2. Last minute trip…SanFrancisco 10.2011

10.17  Monday

Monterey California...one of my dreams was to see this place & drive down the coast to Big Sur...

When I booked this trip so rapidly I had this in the back of my mind, so I added a couple of days just to do that.  I was in Monterey by 6am this morning....parked in Cannery Row....the place where John Steinbeck wrote about.  I watched the sky go from dark to tones of pink as the sun rose.  Then once it was fully light, I walked down to the water, & around the area to take some pics.  It was really pretty

While I was parked (because California has a no-cell-while-driving law) I talked to Danny, Jan & Jill.  I knew that Sherri & Jill both loved Monterey, so I asked Jill what she liked best, since I had her conveniently on the phone.  Mostly it’s the scenery she said & then mentioned something about the drive through the golf course.  This I didn’t understand...but didn’t ask too much (confession:  the thought that actually went through my brain was “the highway goes through a golf course?”....didn’t sound right, but I just kind of dismissed it knowing all I had to do was to go south on the highway closest to the water...pretty easy.  

But just as I got on the highway, I passed a sign pointing to the famous “17 mile drive”...it didn’t state why it was famous...I was kind of wondering about it, but drove on.  My next stop was Carmel...I wasn’t too impressed, kind of reminded me of Aspen without the snow & mountains.  Tons & Tons & Tons of high end shopping, lots of expensive jewelry, golf clothes, fancy stuff for your house....I slowed the car down only because of the speed limit & kept on driving...& came to another sign...and GATE with a kind-of-guard-lady pointing to the famous “17 mile drive”...so I just pulled up & asked her what it was.  

It’s a road that winds through & around Pebble Beach golf course (it’s actually 3 golf courses, a putting spot, 3 hotels/lodges with doormen that are dressed in knickers & caps & restaurants & more shopping)...AND REALLY BEAUTIFUL SCENERY...all for the price of $9.50.  

Well, if Jill thought it was special, I wasn’t going to be cheap.  And she was right, spectacular scenery, although I ended up doing the whole tour backwards (there are 20 points of interest...I started with #20) & it took me about 22 miles...there are many roads that wind through this place...not mention the over the top mega humongous homes that are scattered through out, & I kept getting adventurous & ending up off the 17-mile part....but hey, I got to see more

Here are some pics from the famous backward 22 mile drive!

Headed south towards Big Sur...I sure had something different in mind than what I found.  Pete had told me there was camping in Big Sur, so I’d brought my tent & bag.  Shannon had told me about this really neat “hippie but kind of fancy” place to eat.  Why did I think it would be this funky, surfer TOWN?  Beats me...I was sure wrong.

Here’s what I found...

the narrow, curvy, hilly & magnificently gorgeous road between Carmel & Big Sur is lined with big beautiful trees & on one side of the road are these rolling but huge & rather bare but breathtaking mountains & on the other side...well, it drops straight off into the ocean.  Then after a long time, you pass by some road side stuff..a campground, a few stores, a bakery, a couple of gas stations (at $4.90 a gallon)...& then you pass another little group of the same things...then you get to the super cool restaurant Shannon told me about...then....that’s it.  The highway just keeps going along the coast...another 60 miles down to Hearst Castle.  I knew I wasn’t going that far, so I turned around & drove back.  This is one super-amazing drive!

I have seen pictures of Big Sur & they have this mist or fog laying low over the water.  I thought it was a pretty cool photograph, but that the photographer had just captured that during the early morning, or some kind of strange weather...but this is exactly what it looked like today.  With clear blue sunny skies, the water looked like clouds....so mesmerizing & strange

Nepenthe is the restaurant Shannon suggested...kind of hippie-fancy.  It’s beautifully laid out....terraced along the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  There are two restaurants...I went to the top first & put my name on the list...they did suggest that maybe I’d be served faster if I sat at the bar, but they still would put my name on the list.  I get that restaurants don’t want to put single-eaters at a table, & I frequently sit at the bar when I’m alone...but today was about the view

I had them remove my name & I went down a flight to the lower cafe where I ordered a super-yummy salad (arugula, oranges, dried bing cherries, goat cheese, red onion & sunflower seeds...ummm) & a spectacular view (even if it was a few feet lower I was still HIGH above the ocean!!)  Thank you Shannon for suggesting this place.  They also had some pretty cool landscaping..so here’s the pics for your viewing pleasure (but not your eating pleasure...I didn’t even leave a crumb!)

So, I’d checked in to the State Park camping as I was driving up here....no, I AM going to be cheap now...not paying $35-$50 for tent campsite....& $10 for a day use fee (plus...they grow MONSTEROUS sized racoons in this state...not kidding....they’re kind of terrifying!)....so,  after my lunch, I headed back up the curvy road towards Monterey  

The only difference was now that the skies had turned cloudy & all that mist/fog that had been out over the ocean, was now moving over the road.  You could still see to drive...you just had to go a little slower.  Yep, the photograph below you’re looking directly out into the ocean...don’t see any water do you?  Here’s more beautiful-random of my drive back

So, I’m done for today...another perfect travel day...I’m sooooo happy!  Travel is definitely my passion (anyone got a job for me out there that includes travel?...sign me up!)

I found a hostel in Monterey...for less than a patch of dirt at a state park, I can get a bottom bunk & a hot shower....I don’t mind sharing with room with a few other women....at least I don’t think I will...I haven’t before.  It’s really a funky little place...a great big huge living room with mostly international kids here...but I’ll get to lay horizontal & hopefully SLEEP.  Sweet dreams....tomorrows another adventure!

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