Natural Bridges State Beach

Santa Cruz is a cool city. There was a wedding and a reception. It was a nice place to take a walk and watch the sunset before we made it to Monterey.

Natural Bridge

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
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.

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)

Hurricane Ridge to Hurricane Hill

Friday, 8/6

Writing these out of order for the moment. But will get back to Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday at some point soon. Today we woke up in Port Angeles, at the Olympic Lodge. Very nice and clean and quiet hotel. Easy access to Olympic National Park, and the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, which is just outside of town.

Had breakfast in the hotel and got cleaned and organized and figured out what we were doing this morning. Took our time this morning after a few long days in a row, yesterday especially. At around noon, we drove from Port Angeles up past the Visitor Center and up Hurricane Ridge Road.

A beautiful and relatively quick drive took us up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. We stopped and got out and had a cooler lunch (tortillas and cheese and turkey and jerky) and explored the area around the parking lot and in the Visitor Center itself. From there, we drove to the trailhead for Hurricane Ridge up to Hurricane Hill. It’s a paved trail, but certainly steep in parts. We worked our way up to the top, pausing a few times to catch our breath, but views from the top are incredible. We were able to see down to Port Angeles and the Juan De Fuca Strait, all the way across to Victoria and Vancouver Island. On a really clear day, you can even see Mt. Baker, north of Seattle and close to the Canadian border, but it was just a LITTLE too cloudy today. Still, great weather at the top, with a few high clouds mixed with a decent amount of sunshine.

The sign at the trailhead
Views of the Olympic Mts on the hike up to Hurricane Hill
A helicopter flying below us through the valley
Curious hungry little ‘munk friend
Views down to Port Angeles
Andrea looks back toward Mt. Olympus and Mt. Carrie
The mountains and the mountains
A rock with a view

Spent a lot of time at the top of Hurricane Hill, which sits at 5757 feet. Saw a few black tail deer, including two bucks, and hiked a but of the trail to Elwha and the Elwha River (not paved). When it started to get too steep and too much of a descent, we decided to turn around to head back to Hurricane Hill Trail. Andrea took a time lapse video, so I am writing this post as the time lapses. Time, of course, always lapses, but as I write this, there’s a video of the clouds and the Olympic Mountains being recorded too.

(Insert time lapse video.)

The Elwha Trailhead

Bonus: after coming back down the mountain and into Port Angeles, we picked up dinner at the same Pho restaurant we ate at on Thursday night and headed BACK up Hurricane Ridge Road so that Andrea could attempt to get a few photos of the sunset from the mountains. The sky didn’t exactly cooperate, but it was still an amazing place to watch the sun go down and to see darkness creep across the park and the city down below us.

Dusk above Hurricane Hill
Victoria on Vancouver Island
The lights of Victoria as night begins
Cool little iPhone photo / video montage

Pinnacle Peak and the Tatoosh Range

Today we went on a hike that we originally planned on doing yesterday. The hike from Reflection lakes up to Pinnacle Peak. It’s just a short drive from Paradise Inn, so we left around 11 after getting some ice for the cooler, (thank you kind workers in the café!)

We both got some nice photos by Reflection lake looking back at Rainier. It truly does live up to its name!

The aptly named Reflection Lake
Great Blue Heron (?)
Heron in the foreground by Reflection Lake, with Rainier towering above

From the lakes, we started the ascent up to Pinnacle Peak.

At the trailhead
The Trail Description
You Are Here

It might’ve been a little more steep than the climb to Bench lake and Snow lake, but it was certainly less buggy. We took our time going up, stopping for a lot of photos looking back south at Rainier. We crossed over two or three mountain streams as we climbed higher and higher.

Andrea and Rainier, just off the path
Looking back toward Paradise and the summit
I’m a good wall guy

Upon reaching the pass, at about 6200 feet, we encountered amazing views looking south, toward the Tatoosh Wilderness. If not for the haze and smoky skies, we could have seen Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. As it was, we still enjoyed incredible vistas of the southern end of the Park.

A familiar sign with familiar instructions
Looking south, beyond the pass

From the pass, there were a few options. You could hike along the ridge toward Unicorn Peak, if you were to go to the east. You could climb Plummer Peak, which was to the west. Or you could attempt to scramble to get up near the top of pinnacle Peak. We chose the latter, but quickly realized we wouldn’t make it to the summit. It was just a little too far and a little too difficult. Still, it was a fun, if harrowing, climb and took us right up to an edge.

A little scary with a big sheer drop just over that edge.

From this vantage point, we actually had cell reception. So Andrea was able to FaceTime with her parents, and I with mine. We shared with them the views, as best we could.

She crazy. She make me nervous.
Sitting is safer
Plummer Peak

We scrambled back down to the pass, over some loose rock, going low and going slow. And then from there, even though we were tired and hot and running low on water, we decided to hike up a little bit of Plummer Peak. It was an easier and more gradual hike, and much less of a climb. We reached a beautiful Alpine Meadow with flowing water and a small pond and amazing views back across the valley towards Paradise. And because we had our filter, we were even able to replenish our water supply (and cool off with the water from the high mountain snow and stream.)

Cool, both literally and figuratively!
Setting up the water filter in a beautiful setting
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon
Mountain selfie

At this point, it was time to start walking back down towards the trailhead. We were both pretty tired and hot and sweaty. But we felt pretty damn good!

Andrea on the way back down, with Pinnacle Peak in the background
A look back towards our perch on the edge below Pinnacle Peak
The walk back down; hiking poles are SO HELPFUL
More beautiful mountain wildflowers
A grassy meadow off the trail

We made it back down by about 5pm, with two cold drinks waiting for us in the cooler. Headed back up to Paradise Inn, where we’ll have dinner again tonight.

On the road in to Paradise, just below the Visitors Center and Inn

Once again writing this post from the tranquility of our sitting room. A beautiful corner suite (number 302) before we head into the dining room for our last dinner on the mountain!