Big Sur always feels like you are walking into a magic spell. Driving up the cliffside curves of the Pacific Coast Highway you feel like you are skipping along a very thin boundary between heaven, earth, and sea. You feel like you might just float off into the mist or, if you look long enough at the waves, you might just turn into a dolphin and swim away.
This time, as we made the drive up from Point Mugu, something magical indeed happened.
I pulled over to take some routine photographs. Not surprising for me, and often necessary on a gorgeous day in Big Sur, when the water is turquoise way down below, and there are wildflowers blooming on the hillsides, swirling crashing waves full of whales and sea lions, and perhaps even a sparkling waterfall.
but this time as i wandered just a wee bit up the road, hikers on the trail down below and traveling cars passing by, i noticed a cliffside roost nearby with several massive black birds. Cool, i thought, vultures. darin loves vultures, they are scavengers and vital to nature; i'll get some photos. as i got closer, however, i saw that these majestic creatures were actually California Condors, the largest North American land bird who was nearly extinct toward the latter 20th century. In 1982 there were only 22 of these strange and awesome creatures left on the earth. i found out later that after a recovery program spanning the last two decades there are now 404 condors in the world, 179 of which are in captivity. About 70 live on the California Coast and I was lucky enough to get up close and view maybe ten or twelve of them.
my heart was thumping as i neared the group. i didn't plan to get too close or scare them away, just see their cool features from a slightly better vantage.
but as i climbed over the rail and looked up, this one handsome bird was resting just a few feet away. we calmly and quietly surveyed each other. his dignity and elegance floored me and my heart seemed to beat in my throat. we met eyes. i could feel the wild in me....ready to take off and soar above the cliff in the most beautiful place on earth.
and then he rose, in a gust of wing larger than my body, in a current of wind and fire, i could feel the rhythms of the ocean in those wings and the span of time in that flight.
breathless, i hurried back to the car and darin and lucy to come with me. there were still many condors swooping and landing and resting right there on that cliff. so darin grabbed his camera too, and we returned to our magical big sur look out, and another grand condor flew right over us! don't ask me how darin had the wherewithal to snap this photo, much less have it in focus, but here you see the bird that shook our very bones as she flew low over our heads as if blessing us.
(this is my first time showing these photos to anyone besides my family. i treasure them, as they not only capture a perfect moment of condor flight in an amazing setting, but they reverberate through my blood the moment that we witnessed these creatures. i know i use the words a lot, but that is what i call magic, my friends.)
afterwards, we were all on a high!
"mom, it was seriously THIS BIG!"
rode and flowed into our favorite big sur lodge, Fernwood. we stayed in a tent cabin this time which is super cozy and you sleep to the sound of the creek. everything feels more alive around you after a pure encounter with nature, and this forest was the perfect place to catch our breath.
we met some kids who live in the campground, daisy and angelina and judy. they were enamored with lucy and wanted to hold her and introduce her to their little dog, who was also named lucy.
one of our favorite places in all the world. next year we are hoping to plan the big beatty camping trip here!
dinner in the restaurant at fernwood. i love how everything is wooden and rustic and cozy, a fire in the fireplace and locally grown veggies on the nachos.
lucy was feeling reckless:
after dinner we had a nice chill evening and darin took some of his famous nighttime self portraits.
mornings in big sur stir up your heart with the possibilities of adventure and the promise of beauty. you are at once calm and jubilant, attentive and untroubled. the days seep into your skin and feel truly like the essence of being alive.
just walking up this enchanted staircase to our morning coffee feels like something. a little moment of perfection, a wooden handrail under your hand, your baby kicking her legs on your hip, cool misty air still clinging to the ferns and cedar trees, woodpeckers and quiet birds welcoming the day.
the toot insists on greeting everyone who comes near. she waits for people to wave at her with hopeful anticipation. and smiles with pure delight when they do.
saying good-bye to our redwood friends.
here is my new dress from topanga canyon. i felt like it had a good healthy big sur vibe.
on the beach we flew a kite.
daddy had to get it started for us.
lucy could hardly believe her eyes!
later darin went off exploring to take the following mystical photos while i nursed our babe on the beach and communed with seabirds.
well friends, thanks for coming along on our little road trip. hope you didn't mind, i know my traveling posts get pretty lengthy, but it is good for my soul to relive it all and share it here.
and a week on the road seemed to have been long enough this time! i came home feeling refreshed just like you're supposed to, and even kind of glad to be back home and love on our cats and have everything we need at the tips of our fingers.
i send you all great hope for nature's magic in your lives.