Living 3000 miles away on the Atlantic Coast in May 2017, I read about the big time landslide at Mud Creek in Big Sur, California that heaped six million tons of rock and dirt on a quarter mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. The PCH is the coastal artery running through Big Sur, home to iconic California State Parks of truly awesome redwoods.
Finally fourteen months later (July 2018), the PCH reopened for travelers driving up and down the coast. Being but a mere 175 miles away in Carpinteria for the winter, I had to see the engineering wonder for myself. Hannah smiles and comes along for the ride.
As hard core pickleballers, we seek out venues whenever we hit the road. As good fortune would have it, just 45 miles south of the landslide is Cambria, the last town of note until Carmel and Monterey; it has a spanking new pickleball facility. Learning of Wednesday morning play this late January, we leave Carp at 615A and arrive just after 9A to see players aplenty whacking the wiffle-like ball.
Hannah and I warm-up together and very soon are asked to join a game. The people are genial, intermediate players. Sizing up the situation, I realize that today will not be a day to work on my game or to be challenged, but to be an encourager, a cheerleader for others. Let me tell you, taking on this role is no sacrifice. In addition to it being a decent thing to do, it’s 60F and sunny while in Maine today temps are just getting into the teens.
Leaving Cambria, we have twenty miles of two lane PCH through farmland and pastures past the elephant seals rookery, the Hearst Castle, and San Simeon State Park. Then the fun begins.
The PCH narrows and we are on the road etched into the mountainside. Driving on the inside lane, we are nearest the mountain and a good twenty feet from the plunging cliffside into the Pacific. The hairpins have us going 15 miles per hour in places. While Hannah drives, I get to check out the coastline; eyes firmly on the road, she is laser-focused on the winding road ahead.
Then we see a sign for work ahead. Though the PCH has been opened for six months, heavy machinery still reinforces the shoreline by dumping car-size boulders for support. With only one lane open, we wait, and I snap a picture or two.
Soon, we are waved through and that’s it. No vista point parking to check out the magnificent reconstruction. No pull-offs for close-up pictures. We have driven by the landslide in 15 seconds! We can’t see a thing over the cliff to the ocean. Thank goodness for Internet aerial photography.
Our experience is, in fact, underwhelming. But hey, we pickled in the morning and are off to the waterfall trail of Limekiln State Park in Big Sur. Click here for that blog.
To conclude, we are reminded just how much California rocks. A little landslide humor.