Trip Start Jan 01, 2012
11Trip End Jan 18, 2012
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Point Lobos Nature Preserve. After watching the sunrise off the coast of Pacific Grove, we took a short drive to this small state park positioned on a peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. We arrived shortly after daybreak so we pretty much had the park to ourselves. On our way through the forest winding out to the Point we encountered some deer grazing in a small meadow. On the Point itself the cold Pacific water crashed in frothy white spray on the cliffs. There was a group of sea lions sunning and barking on a rock outcropping just off the shore.
Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was an incredible aquarium with huge tanks full of local fish and other marine life—sea lions, sharks, sea turtles
Final Stretch of Coastal Highway. We headed north from Monterey toward San Francisco for our final stretch on the Highway 1. It wound along the coast for a time and then cut inland through the Salinas Valley. This valley is the setting for most of East of Eden, and Steinbeck’s descriptions of the rugged hills and green irrigated valley were reflected in the landscape around us.
Arriving San Francisco. We got in late Thursday night and met up with an old high school friend and her husband for dinner. I hadn’t seen Bethanie in quite a few years and it was an incredible coincidence that her and Matthew had arrived in San Francisco the same day as us, also after a cross-country journey, theirs beginning in Atlanta.
Biking the Bridge. Matthew recommended we check out Sausalito, a small seaside town right across the Golden Gate Bridge. So the next morning we rented bikes near Crissy Field and biked over the Bridge. We started out in the early morning, gray fog banks obscuring the bridge and peninsula on the other side. When we reached the middle of the bridge we looked back and saw downtown in the distance, also rendered hazy by the low-lying clouds. A couple from Beijing asked us to take their picture at the top of the bridge and were pretty surprised when I responded in Chinese.
Mid-Morning Ferry. We caught the ferry back to the city, stashing our bikes on the lower deck and clambering up to the top deck for panoramic views of the bay and surrounding peninsulas and islands. We passed right by Alcatraz Island and could see the prison and surrounding buildings perched in the center. As we neared San Francisco the fog began to burn off and the sunshine lit up the hills, wharves and downtown skyscrapers. After we disembarked at Embarcadero we biked back along the north edge of the peninsula. We stopped briefly at Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sea lions sunning themselves. Great to see them up close—the sea lions at Point Lobos had been so far from shore that they were hard to make out sans binoculars.
Exploring the City. I dragged my Dad to a dimsum place in Chinatown, hoping I could bring him around to the joys of Cantonese cuisine
We just finished a day of hiking and driving around Yosemite and I am dog tired, so more to come about today’s adventures in my next entry. I’ll leave you with one last thought, my overall impression of Northern California—it is the most beautiful place in America, at least that I have seen so far, and possibly the most beautiful place in the world.