The Bay: Monterey, California

Trip Start Jun 11, 2012
Trip End Jun 29, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, June 22, 2012

We spent a short morning in Los Angeles yesterday morning, before heading north toward Monterey Bay. The drive there was only a couple hours, but it took us longer than that – Big Sur is on the way, and the coastline there is fantastic. In the east, we’re pretty used to beaches that sit at the same level as the water, with white sands and lots of people. But here, the coast is right next to the mountains, meaning there are a lot of really awesome cliffs right against the ocean. Big Sur is a 50-mile stretch of this incredible coast, with a scenic drive up Highway 1, and lots of places to stop. The main vista point sits just beyond a bridge, where you can see the cliffs in the background, but the whole stretch is really very cool. We all took notice of the ocean and the rocks, but mom took notice of the wildflowers as well – they bloom all along the hills (a welcome change from the flat desolation of Arizona!), and they’re all different colors. We tried to get some photos, but it wasn’t easy in a moving car and most of the vista points were for the ocean and not the hills. All of it was spectacular, and we got some really great photos from it. Overall, the drive through Big Sur could have taken an hour, but we spend closer to two and a half, stopping and looking around and taking photos. When we finally got to Monterey, we found a room in the Presidio (Army post) for the night and went to dinner at a restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf, a place called Isabella’s. It’s this really nice Italian place next to the Bay, and the place was basically empty (we showed up about an hour before closing at 10 – oops). There, we learned that Monterey Bay is supposed to be known for its clam chowder, almost as much as Boston is. The clam chowder bread bowl from Isabella’s was delicious, and totally worth the trip. After dinner, we called it a day and headed back to Presidio, where we crashed. This morning, we decided to spend a day in Monterey, at least until early- to mid-afternoon, and then head toward San Francisco. It ended up that our day was a little longer than we expected, though. We walked from right around Presidio to the downtown area, through Cannery Row (yes, the same Cannery Row that Steinbeck wrote about), and out to an area called Lover’s Point. The walk was somewhere just less than three miles one way, and we made a round trip. But the weather was wonderful – it started out a little cool in the morning, and then it warmed up through the day, but still with a cool breeze. Cannery Row was pretty cool – they had old labels for cans that were in the pavement, which was kind of interesting to see (they were the original labels, not replicas). Somewhere around Cannery Row, we made a short trek down a pier to where the harbor seals hang out. There was a rather large line of rocks that jutted out into the Bay, and on it was a plethora of birds and seals, and even a few pelicans. Really, really cool. :) From there, we continued walking toward Lover’s Point. There wasn’t really anything in between Cannery Row and Lover’s Point, but the walk was nice and relatively quiet. Lover’s Point was exactly what you’d think – a jetty-like area that went into the bay, where you could climb on the rocks and check out the water. Naturally, Abbie and Josh and I climbed out just about as far as we could, making mom a little nervous. It was definitely a sight to see. From Monterey, we started driving toward San Francisco – only about a two hour drive. We were just about to enter the city when we heard an announcement on the radio for San Francisco Pride Festival. Needless to say, for fear of traffic, we decided to stay in a small hotel in San Jose, just outside of the city. There, we took a little bit of rest time and figured out what we’re doing tomorrow – being in the city on the Saturday of Pride somehow just doesn’t seem all that plausible. We finally settled on a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Muir Woods National Monument, just outside of the city, where there are supposed to be a ton of coastal redwoods. We’re about to get into mom’s element. You can see the horticulture major in her when we talk about going to see really big trees – she kind of lights up. I have to admit, though, the redwoods sound like a welcome adventure to me. I can’t wait. 
- Katie 
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