Getting a few hours of sleep last night is an understatement, and I woke up at sunrise. Since it is September, I am guessing the sun rises and sets in the fall equinox by now meaning, my view was West since I didn't physically see the sun rise. Though I would take this hazy orange and blue sunrise over sleeping inside. As the minutes passed by, the hues became warmer and warmer until it was more yellow, pink, and blue. Looking out as far as you could and not seeing anything but ocean was pretty humbling, knowing you are such a tiny part in the big world of ours. Looking around I noticed now two other cars parked in the lot, and Anna seemed to still be sleeping. I enjoyed the tranquility of the morning until I heard her making noise at the car. We made breakfast right on one of the rocks overlooking the sea, and then began to get ready for our day. As I was brushing my teeth around the back of our car; a red pickup truck pulled in right behind our vehicle. I looked back behind me at the driver of the vehicle, a male in his sixties (my guess) and turned back around to the trunk of the rental. Suddenly I heard tires squeal in the dirt lot, I moved out of the way as he took off out of the parking area whirl winding tiny rocks and dust at our rental. What the hell was his problem? I finished brushing my teeth, and walked towards the driver's door to get in the car with Anna; when I saw the shape of the cabbed red pick-up truck with a kayak hanging out the back. He was going way over the speed limit on the narrow winding road of highway 1 and as I looked away from the rental, to the driver of the vehicle, I saw him give us the middle finger. Now this really irritated me; this asshole pulled in a huge parking lot nothing short of 10 feet of the back of our car, didn't get out or look like he had something to stop for, but instead take off kicking up debris on our car. Then, he has the audacity to race by again giving us the bird? I don't think so, not today buddy. For any of you who know me, I have horrible road rage. I like to get where I am going in the shortest amount of time, not have people drive 60 mph in the left lane on a highway, and not slam on their brakes or not pay attention while driving; but more of all I hate people who are assholes for no reason. The fire enraged within me and I hopped in the car speeding out after him. Pretty sure I scared the shit out of Anna with the urgency of my moves, but she was also getting used to my assertive driving by now. First chance I got, I swerved to pass him on the left I may or may not have returned his gesture. The adrenaline was still pumping throughout me as I raced away from the view of the red pick-up truck faint in my rearview mirror, which now was the size of a matchbox car. I tried to snap out of the exasperated mood I was stuck in, but it wasn't as easy as I would have hoped it would be. The fact that we didn't have service, and just aimlessly driving South in hopes of coming to something interesting didn't help. About 30-40 minutes of driving and not seeing any signs for anything familiar from our online research went by before we decided to stop in a small gas station with a restaurant to hopefully get wifi or at least a sense of direction as to where we are. We were also quite low on gas out in the middle of nowhere so we put a few bucks into the tank to ensure we would not run out of gas on the side of the highway and get run over by the man in the red pick-up truck. I ran inside to see if they had wifi or service but no such luck, we did get notified that everything we were asking about we had already passed; things are very well signed here at Big Sur. So, we got back in the car and headed the direction we came from in search of something to explore. Anna read in the map we had of the area, that Sand Dollar Beach was one of the popular destinations due to their long sandy stretch of beach; so we made that our next hidden destination. Eventually, we did find it and noticed you had to pay to park, so we decided to park along the street with a few other vehicles that did the same. It was a steep downhill trek to the beach, followed by a long series of wooden stairs before reaching the sand. The beach was like little hidden lagoon filled with many surfers. Anna and I explored separately and before I knew it I had lost sight of her. Traveling with a friend is an amazing opportunity; but you can imagine after being around anyone for practically all of your time can be exhausting. They are a witness to your good moods, bad moods, illness, vulnerability, ego, singing, and habits never allowing for time to pass apart to re-group and refresh yourself. Throughout your life you make many decisions; and the majority of these decisions are made in your favor. Are you hungry, thirsty, tired, is going to the ballet more important, or watching the football game? You do what you want to do, because in that moment you believe it is in your best interest, and maybe it is. This is not the case when you have a spouse, children, or are traveling with a friend. It is no longer about you, or them, it is we and us. We must look inside of ourselves and figure out what we want in that moment, and express that to the other person, and hope that they do the same both making a compromise to achieve an overall goal. I can only speak for my experience, but I don't think either of us had sour thoughts about the alone time we gained. I walked down the beach and found a part of a sand dollar, how fitting! I also found a tiny orange crab-like creature which was very fascinating to me. The overall atmosphere of the waves crashing, the Caribbean ocean water color, the huge rocks, and surfers made me never want to leave the beach. It had been awhile since I had seen Anna though, and I didn't want her waiting for me somewhere; so I decided to walk back to the car and see if she was there waiting for me. Once I arrived, I didn't see her anywhere; what I did see though was my iPod I had rested on the roof of the rental and then forgot to take with me. Thankfully no one saw it, or everyone was virtuous; either way I was happy to see it. I unlocked the car, sat in the driver's seat, and decided to write some of the blog in hopes she too comes back to the car to look for me. About a half hour later, I saw her approaching the car. We parked on the road yet again, and walked in to deter from paying for parking. We were able to get in a nice hike, to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which made me feel even more in another country, a tropical one at that. How beautiful is Northern California! It was nearing towards noontime and the presence of people multiplied, making it feel like a tourist stop. There was even a woman with a movie production camera filming her and her friend. We followed the herd of people down the walkway to the end where there were a few benches and plenty of people taking photos. We hung out for a bit taking photos and taking in the beauty, before heading back. Next stop was wait for it, another beach! But before, we ate some snacks/lunch since we were famished from all this car camping hiking we had done! This time, we also opted to pay for parking instead of walking 4 miles each way to the car; seemed like an investment since we wouldn't want to walk 4 miles back to the car after the beach, and we were sure glad we did. It seemed like the longest 4 miles, and I was in a car; did I forget I once walked 24 miles in under 8 hours? After parking the car we went into the bathrooms, which were more like just holes to the ground and they smelled horrendous; I opted to change in the car. There were a lot more people lounging at this beach, and I was beyond excited to do the same. I sure do love the mountains, but I will always have a soft spot for the beach as well. It was exactly what I needed and I just loved soaking up the warmth of the sun on my skin as I laid out on my towel. It became hot quick though, and before I knew it I was ready to take a dip in the ocean. It was so refreshing, in a nice way; though when I returned I noticed my stuff had been moved back. I asked Anna if she moved it and she nodded since the tide was coming up. I thanked her, and laid back down; before I knew it I was watching the tide come up closer and closer. I played a game with it, watching to see how close it could get to my toes, and then before I knew it; the bottom half of my towel was soaked! I guess the ocean wins this time. I took many walks myself to explore the beach, the rocks, and the scenery. It was a perfect day. As I awoke from drifting off, I looked around to see Anna missing from her towel. I didn't see her in the water, or down the beach, I wondered where she had gone when I looked up to see her and a few others on top of the huge rock. The day consisted of relaxation and rejuvenation; much needed, sometimes you just have to slow down and take it all in. Anna was in the water, and I saw her jump a little and walk away from something, but what was it? After everyone turning to look, and taking out their cameras I realized what it was in the water, a sea lion! He was so curious and swam the shore trying to say hello to everyone, either that or the juvenile was just looking for his family. Shortly after, we had to pry one another away from the beach; but it was time. We had about an hour drive to a KOA Campground where we took hot showers, ordered pizza right to our site, and watched the sun set in luxury. As much as I knew I should blog, I couldn't convince myself to; seems the end of a trip always brings a melancholy love hate relationship to blogging. It becomes more of a chore than an interest, doesn't help that I believe my writing has improved tremendously and the length of each new post is longer than the last! Either way, I am writing this almost four months later...because it is a love hate relationship and it is selfish of me to not share the end of my journey with my followers. I apologize and hope you enjoy these last few posts to come!