Big Sur: Days of Magic and Peace

So it’s already been a few weeks since I went camping in Big Sur, but it actually kind of worked out.  My sister, the fabulous Mel Stone, is a budding photographer.  She has this old Canon film camera that has been with her or I on many a camping or road trip.  We have lovingly dubbed this camera “The Beater Cam”, because this thing is so janky it’s fantastic.  The   is broken, so you never know if you are exposing your shot correctly.  The lens is dirty, so there are lots of lovely lens flares in your shots.  And the film winder has a tendency to stick, causing a few unintended double exposures per role.  While in Big Sur, Mel shot off a roll of film on the Beater, did some sort of strange cool color processing to it – and the results are freaking awesome.

Another reason that I’ve put off writing about Big Sur is that I didn’t want to write a boring post.  Our camping trips are great, but it’s not terribly exciting.  Each year a group of us girls (there were 6 this year, our numbers are growing) drive to a new spot in California for Labor Day weekend.  We pitch a tent.  During the day we hike or drive to local spots.  At night we play games, cook bad food, and drink excessively, and probably drive our neighbors insane with our girlish laughter.  And that’s about it.

This year was pretty exceptional though.  Our campsite wasn’t in Big Sur itself, but about 30 miles south along Highway 1 on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  So we had fantastic ocean views at the campsite, and our days were spent traversing the gorgeous state parks in Big Sur and driving up and down the picturesque winding Highway 1.  I’ve been trying to decide what made the weekend so special and I think it had to be the sheer beauty of the place we were in, so rather than giving you a play by play of every single little thing we did I’ll share with you some of Mel’s photos and let those do most of the talking.  All photo credit in this post must be given to Mel Stone.

Most of the time, I’m a pretty neat person.  I shower semi-regularly, and my job at Sephora requires me to be made up and perfumed with hair and nails done at all times.  When I camp, I transform into this other person who gets dirty and doesn’t brush her hair and makes poop jokes.  This is me ready to go, beer and flannel shirt in hand:

Sunset at our campsite.  Oh, we had it so rough this year.

Me posing as the hipster hiker.  Something about this look must have worked though, maybe the unbrushed lioness’ mane, because the guy at the gate of Pfeiffer Big Sur state park took a liking to me and only had us pay for one of our cars to get in.

The whole gang at the top of the valley view hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur!  And ’twas quite a hike to get to the view.  From left: Sara, Amy, myself, Jill and Diana.  Mel of course is taking the picture.  What you don’t see in this picture is how tiny this viewpoint is.  Big Sur got pretty crowded over the weekend, and there were tons of people trying to stand on this spot and take pictures with the valley in the background.  Right in front of us was a bench with a family, and my scandalous display of leg scared their preteen son.

Climbing trees double exposure!!!

The view of the coastal waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park.   Here you really see the color processing that Mel did.  This looks like someone took it in the ’70’s, it’s fantastic!

Me in cool shades contemplating the water.

We were at Julia Pfeiffer Burns for a while, checking out the waterfall and coastline along with hoards of other weekenders and tourists from many lands.  While we were there, we even saw a whale in the water!  Several times we saw it spout air from its blowhole and a few times we saw its picturesque whale tail dip back into the water.  It was pretty magical, and it was cool to watch with so many other people.  Every time there was a spout of air or a delicately descending tail, the crowd would collectively gasp and ooh and clap.  Wildlife makes everybody happy.

These pictures were all taken at the rocky beach accessible from our campsite.  The sun was beginning to go down, and the fog to roll in, and it was quite magical.

Diana and her tatoo.

The money shot: D’s feet and rolling waves.

Sara as the Little Mermaid

Jill being creepy and awesome

The last day Mel and I had to ourselves.  Since we live apart now with our boyfriends, we hardly get any time together anymore.  It was amazing to take the day to just be silly twins and have fun together.  We spent a lot of time at the Henry Miller Library.  If you are ever in Big Sur, you must go.  It is so much more than a library and bookshop, it is an event and community space nestled amongst some of the most picturesque redwoods imaginable.  We enjoyed the sculpture garden and free coffee and tea they have, while reading and even getting in a game of Boggle.  I’m not really familiar with the author Henry Miller, but this place is amazing and dedicated to his memory, so it makes me want to get into him.  On the way back to the campsite along Highway 1 we pulled over so Mel could photograph this adorable old car we’d seen parked all weekend.

No matter how crazy and hectic my world can get, I hope I always find places for days of magic and peace.

Good Luck and Happy Travels,


3 thoughts on “Big Sur: Days of Magic and Peace”

  1. I loved this post. It was a really good trip and I think you’re right when you said the beauty is part of what made it so special.

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