Judy's MIRTH & MEANING BLOG

Down by the River

This summer’s vacation yielded a delightful surprise: My husband and I realized that we were capable of taking some remarkably good photographs, especially if we aimed straight and steady at some of God’s most luxuriant scenery. My iPhone 5 camera and my husband’s old but trusty Nikon produced so many wonderful shots that I have a new problem. Having spent many, many hours organizing a slideshow on my Macbook, and even a physical book of our best photos, I’m having a tough time making friends and relatives sit still while I force-feed them our photographic handiwork. This is what you get in the age when attention spans barely exceed that of a 140-character tweet.


I can’t believe I took this picture, suitable for framing! I took it on the grounds of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where we stayed.

During a summer of troubling and violent world events, retreating to nature seemed like a great idea. We returned to Big Sur, California, where we first stayed four years ago and promptly dubbed our Best Vacation Spot Ever. If you want bright lights and big cities, Big Sur is not for you. If instead you would like to be dazzled by majestic redwood trees, friendly deer who all but invite themselves into your cabin, graceful Stellers’ jays with their tufted black heads and vibrant blue bodies flying all around, dramatic high tides at the beach at sunset, sightings of the California condor and poor cell reception, this is the place for you.

This rugged landscape was first populated by ancient Native Americans known as the Esselen and Rumsien people, thought to have lived in the area about 8,000 years ago, long before cable TV. Much more recently, in 1862, only 14 years after Mexico ceded California to the United States, the Big Sur area was homesteaded by hearty pioneers who farmed, ranched and kept bees. It’s a bit confusing that both state parks in Big Sur have almost the same name: there is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park as well as Julia Pfeiffer State Park, several miles down the road. Both have campgrounds and hiking trails, but we stayed in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which also has more than 60 cabins. It doesn’t seem that these two Pfeiffers were the same family. Legend has it that Julia Pfeiffer got fed up with her husband’s offering free accommodations and meals to travelers, when she was the one doing all the work. Eventually she got smart and told her husband and their guests that she was starting to charge for the pleasure of her hospitality, and thus the lodging tradition at Big Sur was born. 


 
Overlooking the grandeur of the jagged coastline from Highway 1.

Of course, the problem with vacations is that you have to resist the temptation to count down how many days you have left in idyllic scenery where idleness becomes a virtue. We did a pretty good job, and our first ever selfie proves it:

I still have the dilemma of how I can foist my other 325 pictures of our vacation to friends and visitors, but what can I do if people prefer checking their text messages to looking at the bounties of nature? Fine. My husband and I will continue to savor our pictures ourselves. . . . and rekindle memories of a week when the workaday world and the grim newspaper headlines were far away, but when the marvels of Creation were right at our door.

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