Day 48 and when Lyndon first arrived in town, before the tow truck struck lucky and fucked us, we had booked a tent for this weekend. A Californian getaway. Something to look forward to, we said at the time. Here we go, crashing through the prairie in my beat up old Chevy for a weekend in Carmel at the top of Big Sur. The Big Sur is an area of vast natural beauty. Big woods, Big sea, Big views, Big stars, Big Sur. Only a few hours drive from LA. It’s enshrined in culture as the place where Kerouac went over the edge into alcoholism and supreme self indulgence. He went there to recover but just got more tangled and started his descent into wasteful death. We eat up the miles, and very quickly we are on roads like scars through rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Right now they are shocked with green. All this rain has done the area the world of good. We stop at a roadside rest stop. Wooden counters and country music. Beware of the rattlesnakes. I’m surprised there is no spittoon. The man behind the counter tells us “Nah it’s the wrong time of year for the snakes. All you got to worry about is the tarantulas.” How can this place be only 2 hours drive from the city?
It turns out Big Sur is inaccessible. We are going as close as we can get. The floods have taken their toll, and the bridge is not safe for traffic, and it seems Big Sur is only accessible by bridge. We have had to compromise.
A further 2 and a half hours drive from the rest stop and we think we have found the campsite. It’s pitch black by now. The grounds of the site are stratified into a hillside like an Inca Garden. The whole place has been flooded out with soaking wet mud roads and runoff ditches carved so deep into them that driving to the tent is too treacherous. Nobody is staying here. And we can’t find out tent. Has it even been set up? (We had no tent so we paid for it to be done. Oh the glamour.)
Lyndon and I get out of the car and walk up the hill. Better that than accidentally drive off the ledge. It’s a long drop. What we find is not promising. Passing a sign saying “No entry, maintenance only,” which in retrospect hints pretty clearly it’s the wrong direction, we stumble upon a destroyed tent city. Ripped and collapsed structures. Piles of rubbish. Dumped gas canisters. We are in blackness lit by only the halogen glow of my mobile phones flashlight. Two little Englishmen in the wrong part of town. The back of my neck starts to prickle. I don’t want to end up getting raped by zombies again. I think the first time was a dream. We go back to the car a little quicker than we might, and try another direction.
Everything is so washed out here I eventually leave the car in a pool of light announcing the presence of washrooms. Suddenly it’s the veneer of civilisation. Even out here I momentarily worry that the tow truck bastards have snuck out and followed me. But we leave the car, puddle jump over a load of ditches, and find a massive great bell tent that has our name on it. Paydirt. Literally. In that a few weeks ago we paid to sleep in a load of dirt. But there are two fire pits. One that was here already and one we carried up the hill because nobody was using it. We have filled them with logs and got them blazing.
I am now sitting between the fire pits wondering how I am going to be able to send this out. My legs are boiling. We are in a pool of darkness and I can hear the cicadas mimbling in the trees. Lyndon brought red wine and I brought five fillet mignon for a tenner, left over from last week’s amazing Japanese supermarket. They’ve been marinating for a week. Who says luxury needs to be expensive? If I can post this it’s a miracle… go go gadget gadget.
… You’re shitting me. They’ve got wifi. How the hell? Ours not to reason how. When it’s light I’ll probably realise I’m in an industrial estate. Right now it feels like I’m lost in the woods. Darkness is great like that…