Santa Barbara to Big Sur

This trip is my time to spend strengthening that bond with myself, deepening my connection to nature, and tuning in to whatever that power is that connects us. 

Day 2 started with packing up camp in Santa Barbara & heading north up Hwy 101. I’ve always wanted to check out the sand dunes, so I stopped off in Oceana right outside of Pismo Beach to watch people throw sand around with their off-road automobiles & pretend I was Charlize in Mad Max for a while. It was chilly and not at all what I’d expected (damn you, Hollywood), so I decided to check out Pismo and see if I could find some WiFi & something to eat.

I got distracted on the way there—a monarch butterfly grove—so of course I pulled over and wandered in. It seemed like one day it might’ve held some promise, but had since deteriorated into a pile of dry plants and was now entirely lackluster. Ten minutes later down the trail, I still hadn’t spotted ONE butterfly and right when I’d decided to get the fuck outta there, this monarch fluttered inches before my eyes, landing on a bush in front of me. I snuck up to it quietly as if it hadn’t already sensed my presence. It let me get so incredibly close with my GoPro before flying away that I legitimately felt like Nat Geo should hire me; all my efforts suddenly became worth it. To my right I found a gnarled, fallen dead tree that created a bridge and a cool way out of the grove back to the street where I’d parked my car. At the other end of the bridge was a perfect part to climb—I’m a sucker for crawling up things—and I got tempted, but after getting close enough to touch it, I heard the crackle of termites running around inside. I've seen The Jungle Book and if Mowgli taught me anything it's that you don't climb dead trees. So, I continued on my journey.

I found my way to Pomeroy Avenue, the main drag in Pismo. Also found a sweet people watching spot on an outdoor patio, a glass of chablis and some delicious clam chowder. No WiFi. Meh, whatever. The waitress had given me a backhanded compliment about how she’d never have guessed my age—made me feel hot, but also like she thought 28 was old. She was sweet. I tipped her over 20% and kept it moving up north towards Big Sur.

Got distracted again at the elephant seal viewing point & whipped in to see the fatties. Spotted one, but it looked dead. I watched it with sadness for the next five minutes, praying it would move. Then it did. So I took a picture, then kept looking for more of these things. Found a pack of four—they looked like rocks laying on the beach, never moving except one of them once to throw warm sand on top of its back like a blanket. It’s no wonder with all that fat they’d also be lazy. After getting distracted by a friendly little squirrel, I realized the sun was doing its thing where it threatens to start setting and I figured I oughta pick a spot to nest for the evening. 

Just south of Big Sur I found a campground—FULL. Talked to the host & she promised one up the way about 10 miles inland that never fills up. Alright, but right before the turnoff, I spotted Kirk Creek Campground—FULL. Whatever, it was on a cliff overlooking the ocean and asking never hurt anybody. The host lady there was awesome and not afraid to break the rules. I liked her. She clued me into the fire happening a bit more north & suggested that I just go find a reserved spot on the premises that was still open and park there, saying she doubted they'd all show up—and if they did, I could just move over to the next open reserved area. So of course I chose the best one on the grounds, whipped out my wine, cheese, dried figs, salami and leftover French bread from my meal in Pismo & crawled on top of my Jeep to watch the fire red sunset. Nobody had come to claim my spot by the time twilight hit, so I set up my sleeping situation on my hardtop. I made it the whole night through without getting disturbed. Lucky me! Although I suspect luck didn't have much to do with it... Acting is always better than not acting, and when somebody (or in this case a sign) tells me something is impossible, I ask questions and try to find a way. Leap and the net will appear.    

An older man came by with his granddaughter and was enamored with my makeshift tent idea, telling me it was always a romantic dream of his to do with his wife. He began asking me tons of questions. He listened intently and his smile grew larger as I talked about my decision to take my life on the road and travel while I'm young and without husband or kids. To see the look of inspiration on his wrinkled face was priceless, and was yet another positive sign that I'm in the right place right now and that the trust I've placed in myself & in the universe is serving me well. I've been tieless since November of last year, but deciding to do this solo camping trip has been crucial to my own personal growth. Despite feeling let down by people recently, I can't say I'm unhappy in the slightest. In fact, I've come to the realization that the relationship I have with myself is the strongest and is the one that has made me the happiest. This trip is my time to spend strengthening that bond with myself, deepening my connection to nature, and tuning in to whatever that power is that connects us. 

Chelsea HeilComment