Field Notes, Outdoor
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The compass points north.

Lured by memories of craggy coastline, the contrast of waves heaving out of a dark sea, a serpentine road scraping the cliffs, I set out in search of the smoky thrill of solo wandering and the intoxicating scent of the wild unknown.

I set out for adventure.

Haphazard plans have a way of twisting around on you. Forced off the map, I curl into my sleeping bag and let the sound of the waves crashing against a ragged beach ripple into my dreams.

Before dawn, I fight for consciousness and set out with the rising sun over my right shoulder. The road winds and climbs, with majestic vistas of textured blue spread below. Mist shrouds the canyons and whispers through the redwood groves.

Sunlight grows bold and leaps from behind the mountains.

I am alone and I savor the feeling. It is intoxicating to feel so clearheaded, my thoughts falling into order like the sharp clacks of a typewriter. I am dizzy with the power of my intentions.

A $5 cup of coffee from a roadside attraction snaps me back to reality. I work from the cafe until the sun is high overhead, then chase the sage and rose-colored wild succulents along the roadside on my way north.

It is always more beautiful and alive here than I remember.

There are so many hues of nature on this stretch of coast that it is almost blinding. Flaming California poppies dance above ice plant rusted to a burnt sienna. Tall golden stalks of wild pampas grass cluster on rocky outcrops, their plumes waving like ostrich feathers in the wind.

This is Big Sur.


This entry was posted in: Field Notes, Outdoor


Hello and welcome! I’m Gretchen, a twenty-something solo female traveler with a passion for adventure and telling stories that inspire. In 2016, I quit my job in the surf industry and set out to travel around the world. After nearly a year of wandering Europe, Asia and Australia, I drifted ashore in Santa Cruz, California. This blog is a collection of my words and photographs created along the journey. It’s meant to inspire you to travel the world or even just take a weekend to try something new in a place you’ve never been before. Follow my adventures on Instagram: @wildcompass

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