About 10pm on New Year's Eve, I realized three things:
- I had the next two days in a row off from the coffee shop.
- The weather was going to be sunny and in the 60's.
- I needed to get out of my lonely, sad headspace and start this year with some beauty.
Time to check out Big Sur.
I wished that I could be going with another person, or several. My energy for solo adventuring is waning by the day. But if I had waited for someone else to come along on any one of my amazing adventures over the past five years, I never would have gone. So I put on my big girl pants, like I always do, and headed out alone. Again.
The instant I hit the sight of the mountains jutting straight out of the ocean, I forgot about anything other than WOW.
|My first stop along Rt. 1|
|Welcome to Big Sur|
I took my pants off, put on my water shoes, and used my pole to navigate to the middle of the river - at which point the water (which was now past my waist and getting my shirt wet) became a powerful current. I couldn't hold myself up and almost lost my pole. I gave up and turned around.
I tried this three more times at three different points on the river with the same result each time. As I sat on the bank putting all of my clothes back on, an adorable frickin' couple arrived on the scene. With a bit of struggle, they crossed the river. Together. Holding on to each other for support.
I held back tears as I laced my boots. Screw this trail, I thought. I'll just find another one.
Back in my car, fighting self-pity, I remembered my recent practice of feeling my feelings. Not being ashamed of them, covering them up, running from them, or judging myself for them. Just feeling them. So before I drove to the next state park in search of a new trail, I sent up a prayer.
"Universe/god person, I'm feeling lonely. I notice that."
"Ok, good job, Melanie," the universe responded.
"Thanks. I'm going to go ahead and ask you that I please not have to be alone on this whole trip. It'd be great to meet some people. Could you arrange that?"
"Thanks. Oh - and one more thing that would make me feel better, " I added as an afterthought, "I'd like to see a whale."
"Just one?" the universe asked with a wink.
Part Two, in which I hike through my loneliness
Ewoldsen trail is a five mile loop that wanders through the redwoods and up a mountain to a lookout over the ocean. At the trailhead, I met a couple from Pennsylvania, with whom I hiked the whole thing.
|View from the top (I'm in the corner looking pensive)|
My hiking companions confirmed my discovery. Before we left the lookout, I had seen no fewer than eleven different whales.
|View on the way back down|
|My PA hiking buddies|
|Loving the forest twilight|
Part Three, in which I chill with seals, whales, and surfersThe next morning, I sent up another prayer. "Thanks for a great day yesterday, universe. Thanks for the whales, and the company on the hike."
"Sorry to be picky, but, it's just that, well -"
"What? What would you like now?"
"Maybe some company that's not a couple? You know how being with a couple sometimes makes being alone feel even more alone-y? Maybe I could meet a solo traveler today or something."
"Ask and you shall receive."
So after a morning of elephant seal-watching:
|Caption contest! Write your caption for this photo in the comments.|
|secluded path to the peninsula|
. . . and jade-hunting in a hidden cove:
|The path down to the jade cove was so steep someone had set up rope rappels|
Soon after, Mr. Solo Traveler walked by me on the beach and said, "Hi again. You haven't seen any eyeglasses lying around here have you?"
I helped him look for his glasses. When we found them, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a beer. "Want a beer?" he offered.
Mr. Solo Traveler - my answer to prayer - was also a surfer, a musician and a gymnast. We spent the rest of the day on the beach watching the surfers, singing songs, and doing silly antics as the sun slowly sank below the horizon.
|Tuning up for some Paul Simon|
|Mr. Solo Traveler doing a backflip|
|. . . and a one-armed handstand|
|And me preparing for my olympic-quality cartwheel|
While overall, I'm still lonely and no amount of beautiful sights can take the place of another living, breathing, loving human - all three of my prayers were answered. And I spent the first two days of 2013 in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. For those things, I am grateful.
Oh, and the whales? By the end of my trip I had seen a total of 24.
|Goodbye, Big Sur|
p.s. Don't forget to enter your caption for the seal photo in the comments!
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