We had planned on hooking up with my Aunt Paula who lives in Marina, CA, just above Monterey, but since I did not know when we would be arriving in the area until the day before, we just ended up getting a motel room in Monterey for the evening. When I checked my e-mail that evening Paula had e-mailed me about getting together as soon as we arrived in town. After a decent nights sleep, we woke up ready to go and I spoke with Paula who had taken the day (Thursday) off work. She met us at our hotel that morning and we all piled into her car and headed for the Monterey Aquarium. It's right down on Cannery Row, and in fact is in some buildings that used to be a cannery. It's a fantastic aquarium with a ton of things to see and plenty of stuff for kids to do, not to mention the beautiful views of Monterey Bay on their observation decks. If you are in Monterey and are looking for something to do, this is well worth an afternoon of your time.
After spending the early part of the afternoon at the aquarium we headed toward Big Sur down highway 1. We stopped off at Pfeiffer Beach, which has some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, it was absolutely freezing and the wind was blowing about 40 MPH so we didn't spend a whole lot of time there. The walk from the parking lot to the beach is really neat because it's through tunnel of very large cypress trees that are twisted and tangled in every shape and manner. The beach itself is very cool looking with a few huge rocks right at the shore line that have some naturally occurring holes in them big enough to drive small vehicles through. I would definitely like to return to this beach when the weather is better.
From there, Paula took us to what turned out to be the coolest restaurant I've ever been to in my life, Nepenthe. The main restaurant was designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright and it's perched on a lookout that gives absolutely amazing views of the coastline a couple hundred feet above the sea. The story behind the founding of the restaurant is just as cool as the restaurant itself, so if you have a few minutes go to their website and check it out. We arrived there late afternoon, so we did not eat, and instead wandered the grounds and gift shop. When it was time to leave we headed back to our hotel to pick up our car. My aunt Paula had arranged for us to spend the evening in a fantastic beach front resort, The Sanctuary, in Marina, CA. It's a resort built into the sand dunes with beach views and direct access out to ocean from all the rooms. It was BY FAR the nicest accommodations we have stayed at on this trip (Thanks aunt Pea!!!) We woke up the following morning and because of their later than normal checkout time, we were able to spend a little time on the beautiful beach. We could get used to living like this. :)
Michelle had arranged to meet a friend of hers, Tera, whom she went to middle school with in Italy and had not seen for almost 20 years. Tera, as it would happen lives in Pacific Grove, which is right next to Monterey. Paula took another day off work to hang out with us, so Paula met us at our hotel and we followed her to Paris Bakery (a must visit if you are in the area!) in downtown Monterey for a little breakfast, we then went over to Pacific Grove to pick up Tera and we all headed back down to Big Sur. I was regretting not taking the time to actually eat at Nepenthe the day before, so we decided to head that way for lunch. We spent a few hours at Nepenthe enjoying our meal (the burger I had was fantastic) and the setting and then decided to head to one of the interior parks that focus on the Santa Lucia mountains as opposed to the shoreline. We hiked among a large redwood grove up to a nice little waterfall. It was just what the doctor ordered to walk off the meal we had at Nepenthe. :) We then dropped Tera off and headed back to Paula's to settle in for a few days.
We spent the next three nights at Paula's and since it was the weekend she was able to take us around and show us some of the local scenery. We made two trips in two days to Point Lobos Reserve, and we could have spent another two or three days there (it's slow moving hiking with a baby). The scenery there is just stunning. There is so much to see, from the coast line, to the rock formations, to the cypress groves and all the marine mammals in the area. Don't miss Point Lobos if you are in Monterey. We also took a quick tour of Carmel (the little downtown area was very cute), Pebble Beach (17 mile drive is nice, but not worth the $10 when you can see other coastline just as spectacular in the area for free) and spent a little more time in Monterey and Pacific Grove. We had a fantastic time in the Monterey Bay area with a great hostess, but the time has come for us to move on and we are headed for Yosemite to hopefully do some camping. We had hoped to make it there today, but Aldous was not up to traveling any great distance, so we are in “beautiful” Fresno for the night, but plan on being in Yosemite by noon tomorrow.
Here are a few pics from the last few days...
|A view of Moro Rock in Moro Bay. This pic was taken about 10 miles north of town.|
|Isabella and Aldous making friendly withe the|
|Bella inside a huge redwood that shows signs of fire damage, but is still going strong.|
|The view looking up from inside a ring of redwoods.|
|Bella in front of the waterfall we hiked to.|
|This is a shot from highway 1 looking down over the coast. That water you see is from a stream running out of the mountains and into the ocean.|
|That's Michelle's friend Tera on the right and my aunt Paula in front. This was taken on one of the benches surrounding Nepenthe.|
|This is about 50 otters just hanging out at Moss Landing just north of Monterey.|
|If you are dining at Nepenthe this is one of your views. I can't stress how pretty it is enough.|
|Yet another view from Nepenthe.|
|You don't have to eat here. You can just enjoy a drink if you like while you enjoy the views.|
|Here Bella plays with Paula on their oversized chessboard. Right behind them is a big fire pit you can sit around to warm up as the sun goes down.|
|This is just one of many houses in Pacific Grove who's whole front lawns were covered in these beautiful sedum flowers.|
|Pfeiffer Beach...it was sooooo cold.|
|A section of Pebble Beach on 17 mile drive. It's pretty, but save your money and pick up highway 1 just south of here for equally pretty views.|
|This is the entrance to Pfieffer beach as it looks from the beach. On the right is a crystal clear stream that runs out f the hills into the ocean.|
|This is a great example of the stunning cypress trees that are found all over this area.|
|Point Lobos Reserve.|
|More Point Lobos Reserve.|
|Great shot from Michelle at PLR getting the wave crashing at just the right moment.|
|Bella and Paula playing on one of the interesting rock formations at PLR. They are actually holding hands through a hole in the top of the formation.|
|Bella in another rock formation at PLR.|
|It seems I'm running out of superlatives, but the color of the water at PLR was magnificent.|
|Aldie doing some more rock climbing, this time at a pebble covered beach at PLR.|
|This is another great pic Michelle took of an ocean view at PLR framed by some cool cypress trees.|
|One of my favorite views from PLR.|
|Aldie busting down a trail at PLR with a little helping hand. He took his first unassisted step tonight in a Motel 6 in Fresno. :)|
|Cool pic of the cypress trees covered in Spanish moss and some sort of red lichen.|
|This tree was hanging off a cliff looking like it could tumble into the ocean at any minute. My aunt Paula says it's looked like that ever since the first time she saw it 30 years ago.|
|Bella running at the beach in front of the Sanctuary Resort.|
|It was barely warm enough to run around barefoot.|
|The view from the porch on our suite.|
|Michelle and Bella think The Beard has gotten out of control, but Aldie and I like him, he's got swagger. :)|
|Yes, it's true, Bella can fly (well, for brief moments anyway)!|
|Aldie was a bit annoyed we would not let him go in the water. The kid is a BEAST if he sees water and doesn't get to play in it.|