A Journey to Big Sur (Epilog)
A lavishly illustrated look at what you’ll find beyond the southernmost border of Big Sur.
Note: This is the last entry in a five part series.
You can access part one here.
You can access part two here.
You can access part three here.
You can access part four here.
When we spent the day snapping pictures all the way from Carmel-by-the-Sea to Big Sur, little did we know that we’d have enough images to sustain five, count ‘em, five posts. But here we are. So let the good times begin.
There are any number of interesting locations just south of Big Sur, before Highway One thins out and begins to wind its way down to San Simeon and Cambria. It’s a mostly deserted stretch (unless you count such isolated respites as Lucia, Pacific Valley, and the Treebones Resort) that’s a time-consuming, tough (treacherous at night) drive.
But you don’t have to venture out on the remote part of the road to enjoy what lies beyond Big Sur. We’ll start with Nepenthe, which we didn’t get a chance to cover last week and is close enough to be considered part of Big Sur Proper. It’s a restaurant, but the grounds (collectively referred to as Nepenthe) also contain the Café Kevah. Both are outdoor eateries that sit high on a bluff with stunning views of the coastline.
The fog had rolled in by the time we got there, which dampens the effect of the above picture (not that you could tell, but there’s actually scenery in the background). However, the header photo of Part One of this series gives you a nice look at the view on a clear day, although we have to admit that same view on a foggy day does have its own ethereal charm:
Nepenthe is also home to the Phoenix Shop, an upscale book store/boutique that also carries ceramics, toys, musical instruments, and other merchandise that might be described as “New Agey”, or if you prefer, “for discerning consumers.” Here’s a picture of the store that provides some scope by showing the stairs climbing up to Café Kevah. Note that Nepenthe, the restaurant, is located yet another level above the cafe.
Before we show you what we discovered beyond Nepenthe, you should know that our original reason for travelling further was finding the Esalen Institute. Esalen is a retreat which, according to Wikipedia, “focuses on humanistic alternative education.” Yeah, we know that description (and those on the organization’s website) is a bit non-direct and (dare we repeat the term) “New Agey”, but there is no question Esalen has a widespread reputation for being one of those places where you can just feel the psychic energy flowing.
We didn’t find it, likely because (as we found out later) it existed somewhat off the beaten path, probably to keep looky-loos like us from intruding on the vibe. Fortunately, that didn’t stop us from running into a few other interesting locations that are worthy of sharing.
The Henry Miller Memorial Library, pictured above and named after the late writer, maintains such a low profile that we almost missed it when we passed it. Though unassuming, this is an important social hub for the area that also functions as a performance venue. We have to admit, it does embody the low key essence of Big Sur daily life.
The area around it also contained some interesting artwork. I’m not really sure what the objects at left are supposed to be, but they certainly aren’t boring even if the do look a little worse for wear. We found them on the library’s site.
Speaking of artwork, the Hawthorne Gallery had an interesting building and interesting displays. The area surrounding it is vast and filled with large pieces—a veritable park full of artwork. We’ll let the building and a couple of the pieces speak for themselves.
Continuing in the direction of far away Hearst Castle on our futile search for Esalen, we had the good fortune to pass, quite by accident, Deetjen’s Bug Sur Inn right off of the highway. This place has a reputation for being one of the best bed and breakfasts in the Big Sur area, and while we had heard of it, we had never taken notice of it. We have to admit, it looks quite inviting:
Finally, running out of time, and not wanting to get too far out into the boonies, we looked for a place to reverse direction. Fortunately, the Big Sur Coast Gallery was there for us to make a safe u-turn. Even better, it turned out to be fairly photogenic:
The rest of our day was spent on the way back to SSCS. It’s hard to believe, but the photos that have been featured in the five parts of this series were taken in a roughly 5 ½ hour period, from about 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. That gives you some idea of the density of attractions that pack the Big Sur Coast, especially when you consider all the subjects that we didn’t cover.
We hope all our readers get the chance to take a leisurely drive down to Big Sur and spend a few days in this singular location. You won’t regret it.
In the meantime, things are back to normal next week as we are in the process of lining up an interview with a seasoned industry professional. See you next Thursday.