Part Two: Big Sur – the parks

Point Lobos park, just south of Carmel, is the first big park you hit on your way to Big Sur. The wide beaches of Carmel begin to give way to rocky shores.
Since our last visit (May 2009), parts of Point Lobos have become covered with some sort of orange fungus that is killing the trees. It is so thick and so orange, it looks like the park has a bad case of Cheeto-finger.
Alien invasion? I think these guys were spraying pesticide, probably trying to get rid of the orange fungus among us. When we went to Grand Canyon in 2008 there was a similar attack on the trees, though I think that invader was red rather than orange.
Nice physical representation of the passage of time and the differences from one era to the next. This is in a part of Point Lobos that I hadn’t visited before. It was full of oddly colored rocks and weird rock formations. Felt like you were walking on the moon (with earth’s gravity).
About 30 miles south of where we stayed in Big Sur there’s a place called Jade Cove where you can, surprise, find jade. In fact, the cliff sides are full of the stuff, which makes for a lovely green cove. The trail to the bottom was washed out in a few places, so I was feeling like a badass (or stupid) the further we went. Then we got to the area you see James descending below, using an old rope that was anchored in the ground. It was the only part of the trip where I chickened out. My tennies were already slipping in the mud before we reached this area (I’ll never try hiking in New Balance again), and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get back up to the trail once I got down there. Who knew how old that rope was, and the bottom half of it was actually an old strap that had been tied to the rope. No thanks. Figured it was better to be a pussy than to have to get air-lifted out of a park on my vacation (though it would have made a good story).
Andrew Molera Park has a trail with a little bit of everything. First you have to wade across the Big Sur River – it’s only knee-high and not that far across but is cold cold cold. Then you walk through a meadow full of deer and bunnies (and, judging by the copious amount of hairy poo, some sort of canine carnivore – probably wolf). After about a mile of walking, you reach the beach. Just as we were leaving the meadow trail and walking on sand, we saw this nest… Um, what the hell kind of animal or bird lives in something that big? It was four or five feet tall and up in a tree. While we stood there looking at it, I was waiting for a skinny naked hobo to pop out and tell us to get off his prop’ty (a la Monty Python’s Life of Brian – the guy who lives in the hole – see link below)
 Garrapata State Park is a series of 19 turn offs on Highway 1 that are not marked. It seems that’s the case with many of the parks in Big Sur. Not sure why. Trying to keep out the riff-raff? As you see in the shot above, Tohner was briefly marooned on a large rock. This beach was full of surprises. We were walking along, doot dee doo, when the tide suddenly rolled in way further than it had been. We had to run toward land to keep from being dragged out to sea. The wave action of this part of the Pacific isn’t exactly “peaceful sea.”
On each of the beaches we visited, there were these huge funky ass kelp that had been washed ashore. They are like PVC pipe, only instead of white plastic they are made of light brown, flesh-like material. Each of them ends in a bulbous “head” that is a little too animal-like for my taste. So I did what I could to avoid ever touching one. Not everyone feels this way, as evidenced by the two gentlemen here who were whipping each other with them.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is another park that has a little something for everyone. There’s a waterfall, views like this and a canyon trail that takes you through huge redwoods beside a clear stream.
This is a prime example of the lack of signage for Big Sur Parks. This is the entrance to Partington Cove, and if you hadn’t done your research, you’d assume this is private property. To all of my friends who make fun of my three-ring vacation binder and the months I spend researching our trips, suck it.
Partington Cove has a wooden bridge, a tunnel that leads to a cove and a trail that goes down to a beach. The beach is full of rocks, and a number of people (or maybe one OCD person) have built cairns. The longer we were there, the more I noticed.
I’ve never gotten into Henry Miller, but I did check out the Henry Miller Memorial Library on this trip. It’s really more of a bookstore with some Miller stuff sprinkled about. They have a tight selection of books by California writers (among others). Good place to grab a cup of tea and settle in among the redwoods for some reading.
One of the main reasons for our visit to California was to spread some of Mason’s ashes at the one-year anniversary of his death. He traveled to California multiple times (both northern and southern) and was married in Big Sur, so it was an appropriate area to return part of him to the earth/wind/sea/sand/river. Each of us had our own container of ashes, and the trip provided a nice opportunity to commune with him and let him know how much he’s missed in our own way. Here, Tohner and I spelled his name with rocks found on Andrew Molera beach, which is somewhat remote this time of year. I hope his name stays there for some time.

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