This 4th of July, Uncle Sam and the camping gods must have been smiling down upon me. I miraculously booked a campsite at Ponderosa campground near Big Sur over 4th of July weekend, which without months of advance planning, almost never happens.
I snagged this site without asking if anyone was able to go with me knowing that I would miss my window of opportunity if I waited even a few minutes. I figured in the worst case scenario, I'd camp alone, which I'd be completely content with if it came down to it. But holidays are better spent with friends, and it so happened that a few of mine, both old and new, were able to join me for a weekend at Big Sur.
Ponderosa campground sits 13 miles inland from the Pacific Coast Highway. As I read those details I thought, "Oh, that's not too bad at all! A quick jaunt westward and we'll be on the coast soaking in all those amazing views." Wrong. Thirteen miles may be a quick jaunt on a long flat road, but when the road winds over a mountain range and down the other side, taking you through all of its hairpin turns and blind corners, thirteen miles takes about an hour. We realized this on our first "quick trip to grab some firewood." It was not quick.
Our campground was also incredibly isolated - we didn't have cell service for miles. I was astounded to find that I had far more cell phone service out in the Channel Islands (I was able to FaceTime my mom!) than I had near Big Sur. We went the entire weekend without service, with the exception of the little deli/beergarden where we stopped for lunch one day. But in all honesty, it was somewhat refreshing to be completely cut off from social media and calls and texts. I felt like I was really, truly camping.
And all of that aside, the long drives and the lack of cell service and the 4th of July crowds...it was all worth it for those famous Big Sur views.
We made it to McWay Falls for the spectacular lagoon view and to Pfeiffer Beach to see the doorway at the famous purple sand. We collectively took a group nap on the beach, and then went to a local deli/bakery for sandwiches. Every night began with campfire food and beer, and ended with good stories and s'mores.
Cheers to another great 4th, spent on one shining sea while exploring the forests and shoreline preserved by the good ol' U.S. of A. May there be many more holidays and adventures to come.