So much is happening, I can barely get it all down. It's amazing! Bear with me as the editing/spelling/wordsmithing may decline in quality until I have time to edit once I've returned to Sausalito!
Guillermo is devious. He looked so excited and boyish when he said to me earlier, “How about we head South tonight instead of tomorrow!? He got me all geared up. It sounded reasonable at the time, “We’ll head down, maybe just for an hour or so for sunset and camp near Big Sur.” Two and a half hours later, we’re driving, in the pitch dark, along the winding Pacific Coast Highway. And I’m finding it a wee bit scary. I’m finding it exhilarating as well, as I watch Guillermo’s red taillight careening along in front of me. The black of night surrounding me. Wind and engine rumbling in my ears.
We arrive at a full campsite in the Los Padres National Forrest. While Guillermo drives around to suss out the best spot (Those of you who know me will find this humorous. Usually I’m the one looking for the best spot. Last night I would have slept in a parking lot.) While Guillermo circles, a short-ish bearded man wearing a head-lamp over his grey hair approaches me and says softly, “Campsite’s full.” Why is he speaking so softly and in a strange voice – is he crazy? Drunk? I turn off the engine and realize soon that yes, perhaps he’s drunk but he’s also quite lovely, and is our saving grace for the night.
He’s Gary Ruyle, a landscape architect from San Diego, and he generously offers to share his campsite. It makes sense, who wouldn’t want to share the amazing spot he’s eeked out. He insists we have a look over the cliff’s edge, to see the water far below where, as he described, whales had been “broaching” all afternoon. We all stood quietly and admired the stars.
Guillermo and I had stopped along these same cliffs, not long before arriving at the campsite, just as the nearly full moon was coming up over the hills. He’d motioned for me to come to the cliff’s edge and we listened to the chorus of seals barking below.
I shivered with cold and immensity of the space and darkness around me.
“Hey Guillermo, did you feel the air suddenly turn warm there through Big Sur…” He completed my thought, “..and the air smelled so fragrant. Sweet.” Crickets.
Yeah, travel is something to be shared, among friends and strangers. Accepting the kindness of others while traveling can be so humbling. How grateful I was, for Gary’s lamplight at the site, and his desire to share the view. I was glad Guillermo had brought wine and figs to offer him in return. We swapped addresses with Gary in the morning, admired and took photos of one another’s vehicles (his is the badass orange car in the photo album), and we all drove out together, down along the foggy Pacific Coast Highway towards parts South.