Friday, November 18, 2016

You Can't Camp Here: Big Sur

If you can get away with it once, twice... why not go for it again? Especially a second weekend in a row.

The unfair thing about camping is the necessity of planning. WHY. It's already enough of commitment to have the gear—sleeping bags, tent, headlamps, camp stove, camp pots, food of course, cans of Tecate, emergency Clif Bars and extra layers of clothing—and then you also have to worry about booking a campsite days, weeks and sometimes months in advance.

It can be more complicated to return to nature, to sleep on the ground, than to just rent a hotel room. You might be reading this and nodding your head and saying, "Duh, Vic." I'm doing the same thing, but also in my naïveté, I romanticized camping (and still do) and I think it should be simple, that it is simple. I can be wrong about this.

Anyways, after the high of last weekend's camping trip, a group of us decided to trek down to Big Sur. Yipee! "Where will we stay? What will we do? What's there to see?" I took the reins on this one, but I think my friends are learning how much I love not having a plan. Things will work themselves out, and they always seem to do so.

Big Sur! We left the city around mid-morning and made several stops along the way. Chick-fil-a? Check. REI (because caravan members realized they were going to FREEZE in Big Sur and that we collectively had no food)? Check. Bixby Bridge for photo op? Check, McWay Falls to catch the sunset? Check.

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After our last stop, we raced along the winding Highway 1, searching for our campsite. It's technically not a legal spot. After an hour or more, my fellow passengers grew less certain of their trust in me. Turn after turn, I grew less certain of my recollection of the place. Had we passed it? Where was the pull-off with the "No Trespassing" sign? I kept our landmark a secret until finally, I shouted upon seeing it.

They all asked if I knew about the "No Trespassing" sign. Of course! This is the spot. Best little campsite around. I led them through the high brush and into a grove of trees. I mumbled a warning about poison oak, but eh... we were in to deep to worry them now. We reached a clearly within the trees and I declared it as our campsite. Interestingly enough, some sort of predator had been here first... probably a coyote or wild dog, and there was a few deer bones... but no matter! It's a great camp spot! I was slowly regaining the trust of my friends.

IMG_5363 With the yellow four-person set up, we sat down to prepare a balanced camp meal of freeze-dried chicken fried rice. We poured wine from a box and we began a simple question-based conversation, the kind that helps four loosely connected people get to better know one another. The questions got more serious too, turning to family and the difficulties of living in the city and plans for the future. All in all, it was a good conversation.

Tucking in to sleep, the trees kept us cozy + protected from the coastal breeze. A good night on the ground. As with most all camping trips, we woke with the sun. We explored the copse of trees until we found the cliffs overlooking the beach and from there, we watch the sun rise, the waves roll in and we meditated on an unplanned camping trip that worked itself out.

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