Monday, January 9, 2012

Wind, Rocks, Water

January 7, 2012
We start the day with the Creekside Inn’s complimentary continental breakfast--tasty Italian pastries fresh from the bakery down the street, served with a smile and some great travel tips by the owner who checked us in last night.  This is why we love old style family owned motor court motels—timeless treasures of personal care and service.

 We take Highway 1 up the coast to Carmel, squiggling up and down the sides of Santa Lucia mountains that crowd the coast most of the way.  It takes us eight hours to travel seventy miles, because we can’t resist a scenic view turn-out, and there are many along this stretch of Highway 1, popularly acclaimed as one of the ten most scenic drives in America.

(That's the famous Bixby Bridge in the background.  One of the most photographed bridges in America, it was built in 1932, and has appeared in many movies and car commercials since then.)

Here are some highlights of the drive:

 First we revisit our elephant seals, but you already saw them, so no more pictures.   I was worried about the pup that couldn’t figure out how to nurse yesterday, but when I tried to find him today, I realized that the elephant seal females and pups look so similar that I couldn’t identify the pup and his mom in the crowd.

Here is our zen question of the day:  Why are we drawn to scenes where rock, wind and water converge? 

Gas is $5.30 a gallon at Ragged Point, but the views from the trails around the property make it almost worth the investment.

Ragged Point view

At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park we hike to this waterfall, which is the only major waterfall on the coast that pours into the ocean.

We lunch cliffside 300 feet above the ocean at Lucia Lodge, which was established in 1930, and is still being run by descendents of the founders.   This is our lunchtime view.

Many people consider Point Lobos State Preserve to be the best state park in California.  We hike around an ancient Monterey Cypress grove and enjoy great coastal views—more rocks, water and wind.

(The rangers assured us that the rusty red growths on the oceanside trees are a form of algae that does not harm the tree--they have a symbiotic relationship.)

We end our day at the Sandpiper Inn, a charming Carmel bed and breakfast so near the ocean that the sound of waves breaking on the shore lulls us to sleep.  We feel like we are in a medieval castle with raw wood rafters above us lit by the flickering flames of the fireplace.

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