Big Sur, CA
Big Sur looks a bit different from the passenger seat of a 1972 Chrysler LeBaron Imperial, as this guy was more than willing to tell me as we sat together in the highway turnoff daydreaming about a different time in American history. I guess he figured me for a car aficionado. I met him a mile up the road with his head in the hood, asked him what was up, and took a few shots as he drove off slowly; when I approached him at the highway turnoff, he greeted me as I approached by holding a homemade pipe carved out of a stone out the driver’s side window. I didn’t get a word in edgewise as he spent the next half an hour running me down the various features of his dilapidated vehicle, but I suppose passion begets passion, and it was a glorious day and I was more than happy to listen. I wandered the narrow highway once he left and took in a spectacular sunset over the world’s most gorgeous coastline, the sun shimmering golden over the sea as he said his final goodbye. As was the custom I learned last summer hanging out on Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, I gave the sun a proper standing ovation as it descended beneath the horizon line, my hooting and hollering echoing off the high mountains.
My destination that evening was the famed Esalen Institute, a locus of spirituality and progressive thought sat tight against the Big Sur coastline. I had reserved a spot in the public baths, open each evening from 1 to 3 am, and figured I would take advantage of the unusually low traffic due to the landslide by walking the final few miles under the near full moon light. At 9:30, I stopped to eat my dinner in front of the silver shimmer of McWay Falls, blessed in my loneliness by the breeze blowing from the northwest.
At 1, a small group of the public congregated at the highway up above Esalen. We were led down to the baths, where we undressed and soaked quietly, soothed by the crashing waves. By a stroke of good fortune or synchronicity or fate or all three, I was invited to stay as a guest for the next day, but had to vacate the premises until the guest privileges began at 7. At 3, I walked southbound and found a tree that would serve as shelter for the evening. I tossed and turned on the pine needles without getting much sleep, and eventually rose with the sun to return to the compound.