December 26, 2007


All night, the regular whooshing sounds. I slept irregularly, and through it all I assumed the sounds were from cars whooshing by on the bridge far above my tent. At some point it came to me: this is a popular road, sure, but it's the middle of the night, fer-cryin'-out-loud! A below-freezing December night! Which flood of cars would be out whooshing? And that's when I understood: it was the waves of the Pacific, silver-gray by the full moon, rolling in from Hawaii and Japan and the Philippines, crashing on the rocks just beyond the bridge. Regular, indefatigable, relentless: that was the sound all night.

The Big Sur stretch of the California coast is famous for its beauty, and justly so. Route 1 winds along, following the ins and outs of the coast, subject to landslides from the dramatic hillsides that rise out of the waves. The rocks at water's edge look like the debris of the tussle between wave and hillside, as in a sense they are. Some of the views are so dramatic that words are no good. Nor pictures. They must be seen.

Sometimes, even heard. In whooshes.

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