I’ve heard so much about Highway 1 that I made the classic mistake of getting my initial hopes too high, they had nowhere to go but down. From Malibu up had been a disappointment on the fabled “Magic” coastal highway. Nothing but ugly roads, dry brush, and tacky tourist towns. That all changed as I got past Pismo and ventured closer to Big Sur.
Thick fog rolled in like a blanket over the sea. Somehow the sun still shone brightly.
I had heard that I might catch the start of the sea lion season up the coast, but they still managed to sneak up on me. Spotting them from the road, I pulled off and walked along the coast only to behold one of the most unsightly and cantankerous animal viewings of my life. Most animals are portrayed in movies and documentaries as being peaceful and majestic. I can tell you that this experienced permanently changed my views on that.
These guys were so loud and aggressive (not to me, but to each other) that it dispelled any notion of majesticness. They barked and bit and clawed and chased each other for no apparent reason. Big females ganged up on little ones and pointlessly jockeyed for positions on the open beach. And the SOUNDS! Dear lord, it was a cacophony of barks and belches.
The only thing I can realistically compare it to in the human domain is if you collected 100 hungover frat boys, filled them up on all you can eat bean burritos, and then made them all sleep on the floor in one cramped room of the frat house, similar antics might ensue.
Well at least the weather was showing off its majestic might. Coming up the winding mountain road I dipped into the thick fog and then emerged upon a peak that just barely ascended beyond the reach of the clouds.
I parked the car, grabbed a snack, and sat back to enjoy the view.
The next day, the fog hadn’t lifted quite yet and as I walked over to McWay Falls, I could hardly make out what appeared to be the world famous waterfall that pours onto the sandy beach.
I went up the coast a bit and returned when the fog started to clear. What a difference a few hours can make!
Unfortunate is an understatement when I learned the news of the inland mountains. I’d heard various reports of fires proliferating east of the highway in Big Sur, but I hadn’t grasped the scale until I got there. ALL of the inland roads and trails were closed off, fire fighters and helicopters buzzed back and forth, and even the beaches were closed due to the possibility of mudslides. I know that the nature and business will make a comeback, but it’s still deeply saddening to see for the moment.
One last photo project as I headed out of Big Sur and up to more coastal sights. I stopped at Bixby Bridge, set up my camera with the tripod and captured a series of day to night panoramas that spanned almost six hours and over 50 photos stitched together. I think I need a bit more practice, but it was fun to see the way different light can completely change the way you see a landmark.