Before our world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 Pandemic a friend, Rachel, and I took off for a few days road trip to Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and Moss Landing, California. Our husband’s decided to go skiing at Mammoth Mountain so we decided on a road trip. We didn’t have any idea that this would be our last trip for a while and that upon our return home we would be ‘self-isolating’ (the new term, along with ‘social distancing’)
Always looking for the good, I have lots of time to update this blog which has suffered from neglect for quite a while. Not that we haven’t been traveling! I just have not sat still long enough to put my thoughts and pictures together. Now this unthinkable pandemic has us all wondering what the future will bring so maybe some ‘arm chair’ vacations will give you an escape during this strange time we find ourselves in. We wish you health and safety.
Rachel and I drove from Truckee at the end of a snow storm, it took us two hours to get over Donner Summit. Normally, this would be about a half hour. This was the first good storm since January. My clean car was a mess and as we drove into the cute Carmel hotel to check in, they must have wondered where we were from on this beautiful sunny afternoon! We stayed at the Candlelight Inn which was perfectly located to walk everywhere in Carmel. As soon as we checked in we called for dinner reservations at Cafe Napoli for dinner. Just a short walk away. Wonderful food, staff and Sinatra music played in the background so that you could still talk. A perfect way to end the day!
It had been years since I had been to Carmel. Rachel and I decided to take a guided walking tour the next morning. Gael Gallaghers, Carmel Walking Tours. We highly recommend taking a tour with Gael. She does many different types of tours in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur area. She is knowledgeable, fun and kept everyone’s interest. She encouraged us to follow paths and get lost in the many small alleys and gardens off Ocean Street.
We started our tour in one of the many almost hidden courtyards of Carmel and we walked through many more beautiful shops, galleries and gardens.
A sampling of courtyards just steps off the main streets.
Church of the Wayfarer
A bear sits outside of the church. The story is that many years ago a little boy forgot his bear. A bear is outside waiting for the boys return.
Across the street from the church is the Cypress Hotel commonly referred to as the ‘Doris Day Hotel’. A lovely, pet friendly hotel.
We had planned to get back here for cocktail hour but just ran out of time.
Another highlight of the walking tour was visiting the Restaurant Casanova. One of the original adobe houses converted into a restaurant. It is one of the longest running restaurants in Carmel and highly rated.
A special treat was being able to see the private Van Gogh table and dining room which can be reserved. The table is said to have belonged to the painter Van Gogh.
We walked in and out of alleys and gardens and saw many more beautiful sights.
Hogs Breath in Patio Seating with a large mural painted on the wall
Carmel by the Sea park, just off Ocean Avenue
Gallery and store for Thomas Kinkade paintings was found by following another alley. Disney painting of Minnie & Mickey was on display. As well as others. A very peaceful setting to see the art.
The last stop on the walking tour was getting glimpses of some of the storybook cottages that are famous in Carmel By the Sea. Now, most are private homes so they are fairly hidden behind fences and plants.
Stacked stone walls and entry area on a cottage. These cottages are protected and can be repaired but not significantly changed or enlarged.
h We arrived so late on Sunday that we didn’t get to spend the afternoon in Monterey as planned. We spent Monday afternoon in Monterey exploring the Wharf, Cannery Row and the beautiful walking area near Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. This was old home area for me. Over 40 years ago, my husband and I had spent every weekend for 2 years, except Easter and Christmas holidays, taking SCUBA diving classes out at all the local dive spots here. I told Rachel about what was the same and how so much had changed along Cannery Row and about the wonderful dive spots.
We walked to Cannery Row by way of the Monterey State Historic Park. Another place we need to go back and explore when it is open. The buildings and gardens were beautiful!
Cannery Row Monument
Author John Steinbeck anchors the monument at the top of the rock with friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts towards the bottom. Several other characters represent those who once worked in the bustling canning industry on the row including Chinese fishermen
We did not go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium this time but if you are going to Monterey, I highly recommend visiting this wonderful Aquarium. You can even have a virtual tour by visiting their website.
The next morning we headed out early to drive the Big Sur Coast and stop wherever we wanted! This area is similar to views from Jenner, CA to Mendocino except the mountains are higher, the population density is much less and it seems so wild. It really would be the perfect romantic get-a-way for couples staying at any of inns or high end resorts or for hikers that want to tackle the highs and lows to reach the peaks and the beaches.
Lots of state and national park land for hiking. The Big Sur Visitor Guide may help you plan your stay. I think we stopped at every sign of civilization, each pull out along the highway and went into both Pfeiffer State Park and Andrew Molera State Park. February and March are the slow season, so visitor centers and museums were not open on a Tuesday. We loved the views, river walks and just being in such extraordinary scenery!
Big Sur River Inn
The Big Sur River Inn and General Store was a great spot! The guests have a pool and a beautiful spot to relax by the river.
A big highlight of the day was lunch at Nepenthe Restaurant! We scored a ridge overlook table and it was a beautiful sunny day. During lunch we watched many groups of whales out at sea. Nepenthe Restaurant was recommended to both of us.
Nepenthe Restaurant has been in business for over 70 years. The staff was very friendly and the food did not disappoint. What a treat! The building is beautiful and its history is told on the website. They have a very unique gift shop called Phoenix and another restaurant, Cafe Kevah which is an outdoor terrace.
At the top of the steps you are greeted at the terrace by a large, beautifully carved redwood Phoenix.
Cafe Kevah below Nepenthe
Directly below the rail where we had lunch, we could peek at the Cafe Kevah Terrace restaurant
From their website, “Working with Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, they sketched out their vision. Legendary Big Sur builders, Frank and Walter Trotter built the structure using native materials; redwood, hewn from the canyons and adobe bricks…”
On our way back, we even drove up to Ventana Big Sur, a resort, just to see the place we had heard about for years. We had planned to go the Henry Miller Library but it was closed. So we have a few places to check out when we talk our husbands into going to to Big Sur.
This will be a two part post. Next post will cover our time at Monastery Beach, Point Lobos, the 17 Mile Drive and the Tuck Box in Carmel.
Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki
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Fall slips up on us just when we think Summer is perfect. Soon the warm days and evenings turn to the chilly mornings and cool evenings. The colors and lack of crowds are nice, so here’s to October and great escapes!
Pacific Crest Trail near Sugar Bowl and Truckee
Our friends suggested that we try out the PCT trail section from Sugar Bowl (Old Highway 40) to Boreal Ridge (Highway 80) by leaving a car at each end which is about 8 miles. We just had one car with us so we started from near Sugar Bowl Academy and hiked in for a few miles and then back. Beautiful scenery and lovely fall colors.
Looking down on Donner Lake, CA
Lake at the tip
Beautiful Fall colors
Bob walking the switch backs
Being a Tourist in San Francisco & Monterey Area
We had friends visit from Switzerland and Australia in October. So we had a great time playing tourists with our friends. We spent two days seeing the San Francisco sights, one day using BART and public transit and the other day driving.
First in San Francisco, we took a walking tour with Emperor Norton’s Walking Tours that started at Union Square and ended at St. Mary’s Cathedral. About 3 hours, great fun and wonderful guide. Highly recommend this or one of their other tours!
One of the many SF Heart Sculptures, this in Union Square, painted by Tony Bennett
Emperor Norton at the Clock at the Westin, St. Francis, San Francisco
Trans America Building
St. Mary’s bell tower
After our tour we visited St. Mary’s and then walked up to North Beach. We stopped for a snack at The Stinking Rose. We sat at the bar with model trains above the bar. We also took a look at the Chianti Room which is reserved for groups and has many signed photos and empty Chianti wine bottles.
Our friend Maggi and Bob
Part of the Chianti Room
Washington Square in North Beach was full of beautiful sunshine and everyone seemed to be enjoying the clear skies.
Coit Tower view from Washington Square Park
Saints Peter and Paul Church at Washinton Square
Just the day before the sky was filled with smoke from all the Northern California fires before the wind changed. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the fires. Our other visitor from Australia was with friends in Clear Lake and had also been evacuated but luckily they were able to return home safely.
Beach Blanket Babylon show-this way
We ended the day attending the evening production of Beach Blanket Babylon. The longest running musical revue in San Francisco which changes every season and is truly a delightful show.
We had dinner at a lovely restaurant in North Beach, Trattoria Contadina
More San Francisco sights
Another day we drove so that we could come up from Pacifica, CA along the Pacific Coast Highway to visit Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Golden Gate Park, the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Then drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Baker at Horseshoe Cove in Marin County. The day was foggy along the coast but beautiful sunshine in parts of Golden Gate Park and at Fort Baker.
Sutro Baths near the Cliff House
Golden Gate Park
Wind Mill at Golden Gate Park, Maggi, Vicki & Chrissy
Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park
Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park
Flowers in the Conservatory
The Butterfly Exhibit was open and we were able to see many different butterflies emerge and fly in the exhibit.
Palace of Fine Arts.
A lovely part of San Francisco to walk around. You can see the nicest houses near the Palace of Fine Arts.
Palace of Fine Arts
We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in complete fog but were rewarded with some nice views from Fort Baker.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The fog moving in from the coast to Fort Baker
On to Monterey Bay…
We had the luxury of staying at a friends condo in Capitola, CA so we had time to visit Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel before our friends headed home. We drove Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz. On our way we stopped in at Duarte’s in Pescadero, CA.
In Santa Cruz we walked the beautiful walkway along the ocean and enjoyed watching the surfers. The Boardwalk amusements were quiet since it was a week day and late October.
Seagull with Santa Cruz Boardwalk in background
Natural Bridges State Park, near Santa Cruz
Both Santa Cruz and Monterey are on Monterey Bay, which is a very large bay. While Santa Cruz is know for beaches and the Boardwalk, Monterey is steeped in California history. It has a large pier area, beaches, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and a lot to keep you busy.
Monterey Bay Piers
We had lunch at the Fish Hopper which is the restaurant below. Back when we did SCUBA diving in Monterey regularly it was called the Outrigger. Still great food and even better views. We watched the sea otters all during lunch.
Capitola, a beautiful town that keeps the quaint seaside village feel near the beach and offers upscale shopping and dining in town.
Capitola Houses near the beach
Capitola Art Deco apartments
Don’t miss Gayles Bakery if you go to Capitola; it has the most wonderful cakes, pastries and sweets!
Back to Truckee
We love the coast, but we also took our friends to two new hiking areas near us that were just beautiful with the fall colors.
Weber Lake was recently opened to the public in June 2017 by the Truckee Donner Land Trust. A beautiful natural lake that offers camping, hiking trails and boating on the lake during the summer months. We hiked the Lacey Meadow trail and then up onto the forest service road to have a view of the lake on the way back.
Weber Lake thru the trees
Independence Lake is another recently opened area that is just beautiful. We hiked the South Side trail and it was filled with fall foliage and views of the lake. An easy hike with a picnic table at the lookout point to enjoy lunch. The map looks like you can go all the way around the lake but they prefer that you don’t as it is a fish breeding area for Lahontan cutthroat trout and crossing the creek can disturb the hatchery.
View as you enter lake area
Trail views of lake
So, as you can see, we have had a busy fall. Loved having our friends choose to visit us from opposite ends of the globe and share time with us.
Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob
In late November we were back at one of our favorite places, the north coast of California.We drive thru Petaluma, CA and out to the coast on the Bodega Bay Highway until we connected with Highway 1. After going north, we reached a beautiful spot where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean at Jenner, CA. The beach changes with the seasons and is not always open to the river.
Russian River pouring out, Goat Rock in the background
Looking north from the river
During this trip while doing some work on our cabin, I had the opportunity to join some wonderful ladies that have an unusual hobby. Particularly considering that most of the group is past retirement age!
Salt Point Visitors center sits above Gerstle Cove
Below, the view from the back of the visitors center looking at Gerstle Cove which is a Marine Reserve.
Looking out at the cove
Looking down on the path to Gerstle Cove
The women try to get together weekly to put on their wetsuits. Grab their fins and masks and hike down to the Salt Point State ParkGerstle Cove shore. From there they swim out into the cove, snorkel, ‘bob’ around and spend an enjoyable time checking out the seals, fish and underwater views in this protected cove. After their ‘bobbing’ the ‘Bobettes’ as they call themselves, hike up to the top of the hill to dry off, and have a cup of hot tea and snacks before heading off for their workday in the local area. I find it quite amazing that they do this almost weekly all year. They have no concerns that no one is on shore waiting for them to check if they are safe. They say that they can all take care of themselves and each other. How brave and empowering! Of course, they say, ‘it’s no big deal’.
Final steps before heading out, note that one woman is already past the surf line
Paddling out into the cove
The small black dots are the ‘bobettes’ near the entrance to the cove
The cove down at the water line
Looking from the cove up to the Visitors Center
The Salt Point State Park area is quite large with various sections. It includes two campgrounds, various small parking areas off Highway 1 and some lovely trails both along the shore and in the dense Redwood, Pine and Douglas Fir forest areas.
At the North end of Salt Point Park, the Kruse Rhododendron Trail is great anytime, but probably most lovely in May when the wild Rhododendrons and wild Azaleas are in bloom. The short loop trail has lots to see. If you have more time, there are also longer trails nearby. During the raining season many types of mushrooms grow, some of which are deadly if eaten.
Baby mushrooms just coming up
Large mushrooms, some are up to 5 inches across
At Stump Beach, there is a parking lot, picnic tables and trails. Our favorite trail is down to Stump Beach itself. This is not an area to access the ocean but it is a beautiful place to look at the ocean. Stump Beach has tremendous waves that can sneak onto the beautiful beach and quickly sweep you out to sea. This is not a place to turn your back on the ocean!
Stump Beach from ocean bluff
Bluff at mouth of Stump Beach, looking south
Powerful wave moving into the beach area
From the beach is an easy trail to climb to the bluffs along the ocean. In the spring this trail is filled with wild flowers. In the fall and winter, it is filled with breathtaking ocean views of crashing waves. The last time we took this trail we were lucky enough to see a sea otter hauled out on the rocks below the bluffs. The trail can be followed back to the main parking areas at Salt Point State Park and down to Gerstle Cove which is often a great place to enter the ocean.
Bluff trail, spring flowers
More spring flowers on the bluff trail
Looking down on the rough, rocky shore
Beautiful rock formations
Back at the outer edge of Gerstle Cove
Walking trail from parking area near Gerstle Cove
It’s nice to think about these nice hikes and sunny days as I sit today watching another snow storm in Truckee. This has been quite a winter. More snow in January 2017 than the average snowfall for a full season. Unfortunately, we have not had an average snow season for over 5 years. We have snow piled everywhere and they say to expect 1 foot to 3 feet more snow before the end of this weekend! At least, for now, California is no longer in drought conditions. Yeah! However, due to global climate change they say that we can expect more extreme weather patterns with long periods of drought followed by storms with erratic yearly patterns. It has been over 10 years since we have had anything close to this much snow around the house.
Digging our our friends car, late January 2017. Notice how high the snow is piled around the driveway! Still that high!
Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob
If you haven’t already found this blog, please take a minute to look at the beautiful photos and information about United States National Parks. The photos are exquisite and the writing about the visits is wonderful. I highly recommend following it so you get their updates. For now, here is a link to all the parks they plan to visit and each one with a photo instead of just a title is where they have already visited. I usually go to the site and do one park a day when I want to ‘arm chair travel’. I just started following this blog when they were at Glacier Bay National Park . Hope you like this blog as much as I do!
We slept in and then left Medford via Oregon Hyw 62 to Crater Lake. The storm had brought in rains and winds but we decided to keep our plans to go to Crater Lake and then over to Klamath Falls for the night. Off we went towards Crater Lake with the big Pacific Northwest Storm making itself known. But we had some beautiful trees on the way!
The vibrant red just doesn’t show up with the rain
Beautiful color contrasts
We stopped at a Rouge River trail and scenic overlook to see and hear the power of the flowing river.
The beautiful river
As we were enjoying the beautiful autumn colors of all the trees, I spotted a car coming towards us with snow on the roof. The outside temperature was about 48 so we assumed it must have snowed overnight at Crater Lake. As we continued on, snow was along side the road. Then as we got to the Visitors Center it was snowing, heavily! Snow was not a problem for our Subaru but surprised us. Luckily, the park service does plow part of the roads and will open up more roads after a storm has passed.
Crater Lake Steel Visitors Center
Snow tunnel entrance to Steel Visitor Center
Snow at the Rim Visitors Center Area
Most of the park roads were closed due to the snow. But they were plowing the road from the Steel Visitors Center to the Rim Village and Crater Lake Lodge which normally have spectacular views of Crater Lake.
Our disappointing view at the Rim atop Crater Lake
We saw a flyer for this Historic Hotel and may give it a try next time we go to Crater Lake from Oregon. If you want to see some beautiful photos and information about Crater Lake check out this site.
We stopped into the Rim Visitors Center, Store and Cafe and drove past the Crater Lake Lodge which was open but very quiet. Luckily we had been to the lake in summer about 20 years ago, but we will be back! We drove out of the park and headed towards Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Beautiful fall foliage
Looking out at the beautiful sky & pasture land on the way to Klamath Falls
Klamath Falls was not nearly as busy as the town I remember from my Southern Pacific days visiting there for work. But the Klamath upper and lower lakes are very pretty and we had a great dinner at the local pub, Klamath Basin Brewing Company. Best fries I can remember and great Rib Platter and many good beers on tap. Bob really liked their Notch Eight IPA, I was driving.
Leaving Klamath Falls until we reached I5, we had some rain, but also some beautiful views.
Rainbows along Highway 62 heading toward I5
Our trip home was long with terrible weather from Weed, CA until we got down to Corning on I5. The storm hit northern California and we had lots of wind and rain. Three big rigs jack-knifed on the windy I5 it what seemed like 25 miles. It was evident that some of the trucks were going way to fast for that weather. Originally, we had thought about extending the trip from Klamath Falls either by staying in Shasta City or going over to the California coast but the weather deterred us, so we carried on home.
So much rain!
Well, sadly all good trips must come to an end so you can take time to plan another one! Also, I need time to finish the Galapagos Island posts.
A beautiful morning, had a quick breakfast at our motel. Then headed back to Hyw 89 North to Burney Falls State Park. We heard about this from our good friends that passed thru this region as they completed the Pacific Crest Trail this year.
First, we drove out to Lake Britton which is part of the park. Beautiful tree lined lake, so quiet now. But you could imagine it packed during summer. We loved the stillness and watching the fish jump in the lake.
Lake Britton, large side
Lake Britton, opposite the boat docks
Next, Burney Falls. ..Unbelievable; the beauty, full and powerful sound of the falls!
Burney Falls details
Bob and Vicki, picture from the overlook
We walked from the lookout point to the loop trail down to the falls.
Early morning sun on the loop trail
Water flowing to Bonnit Lake from falls
Burney Falls at ground level
Then, across the bridge to up above the falls where we saw some fisherman. What a gorgeous walk for an early morning.
The falls thru the trees near the top of the loop trail
The stream, just above the falls
We followed Hwy 89 North to Shasta City.
Mt. Shasta from Hwy 89
We have driven Hwy 5 many times to Shasta Lake and beyond but had never stopped in the town of Shasta Lake. What a nice town, vibrant yet quaint. We had even better views of Mt. Shasta which stands at 14,752 ft.
Mt. Shasta from Town of Mt.Shasta
Finally, had to get on Hyw 5 to make it to Oregon. Very different landscape near Weed, CA. Reminds me of coming into Southern Spain thru the mountains towards Malagra.
We stopped in Ashland, OR to walk thru Lithia Park, around downtown and to peek into the Shakespeare Theater. We had attended a few performances there when our daughter was in High School. Unfortunately, we had not made reservations ahead so we just enjoyed the town.
Lithia Park, Ashland, OR
Lithia Park, Ashland, OR
From there we drove the back roads to Jacksonville and Medford. Everywhere you looked, the trees were putting on a display of colors. Beautiful country with vineyards and small farms. We forgot to take pictures in Jacksonville, but it is so cute and walking friendly that I recommend everyone plan a visit there.
Stayed in Medford, OR for two nights. Tomorrow, off the visit our friends in Applegate Valley near Jacksonville.
Beautiful Highway 89 North from Truckee, CA. We left Truckee searching for beautiful fall colors and new destinations for us. Driving north towards Hobart Mills, thru the small cattle town of Sierraville, on to Graeale a golfers retreat, Quincy and Keddie. We had been this far in the past.
Small creek from Lake Almanor heading to the Feather River along Hyw 89
We continued on to Lake Almanor. A large lake with many access points and looks like it will require a return visit for kayaking next spring.
First stop, ‘Sulphur Works’ to see the boiling mud pots which were very close to the road. Prior to the 1952 purchase of this area from the Supan family it had been a bathhouse and dining hall since 1865.
The Supan family operated a resort and dining hall
A sulfuric mud pot
We had a picnic at Lake Helen which is at the base of Lassen Peak.
Lake Helen with Mt. Lassen in the background
Next stop was the Bumpass Hell parking area, overlook and trailhead. The trail is about 1.5 miles down to a great boardwalk thru the geothermal area. Then, be prepared for 1.5 miles back up, but well worth the hike. You may notice the altitude as the trail starts at 8,000 feet.
Trail view over Lassen Park
Beautiful stream, looking down from the trail
The mountains seem to go on forever
Looking down to see Bumpass Hell boardwalks
Making our way down to the boardwalks
One of the boiling pots
On the boardwalks
A large hydro thermal pool
We stopped at various view points on the 32 mile road thru the park.
Sun streaming in
More views of the park
Lassen Peak trail, see it?
Traditional Mt. Lassen shot with the snow
Our last areas were called ‘Devastated Area’ and ‘Chaos Crags’ and ‘Jumbles’ which helped to show the power of the volcanic eruptions in the 1800’s and 1914!
Moon over Chaos Craig Mountain area
Jumbles Scenic pullout – rocks piled up to 300 ft deep, rocks were blasted out of mountain at 100 MPH during the eruptions in 1914 and 1915
A beautiful park which definitely needs more exploration and hiking. We didn’t realize that we could have downloaded an audio guide to all the points of interest before we went to the park. Most of the part did not have cell service. Go here to download the audio guide to your phone before going to Lassen Volcano National Park.
We continued north on Hwy 89 along the beautiful Hat Creek and it’s watershed area. We turned onto Hwy 299 to spend the night at Burney, CA before we will continue north on Hwy 89.
Mostly an RV town with a few hotels. We stayed at the Charms Motor Lodge which was basic but clean, remodeled and good for the night. Tomorrow, we visit Burney Falls.