Anyone who has been to Big Sur understands the devastating quality of its beauty. This place grips you, pulls you in completely and unwaveringly, and in doing so absolutely terrifies you. It is a place that makes you feel small and insignificant, a creature clawing your way through great forests with towering trees and decades of growth beneath them, dancing with terrifyingly powerful waves, climbing crumbling rocks that have seen centuries pass. You realize, in some poignant transcendentalist moment, that you are but an accident of nature, a pure result of the scientific workings of the world, and that this alive part is all real. You feel less and less connected to society, to the world from which you came, and this makes you question your sanity a little bit. It forces you to look at yourself, at your true animal self, which is never a thing anyone enjoys doing. So while you gasp at Big Sur’s beauty, so magnificent it hurts, you are also gasping and marveling at your own place in that beauty and that is a difficult thing to understand.
I spent a week traversing the coast up and down Highway 1 and reading Jack Kerouac’s “Big Sur,” which (although breathtaking in its own right) did not help my already fading grasp on reality, and found he put this sentiment I've been grasping at so much more clearly than I ever could: “The empty blue sky of space says 'All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don't care, it still belongs to me.” Like all great writers, and following the show-don't-tell mantra, he finds a way to bring words and understanding and feeling from within you without really saying it outright.
I fall in love with cities because of their stories. But the stories told in Big Sur are of a different nature. They are more elemental, more basic, more chemical. They speak of the natural world, the world of which we are all formed and born and made, the world that gave birth to our cities. Big Sur tells stories of ocean carving shapes in rocks, of moss dripping down crevices in cliff faces, of trees that were born before Jesus, of madness and instinct and survival. It is an escape and a refuge from so-called reality, but Big Sur is a challenge. It’s what I imagine heaven, if such a thing existed, would be like.
- cheap beer
- cast iron skillet
- fishtail braid
- s'mores :)
On the Range Meaty Baked Beans
My favorite camping recipe that finds a way to utilize canned food and leftovers - one of the most important things to do when you find yourself lacking proper refrigeration. When I camp, I usually have a quality meat the first night or two, while it will keep in the cooler, and then find myself getting more and more creative. This recipe usually comes in for me at a time when I absolutely have to cook the rest of my bacon for breakfast that morning, and when I have had some beer brats or a nice steak with caramelized onions the night before.
- 1 can Bush's original baked beans
- kernels from 2 ears of corn, grilled (cook directly on grill, shucked - this is often a leftover ingredient for me)
- leftover bacon, chopped
- leftover steak or bratwurst from last night's dinner (or both, from the past 2 nights), chopped
- caramelized onions from last night's dinner
- 1 jalapeño, diced (the more seeds you leave in, the spicier your dish will be)
- 1/2 bell pepper, diced
- bread, for dipping
- salt & pepper, to taste
Simple as mixing all your ingredients together in a pot and letting simmer as long as you can wait. I like to throw a splash of beer in there, to let reduce off for extra flavor.
So go to Big Sur. I promise, it will change your life.