July 5, 2010

Scenic Highway 1 to Big Sur

View from 17-mile drive near Pebble Beach

This past weekend Esperando and I set our sights for Paso Robles and a little wine tasting adventure in a region with which we were not familiar. We drove down Highway 1 with a diversion through 17 Mile Drive at Carmel, and then on south down Highway 1 to Big Sur where we had never been before, stopping for a delightful lunch on the deck overlooking the river at Big Sur River Inn.

Hotel guests enjoying the lawn chairs set into the cool stream.

After eating Esperando trotted over to the Valero gas station to see if they sold diesel fuel, but they did not. On the way out of town he checked at a different gas station and same story. They thought the nearest diesel fuel was about 40 miles down the road at Gordo, or maybe Ragged Point. Thinking we had enough to get that far we traveled on enjoying the breathtaking views of California’s rugged south coast. Looking at the craggy coastline and steep mountains reminded me of the Kingston Trio song, South Coast:


South Coast, the wild coast, is lonely. You may win at the game at Jolon,
But the lion still rules the barranca, and a man there is always alone.
My name is Juan Hano de Castro. My father was a Spanish grandee,
But I won my wife in a card game, when a man lost his daughter to me.
I picked up the ace. I had won her! My heart, which was down at my feet
Jumped up to my throat in a hurry- Like a warm summers' day, she was sweet.


Her arms had to tighten around me as we rode up the hills from the South.
Not a word did I hear from her that day- or a kiss from her pretty red mouth.
We came to my cabin at twilight. The stars twinkled out on the coast.
She soon loved the valley- the orchard- but I knew that she loved me the most.


Then I got hurt in a landslide with crushed hip and twice-broken bone.
She saddled our pony like lightning- rode off in the night, all alone.
The lion screamed in the barranca; the pony fell back on the slide.
My young wife lay dead in the moonlight. My heart died that night with my bride.

Romantic, sad, life in another time but the place is still the same. Although artists and tourists flock to Big Sur and the breathtaking views along Highway 1, it is still a very isolated place and doesn't change. There is no room for new construction between the sheer cliffs and tiny slices of valley. It is so amazing that a stream can even find a place to run along parallel to the highway and then create a spectacular waterfall that drops thousands of feet into the ocean for a brief glimpse as you barrel along the road.

Beautiful Highway 1 out in the middle of nowhere.

At Gordo we pulled over, but no fuel; same story at Ragged Point. Esperando continued on down the highway, me snapping pictures nonchalantly. Ahead of us a road grader was working on the side of the road and Esperando rapidly pulled off the highway in front of him. Out he bounced from the car and approached the driver. In the secret language of men he managed to buy enough fuel for us to continue on down the road to Cambria where we would be able to fill the tank.

Now just why might you want to name this 'Ragged Point'?

What an amazing drive, but you better have your camera pointed and ready at all times because you won’t have the opportunity for that second shot. And if your vehicle uses diesel fuel, make sure your tank is full before you start the journey.

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