We broke a window.
As we wound our way among the ocean cliffs of Big Sur, we looked down on the gemstone ocean colors of California's sunlit coast: blue sapphire, cool turquoise, jade green, and lapis lazuli indigo.
We drove the Oasis over the historic and much photographed Bixby Bridge. Here, we were among the many sunscreened tourists wielding cameras, phones, and iPads. Trailers, RV's, vans, and other automobiles were parked in the dirt on both sides of the spindly overpass.
Wild succulents grew verdant and crimson, tumbling over the bluffs.
After stopping at McWay Falls, we attempted to make our way up to Prewitt Ridge and set up camp for the night.
Up and up we wound, higher and higher above the sea. We drove, trailer in tow, along the mostly one lane road that was devoid of guard rails.
To get to Prewitt Ridge requires traversing 40 minutes of hillside switchbacks.
Halfway up the ridge, the paved road turned into a combination of dirt and gravel under the branches of the Los Padres National Forest.
We plodded along with great trepidation as the hills became more and more vertically exaggerated and riddled with potholes. Down every twist Ben pumped the brakes and up every turn he gunned the gas, trying to squeeze out every last bit of momentum we had. His forehead began to bead with drops of sweat and a few colorful words were said as he gripped the wheel tighter. On one side branches hung over us and, on the other, the waves crested hundreds of feet below the steep edge of the precipice.
Then, we reached a particularly steep incline. After brief wide-eyed looks were exchanged, Ben gave the truck everything it had, pressing the pedal to the floorboard.
We made it. Halfway, that is.
The trailer was too heavy and the truck too exhausted. Midway up the hill, the wheels began to slide and we serpentined slowly sideways...and then backward!
"Pump the brakes!" I yelled. Ben did of course, as he had been doing all along.
Finally, we stopped! The brakes caught and we were still. I jumped out to help push. As I made my way behind the trailer, I could see that our rear bumper was beginning to wedge itself into the sandstone of the inside cliff. It was either now or never to make it forward! Or we could REALLY be stuck. There would be no way of unhooking a caught trailer on an incline like this!
I mustered up all of the fortitude in my stocky 180lb frame and Ben fixed to the wheel with renewed focus. The wheels spun. I pushed with all of my strength.... a sudden crunching sound accompanied by a small slide away from the wall of rock and slowly the tires began to roll forward. At long last, they had caught!
I can't be sure if the modicum of friction required to make it up the ascent was due to the strength of my push, Ben's expert truck handling, or our combined breathless prayers availing upon the Almighty. All I know is that we ultimately made it up, albeit with a very dented bumper.
We decided not to take the trailer any further, for obvious reasons. As luck would have it, we happened upon a small campsite tucked below the trees.
Here, we abandoned the excess weight of our 1500 lb. home-on-wheels. We soldiered on to the end of the ridge as the truck rollicked up and down, back and forth.
Coming upon an open clearing at last, we were greeted by a 180 degree view of the wide ocean and setting sun. Sea and mist and sky and rocky heights all converged across an endless expanse in fiery glory. In a moment, it became clear that the troubles were worth it. It also became clear that we could have just dropped the trailer long, long ago and simply driven the truck up from the start. Ah, hindsight.
The following morning we awoke and made Buffalo Fajitas. Cautiously, we hooked up the trailer and started the long descent. It was bumpy, yes, very much so. However, we didn't get stuck once. All in all, it was an uneventful drive down the switchbacks.
Once we had reached the very bottom and were back on flat highway, we pulled over just to do a quick inspection. It appeared that all was well on the exterior of the truck and trailer, excepting the aforementioned bumper.
I thought I'd use the opportunity to grab something from inside the trailer before we embarked on a very long drive. When I stepped inside I was instantly startled by shards of glass covering the floor and dining bench cushions. Our largest window had blown out on the jerky drive down. To be fair, it already had a sizable, centrally-located chip when we bought it. But this was mass scale destruction. With heavy sighs and exasperated laughs, we swept up the glass.
Adventure was had and a lesson was learned.