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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Driving California’s Big Sur

Looking south along the Big Sur coast

Looking south along the Big Sur coast

A little more than a week ago, I was driving through the Big Sur on California’s Highway 1. One little left turn out of Pfeiffer State Park and I was heading south around the bends, up and down the hills, all right along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful hardly describes it.

Now, I’m sadly seeing pictures of the area engulfed in flames. A wildfire is ravaging one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever traveled. Dozens of homes are destroyed, hundreds of acres charred, and the beauty is scarred. And it will never be the same, taking more years than many of us have to get back to how it looked only a week ago.

Walking amongst the redwoods at the Big Sur Lodge

Walking amongst the redwoods at the Big Sur Lodge

I’ve been to Yellowstone. I get it. Wildfire is a natural and beneficial part of the ecosystem. Signs explain it all over the national park. I’ve seen them. They’re everywhere after the big fires of 1988. But that’s Yellowstone. That area of the park had trees to burn. Trees that weren’t redwoods.

Inside the Henry Miller Library

Inside the Henry Miller Library

Author John Steinbeck, who grew up in the Big Sur area, put it best: “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

And the Big Sur is full of them. Dozens upon dozens. I had no idea, either. I almost crashed my car when I drove between a pair I saw along the highway, I was so surprised. I spent my weekend at a writing workshop in the state park, taking most every opportunity presented in order to stroll amongst the quiet giants. The combined sense of calm and awe they bring made the whole trip worthwhile.

The left turn out of the park, well, that was to see other sites. I love the trees. I always will. And I’ll never consider a moment amongst them wasted. But there was more I wanted to experience. The Henry Miller Memorial Library. The McWay Waterfall. The quirky restaurants and shops. I had half of a day. A lifetime likely wouldn’t be enough.

The McWay Falls in the state park

The McWay Falls in the state park

That’s more true now, since the area is burning. It will never be the same. It’ll forever be changed, always different. But one thing, no matter what, will always be true: the Big Sur is special.

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2 Comments on “Driving California’s Big Sur”

  1. Traveling Ted (@travelingted) December 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    We have had several fires in Minnesota near our cabin. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation and takes decades to regenerate. Hope they put out the fire before it impacts more places.


  1. The Ghosts of Christmas 2013 | Jason's Travels - December 24, 2013

    […] done enough for not just one year, but several. The thing is, though, I had one more trip planned: California’s Big Sur. I headed that way for the Big Sur Writing Workshop. I’m currently working on a middle grade […]

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