blue skies and bottles of wine

James and I just returned from a trip to California’s central coast, where we celebrated his birthday and renewed our spirits. We hit San Francisco, Monterey/Pacific Grove and Big Sur. Though those places can often be cold and foggy, we had blue skies and balmy days with brisk, clear nights.

first stop: San Francisco - this is the 9th floor of the de Young Museum - great 360 view of the city - squint and you can see Golden Gate Bridge

first stop: San Francisco – this is the 9th floor of the de Young Museum – great 360 view of the city – squint and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge – once back on the ground, there’s a nice James Turrell Skyspace just outside the museum

Lover's Point in Pacific Grove

Lover’s Point, Pacific Grove – pictures don’t lie (if you don’t know how to use photoshop) – this place is strikingly beautiful

Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove - while taking this picture, a dude rode up on a bicycle to shoot the breeze and admire the view, then another unrelated bicyclist stopped to tell us about some people playing guitar down the beach - the people we ran into in Monterey and Pacific Grove were all talkative and friendly, probably happy that they live in such a beautiful place

Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove – while taking this, a dude rode up on a bicycle to shoot the breeze and admire the view, then another unrelated bicyclist stopped to tell us about some folks playing guitar down the beach – I don’t know if it was us or the location, but we had lots of random, friendly conversations with locals on this trip

jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a mesmerizing experience

service dog, meet penguin

service dog, meet penguin (speaking of service dogs, we saw a guy try to bring his regular dog into a restaurant – the dog had an old leash that said “service dog” on it, but he wasn’t wearing the official vest and wasn’t acting calm, cool and collected like you’d expect – this dog was jinking and janking around, sniffing things, wagging his tail and trying to get petted) (for the most part, dogs are very welcome in the Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove triangle, and many restaurants have dog bowls full of water on their patios) (some even feature doggie menus, though I don’t know where a dog would keep her wallet – no pockets)

the stellar's jay, which I've only seen in Big Sur though it can be found all along the western part of the US (mostly in forests)

the stellar’s jay, which I’ve only seen in Big Sur though it can be found all along the western part of the US (mostly in forests)

waterfall at Limekiln State Park - we passed through the park's campground to get to the trails, and the campsites were so nice they actually made me want to try sleeping in a tent one of these days

waterfall at Limekiln State Park – we didn’t see any other hikers in our three hours at this park, though there were quite a few campers and RV people down closer to the beach

climbing over boulders and downed trees to get closer to the waterfall - we brought hiking sticks on this trip to Big Sur, and it made all the difference (as is usually the case when you have the right tools for the job)

climbing over boulders and downed trees to get closer to the waterfall – we brought hiking sticks that allowed us to go places we normally wouldn’t have tried to access – the sticks were also useful the five or six times we had to cross flowing water on slippery rocks or old pieces of wood to get to the falls

the eponymous limekilns - always an interesting experience to run across old machinery (and modern graffiti) in the middle of nowhere

the eponymous limekilns – old machinery (and modern graffiti) seemingly in the middle of nowhere – wonder what the people who operated these kilns would think of hikers coming to visit their workplace

momentary fulfillment of my cabin in the woods fantasy - instead of Deetjen's, this time we stayed at Ripplewood, cabin 2, next to the Big Sur River - there's a deck to the left of this window, which is a great place for a snack and glass of wine

momentary fulfillment of my cabin in the woods fantasy – instead of Deetjen’s, this time we stayed at Ripplewood, cabin 2, next to the Big Sur River – there’s a deck to the left of this window, which is a great place for a snack and glass of wine – notice the charging iPhones, which are basically (and blessedly) useless in Big Sur

Bixby Bridge, the gateway to Big Sur

Bixby Bridge – when you reach it, you know you’ve arrived in Big Sur (if the winding road and breathtaking views didn’t already alert you to that fact)

Places of interest:

Great meals:

 

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5 thoughts on “blue skies and bottles of wine

  1. So much of California goes un-appreciated. But then there’s a lot of oil and ag here and neither of them is exceptionally beautiful (at this time of the year). I’m glad you had a nice visit, come back any time you’d like! :)

    • There’s a lot more of California that I want to see. Still haven’t been to Yosemite or traveled north of Marin County. Have only had lunch in LA and have never been to San Diego. Death Valley. Lake Tahoe. Eureka. So many places to go…only one vacation a year…

  2. Even when you have been to California there is always so much more to see. I sure liked your pictures and will put your places and meals into my file I keep for a future bike tour down the pacific coast highway.
    “only one vacation a year…”
    Doesn’t that just suck????
    This stupid work thing is really beginning to get on my nerves and is getting in the way of having some fun and seeing the things in this country that I want to see!!!
    Yosemite is breath taking although there is no way you will be hiking for 3 hours and not see anybody. The redwoods are truly inspiring! Try reading a book called “The Wild Trees” before going.
    Good Post! Jim

    • If we were European, Jim, we’d have way more vacation time.

      There were lots of bikers on the PCH–more than I’ve ever seen. Takes balls of steel to ride that road, at least through Big Sur and points south. There are lots of blind curves and no shoulders (side of a mountain for one lane, certain drop to your death on the other). We’d come around a bend and *boom*, there’s a dude on a bike. Not wearing a shirt. At least the people in neon vests were a little easier to spot.

      What I’m saying is, you should wear neon. And feel free to hit me up for tips on parks. You should camp for the night at Limekiln. Beautiful campsites under the redwoods and right next to a babbling brook. Magical stuff.

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