If you’ve got a three day weekend, there’s more than enough time to escape down Highway 1 toward Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named for the adventurous and kind-hearted daughter of Big Sur’s first wave of Homesteaders. I recommend taking the Slow Coast from San Francisco to Monterey before you rush off to Big Sur. Take your time! You can even stop for Taco Bell on the beach in Pacifica and sleep affordably at The Otter Inn on Cannery Row. We needed a mid-trip break from sleeping in the car and this little hotel with an ocean view saved our lives. Ditch the hotel coffee and run full speed to Bright Coffee on Lighthouse Avenue for quality beverages and some very very tempting artisan home goods browsing.
Of all the spots to love in Big Sur, my favorite is the Henry Miller Memorial Library. It’s “the place where nothing happens” and where I always take advantage of a little time alone on the porch with the cats. This trip, I didn’t even make it inside! The library is a sanctuary. I use my time there to breathe, reflect, and reset. It feels safe, like home, and I don’t visit half as often as my soul requires. The library is a bookstore, performance venue, and art center devoted to the memory and spirit of Henry Miller, an American upstart and resident of Big Sur. You don’t need to know anything about him or the story of the library to enjoy it but it definitely helps. Take a moment, donate generously, and have a good sit. Pet a kitty, take a load off, and find a bit of peace.
The brightest thing I have learned from my travels is that wide open space and the marvel of nature have authentic restorative powers. It’s best not to waste them. When you’re driving around town, plan ahead and take the country route. Roll down the windows and take a look around. Even a short drive down a pretty road can do wonders. Quiet your mind and indulge in the moment as often as you can.
Until next time!
The only time I’ve had my Tarot read was in a dark corner of a company Christmas party last year. The first card she drew was The Hermit, no surprise. The Hermit card represents a conscious choice to separate yourself from others “for a certain purpose where being alone is instrumental.” I have always been drawn to lonely stretches of highway and had fantasies about fully giving in to a life of contemplation. If allowed, I could retreat into myself for years on any number of Big Sur cliffsides like so many slow-rolling, adventurous folks have done before me.
The days of my most recent roadtrip down the Slow Coast to Big Sur all blend together in the best way. Luckily, the storm took a short break. Mudslides kept us sequestered above Lucia and forced to go slow. I don’t know how many times we drove back and forth throughout the day within the same 18 miles of cliffs, looking for bits of sunshine in which to warm up. I learned that bringing some groceries and a camping grill really can turn a roadtrip around when you wake up too early for anything to be open and want to watch the sun come up with a grilled cheese.
Here are a few of the rules that help us slow our roll and get in roadtrip mode:
- No Bad Days. Bad days are a waste of time on the road. Leave that shit at home and go with the flow. Don’t let life’s little problems get in the way of your appreciation of the journey. Invest in yourself, take a deep breath, and move on.
- Chase the view. Most of our driving hours are spent chasing the prettiest view of the sun going up or down. I have yet to capture a decent photo of it and so in these moments I put the camera down and pause to breath, think, and focus.
- Be safe. Nature can be a cruel mistress, it is best to listen to her. Don’t get cocky. Along the way we stopped to watch the sunset and sleep. After the sunset, chit-chatting in the cold darkness, we heard a handful of rocks fall down from above. Time to move. The most beautiful places are often the most dangerous. Make sure you’ve got solid footing. This is true on cliffs and in life, so be careful out there folks.
- Drink water. You may have to peeside seaside but your body will thank you for staying hydrated. Sunlight and excitement are taxing on the body. Take care of yourself. Like the ocean, you are mostly water so drink up!
The only paid job I had while “living” in New Orleans was a one-night gig for a band I’d met earlier that day. For three hours and the promise of sixty dollars I yelled FANCY MUSIC, FANCY DRINKS, COME ON IN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN over and over. At the end of the night after getting stiffed half the pay and charged for drinks, I left the barking industry with a small shred of dignity. I know I was avoiding life by running into the arms of the Crescent City and I have no shame or regret about that. The short time I spent in New Orleans taught me many things about myself and the world but most of all about celebrating the experience of life no matter how hard that can be. The strength of the human spirit is alive and well in New Orleans along with many pieces of my trumpet-loving heart.
Yesterday marked the beginning of Carnival and I am sad to be in California. Carnival in New Orleans is a magical month that drags you into it no matter who you are. The spirit of the city is always alive but never like it is from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras and for at least a month after. During this time of year, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than crowded behind a barrier, rushing out into the street between floats to hoard parade swag. And yet, here I am in Lodi sorting through pictures and overplaying (if it’s possible) the Mardi Gras playlist I made to get in the spirit of things.
In honor of the season, here’s some of my favorite Mardi Gras-related(ish) music to keep you dancing through the day. Slow down, stay loose!
Happy New Year! As we chug forward planning our wedding, recovering from the holidays, and crack open fresh new planners (my favorite) the itch to hit the road and leave it all behind (at least for a few days) is ever-present. Sometimes you just need to go on an adventure like, right now. This time, we trekked up Hwy 4 to celebrate the new year in a cabin full of dogs.
2016 was a whirlwind of a year; I turned 30, got a puppy who is now all grown up, and became engaged to the best human I have ever met. I’ve lived in the same apartment for over a year and am thriving in a new career job, holy cow! For me, sitting still is hard. Living in the same place or having the same job for too long has, in the past, driven me to violently break the shackles of my life and hit the road with no concrete plans or money. These days, the prospect of cultivating the life I have holds so much more excitement and adventure than living solo life on the road, waiting for my moment. The moment is now!
This year, I’m digging in deep and I hope you are too. Let’s take it up a notch, 2017.