Not many people can say they have ran 90 miles through Big Sur in three days. And if you know Big Sur at all, you know Paul’s and my pain. There are endless miles of long hills that prelude fast, twisty slopes. Big Sur has tested our strength and endurance. I say with full confidence that the “Little Engine that Could”, has nothing on us. And if put on the same route, “Wouldn’t”. His gears would cease powering it forward, he would literally run out of steam, and I’m sure everyone aboard would jump off before that “Little Engine” would tumble backward off of Bixby Bridge. But hats off to him, he was a great read.
Big Sur is a town, but also could be thought of a large territory. Gorda, Lucia, and Big Sur are the only towns that lay along this huge stretch of coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. This area is hailed as some of the most beautiful coastline in all of the United States. One moment as you travel with pines on both sides of the road and overhead, you emerge onto the side of a cliff with a view that resembles a painting only Bob Ross could masterfully birth into painting existence. The water everywhere is a colorful mix of teal, dark blue, green, and a hazy yellow in some places. It is astoundingly beautiful. Pods of dolphins play in the water below, seals can be overheard below the cliffs, deer and cattle graze in fields, and colorful finches dart through the sky and tall grasses. Even a little field mouse was found on the road, no bigger than my thumb as I placed it back into the grass. It is truly where the pines meet the ocean.
Last Thursday we left San Simeon and headed into the wild. Before getting to Big Sur however and ascending into the pines, we made a brief visit to some large residents along the coast. I had heard some barking, and waved Paul over to the other side of the road. After ducking through some barbed wire fence, and stepping carefully through fox tail grasses (those suck to get caught in your socks, especially if you are going to be running 20 more miles after that), we discovered some elephant seals. My adventurous nature and animal loving spirit kicked in as I climbed down the bluff onto their beach. And I stress the “their” because they were not too happy we stumbled onto them. It was a relatively private beach and area, owned and operated by the seals you could say. I really wanted to at least touch one, but the name says it all, ELEPHANT seals. They are big, bold, and protective animals. Needless to say I was bitten and I am back in Phoenix at home. Alright, that last part was a lie, not bitten, but the seals graciously let me hang out with them for a bit before I climbed back up the bluff.
There was a 5 mile stretch of that Thursday run where I was blown away with the beauty and wild nature of the coast. A coyote lurked by the road watching us as we passed, deer were spotted grazing not far off further along, we had just seen hundreds of seals, and while crossing a bridge mud swallows swarmed above us in the air singing loudly. It was glorious. I have seen and witnessed things I would never have dreamed I would come across or be able to see from a car.
Our next run day was just as majestic and beautiful. As we continued in Big Sur, we were not fully alone out on the road. We shared this scenery with tourists and a few leather tramps. One specifically, didn’t catch his name, who was going to LA with his drum. That’s a long way! Well, I guess Canada is also. The constant scenery of ocean on our left and forest to our right has allowed a great deal of reflection on creation and how precious of environment is. It is this same environment that God created, which we must preserve and take care of. A lot is going on specifically in California at this time. The government is shutting down some of the states most beloved parks to help the budget deficit, and this saddens me. We must be better hosts to our world and God’s creation. As we take care of our selves and others, is it not our own responsibility to take care of our world? As tourist enjoy the beauty of Big Sur, they drive their Hummers and luxury vehicles through the forest, consuming gas and products that destroy the very wonder and beauty they come to see. No matter how “green” one can go, I think there is something seriously wrong, specifically in our country, with how we live. We all see it, we all want to change it, we all believe it can be changed, but we do not live that change out. There is something wrong with people driving 60 miles to a day spa (Tree Bones in Big Sur comes to mind, no matter how “green” they are) and the homeless man who emerges out of the pines in this area. Both people are there to enjoy God’s creation, no matter what they believe. However, enjoying it in two very different ways.
And as I step down from my soap box, I have felt extremely blessed these past couple days. Because not many people will ever seen such beauty in their lives, or realize that they are able to. Because me and Paul are enjoying this beauty, in our own way.