The smell of the sea melds with the many varieties of sage, drifting through the air on a cold wind. This is Big Sur in the winter. It is a tender scent, lacking the musk of summer. There is dampness too, which is new. Wet earth, fresh green grass, and the beginnings of the first blooms of spring. No one seems to have told the plants that it is January.
I'm captivated by the hoards of people moving through Big Sur this time of year. stopping at every pullout with folding chairs and binoculars to catch a glimpse of migrating whales. I am entranced by the hills, as they turn noticeably green with the first winter rains. I am in love with the creeks and streams as the swell to their banks, full of water, and life. The sparkle of the winter sun seems more crisp, more icy than the beating glare of summer. The moon, nearly full, lights the world at night. We set out to explore Big Sur once again.
We met Catie and Caitlyn at the Riverside Campground, and from there headed further South to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It was a complete zoo, countless people speaking at least three distinct languages, gathered at the overlook. It seemed like every single one of them was carrying a GoPro on a stick, but perhaps my memory is being clouded by prejudice.
The people and the lenses are thick at the overlook to the falls and the coast. It is understandable, the view is something out of a dream. It is certainly not a sight to be missed, especially since we were accompanied by some who had never seen it before, but for some of us, the crowds put a sour mood on the viewing. To cure this, we turned to the hills.
Bear was meeting a friend in a bar near our campground, so it was time to return. Catie and Caitlyn recommended the Maiden near the River Inn, where they had warmed up the night before. We bolstered down on worn out barstools.
As dark fell, we made our way back to camp. I do not enjoy the cold, but there is something authentic about gathering around a campfire because of a need to stay warm. With the right supplies, and the right people, you are warmed by laughter, as well as wood.
Morning comes too soon, but groggy sleepers move slowly as the day breaks. Catie and Caitlyn departed before Bear and Captain Mike were roused from their tents. The chill adds magic to a morning campfire.
With full bellies, we loaded up Salina and headed north
While we were driving south a flash of white caught my eye. I was determined to find what it was once we were making our way north.
We climbed to the bluffs to admire the Pacific, and try our luck looking for whales. The plant life was abundant and diverse, but the sage and yarrow stole the show.
As we stood on the cliffs, looking out over the Pacific, dozens of migrating whales were spouting in the distance. Watching whale spouts doesn't grow old for me. For some reason, each spray of misted sea water and air is as exciting as the last. Maybe it is the anticipation, looking out across the endless blue, hoping you spot it at the right moment to catch a glimpse of the great grey creatures. I couldn't say. But the whales are migrating, as they have done for centuries past, and we stood on those cliffs as a witness to their journey. I suppose that is enough.