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The Adventure of Big Sur (from Sept. 20)

October 16, 2012

Dear Bill and Sarah –

I walked two separate miles on highway 1 this week.  They were on either side of and in between walking up hills and along the cliffs and standing at the edge where the water meets the rock.

I learned how to pack a bag for a long walk, looking for the breezes and grass and my feet in good shoes and occasional laughter at unexpectedly triumphant views.

I found another entrance to Narnia.

If you pull over onto the side of the road and walk down the steep path near the state park, err right on the first fork, but take left across the wooden footbridge that takes you briefly under the redwoods, there is an abandon mineshaft.  Walk through it and all the world stops – the roaring of the waves, the buffeting of your ears, the motion and calling of the seagulls.  You are the only motion, suddenly, under this mountain.  It’s damp.  It’s between and within.

And then you’re tossed out onto the other side – where the crane stands on the water, rising and falling on unbroken waves.  You climb and stop near secretive crabs and blind sea urchins and duck out of view of other visitors.  You are closer now to the crashing of the rocks and the water, sucking and washing and figuring, like dragons locked in brutish, laughing play, creating a world that depends on them.  It untangled me in its cataclysmic constancy.

I had a deep urge to respond to its whelming, roaring statement by leaping, head or feet first, into it’s aqua roil and underwater forests.

I found my quiet again in Big Sur.

I walked up the Tan Bark Trail, across the highway from the trail to Narnia, touching the majesty and silence of redwoods, up into dry, desert heat, sometimes singing to myself, until I reached the Tin House, then headed back down by way of an old fire road.

I set up my tent every night by the light of my headlamp.  A stranger invited me to walk and see the stars on the beach.  So I did.

I prioritized having a beer each night, finding it perfectly satisfying the first night and worth repeating.  1. Big Sur Taphouse to charge my phone upon arriving. 2. Nepenthe with a cup of soup and a free-diving, friendly bartender who gave me the heartfelt parting salutation of “Right on!”.  3. A two-dollar California oatmeal stout in a can from the Big Sur Deli enjoyed by a campfire after two new friends left me there to head back to town.

I awoke and observed the ground-squirrel colony pop up across the final day’s campsite.  I left them to walk through a eucalyptus grove, to where the trees are speaking, and up a hill to gaze across the whitecaps to Alaska. On the other side of the cliff, waves formed from nothing in the perfect curve of their destined beach before cresting and breaking.

I stood at the edge of the continent and looked out.

I found the preceding weekend that my priority was to be here – that despite shifting plans of others, I was going to make it.  It was practically by accident that I ended up being the only one on my trip.  The place gave me the excuse to get what I desperately needed – a soul exfoliation by the wind and the inherent silence that came from elements bigger than my thoughts.

I thought of you both often.

I love you.



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