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Carmel, Monterey and the glorious California coast

I love California. It’s such an incredibly beautiful landscape, offering desert, ocean, forests, waterfalls, idyllic towns, wonderful weather…you name it, California has it. Great hiking! So at the invitation of two friends we’d made while in Crete, Elisa and I went on a long weekend visit that was really magical few days in and around Pebble Beach, Carmel, Monterey, with hikes and rambles through redwoods, and up hills and through fields of wildflowers….

After hopping and bopping from one airport to another (with a stop in Albuquerque, a nice break for an hour), we land at the San Jose airport Thursday afternoon. Eileen picks us up and drives us to Joanne’s entrancing Pebble Beach home. We settle in, then walk down driftwood paths to the sea and along the coast for about an hour, ending up at the Spanish Links golf club for drinks on the patio. The air is chill but sweet. We sit around an open fireplace, watching the ocean …soothed by its sussuration …as the sun goes down. In the distance, a bagpiper wanders the links, the melody poignant, the half-light bringing memories.

After which, we walk to the Fishwife’s Grille for a light dinner of grilled halibut and salads.

Point Lobos State Park

The 3 Musketeers (minus Eileen who’s taking the picture)

We have a splendid night’s sleep at Joanne’s. The down comforters, the silky smoothness of the sheets, and the crisp night air all combine to make sleeping an easeful thing. Up and ready to go, after a breakfast of cereal, bagels and honey and watching the deer and one beautifully-antlered buck saunter across surrounding lawns.

We drive to Point Lobos State Park, and hike steadily for 6-7 hours, only breaking for bagels in the van.

Free as a bird!

The park has trails, beaches and rocks along the southern side of the point. The scenery is unbelievable. We climb down into small coves and beaches, and watch the birds nesting on rocks out to sea.

Birds nesting on the cliffs

The morning is misty and very cool, but by midday, the sun burns off the mist, and brilliant sunshine reigns.

We spend some time in Monterey…

And continue on through more beautiful rambles…

 

 

Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park

After this splendid trail walk, we drive to Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park, hiking up the mountain into the redwood forest.

The flowers! along the trail…banks of purple wisteria-like blooms, California poppies, hollyhocks, yellow gorse, and others I can’t even remember. The color is unbelievable.

When we reach the redwoods, the experience is quite intense. The height and girth of those magnificent, wonderful trees… I keep patting them as I walk by, feeling a strong kinship with the living forest.

Yes, I am a tree-hugger!

Eileen and I climb and climb, until the creek is far below us (the water crystal clear); we then turn and climb down to the creek bed and wander a bit more. Eileen takes a break as I continue following the trail of the water – silence all around. What a great feeling being immersed in these splendid woods.

Talk about a photographer’s heaven… wherever you look is a picture…the Frank Lloyd Wright house on the Big Sur coast, the Lone Cypress, redwoods, the ocean, so much beauty, so little film (this is before I finally purchase a digital camera.)

Tonight we eat at Nepenthe’s, sitting on the patio overlooking the ocean. Heaven on a plate!

A rest after dinner

 

Jack’s Peak and Carmel

At the start of a hike

Come Saturday, we hike Jack’s Peak for about three hours (the pines smell like heaven), afterwards eating lunch at FiFi’s, an adorable tiny restaurant recommended by my dentist. Next we pop back into Carmel for shopping and gallery hopping, spending some time in the incredible gardens of a beautiful hotel.

Another great dinner in Big Sur, then back to Joanne’s for coffee and sleep.

Up at 4:45AM on Sunday – talk about a rude awakening! The plane leaves at 8:30AM, and we don’t arrive in Houston until around 5PM – those little cramped seats on SW A/L do not make for comfy travel!

Joanne and Eileen are perfect hosts…nothing is too much to ask, whether we are begging Joanne to stop the car every two minutes to take a photograph, or needing Eileen to drive us to the airport.

Hard not to be happy here

Who wouldn’t want to be in California?

About carpediemrosemary

I was born in England...and moved to Wales when I was two years old...to a small fishing village called The Mumbles, just down the railroad track from Swansea, along the sea. Back in the day, this village was everything you'd want to live in as a kid...surrounded by the sea and the mountains, cliffs and fields full of buttercups, hedgerows high and filled with brambly scrambling vines and flowers...Red currants and peas from village vegetable gardens were plentiful, and we were able to play among the sheep wandering everywhere. The green of the fields was intense. We left Wales to come to Houston, the other side of the world and not QUITE as green, and since then I've travelled more or less constantly...later in life I took up hiking, when my first hike with a friend took me to the Cornish coast in England. There I was able to walk the causeway from Marazion to Mount St. Michael, visit Mousehole where my mother was born, and return to The Mumbles decades after I first lived there. Cornwall is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth...but then, there are so many beautiful places...you have to seize the day, or it passes you by...gone in the wink of an eye.

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