Feeling at Home Again in Big Sur

To Our Adventuresome Friends,

Gourmet Gail here. I finally made it back to my happy place … Big Sur. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve camped at Ventana Campground where we did most of the recipe testing for our book, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge at the north end of Big Sur is open, but the slide to the south prevented me from going up from my from usual route. It took a little longer to arrive as I had to drive up the 101 and cut over to the Monterey Peninsula from Salinas. Well worth the extra half hour or so. I spent an evening in Carmel Valley Village at the Contenta Inn before heading down to Big Sur the next morning. Lovely place with a great swimming pool!

Being back at Ventana was extraordinary. The campsites haven’t changed much, but the staff is new. It was great meeting Jamie and Whitney who zoomed up and down the canyon in their golf carts delivering wood and ice to the guests. Talk about five-star camping! Ventana is a tent-only campsite, very peaceful (no generators), and set amongst a grove of the most beautiful redwoods along the California coast.

I visited some of my old haunts, including Nepenthe and the Henry Miller Library, both a must-do if you’re visiting Big Sur for the first time or the fiftieth. I had an afternoon snack at Nepenthe, which was thankfully packed with people. Speaking with the locals who make this place run and what they did for the many months Big Sur was “closed,” boosted my spirits. Their stories ranged from staying with family in other places to finding jobs in Carmel and Monterey, but they all came back to these glorious environs and wouldn’t have it any other way. Such great attitudes from everyone I spoke with.

Later I made my way up to the newly renovated Ventana Inn and watched the sun set from their outside patio deck. Then back to my campsite where I lit up a fire and watched the stars come out between the tops of the redwoods.

It was the perfect re-introduction to my so-far happiest place on the planet! The only disappointment was that the Big Sur Bakery wasn’t up and operating yet. On the other hand, it will be such a pleasure to make it up to Big Sur again soon and reconnect with the bakery when it’s open. For me, part of going places is not to do everything while there (usually impossible anyway) but to leave something in anticipation of returning. What about you? Are you happy to leave a place and go back or are your horizons ever changing? Where is your happy place? Let us know by emailing us at gourmetgirlsonfire@gmail.com.

Till next time,

Happy Trails!

Gail, Denise and Lindsey