Posted on July 10, 2015
A Belated Big Sur Honeymoon
“Big Sur Is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the Pacific that Balboa looked at from the Peak of Darien, this is the face of the earth as the creator intended it to look.” – Henry Miller
In May, we celebrated our one year anniversary and an over-due honeymoon with a long awaited trip to Big Sur, and I’m finally getting around to sharing the experience. We really struggled with the destination choice. We both love to travel and were dying to go somewhere fairly off the radar, like the South Pacific or Scandinavia, but felt that with jet-lag and cost factored in, we’d end up getting more out of it if we remained within our own continent. That opened up Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Canada as possibilities. Sure, yes, please. But we could only choose one spot, considering jobs, responsibilities and a little dog waiting for us at home. So, the obvious choice was Big Sur.
Ideally, I guess you’re not supposed to do much on a honeymoon but laze around somewhere beautiful together and stare dreamily into one another’s eyes while sipping boat drinks. We did some of that (minus the boat drinks, plus champagne). But in Big Sur, as in most of California, there was just so much of everything … so much to see, so much to do, so much to experience. It was hard to sit still. Being surrounded by such intense, raw beauty was a bit overwhelming. I remain in awe of this place and can’t wait to return.
For years, the Post Ranch Inn has been on my radar as a dream place to stay, and in May we made it a reality. It has received high accolades from many trusted travel publications and this honeymoon was definitely worth the wait! The 100-acre grounds of the Inn, which include their own private hiking trails and a chef’s garden, were shrouded in a cool, misty fog when we arrived the afternoon of our first day. We were welcomed by name at the gate and received with a champagne toast. Our bright red Chevy Malibu rental stuck out like a sore thumb among the chic Land Rovers, Mercedes and BMW convertibles dotting the parking lot. A super-friendly porter whisked us up the hill to our room in one of the onsite fleet of Hybrid Lexus SUV’s and showed us around. In our room (one of the Butterfly rooms, which are the least expensive rooms offered; not ocean-front but still pretty spectacular) were bottles of wine, beer, coconut water, snacks, local cheeses and freshly baked cookies. All were to be enjoyed at no extra charge and replenished daily. Our view looked out towards the Santa Lucia Mountains and Ventana Wilderness, and we could almost reach out and touch the redwoods from the deck. To start a fire in the fireplace in our room, we just needed to strike a match. It too was rebuilt with wood and kindling daily. There was a stone soaking tub and shower with organic bath products in glass bottles. Cotton robes and slippers were provided for us to use during our stay. The grounds were stunning and immaculate, yet somehow didn’t look as if it took any effort to keep them this way, and we ventured out to explore it all shortly after our arrival. There would be plenty of time to enjoy the room later, the sun was shining! It all seemed extravagant; we felt just a little bit out of place, and we enjoyed every wonderful minute of it.
Twenty minutes after our arrival at the Inn, the sun came out and burned off the fog, and the sky became brilliant blue and made the surrounding hills appear golden, as I remembered from time spent in Northern California years ago, near Point Reyes. This trip cemented my feelings about California: I have a full-on obsession with the state. The air smelled like eucalyptus, woodsmoke and redwoods, with a hint of lavender. In other words, absolute heaven. Our time at the Post Ranch was really more special than we could ever have imagined. All I can really say is, just save your money and go. It was chilly enough at night to fell asleep to the cozy fire and read books borrowed from the onsite library (no televisions), we walked down the stony path scattered with lavender and wildflowers to the secluded infinity hot tub perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific, a short walk from our room. We enjoyed the massive buffet breakfast (no extra charge, of course) each morning at the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever been in, the Sierra Mar, with huge glass walls overlooking the whales playing near the rocky coast way down below. We marveled at the chef’s garden and stalked wild turkey and deer on the property. We didn’t make it to any of the free morning yoga classes, or the stargazing through binoculars and telescopes from the grounds on clear nights. We plotted our return; who knows when, but we will be back, that is for sure. We pinched ourselves and asked, “Can this place be real? Is this really happening?” It was. It did happen. Just go …
While we did have lots of downtime to enjoy the Inn, we couldn’t help but venture out and explore as much of Big Sur as possible.
“Everywhere you look there is something to see.” – Nepenthe
Perhaps the 7-mile hike through the redwoods one day at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was a bit too ambitious for a honeymoon. A kind local lady we passed on the trail saw our fancy Post Ranch stainless steel water bottles (one of the complimentary gifts from the Inn for guests) and our sweaty faces and remarked, “Oh, what are you doing hiking? Most people never leave the Post Ranch grounds while they’re there!” But I’m glad we did it. Not to worry, we headed straight for Nepenthe right after the hike and drank in the views from the terrace as we sipped on cool drinks and basked in the silence and stillness, only interrupted by the sounds of some busy birds nearby. As it clouded over and started to drizzle, our friendly server invited us to come inside to a table by the open fire pit. Closing out the experience at Nepenthe with a warm triple berry cobbler and ice cream was the only choice, and it was a good one.
Big Sur was a wonderful start to our vacation, which included time spent in Carmel and Santa Cruz. I’ll post about those places soon.