Leaving Santa Cruz, must admit disappointment with a long, angry line of commuter traffic slowly struggling north. Through the years, traffic seemed buoyant vacationers but this column emits no positive energy.
Alter plans as Monterey and Carmel remain half-hidden in fog: been there, done that. Find Point Lobos Preserve enshrouded though, which bums me out.
Suspect Highlands Inn clientele find fog unacceptable, as Carmel Highlands bathes itself in pristine sunlight, and offshore ocean proves again a welcome companion. (Am reminded when kids were little and contended for which would “ride shotgun”: one always steady in peripheral vision… now it is road edge and ocean).
In Big Sur, Pfieffer State Park’s campground is full, and cars line highway’s shoulder. Hardy folks lug folding camp chairs, backpacks and beer coolers, as they head toward spot where river and ocean meet.
Nepenthe, last visited sometime in the Seventies, deserves a visit for “old time’s sake” and proves as wonderfully rewarding as memory’s vision. It’s huge patio fireplace, clean and already laid with kindling evokes evenings when, in surrounding dark of night, we gathered as might some long-ago “Flintstones” sharing atavistic companionship. Inside, serpentine bar snakes toward windows rich in achingly beautiful ocean view.
Outside tiny village Lucia, Lime Kiln SP beach seems well populated: a good sign, considering anticipated closures of our parks. Again, at Julia Pfieffer SP, cars lining CA-1 raise a question of whether park is full, or just too costly. Entering Los Padres National Forest am surprised at light traffic (am used to slow-moving RVs), but, passing Plaskett campground, realize they’re all parked to enjoy the view.
Pause at Willow Creek Picnic Ground to stare over OUR version of Eire’s “Cliffs of Moher” and add to camera-happy sojourners.
At San Simeon, no cars clog CA-1 awaiting permission to enter Hearst’s Castle. (Have we lost our enthusiasm for seeing how the one-percent live more extravagantly than we do?)
Curiosity (and a near-full parking lot) entice me to join a throng at Elephant Seal Preserve and watch these ungainly creatures, sun, sand, shade and swim. (But, are they swift enough to rush an NFL quarterback?)
At Morro Bay, pass through a town which seems to allow only building of motels and restaurants. Wander along several beaches, always conscious of how this “Gibraltar” seems so out-of-place along California shores. Chat briefly with a man who’s noticed an empty beach: as his two pre-teen daughters gambol with sand and surf, he seems to welcome reverie relief.