I left my heart in Big Sur

Big Sur has been the subject of many books and movies, as well as countless poems expounding on its beauty. To me it’s a place like no other. It’s a deeply personal and spiritual experience. It is nature at its most glorious and no matter how many times I go back, it takes my breath away as if seeing it for the first time. Big Sur is impossible to describe. The most incredible photograph can’t capture how small I feel in this glorious collage of mountain and sea. As Henry Miller wrote …”It was here in Big Sur that I first learned to say ‘Amen’.”

I feel blessed to be able to visit Big Sur in all its natural wonder.  My brother-in-law and his family own a large ranch that they graciously share with family and friends.  They have become caretakers of this exceptional slice of wild beauty. Except for an occasional outing to Nepenthe or the Big Sur Bakery, there is no need to leave the ranch. We spend the day hiking and exploring the property and basking in the solitude it affords us. We wander down to the ocean and are mesmerized by the power of the waves that crash into the rocks and cliffs. At night with a glass of wine, we watch the sun setting into the ocean. The colors are absolutely stunning! After sunset we build a fire and watch a movie (there is no cable television but we can watch DVD’s). The Sandpiper is my favorite, as it was filmed in Big Sur starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. One last look at the infinite number of stars in the dark sky, and sleep comes easily, with only the sound of crashing waves.

This little story sums up how I feel about Big Sur. While waiting in line at the Big Sur Bakery (which by the way has the most amazing pastries and donuts along with healthier fare that I carefully ignore), I struck up a conversation with a woman named Peggy. She had the hearty look of a  Big Sur local. I asked her how long she had lived here. She said that she was born in New Jersey (just like me) and had lived many places, moving to Big Sur in 1981.  Knowing that Big Sur can be shrouded in cold fog for much of the year, often isolated by rock slides from winter rains, I asked her if she enjoyed living here.  She looked at me with her steely blue eyes and said, “I consider it a privilege to live here.”  And that’s exactly how I feel….it is a privilege every time I step foot in this sublime and wondrous place called Big Sur.

Following are a few photos of our 3 awe inspiring days…

The first day starts with a hike of the property which is dotted with oak trees…IMG_5127

and majestic redwoods…IMG_5081

We pass gorgeous wildflowers of lupines and poppies (one of the reasons I love April here)IMG_5132

The poppies are everywhere this time of year.IMG_5114

I often feel like I’ve reached the end of the Earth. The vistas are endless on a clear day…IMG_5117

We drive up the coast for a late lunch at a very popular and historic restaurant in Big Sur…Nepenthe.  It is worth waiting for a spot on the terrace for this view…and don’t even get me started on their famous Ambrosia Burger. It’s divine!IMG_5152

These are the kind of photos you get when you pull off the road on the way back from lunch…IMG_5239

The late day color was so stunning and the weather so warm, we drove up towards the top of the ranch in our Jeep (one hike was enough for me!) That tiny white spot in the lower right is the house surrounded by acres of wild beauty…IMG_5190

And then we return back just in time to catch a perfect sunset from the deck…IMG_5381

The next morning we head back up the coast to arrive at The Big Sur Bakery as close to 8:00 AM as we can, before they run out of their strudels and donuts. That unfortunate circumstance happened once before and it is not a mistake I intend to make again! IMG_5230

Can you believe I ate 2 of these?? But oh so delicious!IMG_5234

And of course after stuffing my face with donuts, a hike was in order.  This time to the ocean side of the ranch…IMG_5327

IMG_5400

The simple power of the waves… I could happily sit staring at this for hours…IMG_5309

After a quiet afternoon of reading out on the deck, I like to set out a bountiful appetizer spread with some rosé of course!IMG_5392

On the return to Santa Barbara, we take our time and make a few stops along the way.  One of the most beautiful beaches in Big Sur with the exception of Pfeiffer Beach, is Sand Dollar Beach. It’s a giant crescent with the most gorgeous aqua colored water…IMG_5409

Stunning vistas can be found almost everywhere you look…IMG_5245

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It’s always sad when our trip ends as I feel I leave a little piece of my heart behind. But I know we will be back and after all, going back to Santa Barbara and our Little Glass House is the next best thing!

“And when the fog’s over and the stars and the moon come out at night, it will be a beautiful sight.” -Jack Kerouac, Big SurIMG_5421

7 thoughts on “I left my heart in Big Sur

  1. I just started following you on Instagram. Love love love your posts! And then started reading your blog and I can’t get enough of it. So inspirational. Thank you!

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    • Thank you so much Lynne for taking the time to read my blog and to comment. It is so appreciated. I love what I do and try to do it well so it’s always lovely to get positive feedback! 🙂 xx Elizabeth

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