Solo trip from LA to San Francisco

United States-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005  |  by Boban James

San Luis Obispo to Los Padres NF

After SLO, if I remember correctly, the road settles down into a comfortable stretch all the way till San Simeon. We pass low hills dotted with wavy light green grass-the sea is no longer visible but I know it's waiting for me up ahead. Traffic has picked up a bit and road has narrowed to one a single lane highway. I'm having trouble staying behind the gent driving his 1960's Volkswagen Kadet at a leisurely 45 mph, so my Indian overtaking-instincts take over and before I know it the terrified drivers coming in from the opposite side are honking away. The hell, I think to myself, and i'm back at 65 mph cruising away.It's 11 am now and I've just reaced San Simeon- known primarily for the Hearst Castle- a monstrous edifice commemorating man's desire to affix his physical stamp to the planet-reminiscent of Ozymandias failing legacy in the Saharan desert sands in Percy Bysse Shelley's satire:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Rising up like a Neuschwanstein out of the neighbouring hills, this 20th century monstrosity was built by William Randolph Hearst- very influential in the publishing circles of the 30's and 40s. Today its become a mandatory stop for travellers on the Big Sur trip-but not for me these gargantuan edifices, and I continued on the slick asphalt.

By 2 pm, I had started winding my way up the craggy mountains that make up much of this part of the Central Californian coast. The ever permanent Pacific fog kept shifting to give me tantalising vistas of the crashing ocean, hundreds of feet below. And then just as suddenly, the fog would close its clammy hands, leaving me with a chill and real fear as I took some of those curves at 50 mph. Ah, the sheer thrill of shifting the beast into a lower gear and have those tyres hug tar! Reminds me of what blorrior used to say when we had the tata tea man driving- excitement at 50 km/h. Now I was entering National Forest Territory. All along I could see lots of vehicles parked in campsites and people milling around like the Saturday morning vegetable market in the Hoysala stronghold. Is this what communing with nature means? That you along with a few hundred other people bring your petty city clicker thoughts and attitudes to an area that was out of bounds till well into the late 19th century? For heaven's sake some of these folks had music blaring out in these campsites. All in all it was godsend for me that these campistes were full- I drove up to the ranger station at the Los Padres national park office. There I met a couple of very friendly young guys and explained my predicament..We got chatting and then I - hanging my head in deep shame now- gave them this cockamamie story about being from North India, very close to the Nepal border..a brief mention of Everest base camp, Lukla, Namche Bazaar later, these two dudes got up from where they were sitting, leaned on the counter and gave me their full and undivided attention. The pied piper would have been proud. And then hestitantly from the taller of them both, "is there trout fishing in the Him-a-leyas?". Man now I don't need much to imagine that there is trout fishing in plenty in these parts so I basically launched off on mahseer and how the Brit anglers have left their legacy behind in gentleman's clubs from Mussorie to Munnar. I think we may have two converts to India somewhere in the forests of Central California.

Anyway, I digress- this friendly bloke there told me to head up to a road called the Nascimiento-Ferguson Creek road and find any spot 'suitable' for camping. I was pretty darn elated when an hour later I landed up on this deserted road and found a really nice spot, a few metres into the forest by the road. The time being only 4 pm, I thought I'd drive around for a while before I made camp, so off I went towards Big Sur- about 50 miles up the coast. On the way the fog cleared, and I finally saw what all the brouhaha was about this part of the world. The coastline is simply stunning, and to sound like the Big Sur tourist guides, it is indeed "the greatest meeting of land and sea". One moment you catch your breath seeing jagged cliffs plunging into a frothing sea, and then suddenly you come across a sheltered cove. In the distance the giant winged California Condor (i think- looks like a large kite) floated above the violent sea- Much nearer seals frolicked on rocky beaches.

At Big Sur- Greatest meeting between land and sky indeed!

At Big Sur- Greatest meeting between land and sky indeed!

Big Sur- Spectacular Coast

Big Sur- Spectacular Coast

© Boban James, 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
I drove from LA to San Francisco- camped en route in the Big Sur area. For me this solo trip was a first, and being on the road all alone without any agenda was incredibly peaceful.
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 02, 2005
Duration: 3 days
End of journey: Sep 04, 2005
Travelled countries: United States
The Author
 
Boban James is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 15 years.
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