Okay, the Californians Are Right


IMG_3046 God showing off

Well, I got over my initial horror last week of the highway along the beaches of Pacific Grove, the most beautiful beaches I'd ever seen. (Yes, yes, those coastal roads have made California's beaches democratic. But they still make me wish we could all apparate instead of drive.)

I was totally overmatched, however, by Big Sur.  It is too amazing to be resisted.

IMG_3045 God showing off again

There is very little development.  The terrain is just too rugged for it–ocean, cliffs, and abrupt hills.  There is fantastic hiking.  There is a bohemian history–Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller lived here. 

IMG_3052 Would you cut it out, God? 

There is amazing food, and I had the weird experience of dining out of doors under a full moon in March.

IMG_3043 Garden escapees on the cliffs at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Also, the entire place was abloom, with natives like California poppies and ceanothus; naturalized plants, including the humble forget-me-not, as well as South African exotica like osteospermum, chasmanthe, and iceplant; and then, in civilized spots, an insane perfumy riot of spanish lavender, jasmine, wisteria, you name it.  And I haven't even mentioned the coastal redwoods, under whose totem poles the air smells extra sweet. Incredible.


  1. Hey, sweet trip. We are heading down there in a couple of hours, swinging by SG Nursery first. Did you see any great spots to checkout wildflowers? Matti

  2. We’re lucky enough to live just up the coast from Big Sur. I enjoyed visiting the state parks last year after the wildfires. The landscape regenerates amazingly quickly, with stump sprouting shrubs and trees, and germination of “fire follower” plants – Inspiring!

  3. Guess I’ll have to start reading those ubiquitous Harry Potter books if I want to understand the English language fully. “Apparate” was new to me. And I agree with NC Chris: the Calif coastline is certainly beautiful but I prefer the swim-able Atlantic. That’s the only place I’ve ever found my personal god.

  4. I grew up on the California coast and wandered the hills as a kid- through fields of wildflowers and wonderous old oaks perfect for climbing. Mom had a police whistle you could hear for three counties to call us home. Great childhood territory- now all condos. Protect those flowers and fields!

  5. Location , location , location…..
    This bi-coastal gal knows that swimming in the Atlantic off of Cape Cod is only possible in late June July and August while I was wading in the Pacific waters off of Stinson Beach( N.Cal) last weekend in Northern California.
    Last winter I was in the Atlantic and the Gulf waters off the coast of southern Florida + my feet got covered with black greasy oil, – very difficult to get off and made going in water too offensive.
    Visited the pool and wandered the tropical foliage instead.
    Want to swim all year long and see fantastic coastline and foliage, go to Bali !

  6. My old stomping grounds. I’m a California native. Beautiful, without a doubt, but your commenter above is absolutely right, too cold for swimming! Brrrrrrrrrr!

    Great for hot summer days. You can go to the beach to cool off and spend a long day hiking and hunting for natural treasures among the rocks.

    God doesn’t have to try too hard to show off, He’s just amazing no matter WHAT He does, isn’t He!



  7. I’ve really enjoyed your visit to California~~Big Sur might be my favorite spot. Dinner under a full moon sounds delightful. gail

  8. I went to Julia Pfeiffer Burns for the first time last year. Foggy the day I was there but still lovely. Your post reminds me I have not been in a grove of redwood trees in a really long time. I have to remedy that this year.

  9. I grew up just over the mountains from Big Sur and remember camping there almost every summer. Miss it sooo much!
    That said, if you want to avoid the drive, do one of the many organized multi day bike rides up the coastal highway. A much more fun way to see the sights. And less scary.

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