Big Sur has always been important to me. I didn’t know about it when I was younger because it was never a destination for my parents. They claimed Northern California but never ventured the southern coast.
I read about Big Sur when I was devouring the works of Henry Miller. I picked up a volume in Berkeley by Miller called, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Quite the title, I had never heard of either.
With some study, I found the art of the German medieval master. How that connected to the place of Big Sur I never found out. But I vowed that I would travel to Big Sur on my own power, to find out about this magical place. Thank you Henry Miller.
In 1967 I hitched here with a friend to find the artists and recluses that made this place unique. We were stunned with the coastal beauty, steep hills dropping to the blue Pacific. A rugged land where roads sometimes slipped into the ocean, trapping residents and tourists alike.
We caught rides, heading to the state park where we might set up camp.
We searched for hipness, we found none. The counterculture we hoped to find was hidden in the woods. The cool restaurants and meeting places didn’t yet exist. We hiked some trails, we tried to find the ocean (it was a long ways off), we hunkered down in our campsite and we prepared to sleep the night.
We met raccoons. Dozens of raccoons, hundreds of raccoons. We didn’t, couldn’t, sleep. We fled Big Su in the morning, meeting nature, but not meeting the artists that nature hid.
Now years later, everything is hip. The restaurants, the coffee houses, even the roadside pullouts. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is open for business. It just feels great here.