbara, the anticipation of staying in Big Sur was almost too much to handle. The dramatic cliffs and seemingly endless sea take my breath away every time. The energy of the land is sacred, and the history of all the great minds who have lived or passed through here is inspirational.
My first stop was one of my regulars, two nights at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. The rustic cabins in the misty redwoods transport me to another time. There is no cell service, wifi, or television. Just you, the forest, and whatever book you are reading at the time. How appropriate that I am reading Henry Miller’s Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch!
I spent multiple hours at the Henry Miller Library browsing the eclectic collection of books, exploring an RV turned pirate ship, and chatting with the library volunteers . As I sat down with one of my favorite poet’s once rare collections (Pablo Neruda’s The Captain’s Verses: The Love Poems), Theo the resident cat jumped up on my lap. He nestled his head directly on my heart. The deep love I felt in that moment was infinite.
You may remember my account of being on the Tan Bark Trail from my last Big Sur blog entry, In the Wild: Big Sur. Last time I only explored the first mile of the trail. This time I wanted to take it 4 miles to the Tin House, an abandoned home built by former New York Congressman Lathrop Brown in 1944. The story goes that the Browns spent one night there and soon discovered that the tin structure made a lot of noise as it shrank and expanded with the changing temperatures and winds. From the house, you are able to look down the coast both north and south for some epic views. This is definitely one of my favorite trails.
The next leg of my journey was to the Carmel Valley, 16 miles east of the coast. I needed a place to stay for two nights before my next vacation rental started, so my options were limited since Big Sur is so busy in the summer. Airbnb.com saved the day again with the perfect cabin on the river. There was nothing around, and all I could hear was the sound of the river, the wind in the trees, and the birds chirping above.
I wanted to explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve for years, and this trip was the time to do it. It took about 4 hours to explore the coastal trails in the park. It was nowhere near as intense as the 1,600ft elevation gain of the Tan Bark Trail, but the coastal beauty and wildlife were awe inspiring. A few of the highlights were seeing Harbor Seals on a small beach in Bluefish Cove. A few were looking up at me, and for some reason I felt moved to dance. Well, the seals did not like my moves because half of them cleared the beach and went into the water! Laughter ensued for the next 5 minutes as all the seal eyes were on me.
The other highlight of Point Lobos was seeing two doe on the beach in China Cove! Have you ever seen deer on the beach?! That makes two times this year I have seen land animals in the ocean (the first was a pig in the water in Aitutaki!).
From Point Lobos, I went to the Monterey Aquarium since my Airbnb host had member passes. Since I was there last, they have revamped their Jellyfish exhibit. They gave it a psychedelic theme with 70s music playing, trippy art, and interactive features that were really fun! A must see for jelly enthusiasts like myself.
Favorite dining experiences:
- Nepenthe – A must if you are anywhere near Big Sur. Their summer special dessert is the best banana cream pie I’ve ever had! Bonus: The Phoenix Shop has local art, jewelry, and textiles for the perfect souvenir.
- Le Bicyclette – A rustic, French eatery in Carmel. This was my 3rd time eating here. I go everytime I am in the area for their wood-fired pizza. The Local Champignon is the best with its portabella, crimini, and oyster mushrooms, carmelized onion puree, and thyme truffle pecorino.
- A Moveable Feast – All I can say is, “Wow!” This restaurant is located on Cachagua Road in the isolated Carmel Valley. There is literally nothing else around. As I opened the unassuming door, I was not sure what to expect from this meal. Think of an old country restaurant with checkered table cloths, deer head mounted on the wall, and a man playing a resonator guitar in the corner. The lighting was dim and filled with Christmas lights, and the bartender wore his workout attire and a baseball cap. Who would know that the meal I would have here would be a gourmet feast! They are only open for dinner on Monday nights and Sunday for brunch, and you must make a reservation. This was my favorite meal of the entire trip due to the uniqueness and quality of the food. A definite “must” if you are ever near Carmel!
What was the most surprising meal you have had? What are your favorite type of travel destinations? How do they make you feel? I’d love to read about them in the comments below!