Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The journey to Cambria

After borrowing Jed’s car, we drove down the coast toward Cambria, our home base for the next week. We found a small beach just north of Monterey, where I figured I could finally dip my toes into the Pacific. After I sort of misjudged a wave and got soaked to the waist, we continued on to Monterey. Lisa picked up a couple of great wildlife guides in the aquarium gift shop after sweet-talking her way in. (The Monterey Bay Aquarium no longer allows you to visit their gift shop unless you pay to enter the aquarium, bizarrely. They may be confusing themselves with SeaWorld.) Then we had lunch at The Fish Hopper on Cannery Row, sitting on their outdoor deck over the water, soaking in the sun and watching the boats and seals and birds in the bay.

View of the restaurant, photo by Kojak

View from the restaurant’s deck, photo by Philip Venton

No matter how many times I go to warmer climes in the middle of winter, I never get used to the idea of summer in January. The weather had been great in San Francisco and Mountain View, but for the next week on the Central Coast we had stunningly cloudless days and highs in the 70s. It wasn’t until the drive back up the coast on our last day that we saw clouds or fog.

After lunch we drove to Point Lobos State Reserve. We were at last into the domain of the Big Sur guidebook, and into an area where the non-human world overtakes the human world. The ranger at the entrance told us that many of the Big Sur parks further south were closed because of the recent wildfires, so we spent a lot of time walking the paths at Point Lobos. There are several distinct areas in the park—we explored Whalers Cove and Sea Lion Point, and Lisa hiked out the Bird Island Trail while I watched the migrating gray whales in the distance.

Mule deer at Point Lobos, photo by Michael

Trunks gone wild, photo by Michael

View near Whalers Cove, photo by Michael

A perfect day for painting Granite Point, photo by Michael

Seals sunbathing at Sea Lion Point, photo by Michael

Stretching, photo by Michael

Walking south from Sea Lion Point, photo by Michael

We eventually tore ourselves away from Point Lobos and drove south through Big Sur. CA Route 1 through the Central Coast is a stunning coastal highway, and the ever-changing views start to feel like too much to take in. We stopped at the Big Sur Ranger Station for a brief break, and then at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park shortly before sunset to see its waterfall onto the beach. We stopped for the actual sunset along the side of the road about halfway to Lucia, watched the sky mock the limitations of Pantone into dark, and then pressed on to Cambria’s galleries and restaurants. A quick stop at Moonstone Gallery to buy a kaleidoscope, some groceries from Soto’s Market, dinner at Linn’s, and then we finally found our rental house and settled in for a blissful week.

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