Point Sur Light Station

One of the best things about writing fiction is that research is often required. This does not always mean burrowing through the library stacks or sequestering yourself in a basement filled with musty tomes. Counterintuitive, I know. But sometimes it requires getting out into the world and experiencing some of the most beautiful places to be found. Case in point: a few weeks back I hopped in the car and headed down the coast to the Point Sur Lighthouse, part of a state historic park in California’s Central Coast.

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A little backstory. I discovered this place while driving near Monterey and wondered WTF was up with that volcanic rock just off the shore with a little settlement on top of it. Turns out it houses one of the key lighthouse stations that keeps ships from wrecking in the fog and darkness of the Central Coast. Oh yeah, and it’s a beautiful spot. But you wouldn’t know it from the foreboding sign along the highway, as shown.

Of course a Keep Out sign for a crazy place like that means a protagonist somewhere must inevitably flaunt those rules. Voila, a major location for PCH Roadkill.

Day tours last for three hours, and are well worth the trek. They include a thorough exploration of the lighthouse itself and the grounds where operators and their families lived in previous decades. Here some snaps from the top of the lighthouse:

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The diamond-shaped glass pieces are prism lights, similar to those used to light basements below sidewalks in large cities during earlier times.

I heartily recommend the tour to anyone driving the Pacific Coast Highway between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. If further incentive is needed, how about a view of the lovely Central Coast from the widow’s walk, looking Northeast toward Carmel:

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The Road to Taos

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Last night I returned home from the brain-melting, life-changing experience that is Taos Toolbox. Now that I have returned to Home Sweet Sea Level, my oxygen levels are returning to normal and I’m just about caught up on normal sleep. So it’s finally time to start weighing in on the experience.

I chose to drive to the workshop. 2,500 miles round trip, 36 hours on the road. I questioned my sanity a few times before loading up the car, but it turned out to be a great choice. Didn’t hurt that my current work in progress revolves around a road trip, so hey, research.

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A good chunk of the route fell on Interstate 40, which closely follows the historic Route 66 across the Western U.S. Route 66 kitsch abounded: flags, road signs, abandoned motels of the neon-and-stucco variety. And then there was the 66 Roadkill Diner in Seligman, AZ. I pity the traveler who hit a buffalo on their way through town.

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Speaking of Seligman, the heightened stakes arrived when I found myself thirty miles out from said town, experiencing a precipitous plunge in the fuel gauge while winding through an isolated mountain range. So sue me, I’m a city driver. We don’t have 100-plus-mile stretches of road without basic services. I coasted into town on nails chewed to nubs, and an estimated zero miles left on the tank over the last few miles.  Lesson learned: a half gallon remains when the mileage zeroes out. Hooray for hybrids!

Needless to say I refueled at every town thereafter. Onward.

 

The Southwest seems to love dinosaur statues, scattered at random along roadways. Can’t say I disapprove.

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I made it in plenty of time, richer for the experience. Little did I know what adventures awaited at 10,000 feet. Some thoughts on the workshop itself once I figure them out.