Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 9 - Carmel and Return Home

Sunday was our day to spend in Carmel. We got to Point Lobos early. You have to do this on the weekends or you may find the parking to be full. We went down to Whaler's Cove and then Headland Cove and walked the loop trail in the Allan Memorial Cypress Grove. Later,we went down to China Cove and walked out on the Bird Island trail. Point Lobos is a beautiful natural area and we were very fortunate again to have fantastic weather.

We visited a lot of state parks during this trip. For anyone who lives in California, it's a great idea to join the California State Parks Foundation. There are various levels of membership and they all include some vehicle entry passes to the parks. So, by joining the foundation, you can actually save some money while contributing to a great cause at the same time.

Walking around the headlands at Point Lobos in the early morning made us hungry. So, we headed out Carmel Valley Road a few miles to the Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop. I've enjoyed great breakfasts here since the mid 1970's. One warning: they don't take credit cards (but they do have an ATM).

Next, it was off to Carmel Beach. This place was really packed. Parking was extremely hard to find. But, what a beach and what a day! The temperature was pushing 80 and there was no wind. Lots of people were staring out to sea watching the surfers and following a pod of dolphins just offshore. This is a dog lover's beach and so very popular with residents and tourists alike.

The road along the beach is aptly named Scenic Road and it lives up to its name. It's one way going south all the way to Carmel River State Beach. Here's another very beautiful beach. There are few towns in the United States as beautiful as Carmel.

We ended up at Mission Ranch and then found the Mission itself. Admission on Sundays is free but a donation is requested. Because of a wedding, we couldn't go into the church itself but we did spend some time in the museum with its interesting displays and depictions. The church is undergoing restoration right now and all the scaffolding makes it less photogenic but it will be much restored in a few years.

It was now early afternoon, so we decided to hit the road and head back to the Bay Area. We decided to take Highway 1 through Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. The road has been much improved in the last few years and most of the stoplights are gone. We made very good time until we hit Santa Cruz. There the traffic was gridlock. It was extremely warm, 79 degrees, and I'm sure everyone was heading for the beach.

We decided we would spend an hour or so at a beach north of town but by the time we were just ten minutes north, we ran into fog and it was now 59 degrees. Bonny Doon and Davenport were completely fogged in. We pushed on to San Gregorio State Beach and spent about 20 minutes there but the balmy weather was far behind us.

Half Moon Bay was also gridlock. We had forgotten about the pumpkin farms and there was some sort of festival going on. Both roads out of town were jammed with cars. We elected to stay on 1 but that was a mistake because there was some major event going on at Pillar Point Harbor. Eventually, the traffic eased as we got closer to Devil's Slide and from then on, it was smooth sailing all the way back to Napa.

Again, we listened to Jon Miller et al as we drove through Marin and Sonoma Counties and were able to watch most of the 4th and final game when we got home. "And, there was celebration throughout the land." Well, at least in Northern California.

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