Woke up this morning to find the skies less than promising. I guess all that finger crossing yesterday didn’t do much good. Not to be deterred by mere rain drops, I headed out from Salinas bright and early towards Carmel. After driving through fields of strawberries and artichokes (I know this because these famers labeled their fields. I guess they read my blog post last night), I came within sight of the Pacific blue ocean. Well to tell the truth, it was really more of a steely grey this morning. After driving through the streets of downtown Carmel-by-the-sea, I quickly realized I was probably underdressed for this part of town. Not to mention, I didn’t really see any places that seemed to be open for breakfast. I decided to head instead to a place I had read about on Yelp that was a little bit away from the tony part of Carmel. I arrived at the From Scratch Restaurant to find a warm fire burning and crowded tables of what looked to be happy diners. After perusing the menu, I chose the Big Sur omelet which consisted of mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes and avocado (well I substituted the avocado, it should have had zucchini). It was served with red potatoes and the house special cheddar biscuit (the biscuit was good but no match for yours Tammy C.). I washed it down with a plentiful supply of English Breakfast tea.
As you can see from the pictures above, the restaurant was in a lovely little shopping center with really beautiful flowers. After finishing my delicious breakfast, I dodged raindrops on my way back to the car to head down CA Hwy 1 south towards Big Sur. As I headed south, the scenery became more and more spectacular. For my Cape Breton friends, CA highway 1 South is a lot like the Cabot Trail without the inland part over French Mountain. Along the first few miles I stopped at several overlooks to take pictures while trying not to get the camera lens wet. Not easy when the winds are very, very gusty. Still, I managed to get some decent shots. The good thing about ocean views is that they are always beautiful, even through raindrops and the winds made the waves really crash against the rocks.
I did make a quick call home not only to check in with paranoid Mom, but also to check on the admissions fees for Hearst Castle (San Simeon). I figured this might be a good alternative if the weather got too bad. In the end, I decided not to press on the 60 miles to the castle but rather turned around and headed back north just past Big Sur. Ah, Big Sur. I can’t wait to come back and spend some more time at Big Sur. The best way I can describe it is the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton meets the drive from Lake Lure, NC towards Asheville. The are lots of windy, curvy roads with steep drops down to the ocean separated by short stretches through deep woods with little tourist courts perched along creek and river banks under giant evergreens. I wish I had been able to get some pictures but by this point I was watching the rain blow sideways across the road surface and wasn’t willing to exit the car to take pictures.
Finally, I realized that wanting to see what was around the next curve of the road was only getting me farther and farther south and was resulting in miles that would eventually have to be retraced. Very reluctantly I turned around and headed back north. As I traveled north, the rain and wind kept getting harder and harder. (Boy am I glad I didn’t opt for the Braves/Giants game today in San Fran). Luckily as I arrived back at Carmel, the rain began to slacken a little.
The next item on my agenda for today was 17 mile drive. While I have always heard about 17 mile drive and how beautiful it is, I don’t believe anyone ever told me that it cost $9.50 to enter and that only about 5 miles are along the ocean. Hmmm. That kind of says tourist trap to me, but I will allow that I probably didn’t get the full effect with all of the rain not to mention the portions of the ocean view blocked off for seal pupping protection (I swear I’m not making this up). The drive really reminded me of driving through Sea Island (before they put up the gate). There were lots of beautiful mansions that belong to really, really rich people who are now charging 9.50 for tourists to drive through their country club. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe the Sea Island Corp should look into this as a way to become solvent again. All kidding aside, I did get some good pictures.
After exiting 17 mile drive and once again driving through downtown Carmel-by-the-sea, I once again headed north on Hwy 1. I made a short detour through Monterey to drive by Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row but didn’t stop due to the increasing rain. After about an hour, I arrived in downtown Santa Cruz. By this time breakfast had worn off a little, so I stopped at Hoffman’s Patisserie in search of first a restroom and then some hot tea and something to eat that I am sure to regret later. I did, in fact, get a spectacularly good cuppa, a croissant (which I’m saving for breakfast tomorrow) and a pecan triangle. The pecan triangle was very good. It was a kind of shortbread cookie covered in pecans. I think there was honey as well. By this time, the weather was so bad I decided to go ahead and head back to my original home away from home in Santa Clara.
I took CA Hwy 17 up over the mountains and into the clouds towards San Jose with rain the entire way but arrived safely back at the Santa Clara Marriott. As I sit here reflecting, typing my blog and listening to the Braves/Giants game, I can’t help but be pleased by my California weekend adventure. It’s always nice to be able to check a few items off my lifetime To Do and See list!