My view from Brophy Brothers, Santa Barbara, where a large bowl of steamed clams, some seriously sour sourdough and an Anchor Steam beer kicked off the PCH pilgrimage.
Good and evil, coexisting peacefully in the parking lot of the elephant seals vista point.
Yes, that is wild fennel that grows in profusion along the roadside. I wanted to yank it out of the ground and take it with me. A few fronds of top-greenery had to do.
Christian and Anders. Just the nicest couple of chaps...from Sweden. When I was taking a moment to smell the fennel, they were doing the same and I heard the words "jatte gott" (very good). Yes! We had a little get-to-know-you right there above the plummeting landscape (I know it's hard to tell but that soft smudge of darker blue down there, that's the ocean), discussed Sweden's geography, etc. They said that when I'm in Stockholm (where Christian owns a vintage shop, Herr Judit) next I should call them up and they'll take me to dinner. Yes please.
Nearing Big Sur. Or Narnia. My head was filled with pine, sweet cedar, fennel, eucalyptus, woodsmoke, pepper, saline, jasmine, freedom. If I were to ever feel the sensation of flying, today would have been my chance. A life-changing drive. Robert Palmer, Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright, Peggy Lee and Sigur Ros ushered me up the one-lane coast. I have heard people say that driving up the Pacific Coast Highway is total balm for the soul, but have never understood the gravity of the act. Now I do. What I found most surprising were the sudden changes in terrain -- from ranch land to vineyard to soaring cliff to lush, dripping coves of green-- completely unexpected. Driving the terrifying bits of the very edge of the continent with cars before and behind felt much like a family, a brotherhood (especially with Christian and Anders right behind in their red mustang convertible). No one was going to rush anyone else, we were all together heeding the "20 MPH" and "Road Narrows" and "Rock Slide" and "Caution: High Surf" signs and just taking our time. Come to think of it, the fact that I am driving north instead of south is a good thing. I get to hug the interior walls that rise above me -- those south-bound folks have my respect. Highway One, with its pretty little hand-laid, low walls, its sturdy bridges above "creeks" that flow out to the mother Pacific, its slight diagonal rises when the road switches back again and again, seems to say "Don't fret, brave little traveller, do your best to be smart, drive slowly, enjoy the view but pay attention, and just relax. I got this."
Dinner and moongazing on the terrace at Nepenthe. Venus was up there playing too, tonight, twinkling just above ol' sister moon. The nice lady at the front desk here at Glen Oaks recommended it. Of course, it's one of only about five spots up here for dinner, so it's slim pickins....but this pick was tops. This place is packed with history and many tales. Ones involving Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth and Henry Miller, for instance.