Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Day in Monterey

Came across a paper I had typed eight years ago, about one day during a visit to my family in California. I would like to share it with you. I cannot believe that photos of that day are not availble at the moment. This is one that Mike took of Kitty at another time, in the same general area where our day began. It at least gives a sense of the beauty of the place.

A very full day.

Our first adventure started at Garrapata (Tick) Park. We drove out past Point Lobos and past the abalone beach. At the park, we hiked along a short trail, high above the rocks and waves. So very beautiful! A short trail for Mike - a long one for me. But well worth it. Had I been doing it alone, I probably would have taken two or three times as long. Despite the cold wind, the exertion left me really warm. I had dressed anticipating cold wind on the water later in the day.

My favorite moment on this hike was watching a gorgeous hawk, perched high above, surveying his domain. Many wild flowers bloomed along the way. I always enjoy flowers blooming in February, while I'm thinking of the frozen earth back east. And the views below us were spectacular.

After our hike, we went on to our much anticipated whale watching.

Downtown Monterey is really nice. From there, we headed on foot toward the Bay, continuing through a lovely park/plaza, clean and bright, with extremely nice shops and restaurants, flowers blooming everywhere, fountains, the Old Customs House, and the Maritime Museum. Then we reached Fishermen's Wharf. Now, Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey is a historic place (built in 1846, the first stone pier, etc.) but it's pretty nasty. It's the only spot I know of in Monterey that is not beautiful - tacky souvenir shops, very suspicious seafood stands, dirt and litter, and crowds of people - mostly tourists. But at the end are the whale watching boats. At that point, the water looks dark and dirty. The sea lions and shore birds are raucous and crowd one another like the people on the pier. Sea lions often climb aboard some of the old boats anchored there. They're pretty comical.

Once aboard the whale watcher, it all changes.

The water of Monterey Bay is incredibly blue. We had a gloriously sunny day and really choppy water. We bounced and slapped our way past the City of Monterey and then Pacific Grove, watching the giant waves break wildly over coastal rocks, sending spray higher than we could believe. What a view of Point Pinos Lighthouse! It was easy to spot Pebble Beach because of the huge balloon above it for the AT&T Tournament being held there.

We had hoped to see orcas which had decided to visit the area the previous week, but they had moved on. We did spot gray whales. What a thrill! They are amazing! It wasn't easy to stand at the rail, and harder to photograph due to the pitching of the boat, but what fun!

By this time I was exhausted, but very happy.

Back on land, Mike told us about a road he had seen on one map, but which didn't appear on others. He was curious and wanted to go exploring. So long as I could just sit in the car while he drove, I was up for it, so we headed for Carmel Valley and Robinson's Canyon Road.

This nine mile long road is very narrow - barely two car widths, and with many one lane bridges. It's an ear-popping steep climb full of hairpin curves and double S curves, through a forest of wonderfully twisted, moss covered tree trunks, branches hung with feathery lichens, and lots of redwoods, which are always mysterious and awe inspiring. Between them, breath-taking views. The danger of plunging hundreds of feet to destruction seemed pretty certain at any given moment. Then, unbelievably, as we rounded a curve, dead ahead we saw a big old cow, out for a stroll, coming toward us down the middle of the road. She did allow us to creep past her, then she ambled on, as disinterested as only a cow can be.

The road eventually began to descend. We saw a ranch house off to the right below us, with no clue how to reach it. Then we saw a small house on our left, right on the road. The road seemed to be petering out. A second, rather dubious looking one, branched off, and at its head was a collection of mail boxes and a sign saying "Private". We had to wonder just how the mailman managed the trip. We started back the way we had come.

Along the way we spotted a bobcat. After a few miles we looked far down the canyon and saw a cowboy, complete with white hat, riding along behind his dog. Maybe they were out searching for the wandering cow? We were on the lookout for her too, and found her, grazing calmly, standing like a mountain goat on the steep slope. She ignored us.

A very full day.


kenju said...

That was a day to remember, for sure. It reminds me of a car trek we took on Kauai, going toward the northwesternmost point. A barely 2 lane road, with lots of one-lane bridges and the ever-present nene always in the road.

I have always wanted to see Monterey Bay and the wharf and aquarium, ever since I read Cannery Row.

bobbie said...

Do try to go one of these days. I warn you - the aquarium may take several visits to see it all. There's a link to it on my sidebar. it's fantastic! Cannery Row itself is fun. There are just so many, many places of interest in the area! And gorgeous scenery.

Lisa said...

thank you for the trip. my mind likes to get away like that sometimes. i don't think it's a coincidence that i found your blog not very long ago, loved it and now find out we have even more in common.

bobbie said...

Thank you for your comment, Lisa. I'm happy to see that you are looking for ways to find a little distraction. I hope that I can help just a little.

KG said...

There's nothing better than seeing your first whale! (And no, I'm not referring to the way I looked when I was pregnant . . . ) Anyway, I saw whales in Alaska and thought it was so amazing. It sounds like an ideal day to me!

bobbie said...

I agree. Whale watching is the best! I saw them again a few times, including once when I was climbing up to Pt.Sur Light, and the whales were migrating past.

Unknown said...

Isn't it great to make memories like this?

Anonymous said...

Bobbie - Second attempt to leave a comment/first one 'evaporated.' I truly enjoyed your wonderful, adventure-packed trip and the great natural beauty... Deb