The Extended Stay in San Jose right down the street from the San Jose airport is not as charming and full of raw, rugged beauty as Big Sur and our visit today to Jade Cove. But often being homebound is indeed a pragmatic affair, not an adventurous one.
When I awoke, I took my last ritual walk to the water. I took even more time to take in the smell of the eucalyptus, the sound of the breeze rustling through the trees, the feel of the hard, parched soil beneath my feet, and, of course, the feeling of the cool Big Sur River as it emptied into the ocean. I stuck around for a bit to watch the surfers. They were there in droves.I had become enamored by the fruit of the eucalyptus, which looked like a wooden button. And I collected some to take home. I had also grown accustomed to the small lizards that scampered across the pathways that we walked on.
And the squirrels – well, I was accepting that they were surely sharing their space with us. When I got back from my walk, Brendan was at the kitchen table eating breakfast. I called his name to ask him if he knew there was a squirrel trapped in the tent. He didn’t and he came over to check out the situation at the tent. In the 30 seconds he was gone from the table, different squirrels ran off with a whole avocado, a bag of cashews and crawled in the bowl of yogurt. In the meantime, we opened up the tent to get the squirrel out. Confused as to how he got there to begin with, we noticed a hole that they created by chewing through for entry. This is an expensive REI tent, so I was not all that happy about that. A moment later, the camp host came by to make sure we weren’t feeding the squirrels! While he was there he tried to pick up a squirrel with a tool used for picking up garbage. He commented that if he could catch them, he’d kill them. I doubt if the squirrels have much to worry about with that approach.
We cooked up the last of our food before we left – so we could have it prepared and easily accessible for the rest of the trip. We made another round of Thai food – coconut curry over fish and veggies. I could honestly live on just that if I were deserted on an island.
Jane and Alvaro did end up setting up their tent next to ours last night (part of that Friday night mad dash for tent space). All morning long, people came by and asked if we were checking out, even though the park had a silly rule that you couldn’t ask anyone if they were leaving. You just had to happen upon an empty spot, while you hopefully walked around carrying your camping gear. Absurd, and then you had to run half a mile back to the pay station and hope nobody doing the same thing beat you there. Well we came up with a plan. Alvaro followed me as I was leaving and said he would go to the pay station three minutes after me and pretend that he just found an empty spot. While we were walking to the parking lot, he was commenting on the idiocy of the bureaucratic situation and kept saying “How do they think this best works? How do they think this best works?”
We had only explored the northern half of Bug Sur this last week. I am sure the beauty continues as one travels on, but knowing we needed to head back north toward San Jose at night, we stuck with exploring more nooks and crannies in the northern half again today. Since Brendan was eager to check out Jade Cove, we asked someone exactly where the trail to the cove was once we got down that way.
What we thought would be a quick stop before going back to Sand Dollar Beach ended up taking up a lot of the afternoon. It was indeed a craggily path to navigate down to the rocky beach, but once we were there, there were plenty of rocks to walk around on, since the tide was out. The rocks that were eroded from the eons of crashing waves made excellent chairs. I was honestly content to keep my distance from the water. In part because it was cold and in part because it I am afraid of sneaker waves. In fact, a couple sneaker waves came up and drenched other people who dared to get close to where the waves broke.
When the rocks were wet, the streaks of jade became glossy and accentuated. I could imagine that people used to harvest the rock and patiently carve it into beads and stones for jewelry.
But you know what really had me mesmerized. This one rock – oh, maybe about ten feet tall and wide. And when the waves hit it at a certain angle, the water streamed down the crevasses in what looked like slow motion. Many tiny waterfalls, running down the sides, in no particular hurry. No sooner than the waterfalls were drained of water, then another wave would come and repeat the process again and again. It was a microcosm of the waterfalls I have seen in Oregon – where you feel drawn to watching a particular drop or stream of water make its journey from the top all the way down to the pool at the bottom.
Brendan is a pretty good photographer and he took countless pictures of the waves. The iPhone really brings pictures alive and below are some examples of his handiwork and a captivating video to boot.
We climbed back out up the craggily cliff side and after getting some food from the car, we found a delightful little spot to eat lunch. Doesn’t this just look like someone placed these here exactly for our enjoyment?
Although I never tire of the ocean, I was intrigued by visiting the lime kilns, which are a historical relic. Limestone State Park is the place to go to see them. Some years ago, my sister took me to some not far from Santa Cruz and it makes sense that they are dotted throughout the region. These towers were used from 1887-1890 to extract lime from the limestone that is an abundant rock of the region. The redwoods were used as fuel to heat up the limestone (a travesty in and of itself) and the lime settled out. It was then used for creating cement, which in turn was used to develop the booming towns of San Francisco and Monterrey. But, as is so often the case, the resources were depleted and the kilns were abandoned. As they stand now, they are a look into the past, to see how humans lived in the not too distant past and worked the land to suit their needs. Kilns aside, it’s a lovely walk through the redwood forest to get to there.
Brendan and I calculated getting to Monterrey for sunset. And in our defense, we made a reasonable attempt to get there to do just that. But it just wasn’t meant to be. Just south of Andrew Molera State Park, we hit a deer. Now this was really too bad. We were heading north and the deer was in the road on the southbound side. All it would have needed to do was run off to its right, straight into the woods, and all would be just dandy. But instead, it ran across the highway, in front of our car. It smashed into the drivers’ side headlight and then slid on the drivers’ side, taking off the side view mirror with it. It happened so quickly and of course we stopped. I saw the sweet deer stand up and limp into the woods. I don’t really know if it will make it, but we sure hope so. Brendan took a little time to pick up the pieces of smashed plastic and glass off the road, while I tried to figure out how to keep the dangling mirror connected to the car. Ultimately, I wrapped it with rope which I put through the window and tied into the seatbelt. Then, in addition, I held the rope to keep tension on it. It’s sort of complicated to explain, but the result was I tied Brendan into the car and we had to drive with the window open. It was super cold once the sun went down!
So, we did not get to Monterrey in time to watch the sunset. BUT, we did just pull over south of Carmel on a then quiet little stretch and honored the sun for its daily ritual of dipping below the horizon.
It was after 10pm yet the traffic on Route 17, between Santa Cruz and San Jose was what you would expect on a Monday morning. YUCK! But all is well that ends well and we have taken hot showers and reconfigured our belongings to make for an easy departure tomorrow.
It’s a few weeks after our trip and the news is reporting fires in Big Sur. They began on July 22nd from an illegal campfire. As of mid-August, 70,000 acres have burned, and the fire is 60% contained. It is expected to be fully contained by the end of August. There has been one fatality. Highway 1 has been closed in sections and for certain time periods. Andrew Molera campground was closed as well. The fires are called the Soberanes Fire, in case you would like to google it. I found this blog about the region and the recent entries are very focused on the fire.
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