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  • Writer's pictureVidya Warrier

Moody days on the West Coast - Pacific Coast Highway Trip

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

Highway 1 or PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) has some of the most beautiful views of North America. And after 1.5 years of living in Los Angeles, I still had not done this dreamy drive. So when I got a few days off from work last month, I wanted to make that trip, at least once. I rounded up a couple friends in L.A. We then packed up for a 3-day drive down the beautiful West Coast.

First Stop: Santa Barbara! (I was really sleepy 🥱 😀 )

Car rented, hotels booked, itinerary charted out into neat, excel documents and emails. Then... we found out that a 3 day snowstorm was headed to California. RIGHT on the 3 days of the trip. Who would have thought we'd have to check the forecast for SNOW in California!


But we started the journey anyway.


Our entire trip was in the hands of the rain gods. It was a dance of heavy rain spells with dry phases. In between rainy downpours, we got to taste the legendary beauty of Big Sur, Carmel and Monterrey.

At Pebble Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea! Exactly 20 minute break between rains ☔️ 🌧

These days, when I travel in the US, I like to read about the indigenous history behind a particular piece of land. The Indigenous people developed their culture by being in close contact with the elements and in tune with Nature. It seems more profound than the 'give and take' rules of modern society. So now, I seek their wisdom and lifestyle first.


For over 6,000 years, Big Sur was the home to the indigenous Esselen Tribe. In the 1600's, the Spanish missionaries arrived. They worked hard on converting them all to Catholicism - proclaiming they had arrived to "save the heathens." 😳 They forbade local tribes from speaking their native language and practicing their ancient cultural practices.


I cannot explain how strongly I feel for these people. They were robbed of their roots in broad daylight!



"Pico Blanco" in Big Sur

Anyway, it seems that the Esselan tribe honors a local mountain peak - "Pitchi" or "Pico Blanco". They consider it as the source of their creation. "Pico Blanco" means white peak in Spanish. There is a large white limestone that is visible in all directions of the mountain.

I was so delighted to read that in 2020, the Esselan Tribe regained ownership of the land, including Pico Blanco. They are free to conduct ceremonies and traditions on their land in privacy.


Moreover, their lifestyle may be a wonderful model for environmental protection and conservation, for a climate-stricken California. Perhaps as a result of this model, indigenous cultures will again be respected for their ingenious ways of living, thinking, and seeing. 🙏


As we made our way through the rainy West Coast, I realized the power of contrasts in our life. The eternal play of opposites. We need the darkness of the night to appreciate the light of the day. We need cold to enjoy the warmth. We need the spice of pepper to appreciate the sweet of fruit. Without the opposite, we do not always recognize their true value.



And so, on this trip, we got it all. The grey sky, rains, and cold. The bright sun, blues, and warmth. The mountains of Big Sur with the ocean valleys of the Pacific.

Afternoon stop at Big Sur on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway)

The above picture is my first 'panorama' on my phone. Amazing! And it is real colors. The blue is so vibrant that you can almost taste it in your mouth! The oceans' moods and tones at different times of the day felt like waves of joy and boundless love.


I'll be forever grateful for these 3 days on the West Coast. We hardly scratched the surface though. It actually may take 10 or 14 days at least, to really experience the richness of the coast.


Another time....
















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