On The Coast, Amid The Redwoods

Few things satisfy me as much as driving on certain stretches of Pacific Coast Highway, a road that is easily the best in America, and that I can’t imagine being equaled elsewhere. There is a mile or two in south Laguna Beach that I associate with summer days at age sixteen, driving with Feel Flow or Scarlet Begonias blaring on the stereo, sand on my feet, surf wax beneath my fingernails, and windows down to achieve that singular sensation of evaporated saltwater on skin dried by a warm 55 MPH breeze. Call it beach feel, which usually also involves a slight sunburn, muscles tired from fighting currents all day, and the kind of hunger that makes an In’N‘Out burger even better than usual.

Oh to once again have summers off! Instead I’ve long since grown particular to a gorgeous stretch just north of Hearst Castle, where every spring the green hills on the east side of the road are abloom with lavender flowers, and the highway itself runs at sea level, putting impossibly gorgeous seascapes right there to be admired without fear of plunging over a cliff. The drive through Big Sur is as gorgeous. Its only drawback is the fact that it’s so often shrouded in fog, thwarting many a trip to Napenth.

These last few days I’ve traversed what for me was a virgin stretch of Highway 1. I’d never been north of the Russian River before when traveling along the coast. Perhaps it’s the excitement of discovery, but I’m suddenly wondering if there is any part of PCH more impressive than the drive that takes you from the Russian River to The Sea Ranch, California, where I’ve just taken up residence for a month and a half. Here’s a photo taken steps off the side of the road, perhaps an hour from where I’m staying:

The Sea Ranch itself is bliss. It’s an easy walk to Coast Highway, and at the same time nestled in a redwood forest. If there is a better smell than evergreen trees mingling with sea air I haven’t found it, and while I can’t see the surf from my window, I can hear its faint roar. I’ve been writing on the back deck with scenery that looks something like this:

But there’s this forest thing where light filters down through the trees in beams that I can’t seem to capture. As my girlfriend said, if I could I’d probably be a photographer rather than a writer. Where I grew up, heavily wooded areas weren’t a part of my normal experience, so this effect is still magical to me. The house is owned by an artist who must glory in this light. One hint is that there are skylights in every room here. Sunrise filters through them in spangled patches.

The hiking trails that run through the community are on the ocean side of PCH too. Today’s outing ended here:

One thing I wonder is whether we’ll continue to enjoy sunny days, or if this part of the coast is as fogbound as points south. Either way I highly recommend this place to anyone eager for an adventure.