Get ready to dive into cold water, wake up to cool morning off shore winds, and indulge in Big Sur adventures along the California Coast. Big Sur is an expedition, it’s a put your email on auto responder and disconnect from all outside communications kind of place. If you’re looking to make the trek then here are a few pointers for your journey.
Falling Rocks and Sunrises
You know those watch for falling rocks signs that you think to yourself ah, I’ve never seen any falling rocks? Yeah? Well, we were en route to meet National Geographic photographer, Ben Horton for a three day expedition in Big Sur and we’re racing around a turn and came upon a small boulder that destroyed our right front tire. There we were at 6 am, while the sun was still peaking over the mountain, sitting on the side of the road like a NASCAR pit crew trying to ensure VW’s jack kit wasn’t as falsely engineered as their diesels.
Campfire Coffee and Ridgeline Views
Knock Knock (knocking on topper of his truck)— Ben, you up mate? Groan… “I need some coffee.”
Winter is officially here in Big Sur, it’s the end of November and the temperatures are well into the 40s. Holed up in the back of his short bed Toyota Tacoma he slowly creeped his way over the mound of camera gear to greet us with a smile.
He wasn’t alone, the campsite was clearly hosting a few others, like Vanessa Hanson (which I later discovered was a super model) “My friends drove up from L.A. last night and we broke into a bottle of scotch so we’re having a bit of a slow morning. “Hi, I’m ____, Hi, I’m Vanessa.”
After brief introductions and small talk we decided to fire up the Aeropress then make our way 1.5 miles down the ridge to check the surf.
Offshore Winds and Holiday Swell
The winds were blowing hard off shore against the 6–7 foot faces with about 30 people out due to the holiday weekend. The water was transparent and the back drop was stunning. Really, it’s other worldly, like the kind of place you struggle to comprehend because it doesn’t feel real. I was riding a 5’10 single fin diamond tail shape by Almond Surfboards and had a decent go at some top turns. I had never ridden the board so it took a few waves before I slid into the groove of gliding down the line and wrapping a few back into the pocket.
Fine-ish Dining, Wi-fi and Ice Cream
Dinner at the Fernwood. Double surf sessions out front at Los Padres National Forest called for a delicious meal from a simple but hearty menu at the Fernwood. To manage expectations a little, you’re not in for 4 or 5 star dining, although that option is available in Big Sur if you’re up for it.
Swinging open the heavy wood and iron door with the swagger of a lottery winner we realized how insignificant we were as the servers could care less that there was another patron in their presence. All but callused by the tourism industry we were left standing at the door for some time before being motioned over to join a “community” table near the fire place.
If you don’t prod a little at waitresses like Britt then you’re surely going to get mediocre service but fortunately for us we turned on the charm and made ourselves at home. Ben warmed right up to the person to his left and the girls on vacation seized their opportunity to enjoy the last bit of vacation before making the commute back to Leucadia. I don’t know if it was me or the fire place but things started to heat up and I sort of recall a fascinating collection of stories being shared while the jukebox bumped some sort of nostalgic rock.
Regardless of the crowd, because that seemed to be the revolving door given the popularity of the area, one thing’s for certain if you go to the Fernwood, you are definitely going to get a hearty meal and leave satisfied.
Ah lest we not forget, the most important reason many appeared to be at the Fernwood, given the number of blue LED faces, is for the wifi which appropriately has a story too. The wifi password is “icecream” one word and all lowercase. Why? because the ice cream served in the adjacent convenience store is some of the best we’ve ever had. Try the pecan maple, you won’t be disappointed. A subtle reminder…