Road Trip Big Sur, Monteray and Carmel, California

After drinking several glasses of vino in the morning and afternoon we drove onto Coastal Highway 1 along Big Sur. This is one of the most famous drives in North America as it skims the sides of the most beautiful ocean front in California. We listened to the Beach Boys and The Beatles Rubber Soul album along the way. I was now heavily entrenched in Dan Brown’s The Deception Point which was a thrilling book to sift through. We stopped for lunch on a beautiful field just off the beach where many people were kite surfing across the glitzy mirror like coastline. There were several sea lions moaning on the beach and a family had a baby piglet running around the shore with their smaller children. It was the perfect odd little scenic spot to open up a packed lunch. We nibbled on crackers, aged cheddar, wine and nuts. Shortly after sitting amongst the dark green and straw yellow foot high grasses blowing in the wind I realized I was having an intense allergic reaction to the pollen in the air. My eyes turned bright red and I could barely open them. We headed back to the car and my dad gave me an antihistamine which kicked in about an hour down the road. Big Sur is certainly a gorgeous, jaw dropping scenic drive full of high cliff tops, rolling green hills and stretching, rocky, dramatic, beach fronts. My father started to bug me after I tolerated about two hours of constant chirps consisting of key words such as “spectacular, this is unbelievable, yahoo!”

We arrived in Monterrey and walked through the downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf. As we reached the entrance of the Wharf I laughed as these two toothless bum/fisherman continued to joke around with all of the ladies that passed them by in the most obscene ways. I quote “I’d like to fit every inch of you into my wet suit.” The wharf was very touristy and had many typical Californian Wharf specialties such as Dungeness Crab (which was apparently in season as every restaurant had signs declaring this fact). Candy stores specializing in Salt Water Taffy and dipped candy apples among other treats. One of the restaurants actually had a TV in their window playing an episode of Rachel Ray’s 40 Dollars a Day. She apparently filmed an episode on this area of California and featured this restaurant as her “must eat, for dinner.” We walked to the end of the wharf and stared out into the foggy harbor, listening to the honk of sea lions lazing on docks bellow. We decided to avoid the expensive seafood restaurants on the wharf as they were overtly touristy and walked back to the downtown area and found a funky little place called Gibo Ristorante Italiano. I ordered a glass of Pinto Grigio (even though I thought to myself, “I have already consumed so much wine today I don’t think I can handle another drop”) and enjoyed a plate of grilled Italian sausage with
fried sweet peppers and grilled polenta.

In the morning we drove to Monterrey’s historic Cannery Row, the origins of the cities Sardine canning factories. Monterrey’s other claim to fame is that it was written about several times by the American author Steinbeck who grew up in the city as a child. We took another infamous road trip along the 17 Mile Drive- Pebble Beach and the Del Monte Forest to the town of Carmel by the Sea. The drive was really pretty as we drove through old growth forests and peaked at some very posh residences. Dad got rather excited as we drove on the coast across the golf lovers dream. The Forest contains three very famous golf courses including the world renowned Pebble Beach golf club. We stopped the car to take some pictures of the golf course and coastline which was a great way to stretch out our legs.

Carmel by the Sea is a fantastical and magical little art lovers dream. Clint Eastwood was actually the mayor of this town a few years ago! To live in Carmel, one must have excessive amounts of money in their bank accounts. The downtown is comprised of endless streets full of specialty shops and art galleries. Art lovers (who have money to spend on their collection) must come to Carmel to dabble their feet in the ocean sand after spending $500,000 on a new piece. We visited several interesting galleries worth noting: The Richard Macdonald Gallery sells all of the artist’s brilliant bronze “acrobat in motion” statues. He has been described as the 21st centuries most talented bronze sculpturist, and when you walk into his store you can see why. A plasma screen on the wall shows footage of the artist working with acrobats as he slowly creates his molds of the body in motion. He apparently uses several cirque athletes which I indicated was a home grown pride for Canadians. The Hanson Gallery featured an eclectic assortment of pieces, most interesting was the fact that they are the only art dealer to sell Dr.Seuss’ art collection (from his family estate. Apparently they release about five new pieces into the art community every year and they sell like hot cakes!) We were told several interesting facts about Dr.Seuss: his book Green Eggs and Ham is the 3rd most read book in the world after the Bible and Dictionary. Green Eggs and Ham was also developed by the infamous illustrator and writer as a challenge from his publisher to write a children’s book using less than 50 words, which is a clear indication of why there is so much repetition in his poetry. I really was amazed at the original Dr.Seuss sketches that were available for sale as well as some fantastic wall hung statues (similar to hunters who have their moose heads hung on their mantle wall). All of the wall hung statues featured various heads of his fantastical creatures. The Oliver Elliott and Sebastion Fine Art Gallery was a shock indeed. The Gallery featured big names: Picasso, Miro, Warhol and Chegal. These were, as you can imagine, expensively tagged items. For some reason I found comfort knowing that there are still famous works such as these being sold to wealthy art lovers. I enjoy the idea that cultural heritage items such as iconic paintings are still sold, hanging on new walls, influencing new generations, its magical I do believe. As we walked back to the car we stopped for a Mocha Almond Fudge sugar cone and headed north to the sea side city of Santa Cruz.

Driving to Santa Cruz up the coast we drove past acres and acres of expansive farming operations. We drove past a few artichoke farms. It was interesting to see these interesting vegetables growing on the bush. We parked the car right on the ocean front of Santa Cruz in front of the cities huge beach theme park. The park has several roller coasters overlooking the ocean, arcade games, sweet treats. We found a great sweet shop and dad and I each bought a pound of salt water taffy. The stuff is chewy heaven. As we walked down to the pier we chatted with two girls who apparently just ran the Big Sur Marathon which took place the day previous (aka the marathon finished two hours after we started driving up the famous coastal drive). We ate a quick meal on the dock which consisted of cold Corona’s and Mesquite Skirt Steak Tacos (corn tortillas, black bean salsa, shredded cabbage, avocado salsa, feta cheese
with jicama slaw).

We walked back through the boardwalk theme park and I glanced out into the ocean and just before we hopped into the car I noticed once again how beautiful the young, active and health conscious men and woman are in California, as they played an intense game of beach volleyball. I think I may just love surfers…not the sport so much as the attractive aesthetic and laid back persona they all seem to exude.


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