The United States is famous for doing things BIG, but nothing compares to Big Sur, which is in fact the biggest Sur ever witnessed by human eyes. So if you like Surs, this is the one for you.
Big Sur is the 90 mile stretch of rugged coastline that runs south of San Francisco towards Los Angeles. It has been immortalised in poetry, literature (see Kerouac's book of the same name), film, and in a million family holidays and roadtrips. The highway takes the hapless driver through endless twists and turns, wedged between dramatic cliff faces and the limitless blue ocean.
At a nearby beach we stopped to enjoy the midday sun when Jade encountered two little boys collecting crabs in a bucket. We befriended their father, Jason, and mother, Nitia, who invited us to join them at their house "in the forest" for drinks & nibbles with friends. They were eager to hear our travel stories as they had been avid travellers (pre-kids).
We live by the principle of never refusing drinks & nibbles, so we found ourselves following them up a forest path to their wonderful house overlooking the valley. We spent an unanticipated afternoon chatting away with their lovely friends, drinking their wine and eating wonderful artichoke bread and local goats cheeses, before excusing ourselves and continuing on our way.
We visited the central Mission (from the Spanish occupation of California) that is located in the tiny town of Carmel. Whilst there Jade was lectured by a crazy Polish lady named Maria, who insisted on giving her plastic rosary beads for protection. She asked if Jade was Catholic, when the answer was no, Maria said "Presbyterian is ok, but its better to be Catholic"!
At the mission there was an interesting little museum with fray Junipero Serra, and the artist Jo Mora. His whimsical illustrated maps were fantastic.
(Click on the photos below to enlarge - check out the last two pics of the sunset ; )
Jade: Just to add we also stopped off at the last petrol station that James Dean stopped right before he died. And there is a huge sign to mark it. See the pic below of him.
Now, a little bit about our accommodation. We stayed for 3 nights just outside of Monterey, in a house in a non-descript neighbourhood near the university and military bases. While the surrounds were nothing to speak of, staying with Gabby & Terri was an experience we will not soon forget. Gabby is a 13 year old dance prodigy, who fuels her talents with almost daily classes. Terri is a single Mum, who works as a history teacher at a local school and pays for Gabby's classes by renting two bedrooms out to AirBnB guests. The two bedrooms belong in fact to Gabby and Terri, who retreat to the study during summertime, sacrificing their own comfort to be able to afford to support Gabby's dream of becoming a professional dancer. They were both incredibly lovely people, and did everything they could to make us comfortable in their home. Of particular note were Terri's scones and bread, baked fresh in the morning to provide us with breakfast, as well as snacks for the road. It was a great experience for us to be able to support Gabby's career and enjoy their copious hospitality for a short while.
Jade: If you ever find yourself in Monterey please do consider staying with them. It was a pleasure to be there and its so wonderful to know you are supporting a young artist too!