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Context

Something is waiting for us out in the fabled fog, rising cliffs, and crashing surf of Big Sur. It is a region soaked in the stories of writers, musicians, and artists who all experienced a profound magnetism to its coastal landscape and wonder. Famed American author Henry Miller even went as far as to say, “It was here in Big Sur that I first learned to say Amen.” 

Big Sur first began pulling us (beginning with Ethan) to its Pacific shores over 10 years ago…with a song. For nearly 7 years, Ethan played under the pseudonym American Fiction as a singer-songwriter. Largely influenced by a fascination with the West Coast and the works of Jack Kerouac (and, really, the entire Beat Generation), Ethan penned a song appropriately titled, “Goin’ to Big Sur”. First written in 2008, “Goin’ to Big Sur” seemed to carry a different energy and significance than other compositions in American Fiction’s catalog. The simple story about a young couple’s cross country road trip and the value of “distance induced perspective” spoke deeply to many listeners and culminated with a performance of the song on Prairie Home Companion in 2009. Since then, Ethan’s pseudonym has been retired and public performances have been few and far between, but “Goin’ to Big Sur” continues to graft countless experiences of countless people into its musical and lyrical fabric. 

We are now embarking on what is perhaps the greatest addition to its collective story since the lyrics were first captured in a trusty Mead spiral notebook. We felt it important to invite you into this trip’s context as this is where our story—as Rachel and Ethan—gets officially grafted and added to everything this song has been, everything it is, and everything it will continue to be.

In addition to living out this song in the year of its 10th Anniversary, we’ll be using our time in Big Sur/Monterey to gather both content and inspiration for some exciting Half Acre projects and taking much needed time to dream for the future of our business—all while being more intentional about sharing who we actually are with our audience via this site and social.

No matter what happens out on that golden coast we believe in the words found in the final pages of Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur, “Something good will come out of all things yet—And it will be golden and eternal just like that—There’s no need to say another word.

In honor of our trip and the 10th Anniversary of “Goin’ to Big Sur”, we have created a commemorative EP, titled Distance Between, that features: (1) A newly remastered version of the original 2008 recording (2) A brand new acoustic performance of the song recorded in September 2018 and (3) Audio Commentary reflecting on the significance and creative process of crafting “Goin’ to Big Sur”. We hope you enjoy it!

 
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Commentary Note: On the Road actually led Ethan to read Dharma Bums not Big Sur. Also, our apologies about the chainsaw background noise for a portion of the commentary.

 
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Daily Instax

People are taking more photographs than ever, but most of those moments never make it off their phone.
Daily Instax is a fun way for us to share moments from our adventure while staying accountable to
actually printing out our photographs—even if it’s just one a day.

Give us a follow on Instagram for even more photos from the coast.

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Micro Journal

Just a paragraph or two reflecting on the best things we’ve seen, thought, or eaten from the day.
Who knows. Maybe we’ll even channel ol’ Kerouac and let our stream of consciousness flow.
But don’t worry, we’ll keep it short. Scout’s honor!

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- DAY ONE -
”Golden Haze” / Carmel Valley, CA / 6:27p

Here, everywhere you look, and at nearly any given time, a golden haze rests gently on this stretch of Pacific coastline. It rests on the crashing surf and in the crevasses of canyons. It rests on the western hills and amid the winding roads. Nothing is left untouched by the big golden blur and it’s wonderful.

Today, we only ventured some 40 miles deep on the iconic Highway 1, but it felt much further. Constant cliffside curves and jaw dropping vistas gave our eyes all they could handle. At some point, the beauty of this place seemed to take swings at us like it knew the power it carried. It was like we were in the ring with a prize fighter and we were…well…ourselves.

By day’s end we were exhausted from punch after punch of the sheer magnitude and constant beauty of all we saw. Now it’s time to rest, digest the day (and some local wine) and watch the golden haze slowly turn into a coffee black. - EC

- DAY TWO -
”Formations” / Carmel Valley, CA / 5:19p

Today we explored Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

The rock formations formed by thousands of years of constant bombardment from Pacific waves were stunning. Many times we were just feet away from swells that quickly reminded us—native Midwesterners—of just how much respect the ocean deserves.

The Big Sur area does not disappoint. From the tide pools to oceanside hilltops, we were once again left exhausted and satisfied by all its beauty and now sit researching local Mexican restaurants to appease our appetites. - EC

- DAY THREE -
”Pinnacles” / Carmel Valley, CA / 7:22p

When I think of National Parks, I think of places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon—not Pinnacles. Situated about 50 or so miles slightly Southeast of Monterey, Pinnacles is a relatively new National Park, established only in 2013.

En route to the park, I forgot how much agriculture California is responsible for as we passed field after field of leafy crops and elaborate sprinkler systems that added a light mist to the air as temperatures quickly jumped from coastal 60s into high 80s.

We approached the park through a series of winding one lane roads and sharp turns that made you question whether or not you were headed to a National Park or a deserted field. But then—out of nowhere—they appear.

A series of hulking rock formations that seem to erupt straight from the depths of the earth.

Pinnacles is a relatively small National Park in comparison to its other California  brethren like Yosemite, Death Valley, and Sequoia, however it is no less unique. As we meandered through some of the park’s trails we felt the formations’ scale envelop us and we could not keep our eyes from looking up with wonder. - EC

- DAY FOUR -
”Seaside Fairy Tale” / Carmel by the Sea, CA / 4:57p

After 3 days of being based out of a cute little Airbnb in Carmel Valley, we headed to another Carmel…Carmel by the Sea. 

When first booking our stay—at a small boutique hotel just blocks from the ocean—we read that visitors to Carmel by the Sea often note its “fairy tale-like” vibe. “Fairy tale-like” is an understatement. The majority of the architecture here seems to be either (1) straight European or (2) from Lord of the Rings.

The community is situated on a wonderful stretch of beach near the famed golf course Pebble Beach. Did we mention that this stretch of beach is a haven to a particular passion of ours (and, no, it’s not golf)? This afternoon we took a couple of hours to stroll about the sand and surf all while watching countless DOGS frolic and play amid the waves. They were all off leash and having the time of their lives with one another! We’re unashamed to say this was definitely a trip highlight.

We’ve now retreated to our hotel room to recharge, listen to Dave Brubeck, and plot a delicious plan for dinner…all to the rhythmic crashes of the Pacific. - EC

- DAY FIVE -
”Easy Gratefulness” / Carmel by the Sea, CA / 3:50p

Our morning began with books and coffee beside the fire of our hotel's quaint lobby. Starting one's day with such calm is a gift.

After some pages and caffeine fueling, we ventured north from Carmel by the Sea to Monterey Bay Aquarium. We had read countless positive reviews of this facility, so we decided to use our last day in California to pay it a visit (despite the steep admission cost). It was incredible—particularly, the jellyfish exhibits.

After getting our fill of aquatic life, we quickly perused the sights of Cannery Row and paid our respects to a weathered bronze bust of John Steinbeck.

By this point in the day we were both hungry and almost gave into a rather "tourist trappy" eatery for lunch. Fortunately, we rallied, resisted, and opted to head back to Carmel for an absolutely incredible lunch at a small Mediterranean restaurant we read about. Our patience paid off...tenfold. Just as we were paying our bill, the entire restaurant was serenaded by an impromptu song from the restaurant's chef.

Now we find ourselves back to the books we began our day with. This time on a quiet stretch of Carmel Beach where the sea air is sweet, the waves roar before us, and it's easy to be grateful. - EC

 
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SoundtrackING

A damn good soundtrack is essential to any adventure. Starting October 18th, we’ll be adding
songs daily that have been inspired by the scenery and experiences of our trip. Tune in!

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Like what you’re hearing? Follow the “Songs from Sur” playlist on Spotify HERE.