Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Sur

I have been all over the place this Spring Break. But my first destination was Big Sur, which was a magical, mystical place full of yurts, hikes, hippies, cheese, wine, and the most comfortable bed ever. Or maybe that was just my trip. Either way, it's a beautiful place. Read on if you'd like to see a small fraction of the absurd amount of pictures I took and hear a bit more!

Our first stop on the drive was to see the elephant seals at San Simeon and Piedras Blancas! Little did we know this would only be foreshadowing of the seal barks we would hear all night from our yurt (what is a yurt, you ask? Don't worry, I'll get to that). 

Once actually crossing into Big Sur, we went straight up to McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that tumbles straight into the Pacific if the tide is right. 

The color of the water in this area was unreal! 

The only normal picture of us from the weekend. Kyle is not so big on smiling in photos. 

We stumbled (well, drove) around for a little bit before finding Partington Cove. The hike we had originally planned was closed, but this turned out to be the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. 

We ate lunch right on the far rock with a private view of the crashing waves to one side...

...and this babbling brook on the other! You can't buy these views. Nor can you find my signature peanut butter & honey sandwiches in any other restaurant, so all in all, I'd say we got the deal of the day. 

We hiked around a bit more after lunch and found the same stream farther back into the forest. Everywhere we turned we found another unbelievably picturesque view. I'm a notoriously overenthusiastic picture-taker, and getting an iPhone has only augmented the issue. 

We stayed at Treebones Resort in a yurt -- basically a big canvas structure that's fully furnished with a private deck, skylight, electricity, and heating. And, most importantly, stunning views. This is from our deck and shows what the outside of the yurts looked like. For someone who is not big on camping (read: can't go a day without a shower), this was the perfect compromise. Plus, the staff and other amenities are warm and welcoming -- there's a hot tub and pool available for campers and yurt guests, plus a homey lodge and restaurant. And, they maintain a strong focus on eco-friendliness, as if how fun the word yurt is to say (just say it, I swear it made the whole trip more fun) isn't enticing enough. 

We picnicked on our favorite cheeses (Brie and gruyere) and other snacks on the adirondack chairs on our deck. Does anyone else share my love/hate relationship with adirondack chairs? So lovely and classic, but so tricky to actually get comfortable in. 

We strolled around the property to watch the gorgeous sunset before heading back to relax with a glass of wine and the last few rays of sunlight. Since living in Italy, I'm a big believer that a glass of wine improves any situation, and this already near-perfect one was no exception. 

The next morning dawned foggy, a condition that persisted throughout the day, but afforded this misty portrait of early morning in the coastal mountains. 

After munching on waffles and tea (can you still call it tea if it's essentially equal parts tea and honey? I would argue yes), we stopped for some more hiking on our way back to SLO. The persistent mist blocked any ocean views but gave the whole day an even more peaceful, secluded feeling. 

Behind me is Salmon Creek Falls, an even bigger waterfall than McWay. I kind of have a thing for waterfalls. 

We kept going past the falls and stumbled upon a surprising variety of scenery, including a field of poppies, a desert-like area of cactus, and incredibly lush, green spaces overrun by enormous trees. 

Having just read Robinson Jeffers and other Big Sur writers in my last English seminar, I was especially excited to spend a little time there. I love how it remains essentially as underpopulated as the authors dreamed it would decades ago -- we saw hardly anyone else on our hikes (except at the first waterfall), and it felt like our own private, refreshing retreat into arguably one of the nation's most beautiful regions. 

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