Big Sur (day 1, part 2)

After the morning hikes, we stopped back down in the lodge to figure out which one we wanted to do next, knowing that Buzzards Roost was probably next step on the list. It was definitely challenging (more so than the first two of the day) and we took the steeper / harder approach.

Map of Big Sur State Park

Despite the challenge, it was a great hike and well worth the little bit of the workout we had to put in. They certainly wasn’t as challenging as some of them cover hikes we’ve done in the past. But we were both sweating and panting and breathing heavily by the end of it!

Hollowed out, post forest fire
Views of the trees on the way up to the top
Top of the trail
Video from the top
Looking west out toward the Pacific
Andrea perched at the top
Left: slower, steady climb up. Right: shorter but steeper and harder. We chose right. 😬
California Redwoods on the way back down
Andrea and the Big Sur River
The Big Sur River

Big Sur (Day 1, part 1)

Tuesday, April 12

After checking into the Big Sur Lodge on Monday night, and having dinner nearby at the Taphouse, we woke up Tuesday morning ready to hike and explore and be in nature. We had breakfast at the lodge, gathered our gear, and set out for three hikes up into the hills above the Big Sur River Valley. The first two were connected to each other and were great ways to stretch our legs and get our butts moving: Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View.

Sign for the two trails for our morning hike

Both hikes were work but not exhausting. And both hikes gave us great views! The falls were beautiful and the valley view of the Big Sur river all the way out to Point Sur and the Pacific Ocean were gorgeous.

Pfeiffer Falls
The Falls
Video of the Falls
Valley View with Point Sur and the Pacific Ocean behind us
Valley View / Point Sur
Wild irises on the hike back down to Big Sur Lodge

Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive, Point Lobos

April 11, 2022

Started the morning in rainy Monterey with an attempt to swing by the Aquarium (sold out) and Cannery Row (cold and rainy and touristy).

Turns out the intercontinental hotel is a nice spot to warm up and dry off. We walked around Monterey a little more but decided it was time to move on, get in the car and gas up and work our way over to the Pebble Beach area. This was a good call.

17 Mile Drive is unbelievably gorgeous, winding its way around some of the most beautiful golf courses as well as some of the most incredible real estate in the world. Hugging the ocean and the bay, it goes past Spyglass, The Links at Spanish Bay, and it works its way to the links at Pebble Beach. We stopped at Lone Cypress to get a photo and walk around and down to the iconic spot right on the ocean.

From Lone Cypress, we kept driving until we made it to the village at Pebble beach. This is sort of the hub for the entire area. There are shops, restaurants, and of course, the world famous golf course. We decided this would be a nice place to grab a fancy lunch. And even though the course is open to the public, at $600 per round, not everyone in the public is open to the course. The lunch, though, was great. We had tuna tartare, lobster salad, and two glasses of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Not too shabby!

After lunch, we decided to walk down to the 18th green along the water. We also walked back up and around to the first tee. It really is a gorgeous golf course. As we left, we continued the 17 mile drive on our way out of the Pebble Beach community. But before we left it entirely, we saw goats!

Our last stop in the Monterey and Carmel area, before we worked our way down to Big Sur, was Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. it’s only a few miles from the glitz and glamour of Pebble Beach, but it feels like it’s a world away.

(Photos and videos to be added later)

Looking for whales at Pescadero

After leaving Pigeon Point, we headed south toward Santa Cruz but stopped at Pescadero because we saw whales spouting! They were a few hundred yards off the shore but there was no mistaking what we saw.

Trying to spot the whales off the coast
Pigeon Point off in the distance
The beach at Pescadero
Where a freshwater California stream meets the Pacific Ocean

Half Moon Bay (part 2)

Horsies work their way down to the beach

Photos and video from a walk along Half Moon Bay State Beach

Yellow wildflowers
View of the beach and the water, with Mavericks Beach in that distance
Poppy in slow motion
More wild beauty
Visitor Center at the State Beach
Public garden at the visitor center

From the State Beach, we drove up to Mavericks Beach, past Pillars Point

A funky bench
Wildflowers
Tidal pools by Mavericks
Crabby Crab
The ocean crashing off the rocks off of Mavericks Beach
More ocean, more crashing
Andrea exploring in the tidal pools
The tidal pools of the peninsula
Starfish clinging to the rocks
Starfish and anemone

From Mavericks we got back in the car to head south toward Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea, with a few stops along the way.

The first was at Pigeon Point Lighthouse and State Historical Park and the second was in Natural Bridges State Beach near Santa Cruz.

Half Moon Bay (part 1)

Saturday, 4/9/22

Do you write about a terrible day of travel so that you can document it and remember it? Or do you chalk it up as a shitty / long / exhausting day and just move on? I think I’ll choose the latter. In the end, despite everything, we made it to San Francisco and eventually, Half Moon Bay. Got in to the beautiful Half Moon Bay Lodge around midnight on Friday and passed out for 8+ hours. Woke up Saturday morning, feeling better and alive again and it doesn’t hurt that it’s absolutely beautiful today!

Weather forecast for April 9

Not sure where rest of the day will take us; hope to check out Mavericks Beach and Devil’s Slide Trail.

Tonight we’ll head down Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea but for right now we’re enjoying the quiet and tranquility.

Half Moon Bay Lodge
Saturday morning views
Outside our hotel room

Let’s see what the rest of Saturday brings!

Olympic NP Day 1

Wednesday, 8/4

What an incredible day! We woke up, got breakfast at the local grocery store, and worked our way south toward Lake Quinault. We decided that we would try to keep this day as open and unplanned as possible, and this turned out to be a really good idea. Our first stop was at the “Beach 4” along the Pacific ocean and a part of Olympic NP that borders the water. This was such a cool spot!

On the path down to Beach 4 from the parking lot
Everything is so green!
Andrea makes her way down the path

The coastal fog blanketed the beach and the trees; the rocks along the beach were all round and smooth. The entire forest was moody and both literally and figuratively cool.

Andrea on Beach 4
Beach 4, shrouded in coastal fog

Oh yeah, and the bald eagles! As we hiked along the beach toward some of the tidal pools, I looked up and saw one bald eagle already perched in a tree. Shortly thereafter, his buddy joined him. They chatted for a little bit, which was so fascinating and funny to hear. Andrea took some great photos of both of them perched in the tree and we watched them for a long time.

A photo from Andrea’s camera
Eagle watching
The chatty pair
Zoomed in

It was a tranquil and quiet place, with beauty all around, and a perfect first location to visit within the Park.

Slow mo Pacific Ocean
Tidal Pool

From Beach 4, we got back in the car to venture further south along the Peninsula. Interestingly, as soon as we left the coastal area, the fog disappeared the sun came back out, and the temperature quickly went up 10 or 15 degrees.

I wanted to make it to Quinault, as my dad reminded me that we had visited there 1993, and I sat in the same chair as FDR! I’m so glad we were able to make that happen, for more reasons than one. Indeed. we were able to see the Lake Quinault Lodge, and take a look inside the Roosevelt Room restaurant, and I had forgotten how beautiful that Lodge was and still is, designed by the same architect who built the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, Robert Reamer.

The Lodge
From the lakeside
A sign leading to the Roosevelt Room

We were also able to get in a really cool hike, that started along the lake, and then worked its way up into a rain forest. Amazingly tall trees, like the cedar and the western Hemlock and the Sitka Spruce. A good hike for two or three miles through some incredible scenery, this was a loop trail and brought us back to the lake. We changed into our suits, and jumped in the water, which was cool but not cold and incredibly refreshing! Obviously, a terrific way to cool off on a warm summer day.

Hiking near Lake Quinault
The beautiful rainforest
Andrea on the trail

We ended the day with a trip out to La Push to view the sunset along the Pacific. Dinner on the beach (pizza and a panini) and watching the sun work its way below the coastal fog and slowly to the horizon. We saw several people getting ready to camp on the beach before we trudged back to the car to get back to the hotel and crash. A long but incredible day with two trips to the beach along the Pacific and a walk down memory lane sandwiched in between!

Sunset in La Push
Andrea on the beach
A fallen tree into the ocean
The ocean along the rocky beach
A dead tree still standing

(Writing this as we take the ferry to Stehekin)

Leaving Paradise

Tuesday, 8/3

We left Paradise, and were sad to go. An unbelievably beautiful hotel and a gorgeous National Park with amazing views of Mount Rainier.

The Paradise Inn
The beautiful Grand Hall
Historic Grandfather Clock inside Paradise Inn

We weren’t quite done with the park though, as we decided to honor Andrea‘s grandfather and a trip that he made into the park a long time ago. From Paradise, we drove south and then east, descending as we went. Near the southeast corner of the park, we made a left and headed north in order to make it to Chinook Pass. It was there, in 1943, that Andrea‘s grandfather, Robert, stopped and took a photo with a camera that Andrea now owns herself: a Kodak Volenda 160, manufactured in 1938.

Andrea with her grandfather’s camera

We found the spot where he took that photo, or at least, we were very close to it. And to honor his legacy, Andrea took some photos with the very same camera! I took pictures of Andrea taking the pictures, although of course I took mine with my phone. I have no doubt that my phone won’t last nearly as long as Andrea‘s grandfather‘s camera has!

Views of Rainier from the East
Similar views to what Andrea’s grandfather had

Before leaving the park, we wanted to visit Sunrise and the Visitor Center at the highest point in the park accessible by car. It was a long drive up, with lots of switchbacks, but you were rewarded with cool views of the mountain that you couldn’t see elsewhere. Lots more snow, with more glaciers visible. It was crowded near the top, and we knew we had a long drive ahead of us, so we didn’t stay for too long, but I’m glad we made it to that park as well.

Sunrise
Wildflowers and Rainier

From Sunrise, we knew that we had to drive for about for five hours, to get out to the Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula. For most of the drive, Andrea took the wheel, while I took a decent nap, waking up as we crossed Puget Sound north and west of Tacoma. We worked our way around the Olympic Peninsula, as we were trying to get to Forks. We stopped at Lake Crescent, which is technically inside Olympic NP, to stretch our legs and get views of this beautiful glacial lake. From there, we continued west and south until we made it to Forks. Staying at the Forks Motel was fine, although certainly not extravagant. Regardless, it was clean and convenient, and gave us access to the western section of Olympic NP.

Entering Olympic NP
Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

(Writing this as we take the ferry to Stehekin)