(Recomended soundtrack for this blog is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2b6MOfLONU&feature=related )
I ended up spending a little under a week in Santa Barbara. Couch surfing yet again really came through for me, a last minute request sent from the SA public library saw me in Micah's apartment a few hours later. Probably one of the coolest people I have had the fortune of meeting on this trip, Micah is in his late 20's and currently studying something environmental...or something. He is a traveller on hiatus being that his current situation doesn't give him much time to explore. His stories about the 15 months he spent in and around India were absolutely fascinating, as were the endless beautiful pictures he was showing me from aforementioned travels. I ended up spending Halloween weekend in Santa Barbara with Micah and 2 girls who were also couch surfing with him. We had an awesome time, and on the first night (costume - turban) I completely blacked out, cant remember shit past midnight. I am told we left around 3.30-4am, all I know is I woke up with a sweet ass straw hat.
Me and Micah parted ways in the early morning, the girls having left the day before, he had to shoot to school and I still had some shit to sort out before I could leave town. Will certainly be hitting him up next time I am in the area, and those of you on couch surfing should do the same (hopefully he wont kill me for saying that)
Having got myself to the on-ramp for the 101 (leads to the hwy coastal route 1) by about 11am, stupid straw hat fully equipped to deal with the sun I got myself a ride in about 10 minutes. I literally had put my bag down when Mike pulled up. His words 'I saw you, and didn't even have time to really think, so - yeah why not, I hope he doesn't smell'. I personally think the hat did it. Mike is from the Santa Barbara area and is on his way to visit his parents a few towns up the highway (Morro Bay). I try to maintain some semblance of intelligent conversation whilst repeatedly being AMAZED by the quality of the views and scenery in this area. The time I spent in SA and this drive is really drilling home to me that I am going to have to spend at least a year or 2 living in this area at some point in order to really get to grips with it. And to surf.
Coming out of Morro Bay I decide against sitting waiting for a ride, its a beautiful day and I fancy walking for a bit. So I stroll along the hard shoulder of the highway, throwing my thumb up whenever I hear traffic approaching from behind. Completely illegal, if a cop sees me I am likely to get a ticket. Cant be thinking about that though, I am still completely enthralled by the area and the constantly beautiful weather (during my stay in Santa Barbara the weather was perfect consistently). I get a few short rides this way which get me as far as Ragged point.
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From Ragged Point I started walking again, its like 3.30 or something by this point, so I figure I wont make it much further. I get picked up after like 20 minutes or something, the car literally stopping the in the middle or the road as there is no hard shoulder, cliff on one side, ocean on the other, bear in mind by this point I am seeing a car every 7-10 minutes, very light traffic by highway standards. The 2 kids that pick me up are super cool and pass me a beer within 5 minutes of being in the car. A note about the car - this is a very small hatchback, with no back seat. I am currently sitting on my backpack and sharing the space with the dog. They tell me that they plan on only going a few more miles up the road before hiking in a little way, then having a BBQ. I decide to join them. We hike for maybe 40 minutes up a creek bed from a small campsite before running back down which is seriously exhilarating, even if I am risking a twisted ankle or worse. The land here is almost beyond description, but I shall try. A tiny creek is flowing down this valley, strewn with huge boulders, some approaching the size of an average semi detached house, around all of which there are these huge conifers growing, Red Woods and Douglas Firs are my guess. Amongst all of this poison oak is very prevalent. Apparently mountain lions are rare, but seen in this area as well as rattlesnakes.
After returning to the small campsites the guys set up their grill and crack out some pork chops and sausage. They brought spare so welcome me to join them. Having not eaten since that morning - I am well in on that. Whilst waiting for the meat to cook we smoke a little pot, drink some more beer and generally just chat shit. The food is excellent, and with the sun rapidly disappearing behind the sea we part ways. I quickly find myself a spot to camp, and stare at the millions of stars I can see through the gaps in the tree canopy. There is very little light pollution in this area so it really is a view. After seeing a couple of shooting stars and determining that the noise is the creek and not a mountain lion behind me, I go to sleep.
Back on the road I end up walking for maybe 2 hours - traffic is still very light, and not really any space for people to stop. I sit down in the shade of a nearby tree to catch my breath and drink a little water after having hiked up a particularly steep hill, and as I sit down I see an old Volkswagen van coming up the brow of the hill, I can almost feel that this one will stop. It does. Clint and Ellie are very recently married, and are spending a few months driving around this part of America before heading off to Hawaii, and eventually India. They brought the van in Oklahoma and hope to sell it for the same money in Seattle.
We spend the day together, I am in no rush, they are eager to explore the Big Sur region, its almost perfect. We hike up a trail way into the hills to a small waterfall. By small I mean the size of the stream, the water is falling at least 40 feet. Again surrounded by these amazing trees and rocks... my mind is blown for probably the third time that day. Walking out we decide to check out the "valley view trail'. From the top of one of these hills we can see an amazing vista of endless trees with the ocean sounds behind them. Driving out of Big Sur and towards Monterrey we stop on a beach to check out the surf. Clint spent years in Hawaii and is a bit of a surfer - he reckons the waves to be around 12-15ft face. In layman's terms, freaking huge. Even I manage to resist the urge to go swimming at this point.
Clint and Ellie drop me off in Monterey as the sun goes down, and I call my latest couch surf for a place to stay. the 2 days I spent in Big Sur were no where near enough, and I will 100% be headed back there sometime shortly (I hope).