beauty that is focused here and indeed visibly and overwhelmingly
surrounds us as we look at the mountains and down to the sea below--transcends
time. Beauty is always timeless. Beauty is forever." Rosalind
Sharpe Wall ~ A Wild Coast and Lonely
Sur. This narrow strip of paradise, ninety miles long and twenty
wide, holds a romance and fascination in its very name.
It seems impossible to speak of Big Sur without reaching for poetry.
Mere prose is helpless to convey its treasures--the jewel-blue
sea, the hushed twilight of the redwood groves, the visions of
buttressed cliffs rising up like hallucinations out of the mist.
Such imagery can only remind us of glories glimpsed. If you haven't
seen the Big Sur, no one can explain it to you. If you have, no
one needs to.
It has an ineffable quality. Once you pass from its environs,
the memory instantly begins to vanish, and you find that snapshots
are no help at all in reviving the exhilaration. There is nothing
for it but to return.
is a place of undeniable power, a forbidding place to those accustomed
to control. The Spanish, beholding the cliffs from their ships
offshore, felt a nameless dread emanate from the rocky coastline
south of Monterey. El Sur Grande, they called it, the Big South.
Their dominion over it was strictly on paper. But only a self-protecting
kind of landscape could possibly have carried so much purity intact
into our compromised times.
is still the essence of the place. Offshore, the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary guards against oil-drilling platforms
and other trespasses. On land, the huge Ventana Wilderness protects
ninety-five percent of the land. The few humans who dwell in the
Big Sur seem to be here on sufferance, welcome so long as they
live quietly and with respect.
have inevitably been inroads, but the coast has had time and quiet
to begin healing the insults of those who came only with profit
The visitor today is free to enjoy it simply as a scenic movie
unrolling upon the windshield of his car, or he can choose to
enter more deeply into the soul of this wild place.
A fierce conspiracy of love can best protect the future of the
Big Sur. As the poet Robinson Jeffers said, "May its beauty