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AN ARTIST AND A WRITER TRAVEL HIGHWAY 1 CENTRAL Pat Hunter

Janice Stevens

Craven Street Books Fresno, CA


An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central Š 2014 Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens. All rights reserved. Published by Craven Street Books, an imprint of Linden Publishing. 2006 S. Mary, Fresno, California, 93721 559-233-6633 / 800-345-4447 CravenStreetBooks.com Craven Street Books is a trademark of Linden Publishing, Inc. Craven Street Books titles may be purchased in quantity at special discounts for educational, fund-raising, business, or promotional use. Please contact Craven Street Books at the above address or phone numbers. To order another copy of this book, please call 1-800-345-4447. Craven Street Books project cadre: James Goold, Carla Green, John David Marion, Holly Day, Kent Sorsky ISBN: 978-1-61035-053-2 135798642 Printed in China. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hunter, Pat (Patricia Jean), 1937An artist and a writer travel Highway 1 north / by Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 978-1-61035-053-2 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. California Highway 1 (Calif.)--Guidebooks. 2. Hunter, Pat (Patricia Jean), 1937---Travel--California--California Highway 1. 3. Stevens, Janice ( Janice Mae), 1944---Travel--California--California Highway 1. I. Stevens, Janice ( Janice Mae), 1944- II. Title. F859.3.H86 2012 917.94’0452--dc23

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acknowledgments


contents


preface As a young girl growing up, I benefited from my family’s extensive travel on numerous occasions around the United States, Mexico and Canada. In later years, I took my own family to the Washington DC area, repeating the travels I so enjoyed as a teenager. Our circles would take us from the Washington, D.C. area to Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North and South Virginia, New York and the Atlantic Ocean. I loved to explore and discover the histories and scenes of our great lands and welcomed any opportunity to travel. However, my mother used to say, “No matter how far we travel, California is not only home, but the most beautiful of any other place we have ever seen.” When our publisher graciously but firmly rejected my proposal for a book topic following, Remembering the California Missions, at first I was disappointed. That didn’t last long, because in almost the same breath, he said publishing team would like to work with us on another project. His idea was to explore and write about Highway 1, an idea that would capitalize on Pat’s gorgeous watercolor paintings. From a proposal for one book, the project developed into three books, and fostered in us an intense love affair with the California coast. Pat grew up on the beaches of Southern California, and I grew up on the Central Coast beaches in Santa Cruz County. We knew the California coast, and we welcomed the travel along the rugged, picturesque beauty that makes Highway 1 world-renown. But little did we know how much we would discover as we delved into

the common and uncommon sights along the way, with diversions off the coastline when a location merited another discovery. The result: our first book An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 North. Our road trips took us past Highway 1 as it leaves the coast and turns inland at Leggett where it then merges with Highway 101. More coast beckoned just a short distance north to the Oregon border, so we ventured on capturing in word and art ocean scenes and small communities’ histories as we neared the border. And indeed, one of our discoveries revealed the elusive, remote and serene Pelican Beach, the most western and northern of California beaches. Once the northern California Highway 1 book was completed, we began in earnest to explore the Central Coast. We knew this coast. We had both spent countless trips to this location, both in my returning home to Santa Cruz, Pat in taking art students for workshops, and delivering paintings to coastal galleries. Our confidence was short lived, however, as we began to really get into a location and find gems we had been oblivious to on our previous trips. One California State Park, Montana de Oro, the Mountain of Gold, unbeknownst to us before, is one that has forever captured my vote as the most dramatic and beautiful of the entire central coast. Here we discovered a gold mine of a scenic wonderland, a coast not encumbered with tourists, (yes, of course, as we did, some do discover this remote and unparalleled coastline and return), but this is not the beaches of Santa Cruz or Huntington. This is a


preface

secret, and in some ways, as we divulge this location and tantalize our readers with its unsurpassed beauty, we run the risk of spoiling an uncivilized natural oasis. But that’s what this book is all about, to revisit the coastal areas most are familiar with, and to tell of unfamiliar areas that should be on a “don’t miss list” when traveling in California. Here, too, we discover soaring redwoods along Big Sur as we did in the Avenue of the Giants in northern California and concede to the fame that Big Sur authors Jack Keroac and Henry Miller have recorded. Big Sur warrants an unparalleled scenic journey along chiseled cliff edges with crashing waves below, remote sandy beaches, some accessible, many that are not. The road clings to the edge of a cliff, sometimes, with two lanes, often times, only one lane, monitored by a stop light so oncoming traffic can proceed, as storms periodically wash out the road, sending it tumbling to the ocean sands below. Pat and I invite you to pack your bags, toss this literary and artistic journal into the back of your car for reference along the way, and escape to one of God’s most scenic locations, the Central Coast, from the phenomenal and intimidating Bixby Bridge to the beaches of Ventura where an occasional glimpse of the Channel Islands emerges from the fog. —Janice Stevens

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What is, appears. Go out to walk with a painter, and you shall see for the first time, groups, colors, clouds, and keepings, and shall have the pleasure of discovering resources in a hitherto barren ground of finding as good as a new sense in such skill to see an old one. Ralph Waldo Emerson in his journal entry of October 13, 1837

Bixby Bridge towers over the creek and ocean below.


introduction SERVICE THE CAR. Pack clothes for cool weather and warm weather. Leash and dog food. Snacks and water packed? Yes. “On my way,” I phone Pat, and find her with luggage and ice chest already outside her door. Excitement builds as the dogs greet each other, Pokey climbs into the car, her arthritis eased a bit, and she slips under Echo’s tummy for her preferred corner behind the passenger seat. Indeed, we all have our routines, and after miles of traveling throughout California in pursuit of new adventures, those are set in place. Our destination today will be the northern end of Big Sur, where we say hello to our old friend, the Bixby Creek Bridge. Less intimidated, but still much in awe, we welcome the southern view of this extraordinary bridge. Although it is daunting to anticipate the drive across the bridge, we stop at the closest turnout off Highway 1, on the edge of the western continent, an ocean crashing waves of foam across craggy rocks. Remembering our first visit to Bixby Bridge on our trek north on Highway 1, we imagine crossing this concrete open spandrel, arched 715-foot long bridge, and then heading south to see what sights and experience the Central Coast will offer us. We choose Bixby Creek Bridge to be our defining midway point to travel both north, then south, due to its central location, and its familiarity worldwide. Considered to be the most photographed image on the west coast, it provides us the opportunity to fully embrace the experience, to set aside the norm of our workday activities, and indulge in scenic wonders and history to be uncovered. Our history discovery starts here with the bridge when construction was completed in 1937. Its beginnings can actually be traced back to 1885 when travelers from Carmel to the San Simeon area had to divert inland through ranch land in order to reach their destination. The journey by stagecoach or wagons could take three days, and was impossible during the winter months. In the midst of the lumber industry boom, Charles Henry Bixby from New York bought land in the Big Sur area in the late 1860s to build a sawmill to process building materials of shakes, shingles, railroad ties and trench posts. His operation included a landing where these materials were shipped.


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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

As the population grew, the highway construction grew out of the need to provide a more efficient route to connect the coastal communities. Nearly a century ago, in 1919, Route 56, the CarmelSan Simeon Highway project began. The route would require several bridges including what would become the massive Bixby Creek Bridge. Even then, environmental concerns dictated that the coastal route be less intrusive on the landscape than forging a tunnel through the Santa Lucia Mountains. More than ten years later these issues resolved, the construction began in earnest, with the concrete design chosen to be less upkeep than steel, and the concrete more in line with the environment.

Cement bags totaling 45,000 were transported from San Andreas and Davenport north of Santa Cruz. Douglas fir was used for the falsework from the railroad in Monterey, and sand and gravel came from plants in nearby Big Sur. Platforms secured cables transporting the construction materials across the treacherous canyon 300 feet below using convict labor as well as laborers from the local communities. Built before, during, and after the Great Depression, New Deal funds contributed to the costs of construction. After 18 years, Highway 1, a two-lane paved road, opened for business and would eventually average more than 4,500 visitors a day to view the spectacular sights of Big Sur. The awesome bridge doesn’t intimidate me as it did on our first venture exploring Highway 1 North, but always, this bridge impresses me with its grandeur, and as a construction marvel created without the high-tech availability we have now especially as it was coming out of a dismal economic depression.


bigbixby surbridge

Bixby Bridge emerges from the fog on the Old Coast Road.

to henry miller memorial library

HIGHWAY 1 TAKES US through dramatic, rugged cliffside scenery as we begin the trek through Big Sur, the name taken from the Spanish words, “el sur grande,” meaning “the big south.” It is here that the Santa Lucia mountain Range seems to ascend from the very shore. Three miles from the ocean, The Big Sur’s Cone Peak rises an astounding 5,155 feet from sea level, the highest coastal mountain in the United States. The Big Sur range runs approximately 90 miles from the Carmel River to San Simeon and stretches inland to the base of the Santa Lucia mountains. Ranch land as well as the western edge of the Fort

Big Sur is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the Pacific that Balboa looked at from the Peak of Darien, this is the face of the earth as the Creator intended it to look. Henry Miller 1891-1980


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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

Hunter Liggett Military Base offers an idyllic landscape of range animals interspersed with wildflowers in an area not encumbered by civilization. The Old Coast Road, a rough dirt road, catches our attention at Bixby Creek Bridge. It meanders through redwood groves and fields of wildflowers on this private ranch property reemerging back to Highway 1 at the Andrew Molera State Park. I am challenged enough by the steep cliffs on the solid paved road, albeit two-lane and sometimes, just one-lane road, so I weigh my options, questioning whether or not to take the side trip, aware I

might be missing out on another adventure. I’m just not that keen on getting stuck on a dirt road inland from the commonly traveled road. However, I do pull off the road and venture a few car lengths to get a view from the east looking at the bridge and ocean from that side. In fact, with a beautiful, clear sunny day, I put aside my preference to drive the main highway. I know I will travel around curves that offer dramatic views of craggy rocks and white-capped waves breaking against the shoreline, but what else might we see on this Old Coast Road? Casting aside my doubts, I continue on after Pat takes photos, but we are stopped by a Highway Patrolman talking with what appears to be the driver of a large semi truck who is obviously unable to maneuver his truck in the narrow space. After a brief chat with the officer, who suggests we could have a problem driving this old, unpaved inland route, I gratefully accept his warning and head back down to Highway 1 and a road I am accustomed to. I’ll leave that adventure to an off-road vehicle, bicycles, perhaps, or hikers, and keep my spirited Mazda on the road well-traveled. Beginning our journey into this scenic wonderland, we get an image of the Point Sur Point Sur Light station is the only 20th-century light station that has been in continuous operation since 1889.


big sur: bixby bridge to henry millermemorial library

Lightstation off in the distance, and before long, we reach the location. Unfortunately, it is only accessible by guided tours through a gate at the west edge of Highway 1. We have missed the tour for this day, a three-hour guided walking tour, even though the hike itself is only about a mile. Here we could have had an upclose look at this lightstation, strategically built atop volcanic rock, viewed the old lightkeeper’s buildings and heard the stories of how in 1875, the Ventura ship’s captain was drunk, crashed into the dangerous rocky formations below and sank the ship. That became the catalyst to build the lightstation, which was constructed in 1889. Even though the lightstation warned of danger, sixty years later, the helium-filled dirigible USS Macon crashed, killing 81 people.

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This turn-of-the-20th century stone lightstation is authentically well-preserved, the only one accessible to the public in California and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We vow to put this on our list of return places, arriving early to meet the tour guide at the gate. But what we can do is visit Central California’s famous redwoods at the Andrew Molera State Park. The first of the redwood state parks on our excursion south, we are eager to get out and explore Grazing or the sights of redwoods, ocean vistas and resting cows are the mouth of the Big Sur River. a familiar sight on coastal stretches of This coastal redwood park Highway 1.


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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

also offers horseback riding tours, another fun diversion, and a Nature Conservancy. The Ventana Wildlife Society, which also operates the Big Sur Ornithology Lab, offers visitors an opportunity to view the research and education center at the park. The lab includes field studies on the monarch butterflies and the California condor once threatened, but with the support of the Ventana Wildlife Society, now can be seen flying above the Big Sur coast. Definitely on our “to do list� is a brief walk to the original Cooper Cabin, the oldest structure in Big Sur. This last piece of standing history dates back to 1862, although some sources say 1861. Receiving the land in trade from his uncle, Captain John Rogers Cooper was a shipping captain in Monterey. The cabin was used as a ranch hand residence and survived as the land passed down through the generations to Andrew Molera, whose mother married Eusebius J. Molera, the son of a prominent Spanish family, and an officer of the U.S. Lighthouse Engineers. Andrew took over the helm of the ranch operation becoming a well-known figure in the Monterey Jack cheese industry. Upon his death, the land was inherited by his sister, Frances, who sold the property to the Nature Conservancy in 1965 maintaining her residence and the use of the land for her lifetime. Upon her death, the property to be sold to California State Parks, named in honor of her brother, Andrew. Redwoods tower at the Andrew Molera State Park.


big sur: bixby bridge to henry millermemorial library

Trudging the sandy, slippery trail to the Cooper Cabin, dogs not allowed on California State Park trails, we imagine the hardships of building and operating a ranch such as the original land grant that comprised the vast 8,949 acres. Steep steps and a not-so-wellmaintained trail change our minds to hike to the actual site. We turn back, ready for another exploration, realizing the numerous hikers on this trail and others would traverse through towering redwood groves and oak trees, perhaps taking the 8-mile Ridge Bluff Loop displaying unsurpassed beauty from the ridge to the coastal bluffs below. I know we are passing on a rare treat, and are envious of the many hikers, backpacks strapped to backs, tanned and out exploring, who have the leisure time to take advantage of the beauty surrounding us. But, back to the parking lot, dogs protected in the cool shade of overhanging oaks, and we are on our way again. As we drive through the ranger station, I ask if there is an easier, more efficient way to see the Cooper Cabin. And yes, he tells us, back on Highway 1 North, to an opening where we will see a pathway leading from the road through the meadow to the cabin. I park along the gravel shoulder, and Pat bounds out eager to capture this historical building on solid footing rather than the precarious slippery trail from the park. A short half-mile trek to the place and then back, and she returns, satisfied that we didn’t let a significant piece of Big Sur escape us. We meander down the road to the Big Sur Village adjacent to the Big Sur River Inn and Restaurant to pick up a treat for all of us but aren’t sure we want to have a sit-down lunch. The crackers and cheese for a bit of snack two hours ago is just that, a snack. We are hungry for the good stuff. The brochure tells us “Big Sur River Inn and Restaurant. The essence of the Big Sur Experience.”

This historic restaurant and inn is rare on Highway 1 in Big Sur with few gas stations, and overnight accommodations. Instead, campsites abound. We wish we too could throw out a tent and sleeping bags, and dangle our feet in the cool refreshing Big Sur River. But those days have long passed since we each took our families to treasured camping sites. Today, the camps are full of young people, small families, and hiking athletes, eager to enjoy the outdoors in such a blissful setting. Finding a cool shaded place to park the car, we both walk behind the restaurant to the river. Here we see folks in lounge chairs in the middle of the slow moving river watching their children dance

The Cooper Cabin, an old pioneer building was once part of the El Sur land grant.

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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

across stepping stones in the gently trickling water. The refreshing spot is meant for pleasure, and it tempts us to roll up our pant legs and test the water. But with more to see and do, we venture on. I notice my gas gauge indicates slightly above empty, and with few stations available from here to San Simeon, I decide to add a few gallons to the tank, just to be safe. And indeed, at $4.99 a gallon, that is all I do, and bemoan the fact I can find gas much lower at $3.69 on Highway 101 at Paso Robles. Unfortunately, however, our return home will not take us in that direction. But frugal isn’t on my mind as we take the dogs out for a quick stretch in the parking area, and a drink of cool water, before returning them to the car for a lunchtime nap while we eat, deciding on beef jerky, a little something to tide us over until we have dinner. Fascinated with the history of this inn, I read the historical section in our Big Sur pamphlet and discover the inn dates back to 1888 when Jay Pheneger homesteaded a 160-acre parcel, which he later sold to Barbara and Michael Pfeiffer in 1926. Their daughter opened their home on the east side of Highway 1 to passersby for “Hot Apple Pie.” And the popularity of that item on the menu became the namesake for a ridge behind the Inn: Apple Pie Ridge. After the road was completed, the inn was relocated to the west side where it remains today, still serving hot apple pie. Of course, we will have a piece to share. Besides the gas station, a small general store and an old-fashioned ice cream bus, as well as the Heartbeat Gift Gallery of gifts and paintings by local craftspeople and artists, await us. And then for others but not for us, the Big Sur Village offers The Pub, The Maiden Publick House

serving ales and beer of a specialty sort, in fact, a sign hanging above the door featuring a pirate-looking fellow says, “Arrogant Bastard Ale.” Amusing and inviting as the pub is, we head back to our car for the next exploration. After waking our sleeping companions to their well-deserved doggie treats from home, we head out to the next spot on our Big Sur adventure: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The dogs tumble out, frisky from their lazy snooze and eager to bound ahead, albeit restricted by their leashes and kept tight to our sides. “Sorry, guys, you aren’t allowed on the trails.” After a stretching stroll around the parking lot, “back to the car for you,” I say. We take the mile-long walk from the parking lot to the Pacific coast viewing late-spring colorful wildflowers within a fern-enshrouded wonderland amidst soaring giant redwoods. Our easy climb up stairs and a rocky path takes us to the Pfeiffer Falls, a tumbling trickle of water cascading 60 feet down a rocky background to the ocean below. Known familiarly as a “mini Yosemite,” we do see a resemblance, and remember our stays for several years in Yosemite while Pat was artist-in-residence. The view of the beach and ocean contrast nicely with our knowledge of Yosemite’s many falls, this mini version is precisely that, nothing to compare with the glacier-carved granite showcase for the cascading falls of Yosemite, but the Pfieffer Falls are pleasing in their simplicity and in the serene, easily accessible surroundings. Not only are the redwoods, oak and tanwoods stunning, the Big Sur River meanders through the park, offering cool waters to wade in along its banks, or catching a few rays on the white sands at the Pfeiffer beach. Day camping is allowed, or overnight guests can stay in the Big Sur Lodge and plan on a day of hiking and nature watching where one might possibly spot the black-tailed deer and other wildlife.


big sur: bixby bridge to henry millermemorial library

If camping out under the stars isn’t on the agenda, then a stay at the luxury resort of the Post Ranch Inn, 2 ½ miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, might be on the agenda. Voted the Best Hotel in North America, and ranked among the best worldwide as well, the resort was architecturally designed to blend into the natural setting, built high on a cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean boasting dramatic views of the forests and mountains as well as the Big Sur coastline below. Unable to resist an attempt, at least, to see this famous resort, we drive up the entrance road. After giving our name to the security guard at the entrance, we say as he peruses his checklist, “No, we don’t have a reservation to stay, and no, we don’t plan to eat at the restaurant. We just want to take a picture,” I explain. The young man hesitates. Perhaps it is my honesty that persuades him, as he beckons us through and tells us to check with “reception.” I boldly drive up the long, curvy drive, nonchalantly waving at the drivers of their Lexuses and Mercedes. My trusted Mazda makes the climb with no effort, and I park obtrusively in the valet parking while Pat checks in with “reception.” Soon she returns, with a card of the person to call for permission to take a picture. Disappointed to not take the photo while we are here, we head back down the drive, wondering what it could be like to stay in a “world-class resort.” Beyond our traveling budgets, me thinks, however, it doesn’t hurt to dwell on the reputation of the Post Ranch Inn. The Sierra Mar restaurant at the resort offers an unparalleled cuisine as well as floor-to-ceiling windows for an unobstructed view of the ocean. Here you might choose from roast wild boar, or Hog Island Oysters, or Peking duck. Whatever you choose, not only is it delectable but a work of art to see. We voice our unabashed awe-struck ohhhhs and ahhhs, as we see through our car windows glimpses of the ocean through the The redwoods at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park thrive in the coastal climate.

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The exclusive high-priced Ventana Inn is on Highway 1 across from Post Ranch.


big sur: bixby bridge to henry millermemorial library

trees imagining what an unobstructed view might be from hilltop hotel rooms. Then we drive on to our next destination, knowing our friendly pet companions would most probably not be as welcome there as at the Surf Motel, with its pet-friendly spacious lawn where Echo can romp leashless, and Pokey can explore every inch of grass and squirrel hole coming out of the ground. Across the road from the Post Ranch is another rather quaintlooking red cedar building. It is the Ventana Inn and immediately the glamour of Hollywood comes to mind, with references calling it Ventana Inn and Spa, “A joie de vivre” boutique hotel. This luxury resort was built in 1975 by Lawrence A. Spector with his earnings from the film, “Easy Rider” from the 1960s. The twelve secluded buildings of this resort are tucked into wooded hillsides and meadows 1,200 feet above the ocean and is a popular locale with all the luxurious amenities available. Wood-paneled rooms, rock fireplaces and private patios are in each of the sixty available rooms. After just a quick look at the inn from the highway, we know it is nearing time to head down to the hotel for the evening, but we

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stop first at another luxury location, the Nepenthe. Hollywood, too, was attracted to the scenic beauty of Big Sur, thus Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles, married at the time and stars now known only in classic films, fell in love with the area and in 1944 bought a cabin. Although legend has it they never spent a night there, the cabin became a restaurant, Nepenthe, famous today for not only the rugged wilderness it overlooks, but for a reflection of an offbeat culture. Other A list actors are associated with Nepenthe such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starring in the film “Sandpiper,” shot on location using authentic names as well as locales from the Big Sur coast. We climb the stairs to the top of the hill where Nepenthe reigns over a setting sun sinking slowly into the ocean while casting a pink glow across the sky. We take a seat at the multilevel viewing platform, with a The patio outside selection of Chardonnay from the restaurant’s the Nepenthe Cafe offers award-winning wines while watching the a dramatic view of setting sun. Nepenthe offers a laidthe ocean below.


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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

back atmosphere, and Café Kevah burgers and fries can be found on the menu as well as other staples of steak, chicken and a variety of seafood. Knowing we will have fish and chips from one of our favorite restaurants in San Simeon, our home base for this weekend, we pass on the tempting cuisine. It is the view and ambience we choose more than the food the family-owned restaurant offers. The Phoenix sculpture on the viewing platform reminds me of the story of the Phoenix from Greek mythology who, upon rising from the ashes, is renewed to live again, a universal symbol of regeneration, or rebirth. Paired with Nepenthe, the Greek meaning “isle of no care,” we, too, feel the respite from our busy worlds, and bask in the serenity of the moment, sharing a moment of camaraderie with total strangers entranced with the view as we are. Leaving the restaurant, we browse The Phoenix gift store below, looking for the elusive souvenir to take home, something that will capture the beauty and essence of a mystical place. Continuing down the highway, viewing scenes of chiseled rugged cliffs descending to crashing waves, we next come to the Henry Miller Memorial Library, our last stop before ending our day of travel. An artists’ enclave, literary figures such as Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and poet Robinson Jeffers were attracted to the

The sculpture on the platform at Nepenthe is of the mythological Phoenix.

Points of Interest Bixby Creek Bridge Point Sur Lightstation Andrew Molera State Park Ventana Wildlife Society Big Sur River Inn Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Post Ranch Inn Ventana Inn Nepenthe Henry Miller Memorial Library

wilderness aspect of Big Sur, the isolation conducive to their creative imagination. Big Sur by Henry Miller captures the natural beauty of the area and a simpler lifestyle in contrast to the Hollywood “air-conditioned nightmare,” he refers to. The Henry Miller Memorial Library reflects that bohemian attitude as a cultural center featuring Miller’s work. Surprisingly small and unassuming for such a famous literary figure, the building, the former home of Miller’s friend and secretary, Emil White, houses the library, small bookstore, and an art gallery. The library with its surrounding lawns featuring sculptures created by local artists is a popular site for music and poetry sessions, and as a concert venue. Equally well-known in the literary field, Jack Kerouac discovered Big Sur and recorded it in his work also titled, Big Sur. Unfortunately, the Henry Miller Memorial Library is closed in preparation for a sold-out concert tonight. Having visited it on other trips down Highway 1, we say good-bye to an intriguing place and head back to our hotel for the night at San Simeon.


Woods— Back in the cabin, I light the fire and sit sighing, and there are leaves skittering on the tin roof. It’s August in Big Sur – I fall asleep in the chair, and when I wake up, I’m facing the think little tangled woods outside the door, and I suddenly remember them from long ago. Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

big sur: bixby bridge to henry millermemorial library

The Henry Miller Library reflects the bohemian nature of the famous author.

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big sur

deetjen’s big sur inn to lucia lodge The Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn is an historic hotel and restaurant surrounded by redwoods in Big Sur.


The Coast Gallery has been constructed out of redwood water tanks.

FORTIFIED BY OUR in-room coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer and blueberry muffins, we pack up our dinner leftovers and snacks and travel north to where we left off at Henry Miller’s Memorial Library. Not far south from the library, Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn is another attraction that had been recommended to us. Although campgrounds are plentiful in Big Sur, these old rustic inns have considerable charm. They can be pricey, too. But we can’t resist a photo opportunity and a chance to see what this one offers. And of course, we discover this old inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, Sunset Magazine said, “Only places of such wondrous character can fool you into thinking you are at home.” Oozing character, Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn began as a redwood barn and was constructed out of reclaimed materials from the Monterey Cannery Row. The owners, When you paint, try to put Norwegian Helmuth and his wife Helen Haight Deetjen had lived in a tent beside the down exactly what you see. Castro Canyon Creek in the 1930s before building the barn. Through the years, Helmuth Whatever else you have to added more redwood buildings to the main building, each an individual design reflective offer will come out anyway. of his Norwegian heritage. By 1939, Barbara Blake transformed the barn into a restaurant reflecting her English heritage. The inn became such a popular spot for travelers to Big Sur Winslow Homer that Helmuth made provisions in his will to insure that visitors would always have his home to enjoy. In 1990, Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our next stop is to visit another gallery, the Coast Gallery Big Sur. This unusual redwood design has an interesting history. Gary Koppel purchased the property in the early 1970s only to lose it to a flood shortly after. Short on funds to rebuild, he acquired two recycled redwood water


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An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central

tanks to house his collection. Adding a third redwood tower in 1990, the avant-garde structure blends artistically into a secluded environment where redwoods thrive. Here more artwork by Henry Miller is showcased in a museum, and a rooftop espresso café invites the visitor to enjoy the coffee and scenery from a high vantage point. White stone sculptures sit atop round and square pedestals tucked into the landscape next to the parking areas. Six other galleries feature paintings by other American artists. Advertised as “dog friendly,” I take our pet friends out to walk around the grounds and touch the smooth, abstract sculptures in curvilinear, figurative shapes. After appreciating the unusual art pieces, I reluctantly pack the dogs back in, and we continue on. Catching one more California State Redwood Park this weekend, we turn next to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Relocating to the wild and untamed wilderness that Big Sur was at the time in the late 19th century, Michael Pfeiffer and his wife Barbara left Marin County to begin a ranching operation. Their daughter Julia fell in love with Big Sur and became known for her extensive knowledge of the mountains, the wildlife, coast, and the sea life surrounding her. Julia married John Burns, settled into cattle ranching and later became close friends with Helen Lathrup whose husband was a congressman and friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Lathrups bought up Big Sur land including their home called, “Waterfall House” adjacent to the end of the present-day Overlook Trail. Because of Helen’s close friendship with Julia Burns, upon her death, she donated her Saddle Rock Ranch to become a state park, in memory and in the name of Julia Pfeiffer Burns, who she referred to as “a true pioneer.” Eager to see the ruins of the “Waterfall House,” as well as the scenery from this view, Pat takes the Overlook Trail, while I stay behind with the dogs on leash in the parking lot. I hope to catch up to her when they have had their water, treats and another stroll around the parking lot, obeying the “no dogs on trails” orders. The dogs are always the center of attention, and as usual, the dogs and I stop so a family can take a picture of their little boy hugging Echo. Pokey isn’t too interested but patiently The McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park cascade to the sandy beach below.


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waits for them to move on. I say good-bye to Echo’s new friends, and tuck the dogs back in the car. I begin my walk leaving the parking lot to follow an easily accessible, wheelchair-accommodating trail leading from the parking areas through a pedestrian underpass to the waterfall. The trail ends at the Observation Deck, a steep bluff 100 feet above

the ocean with a view that spans miles of the Big Sur coastline as well as a view of migratory whales in season. Indeed, I, too, am enthralled with the sight of McWay Falls, fuller and even more dramatically dropping down to the beach below as the falls we had seen before. Directly below the face of the bluff at the Observation Deck, we see McWay Cove where the 80-foot waterfall cascades The Lucia Lodge is a popular spot along Highway 1 in Big Sur for motorcyclists.


big sur: deetjen’s big sur inn to lucia lodge

down granite cliffs to the sand below. Although it used to fall directly into the ocean, a landslide in 1983 left so much sediment in the cove that the water now drops onto a sandy beach. We are pleased with our discovery of waterfalls in redwood groves, extraordinary in their own right, and always I am in awe of their serene majesty. The redwoods at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are no exception to the visions we have seen in our travels on Highway 1, both north and now south. Leaving the cool of the groves of trees, we merge back on to Highway 1 for the next discovery. Tucked into enclaves along the coast and inland of Highway 1, opportunities to escape from the daily grind abound. Here one will find Catholic and Buddhist monasteries, and other retreat centers for meditation and study of Eastern as well as New Age philosophies. Curious to see the Eselen Institute, I pull into the driveway and move down to the entrance. Here I am stopped by a young woman who has a clipboard in her hand. Pat rolls down her window, and I say, “We aren’t registered, but would like to take a picture of the ocean from this view.” Shaking her head, she says, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t let anyone in who isn’t registered for the institute.” Disappointed, we turn back, curious, but with plenty to see and do, we have few regrets. Building restrictions by Monterey County and the difficult mountainous terrain have kept the area pristine and relatively unpopulated. We won’t find a shopping mall or strip center here, just an occasional small gas station, inns and restaurants. Some of those areas are listed as towns, a relative term, such as Lucia and Gorda, their old buildings attesting to their longevity to withstand the passages of time.

Lucia is an old-fashioned little place with lodging in small cabins perched on a cliff 300 feet above the sea. The restaurant boasts an award-winning fish and chips entree as well as other local fish and produce served either deck side or in the dining room, with fire-blazing ambience. Pioneers Ada and Wilbur Harlan purchased the land in 1885, and by 1930, the historic Lucia Lodge was established. Fifth generation Harlan descendents continue to operate Lucia Lodge, its popularity well-known. In fact, 20 or so Harley-Davidson motorcyclists arrive at Lucia just moments before we do, thus changing our plans for the notable fish and chips cuisine. Now on friendly terms with the cyclists as we all travel along Highway 1, we envy them for their open-air view of the dramatic coastline. Although we miss an opportunity to indulge in both the sound of crashing waves below and a panoramic view of the Big Sur coastline, we know we will get our fish and chips back at the San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill at the end of this day’s excursions. With that in mind, we decide to forgo the remaining sights of Big Sur for this day, and take advantage of the remaining sunlight to walk the dogs on San Simeon beach. But first we must navigate another treacherous area of Highway 1 south of Lucia, and are reminded we are never free from road construction on any of our travels. This one, now under bridge and cliff reinforcing construction is sobering in not only the new construction, but also the demand for it, where obviously a section of the road slid down the precipitous cliff side to the ocean below. This particular section is open as a single lane, monitored by a signal light day and night. Our stop while waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass

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before we venture through the area is the Highway 1/Pitkins Curve Bridge, a rockshed project that opened in March 2013. The bridge, and substantial rockshed and retaining wall, maintain the beauty of the coastline, with manmade security. I wonder if the construction marvel, as safe as it now appears, will once again, succumb to the powers of Mother Nature. But for us, we pass safely through to the other side, grateful for the ingenuity of those to create a solid wall that will hold back the devastating rock slides here that frequently close the road. However, the scenic view as we curve back to the San Simeon flat land is always worth the challenges, and we know another full day of sight seeing is ahead of us tomorrow.

Construction slows traffic to one way on Highway 1 south of Lucia Lodge.

Points of Interest: Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn Coast Gallery Big Sur Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park McWay Falls Lucia Lodge


big sur

new camaldoli hermitage to old san simeon

WE PICK UP OUR JOURNEY in the morning with our destination Limekiln State Park with that delicious flavored coffee in a large coffee mug to go, and a banana muffin to nibble on so we don’t waste time. Pat snaps in her favorite CD, “Simple Things,” by Jim Brinkman whose intricate piano improvisations enthrall us, and we are on our way to where we left off yesterday at Lucia. Yesterday we had noticed a sign, “Gallery and Gift Store Open,” so our first stop is to check that out, always curious to check out another art gallery, especially one that appears to be off the road somewhat. Finding the sign again, almost directly across from Lucia, we begin the two-mile hillside drive. It doesn’t take us very long to realize we are on one of those intimidating, death-defying challenges, with, yes, a paved road, but no dividing yellow line, nor rail guards on the side of the cliff. I catch a glimpse of the relatively flat land behind me in my rear view mirror as I continue to twine around the curves of this treacherous road.

I’m not sure how much Pat wants to view the sights as we progress, either, because frequently, I hear her comments, “Move over, not so close,” from her side of the car, her vantage point on the cliff side. The just two-mile drive seems endless, with switchbacks and an occasional car returning from the top to force us to share the road. We forge on, simply because the alternative of turning back would be a difficult maneuver for anyone, and we know the top of the mountain will reveal extraordinary views of the Big Sur coastline. As we finally near the top, we notice benches strategically placed to glean the most advantageous view. “Shall I stop?” I ask Pat. But no, she isn’t that keen on my pulling over to accommodate the picture taking. The top of the hill features the New Camaldoli Hermitage, and here we find the art gallery and gift store. Signs admonish us to shhh, be quiet, no talking, and we comply, in awe of the unencumbered view of a mountainous terrain and the ocean far

I was like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Isaac Newton


The New Camaldali Hermitage is at the top of a hill overlooking the dramatic Big Sur coastlines.

below. We are in a spiritual place, and the peace and serenity of what we see gives us pause. The chapel remains open for private meditation, and at certain times of the day, one could slip in and listen to the monks chant. We also discover the Catholic monks have a reputation for their brandy-dipped fruitcakes, one of the means to fund the Hermitage besides the overnight and weekly accommodations. After walking around the grounds and snapping photos, we peruse the gallery and gift store, primarily Catholic literature and icons, before we hesitantly begin our journey downhill, much more secure this time to be against the hill. And yes, we do stop for a couple of those photo ops, but do not sit a spell to take it all in. Our next stop is Limekiln State Park, one of those discoveries we have missed in other travels on Highway 1. This time, the sign that says, “Campground Full,” does not deter us. We want to explore what this place has to offer, and we are not disappointed. Here we find soaring redwoods thriving in the foggy climate as well as sycamores, oaks and maples. But signs alert us to “Watch out for poison oak,” and be watchful for wildlife especially mountain lions prevalent in the area. We see neither, but do keep a wary eye, and never venture off the trail. We leave dogs firmly ensconced in the car due to those warnings as well as those alerting us to ticks. Although another cascading waterfall, with the gentle trickling Limekiln creek offers an oasis, more intriguing to The limekilns at Limekiln State Park were once part of the 1887 Rockland Lime and Lumber Company.


big sur: new camaldoli hermitage to old san simeon

us are the kilns at a level surface high on our mile-long trail. These odd-shaped cylindrical stone and iron furnaces are what remain of the 1887 Rockland Lime and Lumber Company where thousands of barrels of lime were extracted from the limestone rich deposit. We enjoy our short walk along the trails to see the remains of the kilns, and to rest in the seclusion of a forest environment. Reluctantly leaving the quiet beauty of Limekiln State Park, we drive past the Kirk Creek Campground to merge back on Highway 1. Opposite the campground, I make note of the NacimientoFergusson Road that connects the coastline at Highway 1 to the Hunter Liggett Military Base and the San Antonio Mission. The road is the only road across the Santa Lucia Range to connect Highway 1 (State Route 1) and Big Sur to US Route 101 and the Salinas Valley, and one we have not taken before. Other small creeks, such as Mill Creek and Prewitt Creek would be fun to explore, but our next stop is Sand Dollar Beach. We carefully watch the signs to find the turnout and settle into

a large parking lot with picnic tables, barbecues and grassy areas. Perfect for a dog break, we let the pets out to romp, get water, and a special treat, leftover French fries from our San Simeon Bar and Grill fish feast. With pets back in the car to snooze while we explore, we leave the parking lot and follow the gravel pathway to the beach. It’s a short, easy walk, and we are encouraged, until we get to the wooden stairs taking us to the sandy beach below. Uh oh, do we or not? I ask. And then decide, absolutely. But first we scan the entire beach from the overlook. Then back to the stairs, which are well-maintained, with several switchbacks with landing sections making for picture-taking opportunities, or to catch our breath. Apparently this is a good spot to watch whales and dolphins, too, but we don’t see any today. Each place offers an awesome view of the crescent sandy beach below, and we do indeed, go to the bottom.

The Sand Dollar Beach is the longest strand of beach on the Big Sur coastline.

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The strange rock formations seem to shelter the sandy beach, considered to be the longest stretch of beach in Big Sur. We are delighted to have taken the time to walk the relatively easy hike to the beach and see for ourselves this picturesque coast. And for those wishing to find treasures, the beach also has jade, but restrictions do prohibit picking up the rare stone. While we are at it, though, Jade Beach is pretty close, so that, too, is on our list of must-sees. We find the sign to Jade Cove across from Plaskitt Creek Campground. What Big Sur doesn’t have in way of hotels and motels, it definitely makes up for it in campgrounds. Here, too, we find a place to park safely off the highway and take the path to the beach. A winded walker is returning from the ocean side, and I ask, “How much farther?” He says, “Not far, but you will have trouble walking down the steep cliff. Probably need cables.” What?? Dismayed I think, no, can’t do that, but must see for ourselves. And he is right. The path leads to the top of the cliff, and does indeed go directly down. This time we have to admit, it is beyond us to attempt that sort of hike, so instead we walk along the top of the bluff. Viewing the ocean from that vantage point isn’t at all disappointing. “There’s got to be another way down,” Pat says. And perhaps another access point could have taken us to the beach below. In fact, Pat remembers a friend, Sue, saying, “You can pick up as much jade as you can carry,” but with more to see and do, we pass on the accessible path hunt and move on. With so much natural beauty around us, we are almost startled to see crowds clustered at an old resort, the image of a whale sculpture poised in front. Gorda is one of three locations boasting a gas station as well as a restaurant and motel lodging. Native Americans dipped in the fresh springs of Gorda, long before the 1878 white settlement stage stop along the rugged Highway 1 route. Gorda is a whale-watching resort.


big sur: new camaldoli hermitage to old san simeon

With the onset of the gold rush frenzy, the settlement grew in the 1880s, with a post office established in 1893, later moving to Big Sur in 1910. Another high priced location for gas, this time the gas averages $6.79 a gallon; nevertheless, Gorda is crowded with people filling up their tanks, cars as well as cycles, and I, too, dismayed at my less-than-half a tank, add a few gallons just to be on the safe side. The Gorda Springs Ocean Side Resort boasts simple cabins, with no amenities, but offers instead dramatic coastline views.

The Gorda General Store is one of just a few stopping points along this stretch of highway for tour busses.

The sixty-year-old Gorda Whale Watchers Café is world renown for garden patio views of whale watching, or dining indoors in a mood-setting nautical décor. We pass on the featured cuisine, but would relish an opportunity to sit on the garden patio to scan for a “thar she blows” whale spouting. Off the side of the parking lot, in a field of weeds, Pat spots a cluster of Matilija Poppies. This tough-looking “weed” that grows in both dry and wet climates, boasts a large white petal flower with a bright orange center. The plant is a shrubby perennial and can

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grow to 8 feet tall. Pat can’t resist an opportunity to try once again to transplant the roots, or even a few seeds, to her back yard. Our travels along the highways in California have given us many futile attempts to enhance her landscape; yet, we try again, carefully preserving the long-stemmed flower in the cup holder in the front seat of my car. Of course, the preservation of this flower/weed is far more important than holding a bottle of water for our consumption. With this fragile treasure in hand, we continue south, eager to catch the views from Ragged Point. Perched on the cliff edge, the Ragged Point Inn offers an unobstructed view of chiseled cliffs and breaking ocean waves below. The sun casts an orange- shaded light contrasting with the black and browns of the rocky formation. Gravel lined pathways meander along the edge allowing for a leisurely and comfortable stroll. The wide spacious lawn opposite the inn rooms takes us to the edge of the cliff and invites us to slow down and enjoy this last scenic marvel before heading back to our hotel in San Simeon for the evening. A gas station and gift store are part of the accommodations for this resort- style lodging. We pick up a $4 bag of orange slices, realizing we are buying the ambience, and can get the same two bags for a dollar at home, paired with salmon jerky, we are set for a late afternoon snack, and return to the road to catch another lighthouse, the Piedras Blancas Lightstation. Strategically constructed on Point Piedras Blancas, five miles north of San Simeon, the light station was constructed in 1875, but earthquakes destroyed much of the original structure. Rebuilt in 1948 after another

The Piedras Blancas Light station is north of San Simeon.


Ragged Point offers one of the most picturesque views on Highway 1.


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destructive earthquake, this structure is 70 feet tall, not as tall as the first lightstation that stood at 100 feet tall. The architecture is a combination of Classical Revival, Gothic and Romanesque. On one of our earlier visits to this part of Highway 1, we met a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who had established a biological research station on the lighthouse grounds. She offered to take us on a personal tour of the lighthouse and described her research to us. In 2001, the Bureau of Land Management took over the site to continue to offer research, restore the Piedras Blancas Lightstation and to organize public tours. The lightstation has been designated an Outstanding Natural Area for its wildlife sanctuary and historic park featuring the lightstation and other buildings. Offshore from the lightstation, sea otters frolic in the Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation area, an area intended to protect and conserve marine ecosystems and ocean wildlife.

Because we had toured the lightstation in the past, we decide to catch a sight of elephant seals basking in the sun, their portly bodies cumbersome yet surprisingly agile as they rear up arguing with each other for alpha male status. Although the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony, a mile south of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and the largest on the west coast, is a relative newcomer to the area, it hasn’t taken long for the e-seals, as they are affectionately referred to by the locals, to set up residence. Whereas the curious and uninhibited could once explore the seals’ territory, now,

The 1903 one-room schoolhouse in San Simeon was called “Home School” when it was built.

Elephant seals lounge on the sand near San Simeon.


Julia Morgan designed the warehouse that stored the treasures William Randolph Hearst acquired form Europe.

cautionary boundaries along a viewing boardwalk prevent them from getting too close. The approximately 10,000 seals own the sand and surf, their mounds of silvery black and brown skins glimmering in the sun. Nearing famed San Simeon, home of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, now his property a gift to the state of California, we take a side trip to the small community of Old San Simeon. Not a town, not a city, more like a village, the place still has the historical one-room schoolhouse built in 1903 then known as “Home School,” and Sebastian’s General Store and Café, a historical landmark built in 1873. Sebastian’s now is a three-fold business of a sandwich shop featuring Hearst Ranch beef, a 130-year-old post office branch and Hearst Wine Tasting. Across from Sebastian’s, an old warehouse remains, one of the buildings used by William Randolph Hearst to store the many items gleaned from his trips abroad for possible use in his home, what is now referred to as Hearst Castle. The warehouse was designed by Julia Morgan, the diminutive architect, and the first licensed female architect in California famed for her work on Hearst Castle, which is on our agenda for tomorrow. We poke around the area for a bit, parking and letting the dogs out for a last quiet stroll on the San Simeon beach before heading back to our hotel for the night. The castle high on the hill catches our imagination, and we eagerly anticipate our morning tour seeing the elegant trappings of extraordinary wealth.

The Sebastian General Store, built in 1852, housed the first post office in San Simeon until 1905. It is now a wine-tasting venue and a cafe as well as a general store.


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The authors stroll with their dogs on the William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach.

Points of Interest New Camaldoli Hermitage Limekiln State Park Sand Dollar Beach Jade Beach Gorda Springs Ocean Side Resort Ragged Point Piedras Blancas Lightstation Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony Old San Simeon


The entrance to Hearst Castle is opposite the historical town of Old San Simeon.

hearst castle to rancho milpitas

AS WE TURN RIGHT to drive through the entrance on the road that will take us to the visitor’s center, our anticipation builds. Although we both have visited Hearst Castle in the past, we always find more to appreciate and welcome a change of pace from the driving, knowing as well that this is the culminating experience to a fun-filled weekend. The cool ocean breeze, and low temperatures assure us that our snoozing pets will be just fine in the car during our tour, and I give an added pat on Echo’s head with, “We’ll be right back,” and wonder if the time is relevant. After all, he is the one wagging his tail ecstatic to see me when I have only left our house to bring in the mail at home. For Echo, four hours and four minutes makes no difference. My hope is this would be the case today, although many times the dogs have waited patiently for us to finish our hikes in the redwoods or a stroll on a dog-forbidden beach.


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Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves. My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone. Julia Morgan 1872-1957

Hearst Castle is also known as “La Casa Grande on La Cuesta Encantada,” the Grand House on the Enchanted Hill.


hearst castle to rancho milpitas

The visitor’s center of Hearst Castle could be a destination point in itself, with a large, fully stocked and staffed gift store, docents to enthrall us with the history of the castle and the people who lived there, and video presentations in the movie theater. Julia Morgan, an accomplished architect of many buildings throughout California, worked closely with Hearst in designing the worldrenowned castle. We are told of how she climbed scaffolds to oversee her design, watching the construction create the vision she and Hearst planned. I remember the stories my mother-in-law had told us. While living in Cambria as a young girl, she worked as a maid at the castle, unpacking and caring for the gowns Marian Davies wore

hostessing the dinner parties Hearst enjoyed so much. I remember Mom saying that Davies was pretty, but she was in awe of Marie Pickford’s beauty. When the Hearst entourage decided to go to Weed, another one of William Hearst’s homes, Mom was invited to go along. “I was just a lowly maid,” she says, “and I had a boyfriend. Why would I want to leave Cambria?” And so, that short period of family history ended with her “retirement” from Hearst Castle. Did she marry this young man? No, and she later on a whim moved to San Francisco, living in a flat overlooking the streets of San Francisco with her roommate cousin. Now I view the rooms, the back stairs going up to the bedroom suites upstairs and imagine her as an impressionable, Greek columns and sculptures surround Neptune’s pool.

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slight girl in awe of a celebrity such as Marian Davies. I chuckle to see the ketchup bottle on the very long dining table, a casual homey touch to such opulence, of exquisite tapestries and wall hangings brought over from Europe and Asia. The somber monk’s chair lined against the walls suggest a sense of humor from the host lavishly entertaining his famous Hollywood guests among other dignitaries from the east coast as well. We see the Olympic style pool, with Greek sculptured figures poised in place to keep a watchful eye on the swimmers. But more than all the man made features so perfectly designed with such care, it is the view of the ocean from the hilltop manor that takes our breath away. From that height, through a misty fog, we can barely see a glimmer of shoreline along dramatic cliffs. The ocean appears as an endless expanse of blue/gray water reaching to the horizon, where the sky and ocean merge. We can’t see the elephant seals from here, but we know they are there, just as the whales and sea otters cavort in the waters beyond them.

After our guide concludes his talk, he tells us we are free to wander the grounds, and catch the bus back down to the parking lot when we are ready to go. Views of the landscape surrounding the castle vie for our attention, whether it is the rolling hills or the sea. The flowers, shrubs and greenery, every nook and cranny a work of art captivates us. After we have climbed, and stood, ohhhed and ahhed for the last time, we catch our bus, and listen to the driver describe the zoo animals Hearst cared for on the land. We look to see if some of those descendents of striped zebras and other rare and exotic animals would show themselves to us, as we are told a few still live on the lands, wild, but protected. Returning to our pets, not so wild, and definitely happy to see us, we offer them treats and water in the parking lot before we begin our return trip home. Leaving Hearst Castle, the San Simeon pier in the distance reminds us of the exquisite and rare acquisitions Hearst shipped back to unload at this pier from his European travels and to store in the San Simeon warehouse.


hearst castle to rancho milpitas

The San Simeon pier is the last view we see leaving Hearst Castle.

The view from La Cuesta Encantada spans the hills and ocean.

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Our thoughts are full of the sights we’ve seen as we venture on for another challenge awaiting us as we take the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to cross the Santa Lucia mountain range on a road less traveled back to the San Joaquin Valley. With much chatter we relive our tour of Hearst Castle, and wonder when we can get back for another tour of the castle we haven’t yet seen. But with the long four-day weekend now in memory, we head north on Highway 1 to intercept the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, where I had mentally marked just south on Highway 1 from our discovery of Limekiln State Park. Much has been touted about this challenging road, and we wonder how it will compare to the road we took into Shelter Cove in the King Range on our journey north on Highway 1 that we recorded in our first book, An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 North. The road appears to be well-maintained as we venture right to return to our San Joaquin Valley. Catching glimmers of the coastline in my rearview mirror, I take the first vista turn out, careful to stay well away from the edge of the cliff. Here we see an unobstructed view of the Big Sur coastline, the white-capped ocean waves lapping at the shore, and craggy rocks protruding from the surf. Those cliffs are clearly defined as we pinpoint the mountains curving into the ocean. And immediately, we have no regrets taking this slow, meandering climb up into the mountains away from the coastal beauty we have enjoyed the last few days. Occasional SUVs with camping gear stacked on roofs, or packed into the car traverse the road with us, and we wonder where they would stay. We do pass a couple of remote campsites, and envy those with time and energy to pack in and hike the mountainous terrain. For me, it’s my two hands on the wheel, eyes glued to the centerline, leaving the observing to Pat. “It’s up to you to drive, and up to me to worry,” she says. And that becomes one of our trademark comments as we continue on this road, and others along our route choosing always to divert from the well-traveled to the discoveries we see off the main road. Naciemiento/Fergusson Road to the coast offers a spectacular view of the Big Sur coastline.


hearst castle to rancho milpitas

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The San Antonio Mission is on the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base.

Winding tighter up the mountain, the road narrows, with precipitous drops at almost every curve. And we see fewer travelers, until we see no other cars on the road. Our road companions have dropped off at the campsites along the way. Fishhook turns at 1520 miles per hour take us up to the top of the mountain, and down below, another familiar but outstanding sight greets us. Here from this mountain viewpoint, we see the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base where our favorite mission, Mission San Antonio is located. The valley stretches across a wide swath from this view of ranches and tiny range cattle. It’s a view we haven’t seen of our familiar mission and surrounding grounds on the base. And soon, we cross the small bridge that takes us to the road to the mission. Stopping to say

hello to Franki in the mission gift shop, we brag of our latest accomplishment traveling home from the coast along this road, but to her and others in the mission community, the road is familiar, not traversed in the winter, but frequently used during the spring and summer. Today, while we see the fields’ swatches of purple and blue lupine, and yellow mustard, we know the flowers will wilt and gradually disappear in the summer heat. After our brief chat, we assure her we will be back for Fiesta Day in June, and yes, we would love to stay in the cloister. The accommodations in the cloister, attached to the mission quadrangle, are simple, two twin beds, a small washbasin, and that’s it. We won’t find a flat screen TV, or any TV, a phone, or other amenities. The shower we will use is a community shower, as are


hearst castle to rancho milpitas

the restrooms. The simplicity of the mission rooms are a welcome respite from the hectic days we live. And we relish the chance to immerse ourselves in the mission culture, attending mass on Sunday mornings, and meeting the military who come down from the base to attend or partake of the activities. We are humbled in the presence of our soldiers, and know their brief stay here is for high-intensity support and training before their next deployment. The church service always brings us to tears to hear the Father ask God’s blessing on our military and the closing music, “God Bless America.” Leaving mass, we join the men and women in their camouflage uniforms in the Padre’s Rose Garden, and watch with tears streaming down our faces as they take pictures of blooming roses on their cell phones. We wonder who the recipients of those colorful rose pictures will be, and are moved at their desire to do so. These are the brave men and women who fight for our freedoms, always in harm’s way, and

the simple, human act of walking around the beauty of the garden becomes especially poignant to us. A glance up the hill and another last-minute sight beckons to us. High on a bluff overlooking the old mission, a rather large opulent building reflects the mission architecture, but seems out of place in a military facility. We have heard this building is the Hacienda, William Randolph Hearst’s get-away place from his castle at San Simeon. With the many times we have visited the mission, we have never seen this building. Today, we turn left through the security gates and climb the hill. (The security gates have been moved from the entrance to Fort Hunter Liggett to this inland location. We used to have to clear security to visit the mission, but now the road bypasses the army checkpoint although signs along the road warn visitors to be watchful of military exercises and equipment, and a speed limit that is rigidly enforced.) Here we discover yet another Julia Morgan-designed masterpiece, and reflect on the years when Hearst brought his

A pink rose is one of many colorful roses in the Padre’s Rose Garden at the San Antonio Mission. William Randolph Hearst’s famous Milpitas Ranch House is on a bluff overlooking the San Antonio Mission on Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base.

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guests to this remote location. The name has evolved from the Milpitas Ranchhouse, Milpitas Hacienda, and Hacienda Guest Lodge. The U.S. National Register of Historic Places lists it as Milpitas Ranchhouse. Our early mission-era history records the explorer Gaspar de Portola who discovered the valley and recommended it to Father Serra for the founding of Mission San Antonio. In 1830 the mission and its lands were secularized with the Mexican government dividing the vast area into land grants offered to Mexican soldiers and settlers, one of which was Rancho Milpitas. With the onslaught of fortune seekers during the gold rush era of 1848, the small town of Jolon, once the site of a Salinan village, became a booming gold rush town. Ironically, Jolon is on the old El Camino Real, the King’s Highway, which linked all of the California missions at one time. When the gold fever subsided, and the lands were abandoned, Hearst began buying the holdings, and in twenty years, had acquired most of Jolon and four of the The bridge crosses San Antonio River leaving Nacimiento/Fergusson Road to Fort Hunter Liggett.

Points of Interest Hearst Castle View from the NaciemientoFergusson Road Mission San Antonio Hearst Hacienda (Milpitas Ranchhouse)

original ten land grants. In 1929, Morgan came on board to design and build new ranch headquarters. The Spanish architecture blends well with the mission nearby, with a domed north tower reflecting the Moorish Revival style of architecture. A corridor along the west side of the building repeats the patterns of the columned corridors at the mission. Although it is widely assumed the Hacienda accommodated sportsmen, differing views suggest that Hearst did not allow hunting on his property. What is agreed upon is that he used the Milpitas Hacienda as a retreat, and on many occasions, guests would ride horses the 30 miles from San Simeon to the retreat. Hearst is well-known for his philanthropy, and was at the forefront of the San Antonio Mission restoration. He sold the Hacienda and 158,000 acres to the United States government in 1940. Matched by other landowners to add an additional 108,950 acres, the U.S. War Department established Fort Hunter Liggett as a training base. The Hacienda, or Milpitas Ranchhouse was adapted for officer’s quarters, but the United States Army Reserve operates it today as a hotel for both civilian and military use. Our thoughts are full with the adventures of this longer-thanusual weekend, and we are both eager to return to our respective homes, but first, we can’t resist a photo op of my spirited Mazda driving across the bridge to the Nacimiento-Fergusson road, the formidable road that brought us through vistas not seen before, and photo opportunities for Pat to record in watercolor the sights of the trip.


cambria WITH DOG-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS waiting for us at our hotel at day’s end in San Simeon, we anticipate leaving the blast furnace of the central San Joaquin Valley for the refreshing and invigorating cool ocean breezes of the Central Coast for a long four-day holiday weekend. Wild sweet peas shades We take the traditional route leaving Fresno on of white, purple and pink Highway 41 to drive through rolling hills past Kettleman are sweet smelling. City, merging onto Highway 46, then Paso Robles off Highway 101. But before we come to 101, we take a right hand turn to make a congratulatory stop to our friends at Eberley Winery, recipients of the 2013 Winery of the Year Central Coast competition. No surprise they won! Not only do they have the best tasting wines, but also the personable owners and staff make even the most bedraggled of road travelers feel welcome. Our first encounter with Eberley Winery was when we researched Remembering the California Missions, and decided to stop for picture taking ops over looking the vineyards below, and to taste their latest acquisition. With admonitions to Echo and Pokey to stay in the car, parked well away from the action in the shade of a tree, we ventured toward the door. Out bounded two large, standard black poodles, their precision grooming speaking to their sophisticated lifestyle. With our ohhs and ahhs for the gorgeous animals, we learned that most wineries have resident dogs, and these two were indeed show dogs, but also had free reign of the winery and the grounds. But that’s not all. Our guys were invited out to say hello as well, but not with free rein. They remained tethered to us while they did their get acquainted antics.

The sigh of all the seas breaking in measure round the isles soothed them; the night wrapped them; nothing broke their sleep, until the birds beginning and the dawn weaving their thin voices in to its whiteness. Virginia Woolf, “To the Lighthouse”


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Neither of us care too much to make our poodles wear the look the breed almost requires and prefer the shaggy ordinary dog look, but these dogs carried it off well, friendly and not at all condescending to our less than meticulously groomed travelers. Since that visit, we have made a point to stop and say hello and perhaps, pick up a bottle of award winning wine for our next art reception. Before continuing on to the ocean, we first turn north on Highway 101 to visit another one of our favorite missions, Mission San Miguel. We know we won’t see our friend Father Larry who is now at Mission Santa Barbara, but we can once again step back 200 years in time to get reacquainted with the exquisite art fully restored after the devastating earthquake of 2003. Mission San Miguel Arcangel is the sixteenth mission on the El Camino Real and was founded by Father Fermin Lasuen, Father-President of the Missions who succeeded Father Serra. The murals are considered to be some of the finest examples of Spanish art in America. The peaceful solitude of the mission draws us to the church to once again appreciate the beauty of the art crafted so long ago. Back on Highway 101, after our brief visit, we take Highway 46 to Highway 1, and already we are in a green and lush countryside as we near the coast. The San Miguel Archangel Mission chapel with worldrenowned art has been fully restored after the San Simeon earthquake of 2003.


cambria

Green rolling hills suggest the ocean is close by.

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Our first stop is Cambria, one of the most picturesque areas on the central coast with panoramic views of ocean and shorelines. History notes that speculators hoped to hit it rich by developing Cambria in the 1860s, building structures thrown together from slabs of wood, thus suggesting the first name, Slabtown. Evolving from that inglorious name, finally, Cambria, a Latin word for “Wales,� seemed to be the best fit for this small community, the hub of dairy, lumber, mining and shipping industries. Today, the obvious industry is tourism, with crowded sidewalks attesting to the popularity of the area. Artists, writers and musicians find a haven in Cambria with its scenic ocean beauty and comfortable climate conducive to creativity. Turning east off Highway 1 we enter Cambria at East Village, driving down the main street, where shops, galleries and boutiques line both sides of the street. We know we will see a similar scene when we enter the West Village of Cambria. The Nitt Witt house on Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria is full of curious objects.


cambria

Noticing a historical sign, we are intrigued by what it says, Nitt Witt Ridge, and turn to drive up the steep incline. A strange creation emerges, and there is no doubt we have spotted this one-of-a-kind place. The house, if one could call it that, is a conglomeration of junk, including a toilet sitting next to the mailbox by the driveway. Everything imaginable is here, junk in anyone’s book, but for us, a story, and an unusual painting. Captain Nitt Witt’s real name was Arthur Harold Beal, but because of his strange obsession to collect and pile others’ castaways, he became known as Der Tinkerpaw and Captain Nitt Witt. Pastel colored abalone shells, sand dollars, and a variety of other shells gathered from the beaches as well as tire rims, beer cans, old remnants of stoves, and car parts, adorn his home, perhaps tossed from the building of Hearst Castle where he reportedly worked. Captain Nitt Witt purchased the 2.5-acre plot on the hillside in 1928 and legend has it that he carved out his living space, his castle on the hill, “a poor man’s Hearst Castle,” with a pick and shovel. But this odd piece actually has historical significance. A plaque placed at Nitt Witt Ridge reads: Nitt Witt Ridge, one of California’s remarkable twentiethcentury folk-art environments, is the creation of Arthur Harold Beal Der Tinkerpaw, or Capt. Nitt Witt, a Cambria Pines pioneer who sculpted the land using hand tools and indigenous materials, inventiveness and self-taught skills. A blend of native materials and contemporary elements, impressive in its sheer mass and meticulous placement, it is a revealing memorial to Art’s cosmic humor and zest for life. California Registered Historical Landmark No. 939. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation for saving and preserving arts and cultural environments with the Art Beal Foundation, nonprofit and educational corporation, June 26, 1986.

This strange but delightful oddity reminds Pat of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, created by Italian Folk Artist Simon Rodia who said: I no have anybody help out. I no have anybody help meme out. I wasa poor a poorman. man. I was Hadtotododoa little a littleatata time. a time. Had Nobodyhelped helpedme. me. Nobody thinkififI Ihire hirea aman man I Ithink hedon’t don’tknow knowwhat whattotodo. do. he milliontimes timesIIdon’t don’tknow know AAmillion what to to do do myself. myself. what I never had a single helper. Some Some of of the the people people say say what what was was he he doing doing … … some someofofthe thepeople people Think ThinkI Iwas wascrazy crazy and andsome somepeople peoplesaid saidI was I wasgoing goingtotododosomething. something. I wanted to to dodo something forfor thethe United States I wanted something United States because I was raised here because I was raised here youyou understand? understand? I wanted to do for the United States I wanted to something do something for the United States because therethere are nice people because are nice people in this country. in this country. In our hometown of Fresno, we have the Forestiere Gardens, also reminiscent of the compulsion for the creator, Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere who chiseled out three levels of living space out of solid ground. That oddity originally spanned 10 acres underground equipped with dining halls and electricity. Described as patterned after ancient Roman catacombs, Forestiere, who was born in

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1879, created his underground masterpiece with not only living accommodations but also fruit trees and other plants from 1906 until his death in 1946. We are fascinated by the creative minds of those such as Rodia, Forestiere, and Captain Beal and know we could spend hours exploring all the intricate, beautiful and hilarious collections attached to the framework of “A poor man’s Hearst castle.” However, we reluctantly move on. Tours for Nitt Witt Ridge are reservation only, and include a short video, something we will put on our list to do. Snacking on cheese and crackers from our food stash, our next stop is a sharp contrast to the artsy home of Captain Nitt Witt but has some similarities, too. Preferring to browse the cemetery before returning to Main Street and the shops galore, we check out the Cambria Cemetery. The longer name is the Cambria Community Cemetery, but the official name is the Cambria Cemetery District. The cemetery is reputedly known for being the only cemetery in the pines by the sea, in the midst of the largest cluster of Monterey Pines in California. George Leffingwell, a familiar person in Cambria history, donated the 12.2 acres for the cemetery in 1870 deeding it to the San Simeon Masonic Lodge in 1877. Old cemeteries fascinate me, and I wish I had the time to do a few tombstone rubbings as I have done in the past in support of my The Cambria Cemetery dates back to 1870.

genealogy findings. But here, these old wooden headstones, as well as those of granite and marble record Cambria’s pioneer history. Walking the cemetery grounds is like walking in a shaded park, naturally landscaped with the Monterey Pines, live oaks, grasses and wildflowers. A unique aspect of the Cambria cemetery is the variety of remembrances left on the grave sites, reminiscent in some ways of our Captain Beal’s weird collections: Here we see anything from bird feeders to wind chimes, with no restrictions to items a family might choose to leave. The dates range on the tombstones from the earliest, Greenup Scott in 1870, to present day. Before heading back into town, we find a vacant lot for the dogs to jump out, have a cool drink, and run around a bit. They are quiet and calm travelers, and we are grateful they prefer to sleep


through most of our exciting discoveries. Their time will come though, when we wind down with a walk on the beach at San Simeon, a tranquil and less populated beach than Cayucos, which we will claim as home base for the rest of our weekend discoveries. But first to explore more of Cambria. Before my mom-in-law passed away at 96 years of age, she enjoyed showing me her album of Cambria with photographs dating back to Heart’s Ease is Cambria sells 1906, full of family members a variety of herbs. before her time, and of her time, with friends frolicking on the beach in what must have been risqué beach attire for the gleaned from the homegrown gardens outside. They delight us as early 1920s. The street scene of Cambria looks like something much as the contents outside, where herb plants thrive alongside from an old west history book, and indeed, it was the old west era, colorful flowers. The gazebo with its tinkling musical wind chime a time of carving out Highway 1 from sharp and treacherous cliffs. adds to the ambience of this charming business, captured in Pat’s recent watercolor. Strolling down Main Street, we divert over to Spellbound Another highlight of Cambria is the Cambria Historical Herbs Gift Shop & Garden, formerly Heart’s Ease Herb Shop and Society where the historic Guthrie-Bianchini home has been Gardens, in the historic East Village. Originally a homestead built in 1870, it is one of the oldest buildings in Cambria. Old fashioned converted into a museum. Perusing old books and photos, and comes to mind when perusing the old apothecary jars full of herbs, other memorabilia from the turn of the 20th century, I enter a both fresh and dried, and used for a multiple of reasons: medicinal small room that displays newsprint articles, a paddle, and photos of the Montebello, an oil tanker sunk by a Japanese torpedo during purposes, fragrance, culinary uses or to set a mood in décor. The store carries lotions, oils, and more than a 100 fragrant potpourris WWII.


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I am always fascinated with finds such as this. Apparently, the tanker sank, and the survivors paddled to shore on lifeboats. Even though the Japanese continued to fire on them, all survived. Today, periodic testing is done to be sure there aren’t any oil leaks into the ocean, but apart from that testing to be sure the environment and habitat aren’t threatened, the oil tanker sits at the bottom of the sea, undisturbed since the war almost 70 years ago. After perusing the fascinating details of the Montebello, a visit to any museum requires at least a glance at an accompanying gift shop, and here we find a pleasing assortment of note cards, history books and novelties. Our leisurely meandering through Cambria’s abundant shops and galleries brings us to midday, and we are reminded that cheese and crackers only go so far. It is definitely time to search out a fish and chips locale. Back to our car, and a short drive down Main Street to the West End Bar and Grill. We know we will find one of the best fish and chips meals on the coast, yet we say that about all of our favorites, this one reasonably priced with a casual atmosphere. But we don’t intend to stick around for the indoor dining, but instead choose take-out for our picnic at Leffingwell’s Landing, north of Cambria on Highway 1. The view of turbulent waves crashing on the sands below the landing make this the perfect spot to picnic. We settle in, choose our picnic table and scan the ocean for a sign of the California Grey Whale. Or maybe an otter or two. But to no avail. We know they are out there, but not for us today. Looking south, Moonstone Beach below invites us to do some beachcombing to see if we can find agates or seashells usually hidden away in the sands. With the remaining French fries for the dogs, and our leftover fish saved in the ice chest, we head up the bluff trail about a mile to the steps to the San Simeon Beach State Park. We don’t go down to the beach, though, as most state beaches prohibit dogs. The air is brisk and clear, and the bluff trail offers picture-taking opportunities of sandy beaches and breaking surf. With more to see and do, we return to the car, invigorated by our walk, then follow Moonstone Drive around the curve until it returns to the entrance to Cambria. Our friend, Sally Seago, had a gallery on Moonstone Drive, featuring her lush and vibrant oil paintings of the ocean. We made many trips to Cambria transporting Pat’s watercolors featured in her gallery. When Sally decided retirement would close her art business, Seago Gallery by the Sea, we said good-bye to her gallery, knowing we would remain in touch with her, but the gallery would change showcasing redwood carvings, fitting for a coastal gallery not far from the towering redwoods of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Our Moonstone Drive now takes us back to Highway 1, but we take the first turn off returning to the oceanside and find Shamel Park, about nine miles from Leffingwell Landing. A trail leads from Shamel Park to Leffingwell Landing, an endurance trek for us, but I’m sure the scenery will be worth the hike. Leffingwell Landing is north of Cambria on Moonstone Drive.


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Shamel Park is a large, 6-acre green-grassed county park, overlooking the ocean and a marshy slough feeding into the ocean. It’s a different view of the Cambria ocean scenes we’ve seen before, and Pat decides it worthy of a photo for a later painting. The park boasts a swimming pool, barbecue, picnic areas and a children’s play area. This is a good place to browse the area for possible art workshops later. With a full day behind us, we decide to wrap it up for the day, knowing we can return to Cambria on our way home.

Shamel Park in Cambria overlooks a marsh and rocky shoreline.

Points of Interest Nitt Witt Ridge Cambria Community Cemetery Cambria East and West Villages Cambria Historical Society Leffingwell’s Landing Moonstone Beach Shamel’s Park Fiscalini Ranch Preserve


The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve has walking trails along the coastline.

harmony and cayucos WITH OUR MINIMAL SUPPLIES and luggage tossed into the trunk of the car, Pat pops in a CD of “A Drop of Water” by jazz pianist Keiko Matsui. And of course, that launches our discussion of when we saw her during an onsite art workshop at Vasquez Rocks and she was there to tape a video for an album promotion. Several years later, she remains one of our favorites to listen to on our drives. I’m not too keen about background music when I’m on drives of concentration, but today is an easy driving day on familiar roads. We begin our day’s adventures south on the coast road back to Cambria heading to Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, a place The Sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, recommended by a friend who works as a docent at Hearst Castle. hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts

to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.

Christopher Paolini, Eragon


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Benches along the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve offer a view of the small cove at the south end of the Preserve.

This is another of those treasures that we had never seen before, and we are eager to take the dogs out to walk along the bluff trail overlooking the coastline. It is a clear, fog-free day, and our eyes can follow the view of the shore to Leffingwell Landing. Oddly designed and shaped benches are strategically placed along the trail so one can sit and bask in the surroundings. After our walk, we meander over to the southern side of the preserve and are enthralled with the small cove tucked in between a housing development on one side, the spacious preserve and Bluff Trail on the other. One more stop beckons to us after we leave Cambria driving south on Highway 1 to Cayucos where range cattle roam the rolling hills, lush and green with an occasional barn and ranch house. The scene is peaceful, a pleasant diversion from the busy freeways we know we will come to on our journey south.

The town of Harmony, population 18. And yet again, we find a fun little historical place just off the road, south of Highway 46, which takes us from Highway 101, the black and white sign, to Highway 1, the green sign. This reminds me of San Gregorio, a slight turn inland off Highway 1 north of Davenport. Whereas San Gregorio has the grocery store and stagecoach stop, Harmony has more, with a single main street leading to the Glass Blowers business at the road’s dead end. Across from that business, we see the old building that began the history of Harmony, the Harmony Valley Creamery Association, although dairy ranches and a creamery were established in the area as early as 1869 and a cooperative dairy in 1901. Exploring the old post office, we both sign the guest ledger and regretted that the town closed the historic post office in 2008.


harmony and cayucos

A hand-painted sign on the side of the original Harmony Valley Dairy details the history of the small community: The Town of Harmony…

…grew up around a dairy, founded in 1869.

Until 1907 the Creamery changed hands several times. In these early days, rivalries and feuding among the dairy farmers caused chaos in the valley. After one shooting death, a truce was called. All agreed to live henceforth in harmony, and from this the name of the town was derived. In 1907, M. G. Samina established the Harmony Valley Cooperative Dairy, which produced some of the finest butter and cheese in the state besides his trademark milk and cheese. The town of Harmony prospered with this business. In its heyday, the village boasted a large residence for management, bunk houses for employees, a general store, a livery and stable, blacksmith, feed store, post office and a school house. In those days, Highway 1 ran right through the town, and motorists were treated to ladles of buttermilk from the dairy. William Randolf Hearst was a familiar face as he stopped off for fresh dairy products on his way to his “ranch.” His Hollywood celebrity friends, Rudolf Valentino and Pola Negri, often stopped in Harmony on their way to visit Hearst. Whereas Harmony once boasted a thriving industry, in later years, the high cost of grazing lands and dairies consolidating into

Harmony was once listed for sale on eBay.

large conglomerates signaled the demise of the town. By 1955 the creamery closed, and the town became a virtual ghost town, not uncommon for towns such as Harmony. But it found rebirth as a reclusive artists’ colony. The town has ridden the wave of prosperity and crashed in economic decline, featuring upscale restaurants to zero restaurants. Today, the most prominent and perhaps only businesses are The Harmony Pottery Shop featuring pottery and T-shirts and the Harmony Café with an outdoor patio for dining. Our favorite is Harmony Glassworks, which showcases a gallery of hand-blown glass and studio where the owner offers classes in learning the technique of glass blowing. Listed not long ago on eBay for sale, the town of Harmony trudges on, with no buyers willing to buy the one-street community. But above the town, Harmony Cellars draws the tourist in, with an upscale boutique winery and tasting room. That is the last call for us to take the driveway up, taste the wines and sit out on the patio overlooking the vineyards and landscape below, the last remnants of a town visible a quarter-mile below.

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The Harmony Glassworks is a thriving business featuring original works of glass sculptures.

Back in our car, after another fifteen minutes, we arrive in Cayucos. This little oceanside town is a favorite of ours, one we know well from our delivery trips to galleries both at Seago by the Sea in Cambria and at Ocean Arts on Main Street. This is not your bustling ocean resort like my childhood home of Santa Cruz or even Cambria, its closest neighbor to the north past Harmony. But this place offers a sense of casual leisure. We can stay in our dog-friendly motel, with our car parked right outside the door, and leave the car to walk everywhere, dogs in tow. The whole town can be explored in just a few short blocks. We choose Cayucos for home base for the rest of this weekend excursion for its proximity to the other locations we want to visit, but also for this simple relaxing environment. Cayucos means “kayak or canoe” in Chumush, and the Indian influence remains as kayakers and surfers take to the sea. With the advent of white man

during the mission era of Spain’s colonization of what was then known as Alta California, the Chumush Indians were displaced, and after Mexico’s secularization of the missions, even more so with the land grants provided to settlers by the Mexican government. New England born Sea Captain James Cass, while transporting lumber from San Francisco to San Simeon, recognized the business potential for a shipping port in a small village called Old Creek. He built a pier, a store and a warehouse known then as Cass’ Landing. After he acquired 320 acres of Rancho Moro y Cayucos, a land grant originally awarded to settlers Martin Olivera and Vincente Feliz, Cass brought his family to the area, founded the town in 1867 and renamed it Cayucos. The original house Captain Cass lived in is well-preserved and serves the community as The Historic Cass House Inn and Restaurant. With a suite in this beachy little town, we stock our food supplies in the refrigerator and bemoan the fact we didn’t bring

The late-1800s home of Captain Cass is now a museum.


Points of Interest Harmony Harmony Glassworks Harmony Cellars Cayucos Antique stores Art shows at the Community Hall

in any food to cook on the stove or in the oven. But then why would we want to do so when we can indulge in any manner of seafood specialties at our oftvisited restaurants. After our early check-in, we take the dogs and walk down to the beach and sit on the sand watching beachcombers amble along and surfers catching mild waves. It’s a peaceful hour respite from our demanding travel pace. Tonight we choose the Sea Food Shanty, one introduced to us by the owners of Ocean Art Gallery. Yes, the locals pegged it right, and if we are careful, we will recognize folks from the Central

The Cayucus street scene image was painted a few years before the Cayucos Pharmacy moved.

harmony and cayucos

Valley, as our Valley friends and acquaintances have long favored Cayucos, even to the point we call it Fresno by the Sea. But we don’t recognize anyone tonight. Perusing the menu, even though I know what I will get before I sit down, I decide on fish and chips. Pat chooses the shrimp and fish, and we split the salad. Yes, that is plenty and will even provide a leftover lunch for tomorrow’s menu, and French fries for the pups. The Sea Shanty has expanded in the last few years since we have been here, and the owners’ success is no surprise as we pair our fish dinners with a glass of local chardonnay wine. A long, eventful day has come to a close, and we look forward to the discoveries tomorrow will bring.

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The Cayucos Pier is popular for taking a lazy stroll.


An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 Central