There is a small seaside town about two hours north of where we live; a charming place, filled with home-grown berry pies, antique shops, rolling pine-covered hills and a great arcing bay called Moonstone Beach.
There is a wooden walkway around this bay,
bounded by rope and post,
inhabited by gulls and the occasional sea lion.
The coastline is dramatic here,
rugged and noisy,
colorful and dizzy-making.
The waves crash over rocks,
some of them as high as the 'mountains'
found in the eastern half of this great country of ours.
One of them even has a name: Morro Rock.
Our destination was north of there,
a place called Cambria - pronounced
two ways, depending on which side
of the town you choose to believe:
It's spelled Cambria.
We took four days away, right after Christmas,
with our oldest daughter, her new husband and her three sons. They rented a house-on-the-hill; we rented a room at the Fogcatcher Inn. Good choice. The walkway pictured above was just cross the parking lot.
One of those four days, we all took a drive,
up Highway One toward Big Sur.
If you've never done this, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to
TAKE ANY OPPORTUNITY YOU FIND to do so.
Especially if the weather is clear.
It's winding and wild, breathtakingly beautiful,
and typically California.
Much more California than either
Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Those cities are magical in their own unique ways, but this?
This is the real deal, the pristine beauty
of desert mountains hugging the sea,
wildflowers, strange sea creatures
(for another post - amazing),
and views up the wazoo.
Lisa packed us a wonderful picnic lunch and we took it up above the highway, on the road to the New Camaldoli Hermitage Retreat Center (I posted a couple of pictures from that glorious place in this post.)
That ribbon of road is the famous One - stretching for 70 miles of steep turns and high cliffs between Morro Bay and Carmel. We went about 2/3 of the way up. (The retreat center is near the beginning of the Big Sur Wilderness Area.)
We took a few quiet moments to explore the chapel building after we ate our lunch and the light was just right to the north, making interesting patterns on the walls.
The wild pampas grass was mostly sticks,
except for this one bend in the road,
where we caught a glimpse of the furry fronds
waving at us as we followed the curve.
The rock formations at the inlet to Julia Pfeiffer State Park are unusually captivating, filling pictorial calendars across the state.
We've been blessed in our lifetime to travel a number of coastal highways -
The Garden Route in South Africa,
the Cinque Terre in Italy,
the cliffs of Dover and Cornwall and Devon in England,
the Burren in Ireland
(and the fingered south west coast on that magical island).
And I've got to say that this is a match for any of those
in natural beauty and heart-stopping drama.
We came back down the road as the sun began to set,
following its path for miles and miles.
It was a restful time, rich in beauty and good company.
After the busyness of the holiday season,
and before the rigors of my mother's move to assisted living,
these four days provided respite, refreshment, re-connection.
I am grateful beyond words to live where I do,
to have easy access to places like this,
to have a husband and family who tolerate my excessive ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every rock/stick/shell/bird/cloud or wave and who actually encourage me to take more pictures.
Even in the middle of messiness, pain and loss,
life is good. God is good. And Beauty soothes every bump.