Today we had the whole day to cover just 120 miles. We have been good about getting a reasonably early start each morning, which leaves us lots of time to do and see things. We started off in Monterey, CA, one of my favorite places, even though I have only faint memories of it from at least…15 years ago. It was surprisingly walkable, relatively quiet, being a weekday morning, and it was quite fun to visit for a few hours. We first went to East Village Coffee, a dark coffeehouse which had a very cool feel with its layout. The first thing we noticed upon walking in was The Wizard of Oz playing on the big screen near the counter. We each had our espresso, actually three shots over ice, and shared a ham croissant which they paninized (that’s a new word).
We kept walking to Cannery Row. Speaking of which, I haven’t read Steinbeck; maybe I can find a used copy for the flight. We also threw in a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for snacks and lunch.
We then heading NW along the ocean for the first part of what’s called 17-mile drive. Actually that’s the street name, but the point is that there are some ocean-edge parks, a lighthouse (not impressive), and then if you pay $9.50 at certain checkpoints, you can continue into the city of Pebble Beach which includes the famous golf course. The park where we ate lunch is Lover’s Park, which actually faces east, providing a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. It is also full of chipmunks, squirrels, and birds that are very comfortable around humans. We also saw a group of dolphins, and were very jealous of all the kayakers out with them.
We didn’t pay to continue on the journey, instead deciding to begin our journey south.
At some point south of Monterey we pulled over onto a pullout on the cliff side of the road. We noticed a path going down the hillside through the shrubs and succulents, and it seemed mostly rocky and limestone, not loose dirt. Believe me, I am the last person you will ever see do something dangerous, but this passed the test for me. The ground was very stable, we were never near the edge, and we held on to strong roots along the way. We could hear seals barking in the distance, but couldn’t see them. They must have been in a sea cave. Kellie went quite a bit further down the hillside than me, though she stayed on stable ground too.
After lots of scenery, and being stopped on the highway for 30 minutes (motorcycle + windy roads + guardrail = LifeFlight + injured + alive), we came upon a rest area listed as a vista point. It was a large parking lot and was crowded. Actually, not too crowded. Turns out, it was the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. It was just a small stretch of beach, maybe 50 feet deep and 500 feet long. But at certain times of the year 8,000 elephant seals are resting there. There was a nice boardwalk so people could walk from an appropriate distance, which was about 10 feet away. There were probably 50-100 seals there today, in the offseason. Man, adult male elephant seals are huge!
Not only is the Central CA coast my favorite wine area, but it is a beautiful place to visit! We’re now in Morro Bay for two nights. Tomorrow we are going to drive over to San Luis Obispo for most of the day,