Sometime last fall Adam told me that he was taking me on a surprise trip in January and, try as I might to wrench it out of him, he would not reveal where we were going (much like the RHCP incident). Until New Year's Eve, as we drove home at 3am, when he finally told me that our destination was Big Sur.
Now I had never been to Big Sur. But I had wanted to go ever since I read Kerouac and Henry Miller, and learned about Esalen, back in high school. So I was STOKED. Thrilled. Giddy with anticipation.
And this trip turned out to be even better than I could have imagined. The perfect introduction to a place I hope to go back to time and again. It was the 30th birthday weekend of one of Adam's best buddies, with many friends coming from Nevada City, New York, and even Europe for the gathering. We all stayed in a room, cabin, or tent at the Fernwood Lodge.
It was pouring rain the night we arrived and driving along the curvy, winding Pacific Coast Highway was a little sketchy, but very beautiful. I thought my heart would burst when we first caught sight of the ocean.
We had a cabin, which turned out to be a fantastic way to make new friends.
...because there was plenty of sleeping space. We ended up sharing it with Andy and Alissa of Vetiver.
We (or maybe I) called it Cabin A, and we all had such a nice time lounging about and getting to know one another.
I hated saying goodbye to them at the end of the weekend, and am thrilled to announce that they will now be playing a show here with Adam's band Golden Shoulders on Sunday, March 11th! I'm so excited to see them again, and to see Vetiver live for the first time.
The view from our front door (same as in the 2nd photo above).
That first night we dined at the Big Sur Bakery. YUM. Go there.
Then headed back to the Fernwood Lodge, sight of the next evening's Birthday Bash Part One.
The next morning a group of us headed to Nepenthe for a hearty breakfast.
The weather had broken and the sun was beginning to tentatively peek out from behind the clouds.
Old friends & new.
Tiny seaside horses! This photo reminds me of one of the coolest things about Big Sur- it has no definite boundaries. When cartographers make their maps, they give a general outline. It's this liminal, nebulous place, and you can feel that when you're there. It's truly enchanting and otherworldly and you feel, somehow, freer.
After breakfast a group of us piled into a bunch of cars and drove down to Pfeiffer Beach.
At one point on the long, twisted road down everyone pulled over to try and determine whether or not we should attempt to drive over a fast-moving stream the rains had created. It turned out to be a very low stream, but that didn't mean it didn't take at least 20 minutes for everyone to agree it was safe to drive over. I found it pretty funny, like we were on the Oregon Trail staring down the face of a mighty river that we needed to figure out how to ford. When really, it was nothing, and the cars glided over it with no problem.
We finally arrived at the beach. It was soooo nice to smell the ocean! We all ran around like monkey children observing, exploring, jumping around, and taking lots of photos.
Everyone was intrigued by the foam the storm had whipped up. It seemed to take on a life of its own and moved in the strangest of ways.
Katie was intrigued by the reddish purple color in the sand. I later found out that it comes from the manganese garnet in the surrounding hills and that you can find it all along Big Sur's famously beautiful, but treacherous, coastline.
Best shot of the weekend- Jon whipping it.
Real good photo ops everywhere.
When we returned Ariella met me at our cabin for a photo shoot. I am so glad I decided to bring a few pieces down to photograph. I really didn't know if it would fit into the weekend or not, but with surroundings like this I'd be a fool not to try. And it worked out wonderfully.
Adam awoke from a nap to spy on us. And turns out, he wouldn't be the only dude watching us from his cabin window during this shoot...
At this point during the shoot, out in the meadow, I turned to Ari and said "There's a white-haired man watching us from that cabin over there". We shrugged it off, as we were changing our clothes back in my cabin and were, after all, shooting in a public space.
That night was the first official gathering of the weekend- a drinkin' and dancin' party at the Fernwood Lodge. The lovely and amazing Moore Brothers were in attendance, which is my favorite thing for them to be. At some point during the evening Ari came to me and told me that one of the weekend's most revered guests, English folk singer Roy Harper (who just happened to insert himself between the Mo' Bros in this photo, one of the only two I took that night), wanted to meet me. "Me!? Roy Harper? Wants to meet ME? Why?" Turns out, he was the man watching us from his cabin window. And, he told me, taking pictures of us too. We chatted for a while, about his decades long career as a beloved British musician, and my three year career as a lowly vintage re-seller, then went on our merry ways. I decided that being able to tell the Very Best Violet Folklore Photo Shoot Story Ever overshadowed whatever creepiness there might have been in his actions. And besides, he was a sweetheart.
The food and drink were "hosted" that night meaning that- oh yes- they were free. Which means that everyone drank one or two or three too many Moscow Mules out of these fantastic copper mugs. I'm not much for mixed drinks or hard alcohol but on the rare occasions it does happen from now on, I'll take a Moscow Mule.
The next day was the Main Event- a playfully Russian royalty themed brunch held at the famed Henry Miller Library. Well, famed if you happened to be keyed into the Northern California indie/folk music scene online and are always seeing shows that are happening there. Is it a library? A venue? Turns out it's a bookstore inspired by Henry Miller's time in, and love for, Big Sur, that also has a nice open lawn area perfect for hosting events and owners who love to support original and innovative artists and musicians.
Lately I have been lamenting the loss of literary culture (or culture in general) in this country (especially after watching New York in the Fifties). I've spared you all a blog post on the subject, as it's been covered on ten million sites already. But let me just say how nice it was to be in a cozy little bookstore that carried actual literature. Books with substance, weight, history. Books that once meant something to the world. That changed the cultural fabric of America. That influenced future generations. You know, back when people used to read. (Sigh, I'll stop now).
Having loved Fleet Foxes since the moment their first record came out, and certainly listening to them more than any other artist over the last few years, I was happy to have gotten to meet Robin Pecknold this weekend.
When I'd had my fill of nostalgic bookish whimsy I stepped out the door of the bookstore, down a few steps, and into this fairy tale landscape...
The event was catered by the fabulous girls at Sea Stars Catering. I feel quite confident in saying that there isn't another catering company in the world that makes more delicious food, better drinks, creates a better atmosphere, presents a more lovely and engaging aesthetic, and has prettier and sweeter employees than them. The girls were all dressed in blue gingham and cream or ivory, no one wearing the same thing but all of them perfectly matching the gorgeous decor they had created.
Everyone sort of walked around in a daze upon arrival, gazing unbelievingly at this amazing spread before them. Gazing in dazed amazement.
Oh yes, there were musical performances planned for later in the evening.
The age old question But Where Would I Wear It? was answered on this day. In the many hours I spent preparing for this trip and trying desperately not to do my usual overpacking-due-to-sartorial-indecisiveness I realized that this long sparkly Vogue Couturier 60s gown was the perfect dress to wear to such a party.
Now that I've worn it to such a special event (and realized that it is a tad bit too long), I have decided to let it go.
Ben, being Russian.
Really, has there ever been a more enticing drink menu?
We caught a bit of Roy Harper's set before we had to take off through the long, dark night and head back to Nevada City so that Adam could work in the morning.
It was hard to leave such an incredible gathering of beautiful, creative people in this little cocoon of temporarily suspended reality. My disappointment was somewhat tempered though when we stopped back by the Fernwood Lodge on our way out of town and saw my favorite Beach Boy (because I liked him in the picture on the cover of one of our records when I was little) Al Jardine yelling at the 49ers on the big screen at the bar as they lost the playoff game.
And besides, my disappointment was unwarranted. It had been a lovely weekend, suffused with epic nature and inspiring culture. Thank you Adam, for expanding my horizons while helping me to dwell at my center.