Friday, October 3, 2008

Sur, Yes, Sur: Out of the Spirit Garden and into the Fire

Luke and Amber spent the day in Big Sur waiting for Israel and Ryan to arrive, and looked for a show for them to play Wednesday night. They found the Big Sur Spirit Garden - a beautiful garden and performing space run by Jayson, an extremely friendly guy. What sold Luke on the space was the two giant "nests" that Jayson had constructed and said we could all sleep in that night.

The ride to Big Sur was spectacular - Highway 1 hugs the coastline for most of the ride, featuring giant cliffs with pounding surf. It was hard not to stop almost every mile as it seemed that every curve led us to an even more beautiful location. The three bicyclists that we met along the way didn't believe that we don't always stop that frequently. We arrived before dark to find Luke relaxing in one of the nests and Amber exploring the garden area. A few people arrived who saw the posters that Luke had hung up around town, and some even drove down from Monterey to see them too. It was still a small show and after a short set, they asked if Jayson would come up and accompany them on the hand drum for "We are the Tide." He's an excellent percussionist and they had so much fun they all played a few more songs for the audience.

After an interesting but not the most comfortable night sleep in the smaller of the two nests (Buzz was not so pleased to be that high up in the air and we couldn't really stretch out), we woke up to start the relatively short day down to Kirk Creek Campground near the Los Padres National Forest.

We had heard that there were fires south of Big Sur, and rumors were flying that Highway 1 was closed and that we couldn't leave. Luke and Ryan rode down to the Forest Service Station to get accurate information, and were told that the road wasn't closed but some campsites were on evacuation watch. We made it to the small town of Lucia at 3pm, right as the fire update meeting was being conducted by local fire fighting officials. The fire was still blazing up in the hills, but they all seemed pretty sure it wouldn't spread and cross the road. We did camp at Kirk Creek (where the ranger told us that the only campfires that night were the ones up on the hill) and settled in to watch a forest fire about 2 miles away. The noise of the helicopters that were gathering ocean water and dropping it on the fires died down around six, but the fire raged on. We ate dinner and talked while splitting our attention between a fairy tale moon setting over the vast Pacific and the inferno crawling down the mountains. Travelling down the coast has been a constant reminder of the intense beauty and power that this planet is made of. Travelling with cyclists has made us stop and reflect in places like this that we might have otherwise passed through because it was the "smart thing to do." Although the fire did spread down to Highway 1 a bit further north of us, we were able to sleep well and not get woken up by firemen, but it was a bit surreal to fall asleep worrying about the possibility of evacuation and wake up to find bits of ash on our tent.

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