I was completely unprepared for Big Sur, which sounds silly, but I didn't even know that Cambria was the last stop with full cell phone service before entering into the "dead zone" of no communication.
At first, finding myself with no cell reception, no way of telling my family that I would be without communication for three days, and without any map apps to guide me to my host's home, caused a minor panic. With my hands shaking and my palms sweating, I pulled over and walked into a camping supply store and assessed the woman behind the counter, seeking a friendly local to help me find my way.
I already forget her name (told you I'm bad with names), but the woman who initially met my anxious eyes with a hard look and inquisitive brow, ended up being a calming and welcoming presence for me. She spread out a map on the counter and pointed out where I needed to go to find my host's property. "That right there is Nacimiento road. It's a dirt road that will wind it's way into the mountains...wait what are you driving? It's really windy, it's a one way road, and there are no side rails, just a straight drop down to the sea...oh you're driving a minivan? Ok well that's part of the adventure I guess, right?! Ok so after 7 miles you'll come to a fork in the road and you'll want to go to the right...now this road is even more rugged. I wouldn't even drive my truck up there. In fact, one time I did and I was lucky I could even get myself turned back around to drive down the mountain! Ok? Good luck!"
I asked her several times if she thought I should in fact go through with the drive, and she thought I should at least try. With a reassuring look she sent me on my way, and I mustered up my courage and hit the road again...
For someone who is terrified of heights, I found myself stubbornly bumping along a dirt road that made my stomach roll in backflips. I couldn't stop, I wouldn't stop driving. I didn't want to fail so early on in my trip. I had to make it up this ridiculously dangerous road and into a stranger's property without any cell service...
And that's when I stopped.
I had made it to the fork in the road, I had turned right, and I had even gone another mile down the one-way dirt road when my van slid out just enough for me to wake up from my stubbornness and stop. "What the hell am I doing?" I yelled at no one. "Why the f*** would I ever do this to myself? Who am I trying to prove something to? This is my trip, this is my journey, this is my time to choose how to live. I'm getting off the f***ing mountain and I'm going to find something better!" I was yelling at a tree through my window with hot tears spilling down my face and the dirt from the road pluming up into my windows. "Just stop. Just stop. Just stop" I kept repeating to myself. "Stop trying so f***ing hard all the time. Stop trying to do everything so perfectly. Stop trying to control every tiny detail and just be!" (I obviously love a good cuss word now and then, sorry!)
Sitting there alone in my van with salty tears and dirt mixing on my cheeks, I realized that this trip was about to change a lot of me. I turned around and drove back down the mountain.
Without a campsite for the night, my only option was to check out a BLM land that I had only heard about through my host at Cambria. It was a place called "Treebones", and aparantly the dirt road to the left of the sign lead to free camping spots off the side of the road.
Mustering up more courage, I set out on another terrifying dirt road in hopes for a place to at least park my van for the night, away from any officers. Luckily, I was able to snag the first clearing I found, and to my delight it was very private and had a view of the sunset. I hopped out of the van and set to work, quickly pitching my tent and setting up my cooker to boil water before dark.
With a warm cup of tea in my hands and my blanket wrapped around my waist, I climbed onto the roof of my van and watched the sun paint the sky before she dipped into the sea.
It had been a really good day. Not good in the sense of the stress, but good in the journey. This was not failure. This was victory. This was me stepping away from ego and into a new understanding of maturity and balance of energies. And on top of all that, I had just pitched a tent for the first time in like 10 years! Boom!
I spread myself flat on the roof of the van, feeling the heat of the day begin to slip away as I watched the stars appear across the purple sky. This is what it feels like to be alive.
Later on that night, the Moon rose so bright that she woke me up from sleep. I stepped outside and drank in her glow. I had never been this close to the Moon before, I had never actually felt heat from her glow.
I smiled. Climbing back into bed I listened as the tide crashed against the rocks and fell asleep to the sound of elephant seals calling into the deep glow. The fullness of life, the oneness of all.
"We are all forces and instruments of Nature
expressing her every whisper and scream
in an ever-evolving symphony of creation." -Carolyn Mary Kleefeld