It is the one true thing we can never get back. We are bound to it, and with no guarantee of what the universe might bring, we consequently never know how much of it we have, a subterranean uncertainty in each of us which bonds humanity as a whole. And it is often how we view time which determines our happiness. In today’s world, it is easier than ever to waste, and therefore we often sacrifice the value time should have in our lives…to be creative, to explore possibilities, to learn and challenge ourselves.
Each passing moment is temporary – the moments of struggle, moments of elation, and everything in between, a perfect manifestation that the only constant in life is change, change brought about by the reality that no matter what, we are on a perpetual trajectory onward. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day…time is the most precious resource we have.
My own zenith didn’t arrive until I found myself roughly 1000 feet above the highway through Big Sur on a dirt road alone, staring at my motorcycle laid flat out post-crash on a steep grade hill, without another person in sight, and no sound but the gentle purr of the wind in my ears.
I was humbly bewildered. Instead of panic, there came a monumental strike of consciousness and calm, chastened from hubris or ego.
Throughout the course of the last few months, by not having a definitive plan set in stone, by not being consumed by what’s next and staying concerned with approaching each day one task at a time, my mindset had shifted dramatically. Time… slowed down. My existence slowed down. I suddenly realized, as I stared out over the ocean with sweat dripping down my face and body a little mangled and bruised, my own presence in this story, that ‘I am here’ sensation which is incredibly uplifting and vehemently overwhelming.
Because let’s face it: the only time we sincerely have, is the here and now. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on wasting it.
Welcome to part 2 of my incredible adventure down the west coast. Welcome to a day in which I was fastidiously educated on aptitude in the face of crisis, besieged with a revelation of appreciating the significance of time, and rode away grateful, for an experience which caused me to slow down and garner the rhythms of life.
Welcome back, to the magnificence of Big Sur, CA with your rebel highway queen. Welcome, to the graceful renegade.
With the Washington and Oregon coastlines under my belt, I eagerly trekked into California, and from sun up to sun down on day four, I was fully engulfed in the splendor of the Redwood National Forest. This place is, without a doubt, an absolute treasure. The 101 highway guides you through endless meadows, cliff-lined beaches, and of course, vastly dense forests, home to large coastal and old growth dawn redwood trees, as well as some spectacular sequoia giants littered in the mix. This coastline forest preserves 37 miles of NoCal’s pristine coastal lands, and the redwoods are actually hindered from growing near the oceanfront due to their susceptibility to salt, and then conversely, cultivate no further inland from the water than the fog reaches, which is just under 30 miles. The larger redwoods pass 300 feet in height, mainly along the saturated lowlands and streams, and they are a glorious sight to behold.
The only downside to this first portion of the California 101? Construction, and a lot of it, for about 40 miles. I got through the stop and go’s just fine, other than a handful of moments with logging trucks wherein my memory flashed to the horrible scene in the film Final Destination when everyone dies because the chains break on the truck in the middle of the highway and trees go every direction. But hey, despite the unwarranted terror, I came out at least physically unscathed.
There came a definitive fork in the road about two hours from Mendocino, where the highway 101 went east and the California 1 went west back to the coast, and it put a big smile on my face. I threw on my right turn signal, changing course for the first time since I departed Tumwater, leaving the 101 behind me. Within a few minutes, I was dancing through the twists and turns of the mountains between Leggett and Rockport, long sweeps of sharp curves, steep transitions, and a dense forest which seemed to never end. I could smell the ocean, though I couldn’t quite see it, until 30 miles went by and suddenly the water came into view, sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. The Highway 1 began to head south along the coast, and due to the sheer brilliance of the views, I had to drop Lorraine down about 10-15 mph so I could soak it all in – the vistas overlooking the Pacific were jaw dropping, and the craziest part? I had almost the entire highway to myself. It was like a dream…and obvious to note why this stretch of roadway is considered one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
I crashed on the property of another fellow adv rider named Dave, arriving just after dark, and was happily surprised to find their home in Mendocino far enough into the forest that the intense winds of the coast were relatively nonexistent. It was an early night – the following day, I was taking a roundabout way to Santa Cruz to avoid traffic around San Francisco as well as visit my friend Hailey and get a very fitting new tattoo for my collection, a day with very little filming and instead, a battle with the ungodly California traffic in the Bay area. However, after getting out of camp just before sunrise, I did have a lovely and unanticipated gift – while the temperature was a brisk 48 degrees, the ride through the Redwood forests of highway 128 was worth the chill. Like the previous afternoon, it felt like I had the entire highway to myself through a Tolkien-inspired forest, mystical, captivating, and exquisite; fog draped like cloaks around the redwood trees in the still morning air, and the sun glittering in my rearview mirrors as I headed east and further inland.
That night, I made it down to Santa Cruz after hours of bumper to bumper traffic, and camped in the yard of an adv rider named Steve who graciously offered out some tent space for me. In the morning, the two of us went on a small trek to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum next to Seal Rock, a quick excursion before my long haul down to Santa Barbara and Steve went into work, and it was well worth the ride. Following Steve’s lead, we may or may not have hopped a fence to watch some of the surfers catch their morning waves and watch the sun rise, and I felt enormously lucky to have a local show me one of the best views of Santa Cruz I’d ever witnessed.
After a goodbye to my new comrade, I hopped back on the motorcycle, and commenced my day…THE day…that I knew would define this entire trip down from north to south along the coast. Why? Because this was the day I was riding through Big Sur, and the weather forecast was set to be utterly spectacular.
And to be honest, it was better than I could have ever imagined.
From Carmel down to Ragged Point, I was in a total and complete state of bliss, amazed at how the area remains mostly undeveloped and sparsely populated, making the ride feel peaceful and strangely remote for California. The tall canopies of old world trees, unspoiled and stunning coastline, tall, cascading waterfalls, with distinctive bluffs and overhangs that take your breath away, not to mention this has the backdrop of an endless bluebird sky and deep cobalt ocean. Now granted, you do deal with some traffic on the highway 1 as well as at various viewpoint stops, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that you are surrounded by tremendous beauty from every angle. It’s undeniable – every mile makes your eyes grow wider in wonder.
Although the Bixby Bridge is one of the more notable outlooks along the highway 1 in Big Sur, I decided to skip the more crowded attraction and hit the Rocky Creek Bridge, an open-spandrel arch bridge eclipsing where Rocky Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. Though the beach below is private property, the vista point is pretty unbelievable, and in my opinion, a better stop than Bixby because it is less overrun with people, and on a good day, you can spot some of the endangered otters which hang along the waterfront.
At the Bixby bridge, I did a quick ride by and then swiftly turned around, because at the recommendation of Steve, I was going to take the Old Coast Road up and around Big Sur for a little off road riding and with the hope of some spectacular panoramas. This road, mainly accessible only for high-clearance vehicles (or in my case, an adventure riding motorcycle), is 11 miles long, beginning at the El Sur Ranch, followed with a sharp descent into Little River Sur canyon, then a dense area of redwood forest before it climbs out of the canyon once more. The final segment is a steep series of switchbacks and blind curves toward Andrew Molera State Park, where it rejoins the highway 1, and the entire roadway is either gravel, dirt, or dense rock.
For the first 40 minutes I was on this road, it was heaven. Not only was I adventure riding through one of the most gorgeous parts of California I had ever seen, but I escaped the tourists and traffic, embracing the feeling of having a private tour of Big Sur versus navigating parking lots and pull outs. With just a few miles to go, I hit a point of not wanting the ride to end, but it was only 11am and I had an entire afternoon of filming waiting for me, thus I began my descent toward the highway 1.
Less than a quarter mile later, I was in serious trouble.
I have been fortunate to conquer some pretty gnarly terrain on my CB500X, and Lorraine has proven time and time again how capable of a motorcycle she is, earning a trust with me that most people could never obtain; however, what I am not accustomed to doing, is advanced level adv riding on a bike fully loaded with my entire life on the back, and very suddenly, that was precisely the terrain I was stuck navigating on a downhill slope. And just as I was giving myself a pep talk about putting my big girl pants on, I hit a dangerous rut that thrust my luggage forward into me and my seat, and before I could regain my balance with just one hand on the handlebars and the other trying to shift my bags back into place, I struck another furrow, and crashed down hard onto the ground.
In practiced fashion, the minute I got laid out, I was scrambling to my hands and knees, killed the engine, and then immediately did what any content creator would do – checked my gear. The camera was fine. GoPros were fine. Phone was fine. I took a deep breath and ran a quick body scan, with no injury I could pinpoint other than a badly bruised right knee from the tank crashing into it on the fall. Still sitting on my haunches, I glanced at Lorraine, dead flat on her side, and then my eyes went up toward the increasingly hot sun.
“This, is going to get pretty freaking toasty,” I remarked aloud, letting out a small laugh.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t know what to do. I absolutely did. Unload the luggage, get the bike upright and steady, make sure she starts, get Lorraine loaded back up, then continue down the hill. What was difficult, was not letting my brain spiral with the knowledge that I had another 4 miles of arduous and harsh road, and that I was in the middle of a no reception zone with limited water supply. I had a few seconds waiting for anxiety to take over, to lose my nerve, or be hit with a few flashes of PTSD from my wreck in June. On the contrary, I got up, took off my gloves, helmet, and jacket, and chugged some water while I studied the bike. My mind…was totally clear, and abruptly, goosebumps ran over my skin even with the heat close to 90 degrees farenheit. My gaze lifted and stared out from the road, down at the majesty of Big Sur and the surrounding forest, alone for miles and inspired by the sound of nothing other than the gentle breeze blowing my blonde hair away from my eyes.
I smiled big. “This is what you live for, G,” I reminded myself. “This…is why you’re out here.”
After that, things went exactly as predicted. I unloaded the bike, got her upright, reloaded the bike, felt like my heart was going to explode as I barreled down the rest of the strenuous and mildly dangerous Old Coast Road, which I did manage to survive without any other crashes or drops, and got to the Highway 1 with an epic huzzah of victory in my helmet.
The result of my fall? I was completely out of water, had sweated through my gear (yep, pants AND jacket), my hair was soaked with perspiration, and I smelled…horrifying. The first chance I got, I popped into a gas station, bought a redbull, two gatorades, a gallon of water, and changed my top after stripping down to my skivvies and wiping my suit down with paper towels in the bathroom. My right knee was more than bruised too – I had a pretty bad gash that almost bled through my pants, though not deep enough to need stitches, and as I patched myself up with my first aid kit, the girl at the station brought me out another redbull on the house and asked what happened to me (for the record, she wasn’t the first – Lorraine and I arrived to the gas station completely covered in dust and dirt, causing a bit of mayhem as onlookers ‘checked in’ on me). After I relayed my adventure along the Old Coast Road, her eyes got quite wide, and she shook her head, saying. “hon, you know that a few days ago we had such bad weather, they had that road closed afterward. Must have only just opened today. Those big ruts were from the Pacific rain that drains down the mountainside, mudslides even.” She paused. “You must be crazy doing all that on your own.”
Crazy. Yeah. I get that a lot.
The rest of my ride through Big Sur, was much like the start of it. Unfathomably beautiful scenery and riding, as well as an astonishing amount of fun, twisting and turning down the highway 1, barely able to keep my eyes on the road. My crash on the Old Coast Road got me delayed from my arrival in Santa Barbara that evening, but to be honest, I didn’t really care in the slightest, because that setback had catalyzed something I was only just beginning to comprehend. My perception, or rather, my reality, had decelerated. I was moving, sure, but quite suddenly, it had become nothing about where I was going, and everything about where I was in that moment.
For so many years, and like the majority of people, I was always…planning ahead…with a consistent inner narrative of… “if I could get to this point then I will feel accomplished” or “if I could hit this goal THEN everything will fall into place”. I was chasing vacant horizons. Chasing a dance of shadows. Chasing a version of myself I wanted to be without realizing I was already her, if I would only look in the mirror. Because let’s be real: all the material things you gain with certain elements of success can be taken away for any reason at any given time. You live enough years on this amazing planet of ours, and you know that sometimes life falls apart. What matters is what’s in your heart. How you lived. How you loved. How you pursued your passions. There is a vast and immense power in intention, because human potential is limitless if you are willing to walk the hard road to get there. And we are all different – our gifts, our talents, our uses, are unique, just as we are.
Don’t trade who you are, for who the world expects you to be. This world is better off with you being yourself.
Time is the one true thing we can never replace for ourselves. A treasure, a gift, a resource not to be squandered. Everything is bound to time. If you can find a way to slow yourself down, and place more emphasis on today than tomorrow, I can guarantee you will surprise yourself with how different your perception of your story becomes.
And I can also guarantee, you will wake up every day, filled with gratitude. Until next time. Live wild. Ride free.
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