Big Sur is known for its beautiful views and a dedication to preserving the land through conservation efforts and sustainable architecture. Reid - our resident Art Director, Graphic Designer & Creative - and his wife Heather recently took a trip to the California coast and spent some time at the Post Ranch Inn
in Big Sur. Over coffee in the sculpture garden at the VMFA
, Reid shared he and Heather's experience in California, and more specifically, at the Post Ranch Inn with us.
Was this your first trip to California?
It was not - no. A number of years ago, Heather was attending a Designers & Agents show in LA, so we flew out and stayed for about 4 days. We have some friends whose parents have a vineyard in central California, in Paso Robles, so we drove up the coast and checked it out while we were there. We ended up being about 60-90 miles south of Big Sur. So that was the extent of the travel I had done in California.
I had always wanted to see Big Sur... I've read a lot of Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller - and Big Sur played a big role in their artistic lives. I felt that even though we were close and I hadn't actually been in Big Sur, that I had gotten the idea of what Big Sur was about. Turns out - I was wrong.
Even though that part of the coast is very beautiful, it was nothing compared to the drama and the sheer, just grandeur of Big Sur. Obviously this place is special if it stands out among all of these beautiful areas up and down the California coastline. How does Big Sur manage to even elevate itself, quite literally? It's the way the mountains are pushed up on the coast line - it's just so intense and awesome.
You all drove from San Francisco to Big Sur on your most recent trip - what was it like arriving at the Post Ranch Inn after spending several days in San Francisco?
We felt a need to experience as much as possible in San Francisco, and there had been a lot of movement for us throughout the city to try to get to different restaurants and neighborhoods. Heather goes out to the West Coast quite a bit for work, but I don't get out there as much. That was my first time in San Francisco and I really had a full agenda, but I was also there on vacation, so it was a weird balance. I knew I was over-doing it a little bit. Heading down to Big Sur was really a moment to relax. I knew the Post Ranch was really special, but I had no idea. I had seen some photos on the website, but I wanted to get to this place as soon as possible and really maximize our time there. We were only going to stay one night, so that was another big driving factor to spend as much time as possible there. It is a ranch, so there are places to explore. There are hiking trails. You can take a run through the redwoods and go down to the pools on the far end of the ranch. There are pools everywhere, basically. We found one that we particularly loved which was this little infinity pool on the northside of the property, past all of the residences. It was literally right on the edge of this cliff, looking out over the Pacific. You could order food if you wanted to - just a really fantastic place. So once we got there, we checked-in, and that night we immediately grabbed a bottle of wine and went down to the hot pools.
When looking at pictures of the homes and buildings in Big Sur, everything appears to use natural forms and the structures pay homage to the unique characteristics of the land. What was it like to experience this amazing architecture first hand? What were your accommodations like at Post Ranch?
Literally the views of the whole area - the main living areas - are on this one little road that runs along the top of a ridge that overlooks the Pacific to the west with this gorgeous view of the coastline. And then to the east is a secondary mountain range, so you're surrounded by all of this beauty. The architecture is really fascinating and beautiful. You just realize that you're in a really special place right off the bat. We stayed in this cool little treehouse on stilts that actually had a great view of both the water and the mountains behind us. The architecture there feels very progressive in a subtle kind of way. They definitely tried to design something that is part of the landscape. Across the road from our treehouse, there were ocean-facing spots that were actually built into the side of the mountain. They have green roofs - just very dramatic, really cool. Those looked like really rad spots, but I loved the treehouse… something felt right about that. The architect who designed Post Ranch integrated it into the land so nicely that you feel like you're experiencing it about as thoroughly as you can, while still being comfortable.
Did you primarily spend your time at Post Ranch when you were in Big Sur or did you go exploring other beaches and trails?
We spent a lot of time in a hot pool at the Post Ranch. At one point, this group of people came up - they looked like they had just gotten there and they were so excited and taking pictures of the area. They were really on the move - they wanted to go down to see some beaches and they wanted to do a lot of stuff. And Heather and I were so content just sitting in that pool and doing nothing. It felt like the beginning of vacation. It was the first opportunity we had to really decompress and actually stop thinking about work and just really appreciate where we were. And kind of try to make every moment count, and last, which was a lovely feeling.
But we did stop at Henry Miller Memorial Library. We found some great records - a little Paul McCartney, some Neil Young. It was a good selection in there. I was a little conflicted about staying at Post Ranch - well, not really conflicted about it, but you know... Henry Miller and Hunter Thompson's living situations in Big Sur were very humble. Henry Miller was really about disconnecting and unplugging. He lived in a time where a lot of things were
unplugged, but he didn't live with electricity. I felt like that was something that I wanted to experience as well. Post Ranch is kind of the opposite of that. So I contemplated whether I had betrayed the values that I had come to ascribe to Big Sur... and no - I decided I didn't think that at all. (Laughs.) It was definitely something both Thompson and Miller would have enjoyed. They would have been regulars here. Somehow, I was able to balance the two ideas. It was nice to also see the other part of Big Sur, what I think is part of the biggest cultural influences of people that live there who have really committed themselves to that area.
Was it really jolting to leave Post Ranch and make your way to LA?
It was a little. I was excited because we were going to Santa Monica… we were still going to be at the beach. And actually, it felt great in a lot of ways because we were getting this nice survey of the California Coastline. I was excited to see how the communities changed between LA and San Francisco and the points in between. So we got a really nice, full view of the focus and quality of living in LA, and the focus and quality of living in Big Sur, and the same for San Francisco. And it was quite different, it was interesting. Big Sur receives quite a lot of visitors from LA and San Francisco as well. It seemed like there a lot of film and television personalities at Post Ranch which was cool because everyone was kind of quiet about it. But as soon as you leave and drive through the gates, you come back to reality pretty hard. It's such a wonderful feeling while you're there but you really notice it when you leave.
We're glad Reid had a great time in California, but of course, we're glad to have him back on the East Coast. If you have the urge to explore the Golden Coast, spending a few nights at the Post Ranch Inn
should be tops on the agenda.