(I just had this entire post typed up before Luna jumped onto my computer and deleted it all. Sigh. Bare with me)
We were learning very quickly that everything is more expensive on the coast. Fifty-dollar campsites were abundant; they were also likely reserved months in advance. I found a free site just south of Big Sur on the Campendium app, with recent reviews and a decent rating. Our plan was to stop a Point Lobos State Reserve for some hiking on the coast, before stopping at Mcway Falls: fingers crossed for stumbling across the magical 'free' campsite before sunset.
There was a line of cars that reached the road when we reached Point Lobos, and we decided to park on the road and walk in. I recommend doing this to skip the line and entrance fee if you don't mind trekking the park on foot. We headed straight for the tip of the small peninsula, stopping only when we could see the deep blue water hitting the rocks below. We took the south coast back inland, climbing down to quiet beaches and winding with the trail against the coast.
We made it back to to the car early evening and briefly stopped at Mcway Falls on the way to our campsite. (See aqua blue waters below) The trail down to the lookout was short and crowded with others snapping photos and wishing aloud that the beach was accessible. A little tired and ready for dinner, we continued south as the sun slowly turned everything a golden yellow. We were able to find a place to camp under the branches of a large tree with plenty of time to drive back to the nearest campground for water. After a peculiar but filling dinner of mac-n-cheese and soup, we walked to a large boulder nearby and sat, watching the sun dip lower and lower in the sky. The ocean and sky stretched as far as we could see from left to right. Everything around us was covered in golden light. The waves particularly beautiful, sparkling like glitter. Our free campsite really was magical-- we couldn't believe our luck. As we watched the sun dip below the water, I knew this would be one of those moments that I would wish to relive often. I sat there thinking about all of our trips before and all of the trips we talk about for the future. I thought about our first road trip in 2014 on Route 66. I was nineteen and doing my best to convince everyone around me that driving to the Grand Canyon was a good idea, while also wearing my best poker face to hide my own worries and fears. I was afraid to run out of gas. I was worried my car would overheat or die. I was afraid of a car wreck. And, despite my constant protests, I was a little afraid of being two nineteen-year-old girls alone. Sitting there, I felt a lot of pride for all of the trips under our belt and fears we faced to get there. Staring at the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, feeling like I could do anything- go anywhere- live anywhere. Another drop in the barrel.
We walked back to camp, ready for hot chocolate and bed.
Photographer on the road