“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
― Alan W. Watts
When life seems overwhelming and bubbling over, it’s important to take some personal time and marinate in the purity of the moment. Whether its work or social life, the cure for emotional chaos and calamity is the warmth of the wilderness and the nurture of nature. This past weekend, I took a wonderful little trip up and down the California coast on the historic Pacific Coast Highway with Danny and a few of our friends, leisurely exploring nooks and crannies and enjoying each other’s company. Danny and I had done the drive before a few years ago, but we always found ourselves wishing we had more time to explore tide pools, coves, caves and the great outdoors – so this time, we made a point being leisurely and letting it all soak in.
Constructed over the course of several decades, California’s Highway 1 began segmented construction in 1911 to connect coastal communities. Commonly just referred to as The 1 or the PCH, depending on which leg of the journey you’re on, the route was completed through the Big Sur region in 1939 after securing funding from Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression. After cruising along the 101 into Santa Barbara, we jumped on the 1 in San Luis Obisbo and took a necessary lunch break in Morro Bay where its almost obligatory to get the clam chowder.
Our pit stop took us to the Otter Rock Cafe and man, oh man – was it ever delicious! I had to get some clam chowder in a bread bowl and a Bloody Mary after the table over dished some elated dirt on them, and then some oysters on the half shell to top it all off. Leaving Morro Bay, we set our sights on San Simeon’s Elephant Seal Vista Point. I’ve never seen so many of them – they’re loud, a little bit ridiculous looking, in my opinion they’re one of the few living remnants of God’s sense of humor. There were literally hundreds of them lazing around various coastal beaches, from young pups to more mature seals.
After leaving San Simeon, we were off and away to Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey, winding the roads with wanderlust in our eyes and adventure in our veins. We finally reached Monterey around dinner time and took a nice Uber into the Warf area and searched for a worth dinner spot. After some searching, we found ourselves at Lallapalooza, and let me tell you – their specialty drinks are phenomenal; I had a Skytini with cucumber, mint and Hypnotiq and it was refreshingly fantastic. With some bar hopping under our belt, we resigned ourselves to our hotel in Seaside for the night so we could get a roaring start to our Sunday funday.
My #1 objective for the weekend: find us some tidepools. I don’t know about you guys. but growing up I loved searching through the tide pools for brightly colored creatures and slippery souls. Sea urchins, starfish, hermit crabs, sea anemones – you name it, if it’s in a tide pool I will undoubtedly think it’s awesome. Our first stop on Sunday was at Del Monte Beach just outside of Seaside, then we were on the road again – more concerned about the journey than our final destination. After scouting a few beaches we found ourselves at Garrapata State Park, just a few notches south of Monterey. The park is host to wonderful hiking trails up and down the coast and on clear days it’s wonderful for dolphin watching – we even saw a pod! For the more daring it’s just a hop, skip and a jump down to beach level, and more importantly – you guessed it – tide pools!
On closer inspection, the tide pools evolved into technicolor colonies – so gorgeous!
Visually, there’s something so simple yet stunning about peach flowers against a bright blue sky and I can’t help but try and capture it. I actually took a really similar picture last time Danny and I came through the area, but it was just so delightful that I had to snap another.
One of my personal favorite things about hiking along the cliffs was seeing bits and pieces of old abalone, muscle and clam shells glistening and sparkling in the dirt.
After a leisurely, lovely stroll through the park we were off, off and away – but not without first losing my phone in the car, then finding it, the trunk almost coming open on the drive, rushing out to close it and flinging my phone into the sand….so that five minutes later I’d actually lost it and we had to do a major search along the roadside for the next fifteen minutes. Good news is that we found it, glistening in all it’s rose pink glory in the bright Autumn sky; never a dull moment when you’re with me, I promise. 😉 On our way up the coast we strolled through the area around Pfeiffer Beach near sunset and made a mental note to come back the next day and I’m so thrilled we did, there was so much wilderness to explore – including rocks that had been pulverized so much that a cave had been created in the middle of it, and there was a completely hidden cove with so many stacks of rocks – it was beautiful!
Last, but certainly not least, we caught a stunning sunset near Lafler Canyon – the cotton candy, sorbet skies are permanently etched in my mind and not in my phone because I found myself enjoying the moonrise too much to care – retrospectively, maybe I should’ve asked to stop but the memories will live on.
From start to finish, this past weekend was one for the books and a completely necessary deviation from the normal, routine of everyday life – an escape from the fast paced, high anxiety world that’s part of some weird reinforcement cycle that I’m most certainly an integral part of. As a self proclaimed city kitty, this time away from the sheeple and masses reaffirmed to me that I’ve been overwhelmed with life, over-inundated with work, tasks and relationships and haven’t taken the proper time to reset myself, to meet myself at my core and be unshakable, to find solace in a moment without flustering over the past or fumbling into the future. A weekend without cell phone reception, wrapped up in conversations that ranged from trivial and hilarious to insightful, inspiring and compelling. Before our journey, I felt a dark cloud over my head and an unshakable awkward, anxious feeling but after a weekend swept up in nature and seduced by the open sea air, I found myself calm and collected upon my return to Los Angeles – a change that was hopefully deeply imprinted upon me. Though to be fair, I could always use a good excuse to escape again.
I can’t wait for our next weekend getaway and am already looking up fun routes to and from Oregon for Thanksgiving! When’s the last time you got away for the weekend and where did your wanderlust inspire you to wander to?