Friday, November 15, 2013

Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur

Day 2 of my Northern California vacation started bright and early -- again.  No time for sleeping in late when there is so much to do and see!  (Ryan didn't come along for today's adventures.  He had enough of us crazy girls the day before.)

I un-rolled the blanket I bought in Yosemite (which I plan on leaving in Cali for Shannon bc it won't fit in my Kansas house) to check out.  It's pretty cool! 

Found a magazine all about Monterey on the table and flipped through it.  That's where we were headed for the day!  Cannery Row and the 17 Mile Drive were added to the days itinerary thanks to that magazine!


With more smoothies in hand, we hit the road south to Santa Cruz.  But first, we had to take the trash out.  The trash bin is a ways away from the apartment, so this is how Shannon does it:


Just hang the bag out the side of the car and drive with the door open.  Hilarious!

We got busy chatting away, and in no time at all, there was the ocean.  Aahh such an awesome sight.  I don't remember the name of the cute little town/suburb we stopped in, but it was so cute!




We didn't stay long, because we had a lot on the agenda for the day.  And a lot of driving if we wanted to make it all the way to Big Sur.  So we kept driving down the 1, and in just a few minutes, the ocean turned to farmland! 
  It was like I was back in Kansas...kind of. ;)


 After a quick stop for gas (where we fought over who was going to pay), we spotted this road side farm fresh produce stand -- in the middle of nowhere.  Of course we had to stop! 

Not only did we just top, but we also loaded up -- seiously -- on lots of fruits and veggies!  We got two bags full of stuff for something like $15 I think?  It was ridiculous!  Strawberries, kiwis, avocado, lettuce, cilantro... All kind of good stuff!  Local and fresh is the best!




We still had quite a drive to get to Monterey, but it was much more enjoyable with some fresh strawberries to snack on.  They were delicious!  And soon, the landscape changed from the farm land to farm land AND hills/ocean views!  I hope the people who live here know how lucky they are, haha!

Farmland in the front -- ocean in the distance
As we pulled in to Monterey, neither of us really had much of an idea where specifically to go.  So we just followed the signs (and rows of cars) to Cannery Row and towards the beaches.  It was a little too packed/touristy for us, so we kept on driving, but did stop at a couple of scenic spots there.  It was pretty beautiful with the blue skies, blue water, and waves crashing against the rocks.  



We eventually made our way to the famous 17 Mile Drive that would take us from Monterey to Carmel (and through Pebble Beach).  But what we weren't prepared for was the pay station and $9 fee.  Seriously. You have to pay to drive on this little road!?  And neither of us had much cash.  Shannon found a couple of dollars, and we both dug out all of our change and counted it out so the guy would let us through.  

Counting change to get in!

The map they gave us once we paid them
The drive started out through some fancy golf course (not Pebble Beach) and lead to the beach.  I didn't think we were ever going to make it through the entire 17 mile drive because I kept making Shannon take over to take more pictures!  It was just so perfect!







We followed the map and read all the little "Points of Interest" along the way.  Towards the end of the drive, we got more away from the actual ocean coastline and more in to cool trees and fancy houses...and eventually, the famous Pebble Beach.  I wasn't that interested in it -- not a big fan of golf -- and I don't think I even took a picture of it!  Oops!


I was pretty  hungry by the time we got through the drive, but after driving around in the stuffy and expensive tourist trap area of Carmel, we decided to hit the road a little further out of town to eat a restaurant at the Hyatt.  It was supposed to have reasonably priced food and an amazing view, and it was just a few minutes away.

Well, the reviews were right!  The view was pretty awesome, and the food wasn't too bad!  We chose to sit outside under a heater.  The wind was pretty chilly up on the cliff over looking the ocean, but it was too gorgeous to miss sitting inside!  


A friendly little seagull kept eyeing us as we ate...inching closer and closer.  The waiter came out and shooed him off, and mentioned that all they want is the butter!  Ha - I couldn't believe it, so I stuck the big chunk of butter up on the railing right by us, and sure enough, he came right down, snatched up the butter and flew off!  I couldn't believe it!  In the pic below, if you zoom in, he has a beak full of butter...and he's probably dead now.  That much butter can't be good for a little bird! 

He even came back for seconds, but I didn't give him any more butter

We each had a salad, soup, and shared a grilled cheese sandwich...all of which hit the spot and were perfect.  We sat around and talked a little and just really enjoyed the view from our little perch.


After asking three different people where / how far Big Sur was, we got three different answers ranging from 10 minutes to an hour.  What the... ??  How do people right here not know where it is!?  Regardless, we had come that far, so we decided to just keep driving for awhile -- see what we see -- and turn around whenever we want.  I didn't really have my heart set on making it all the way to Big Sur anymore anyways.  I just wanted to watch the sun set over the ocean...which I knew wasn't going to be able to top watching it the day before over the mountains in Yosemite (I'm definitely a fan of mountains over the ocean.)

So we kept driving...and kept pulling over every few minute to check out the newest view:






The sun kept briefly popping out from behind the clouds, which made for some pretty cool pictures.  These two below are two of my favorites.  They were taken after I made Shannon abruptly stop on the side of the highway so I could run back and sneak behind some trees lining someone's driveway.


We had almost given up and mentioned turning around as it was getting darker and we hadn't found "Big Sur" yet -- more importantly, McWay Falls (the waterfall I saw in the magazine that I wanted to see).  We pulled in to a state park to check it out instead, and the park ranger told us to keep going just a little further and we would maybe make it to the waterfall in time for sunset.  That was all we the inspiration we needed.  We took off speeding down the highway looking for Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park...


It was a complete mad dash as soon as we found it.  We couldn't be bothered with parking in the actual parking lot and following the long trail down to the viewing spot.  The sun was going down FAST.  But we were SO close, we had to make it!  So we parked on the side of the road...and made our own way down to the path.  Hahaha...still makes me laugh to even think about it.  We slid (literally) down the side of the hill in the dirt and bushes, and crawled through a spot in the fence that was broken -- all to see this:


But there was more.  I knew McWay Falls was just around the corner and I really wanted to get to it.  It's the iconic "Big Sur" picture...the watefall flowing over a cliff down in to the ocean.  Soooo we took of running...literally...down the dirt path to get to it!  And we got there just in time to watch the orange fire ball disappear over the ocean.  It was beautiful and totally worth the previous five minutes of chaotic sliding through dirt in flip flops and sprinting. :)


One of my favorite pictures...  if only the guy taking the picture could of gotten the waterfall just barely to the left!

McWay Falls, Big Sur State Park


THE spot at Big Sur: McWay Falls

Once the sun went down...which happened about 2 minutes after we got there, we turned around for the car.  But still feeling adventerous, we decided to skip the easy path out, and again hiked up our little dirt hill.  I pretty  much crawled on my hands and knees up it.  Flip flops were a poor choice today.

I was just filthy by the time we made it back to the car...

It was pretty much dark by that point, and we were oooohhh, you know, three hours or so from Shannon's apartment, so we decided to just hit the road and get back before it was another 11pm night.  

I don't remember why, but I had been begging Shannon to take me to the "ghetto" Wal-Mart by her house since I got there.  Probably because she hates Wal-Mart and said this one was particularly bad.  But somehow I convinced her...and she was right.  It was particularly bad.  We didn't stay long, as it didn't have whatever we were looking for (ice cream, I think).  We ended up at a Safeway instead.

When we got home, we used a bunch of the farm fresh produce we bought that day (and by we, I mean Shannon) and she made an awesome salad for dinner.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach.  That huge salad plus the mac 'n cheese I requested definitely did not get eaten.  Ryan came over and couldn't even finish off all of our leftovers -- that's how much extra we made.  
Shannon's delicious salad, topped with avocado!

We watched some tv and ended the night with ice cream sundaes.  No better way to end such a fun day exploring the coastline!

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