Big Sur on a Small Budget

The Bixby bridge is one of the most photographed and gorgeous bridges in the United States.

The Bixby Creek Bridge on California State Route 1 is one of the most photographed and gorgeous bridges in the United States.

The whole idea of this trip was to get as much out of Big Sur as possible on the least amount of money. Not too long ago, the Craigslist gods smiled upon me and for roughly the same price as a used mountain bike I became the proud new owner of a 1976 Dolphin slide-in truck camper. It was full of dents and it leaked a bit, but it was mostly all there. The price was right, the timing was even better, and for the most part, it fit in my Ford Ranger. After a little elbow grease and a couple more mountain bikes worth of parts and labor, it was ready to hit the road.

The only thing that matches Big Sur’s rugged and breathtaking beauty is its undeniable sense of isolation. With almost no services to speak of, and absolutely no cell phone coverage, it is a favorite place for many to fall off the grid and unplug for awhile. After telling my plans to a fellow student who had recently gone on a similar trip, he looked at the camper and remarked, “With this thing, Big Sur will be your playground.”

Heading North on the famous California State Route 1, also known as Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway or Cabrillo Highway, cell phone signal drops off just north of San Simeon. Although initially unsettling, it is here where your Big Sur experience really begins. If you don’t lose your wit and turn back, soon you will be rewarded with a landscape of dreamlike beauty.

All told, I spent two days and nights in this isolated coastal wonderland. I hit many of the major tourist locations, but for me the best part of the area was the hidden treasures it offers to the more adventurous visitor. I don’t want to give away all its secrets, but they are there if you are willing to look. Returning back to civilization, I felt refreshed, renewed, and alive. I have vowed to return and I would encourage you to seek out your own adventure in the land of Big Sur.

John Manney

Point Sur. 1889 lighthouse, 1993 Ranger, and 1976 camper.

Point Sur – 1889 lighthouse, 1993 Ford Ranger and 1976 Dolphin slide-in camper.

Old Coast Road is a welcome break from the high speed traffic along Cabrillo highway.

Old Coast Road is a welcome break from the high speed traffic along California State Highway 1.