The International Writers Magazine: California Vacations
- A real cliffhanger!
could swear that youve seen the setting in a brooding film
noir classic, maybe a 1950s dark Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
Lucia Lodge clings to cliffs and elegance. Twenty-five miles south
of Big Sur and in the heart of the Big Sur coast, is the tiny
south coast burg of Lucia. Going south on scenic Highway One,
youll come upon a roadside cluster consisting of a general
store, restaurant and gift shop on a steep cliff overlooking an
eye-popping view of the Pacific.
away are clinging little cliffside cabins standing dead at the
western edge of America, commanding an incomparable high Pacific
view. You would have to go a long way before you could come up
with a place, where you could sleep in a more dramatic ambience.
Carmel Tree - © Sam North
Lucia Lodge Terrace
off the road, I stepped into the gift shop. A woman wearing a bohemian
flowing dress and large bangles in her ears greeted me warmly. She
told me her name was Aurora. I thought to myself what an apropos
name for someone who might have been in Haight-Ashbury during the
summer of love. I was tempted to ask her if the Haight was her old
stomping ground, but instead I asked her what the bright yellow
wildflowers were all along Highway One. She said, "Its mustard,
most of the wildfowers in this area peak in March."
She could have fooled
me! After driving 100 miles along the famous California coastal road,
I saw an abundance of shocking orange poppies, thistle, morning glory
and Queen Annes lace. It was Memorial Day weekend and an ideal
breezy 72 degrees with a cobalt sky and scantily scattered cotton-like
Aurora asked me if I would like to see one of the ten cabins. As she
handed me the key to cabin number four, she said, "that its
common to spot sea otters beneath the cabins playing in giant kelp beds,
as well as migrating whales." I had been fortunate to be in the
right place at the right time, when I encountered young elephant seals
earlier in the day molting on the beach back in San Simeon. About thirty
- five miles south of Lucia is the Piedras Blancas beaches which
the seals call home. At first glance it looks like a beach full of driftwood,
when in fact its lifeless looking seals baking in the sun. Beginning
in late May, they beach themselves for six to eight weeks and live off
of their blubber while they molt. Other than flipping sand onto their
backs with their flippers to cool themselves, they rarely move. The
seals appear sad, partly due to it being extremely uncomfortable for
them to be out of the water and in the sun.
walked over to the rustic white clapboard cabins with sea green
shutters. They are situated along a southwest facing cliff 300 feet
above the ocean. A jaw dropping, unparalleled view of the jagged
rocky coastline is spread out in front of the cabins. A white picket
fence separates the cabins from an informal rock garden with a profusion
of colorful flowers And a dirt path leads you down the cliffs
edge to a quiet inviting picnic area. I was the only one standing
on the cliff other than the gardener watering the flowers.
grabbed a seat on one of the wooden benches that are perfectly placed
for drinking in the views of the black sandy beach far below.
As I sat there looking down at the waves crashing against the craggy
brown rock walls, a man with his wife approached, both with binoculars.
As they looked off at the seascape, he spotted a bird with a large wingspan.
He turned to me and told me that it was a California Condor. It was
soaring gracefully in the gusts of wind above the opposite cliff. He
went on to say that, he and his wife are avid birders and native Californians.
He also informed me that in addition to the California Condor, it is
not uncommon to see endangered American and Bald Eagles.
As I bid a farewell to the birders, sounds of bongo-like drums in the
distance traveled to my ears. I asked the gardener where the sound was
coming from, and he replied that someone had gotten married in the hills
across the way. I thought what an ideal setting to be married, or better
yet, spend your honeymoon, where the sea meets the sky.I climbed back
up the slightly steep pathway to the cabin and opened the old wooden
door to the cozy but simply furnished cabin. I was delighted to discover
there wasnt a television, telephone or internet access. Your cell
phone will have to suffice during your stay. The vaulted ceiling with
exposed wooden beams gave the room an airy feeling, and the wood floor
creaking beneath my feet added character to this gem of a place. This
is a hideaway that will spice up the romance in anyones life.
I returned to the gift shop where I informed Aurora that I would be
staying for a couple of nights. I then walked a few steps to the restaurant
adjacent to the shop. A gathering of people were out on the open-air
deck having lunch. I grabbed a table in the sun and ordered a Cappuccino
while perusing the menu, a range of light-fare sandwiches and salads
to specials of the day.
Due to the chilly summer nights, dinner is served fireside in the small
historic dining room. Local fish entrees is their specialty, but theyre
known for their fish-and-chips that have been rated one of the five
best in the United States. With that in mind, I placed my order for
their top rated dish, and I must admit the rating was right on the mark.
I have had fish-and-chips from London to Sydney and places in between
and Lucia Lodged topped almost all of them!
If kicking back,
taking it easy and becoming one with nature is your idea of an ideal
vacation, then Lucia Lodge fits the bill. Alternatively, you can combine
relaxing with driving thirty eight miles south on the winding, curvy
Highway One hugging the Pacific coastline to remote San Simeon where
Hearst Castle sits atop a hill. There are four different tours offered,
and I highly recommend making a reservation during the summer months.
Droves of tourists flood the former castle-like home of William Randolph
Hearst. All of the tours include the indoor and outdoor pools, and if
its your first visit to the home, "The Experience Tour,"
is highly recommended.
strolling along tree-lined streets with an abundance of art galleries
is what you have in mind during your trip, than drive 50 miles north
of Lucia to Carmel, where, not too long ago, Clint Eastwood reigned
as mayor. Stop in the restaurant he owns, "Hogs Breath
Inn," for a drink on the brick patio where outdoor fireplaces
keep you warm. Without a sweater, it was a little too chilly for
me outside, so I had dinner inside next to the corner fireplace.
The dark wood interior with a faux Tudor ceiling and wide plank
oak floor gives it a warm, homey feel. In one corner of the restaurant,
Clints memorabilia adorns the walls. Candid black and white
photos of celebrity friends, a framed print of "The Good,
The Bad and the Ugly," as well as an oil portrait of the
The following day,
I drove along scenic 17- Mile Drive in Pebble Beach where crooked cypress
trees and brown pelicans are bountiful. The drive winds through much
of the Monterey Peninsula where rock beaches are covered with sun bleached
driftwood. Impressive homes are barricaded in with large gates, and
golfers in their carts are seeking out the next green. I stopped
at a vista point located next to a golf course, and I wondered how the
golfers kept their golf balls in place with the strong balmy breeze,
let alone the hats on their heads.
© Susan Fogwell July 2005
Lucia Lodge 62400 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
High Season-6/15 to 10/31
From $175.00 to $225.00 plus tax
Honeymoon cottage- $ 250.00
San Simeon, CA
Pebble Beach Resorts
all rights reserved