Towards The Sea: Gently Tripping Down California’s Central Coast

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Every American owes themselves the drive through the redwood canyons and sage bluffs of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. When it came time to set off with my friends Brad and Kit, the three of us agreed we’d do it with minimal planning. No itinerary. Just go.

Kit’s last day before moving to Paris was the day we’d be returning home. With our camping gear, cameras and some tricks up our sleeves to enhance the psychedelic effects of the experience, we set out on our Beatnik-inflected ramble through Kerouac and Miller’s Big Sur. We’d give our buddy a proper goodbye, and give our heads a stretch along the way.

Tripping along Highway 1, some things have just a little extra magic. The music seems to crescendo with the curves in the road (there are many curves), the moisture in the air in the purple hours after sunset feels like it buzzes on your skin, and some thingsI like to think important thingsjust seem clearer. Meanwhile, your rational mind is there to say, “Yep. This is what’s happening. It’s really like that.”

There’s no way to tell what was really affecting our perception. Climbing down a mossy rock face with your two best friends, misty sea spray illuminated by that certain brand of golden hour exclusive to the West Coast, you just feel something.

Maybe Big Sur is psychedelic on its own, or maybe it was just us making the landscape feel so far out. Dirty, sleep deprived, too many joints and coffees, or hours on the roadultimately it doesn’t matter. We were three best friends catching once in a lifetime moments by the handful. The warmth in my chest looking at those two guys, the awe of the colors and sounds enveloping us, sitting there passing beers around, legs dangling toward the Pacificit was real. We were there.  

This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Five. 

Brandon Herrell

Images by Brandon Herrell.