As a massive Kerouac fan, I was excited to visit Big Sur, the setting of Kerouac’s book of the same title. Kerouac’s epic descriptions of crossing Bixby Bridge had me captivated. And even though Kerouac was in the last stages of his surrender to alcohol when he wrote his last book, his appreciation for the natural landscape shined through all his episodes with DTs.
I thought I would make the trip to Big Sur during my time in Seattle. But my months there filled too quickly with hiking day trips, and work and personal trips out of town. As a birthday treat, Jeannine booked us a cabin there and some flights. Although I assumed this would be a trip I would take on my own, it’s clear I thought no one would have interest in joining me rather than a wish for solitude. The number of other Kerouac fans that I’ve known can be counted on one hand. And the intersection between close friends and Kerouac fans yields exactly one.
We flew into San Francisco for a couple of days. Since we have both been there often enough to have exhausted all the typical tourist destinations, we took leisurely strolls across the city looking for some delicious food and enjoyable parks. Food find of note: Tartine is not to be missed.
We declined the entrance fee to the San Francisco Mission, but the outside of the old church was anachronistic in The Mission and worth a look. We were lured away by the people walking by with free Noosa yogurt. Our desire to seek this out was admittedly silly. Unless eaten immediately the yogurt would have gone to waste in our bags without refrigeration for the duration of the afternoon. This low-key vacation was made for following random impulses though, so the Noosa distraction led to a street fair.
The only mildly tourist activities we engaged in were visits to The Beat Museum and Visuvios. The Beat Museum was, well, beat. It was rundown and lacking in much paraphernalia apart from a number of Allen Ginsberg’s photographs that I have seen reproduced numerous times. Yet I was surrounded by a period and culture that has fascinated me for much of my adult life, so I was pleased none the less. With Visuvios just kitty corner to the museum , it felt wrong not to stop in.
The AirBNB place that we stayed in was super. Matt and Jeff were lovely hosts. Give them a look if you are ever travelling there.
We stayed at a wonderful cabin south of Carmel. It’s a little ramshackle place tucked into the side of a hill, filled with color furniture and fixtures that captivated the child in me. After we hiked up the hill, we were treated to a couple of days in this.
What can I say about Big Sur that the pictures don’t? Nothing except it was everything and nothing that I thought it would be. It was just as intoxicating and raw as Kerouac described it. Like Kerouac I expected this pilgrimage to be a reaffirmation of the ways in which I am alien in this world. What a wonderful surprise that I found this place full of awe and gratitude and shared it profoundly with Jeannine, as though it was always to be so.
Since this song… Since Big Sur