Kage Baker would have been 65 years old today.
By this time, we would be as far North on Highway 1 as we could be. That happens to be 100 yards north of Ragged Point – where there is a wonderful restaurant, a wonderful hotel and a wonderful garden – and we would be standing at the blockade where the highway is closed. It’s closed for some undetermined space of time at the moment, because this is one of the years when Highway 1 falls off the side of the North American continent.
That happens every few years. This is an especially comprehensive year – there have been several landslides between Ragged Point and Big Sur, and large stretches of the road are now missing. Where the road still exists, it’s serving the creatures and people who are the local inhabitants, as well as being really exciting parking for the construction crews trying to put the road back.
It’s going to be a few years yet before the revenant William Randolph Hearst equips Highway 1 and the lovely town of Gorda with anti-gravity …
Until then, people who want to get to Big Sur or several points of interest North of Ragged Point are out of luck. In some few instances, they are off road, as well, trying to get to those locales via goat trails and fire roads. I know how to do that; and if Kage were still alive, I am certain she’d have insisted we try … and we’d probably have spent the night in a tent 1,000 feet above the Pacific on a cliff, hoping not to get eaten by bears.
Before attempting the road beyond Ragged Point, we’d probably have had breakfast in Morro Bay (at Dorn’s) or in Cambria (at Medusa’s Tacqueria). Maybe with lemon ice cream and beers at Budu’s Diner at Moonstone Cove, or whatever it is actually called … I don’t know what it’s called, in real life; only what we called it when it was one of the places we frequented within sound of the blue Pacific. There are 396 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we had a special place approximately every 5 miles.
Here in Los Angeles, it’s a beautiful soft afternoon. The morning was grey and cool, perfect classical June weather for California. It was the weather Kage most loved on her birthday, when one could set out on the road with pockets full of plums and pace the Pacific Ocean until the Royal Road of the Sun materialized out of the Uttermost West and lured one to take it.
I wish I was at Ragged Point, strolling down the middle of the empty road with a glass of beer in my hand. We’d be talking about how Edward shot the bear on the vast lawn there (Ragged Point is where that happened) and debating whether or not we could make it to Jade Cove the next day by following fire roads along Nascimiento Ridge. We would cock snooks at the CalTrans signs forbidding passage past the Point. Kage would speculate on what strange beings and beasts were having a lovely summer, with the wild hills beyond us all to themselves. And beside us, the golden road of the sun would begin to pave itself across the water …
Kage, of course, has long since taken that road.
I’m still here, eating plums by myself.
And I wish I were not.