Big Sur - Dublab Tonalism Show at Henry Miller, Pfeiffer Beach
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Our home for three nights, the magnificent $40 Target tent at Riverside Campgrounds #41. And no matter how long we are in Big Sur, it's never enough.  I feel sad every time I have to leave here.  But we had to wind our way back down the rugged coast and down off the cliffs.

We didn't make it very far before our first stop:  Nepenthe. The Phoenix Shop, which has been there since 1964.  Out back on the balcony, Buddha heads peered at the shoppers.  And they were available, too, at a price.

And if you've been to the main restaurant at Nepenthe, with its high redwood ceilings, central fireplace, and inspiring views of the rugged coast from its clifftop perch 800 ft. above the Pacific, you can probably guess how much I'd like to relocate my Blueberry Buddha recording studios there!  :)

It's so difficult to drive down this stretch of Pacific Coast Highway with those views, those magnificent views, the most dramatic meeting of land and sea, as they love to say.  And so the answer is not to drive.  It's to stop.  And stopped we did.  Frequently.  We looked at wildflowers, the jagged coast, the perpetual fog, the windswept grass, the houses hanging off the cliffs.  We wondered how we could come here more often.  It's always hard to leave Big Sur.  Maybe someday we won't have to leave.

At the south part of Big Sur, we stopped at TreeBones Resort to check out the yurts.  The grounds and the dining room were charming, although there didn't seem to be much to do in the immediate vicinity, even for hiking.  But perhaps that was the allure. 

We stopped off PCH to hike Salmon Creek Falls for our third time, wandering farther up than we had in the past.  Salmon Creek Trail is along one of the hairpin turns on Pacific Coast Highway with a decent-sized off-road parking area, perhaps easier to spot going south than north.  We met a couple that had driven from Paso Robles, some 45 minutes away.

Lisa snaked past the poison ivy and climbed up to a high bluff overlooking the pretty Salmon Creek Falls, just north of Ragged Point in the south part of Big Sur.

Salmon Creek Trail in the south part of Big Sur.

After our hike on Salmon Creek Trail, we continued driving down PCH to see the elephant seals of Piedras Blancas, just a few miles north of Hearst Castle and San Simeon.  The sight of hundreds, if not thousands, of enormous elephant seals is fascinating, even from the highway.

Note the molting skin.  Elephant seals come up on the beach to molt to circulate blood to the skin, thereby growing new skin and hair.

Piedras Blancas, home to the belching elephant seal calls and the constant wind.  Why the reclusive elephant seals choose to hang out here is not clear. 

In the 1880s, according to the Big Sur California website, northern elephant seals were thought to be extinct, having been hunted for their blubber.  However, a small group of 20-100 seals in Baja California had survived the hunt.  Mexico, then later, the United States, protected the elephant seals, which have thrived and now number over 150,000.

Driving past Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, we realized that our stomachs could not hold out for La Super Rica in Santa Barbara, some two hours later.  But that was okay. SLO had Taco de Mexico on Santa Rosa, where Hwy 1 meets the 101 Fwy.  Good carne asada tacos, topped with onions, cilantro, and salsa. It'd be alright.  Not that it' was exactly expensive, the prices were a wee bit more than most little Mexican hole-in-the-walls.  Still, the tacos and the horchata did not disappoint.

My latest self-portrait, this one taken in Big Sur.  I took this for fun, also thinking that I might use it for the Biography Page of my new site.

The Tonalism flyer.  Thank you to Dublab for organizing this.  It was a beautiful night of music.  I'm only sorry that I could not get tickets for Animal Collective the night before.

Lisa and I had been to Big Sur in 2008, just months before the ravaging summer fires.  You may read about that trip and see the photos here.

Big Sur, May 2009
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