The dramatic stretch of Highway 1 sandwiched between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and running from Carmel to San Simeon is one of the most iconic and immediately recognizable landscapes in the world. Sea lions, surfers, hairpin curves, California condors, beaches and one very beautiful bridge define a 65-mile stretch of highway known as Big Sur.
Summer is high season for adventurers driving from LA to Seattle, for day trippers heading to a surf break and a meal at the clifftop Nepenthe Restaurant, for sybarites anticipating a luxurious stay at Post Ranch Inn or Ventana, or for campers persistent enough to have snagged a coveted reservation at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The timing was terrible, then, when in February a series of winter storms damaged the photogenic Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, forcing the closure of 35 miles of highway. All hopes for some semblance of a summer season for Big Sur businesses were completely dashed when in May a massive landslide buried a quarter mile of Highway 1. Sections of the road may be closed for a year.
Ironically, if you can figure out how to get there (such as flying in by helicopter or navigating footpaths around the problem areas, where you can then catch a shuttle ride), this can be a good time to discover what drew Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, the Beat poets and midcentury celebrities shunning the limelight to Big Sur. Without the ceaseless traffic on Highway 1, it’s all about the ocean, the views, the wildlife, the night stars. When you go, look for Wild Bird, the iconic A-frame house that Architect Nathanial Owings of Skidmore Owings and Merrill built for his bride and which was recently renovated.
If you can’t get there, or want to wait until the road is open, read the full story on Owings' romantic proposal and Wild Bird's stunning renovation in Rustic Modern, pub. date August 8th, and available for preorder now.