I had a very brief visit to CA this week, but did find a little time to myself before I took a miserable 9pm flight back home.

I met up with some of the folks from UMich, and we started at Windy Hill. It’s mountain lion habitat, apparently, and it says here you should fight back if attacked. Good advice whether your attacker is a mountain lion or not, people.

It was pretty hazy, but the views were still nice (that’s Piet there, strolling down a steep trail without a care in the world).

We looked for symptoms of mountain lions. This particular “sign” (as the hunters like to say) contained all kinds of interesting bits, including some vicious little claws.

I dropped the boys off at the airport, then drove down to Carmel to see San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission, which was in high preparation for Christmas. Little kids singing in the chapel, and piles of holly and evergreens waiting to go up.

Here’s another view, Dad.

One of these days Dad’s going to stop this work nonsense and take a giant road trip that will bring him to all the remaining missions from New Mexico up the coast. He needs to get on that.

And you know me: I like a door.

So I got back in the car and looked at the clock. 1:35pm. The plan had been that I’d get a leisurely lunch in Carmel, then wander on local roads northward ’til time to head to the airport. But seeing how early it was, I realized I could skip lunch and make it to Big Sur if I hurried.

I did stop a lot, though. When you’re on Route 1, you come around a corner and your jaw drops because it’s the most spectacular view… until you come around the next corner and there’s something more spectacular.

I stopped at the very first entrance to Big Sur and told the ranger there I needed a walk, about an hour. She sent me up to a valley view, then to some falls. It was ok. A good, strenuous walk that turned out to be uphill both ways, and that was something I wanted in light of all the time I’d been on a plane in the last few days. But the payoff wasn’t great because of the weather.

I also got pretty depressed because the trees in the area are victims of a blight, and have giant patches of black that will eventually take them over. I don’t really feel like saying more about that.