Today seemed like a very long day. It started in L.A. with heavy Sunday morning traffic on I-5 North. Ugh! Our family is always running late for church. How would we ever get there if we had to fight traffic on Sunday mornings?
So long L.A. – we’re not a fan of your traffic.
Quickly, L.A. traffic turned into desolate mountains with trees dotting the landscape. It was 73 degrees in L.A. but the temperature was dropping as we drove north. We drove by Hungry Valley State Park and the winds really picked up. We saw signs warning of gusty winds. By the time we hit the Tejon Pass rest area, it was 63 degrees with a chilly wind.
Originally, we wanted to travel Highway 1 up the coast but my Roadtrippers App kept redirecting me inland as I tried to plan our trip. I finally googled it only to find out that many parts of Highway 1 have been washed out. Needless to say, the highway is closed at many points. I decided to route us inland until we reached Monterey.
For the next few hours, we passed farm after farm.
We saw corn fields, grapevines, and thousands of trees.
Eventually, we hit our exit in Lost Hills, CA for a lunch stop. Oh my! It was bad. Everyone and their mother was at this stop – I think because there isn’t much around it. We reluctantly decided to order our food at Taco Bell – very, very bad idea. They told us that our food would take 10-15 minutes. Ok, that’s fine. When our $3.50 burritos came out, the filling was so wimpy. I counted five shreds of cheese. So long to you too, Taco Bell.
You see all kinds of interesting things at lunch stops. One family bought a huge bottle of Smirnoff Ice and was swigging it at a table next to us. Oh my! Another member of the “Smirnoff family”, let out a huge gas noise. What do I call it? Fart, fluffy, letting fluffy off the leash (Dude Perfect)…
What am I doing here?!? Whose idea was this trip anyway?
Jimmy saved the day by buying some chicken tenders from Chester’s Chicken next door. Since the Taco Bell burritos were so skimpy, we all were still hungry. Chester’s Chicken tenders were not wimpy – they were full of chicken. We got gas and got out of there.
From there, we traveled on SR-46N. We passed oil fields, solar panels fields, and massive fields of neatly planted trees. I decided to google the type of tree we were seeing. They were almond trees. We guessed that there were 100,000 or more almond trees. Apparently, this almond farm called Pacific Almond that we passed is owned by billionaires. No wonder – I’ve never seen so many trees in such perfect rows. We could see trees for miles and miles.
One common thing we saw at all the farms we passed – large cut-outs of farm owners or farm workers. I guess it made them come alive.
Farmer cutouts – look in e-mail
At one point, we passed a small, makeshift memorial. A sign said, “James Dean Memorial Highway.” Apparently, the memorial marked the spot where James Dean was killed in his Porsche in 1955.
As we drove into Monterey (finally), we drove through winding roads and lush greenery. The temperature was also dropping so we had to be getting closer to water. No stunning views yet. Just when I started to get a little disappointed, we rounded the bend and saw the Pacific Ocean in all it’s splendor – bright blue water along the rocky coast.
Our first stop was Point Lobos State Reserve – a state park along the coast. We paid $10 to park. The park ranger at the guard shack told us to drive as far back into the park as possible to China Grove to get a good view of the seals. First, we saw sea otters playing in the wild waves.
Then the beautifully landscaped path led us to the money spot – a wonderful view of 22 (Seth my number guy counted them) seals along the beach. With my high zoom lens and our binoculars, we got a great view of the funny creatures.
They looked like they were enjoying their afternoon siesta.
They didn’t move much – only if they needed to scratch an itch or scoot a little farther out of the waves.
The scenery reminded me of the Caribbean – crystal blue/green water among rocky crags – spectacular.
From there, we hit the 17 Mile Drive guard shack. It costs $10.25 to get on 17 Mile drive. The attendant told us that if we ate at a restaurant along the drive, they would deduct the entrance fee off of our bill if we spent $35 or more. The restaurants along the way were very pricey. We’d have to eat dinner later.
In Pebble Beach, we got out to take pictures at an overlook. The wind had to be around 40 miles an hour.
Pebble Beach tree From our spot, we could see a golf goal with the pin flag straight out. How would you play golf here – at least how would you play golf well? I took a picture of one of the trees along the drive. They are all leaning east – in the direction that the wind relentlessly pounds them day after day.
Honestly, the 17 Mile Drive wasn’t worth the entry fee. Trees obscure the view of the Pacific for about one third of the drive and the rest isn’t anything you won’t see as you drive farther up the coast.
We continued up the coast to our hotel in Pacific Grove. We stayed at Lover’s Point Inn. I knew when I booked this hotel several months ago that the name of the hotel would stir up a lot of conversation with my kids. The hotel is named after the small park across the street (Lover’s Point Park). It is located at the top of the Monterey Peninsula – offering beautiful views of the Pacific.
After checking in, it was about 8 p.m. and we were all starving. We tried the Beachhouse Restaurant next to the park but at $32 a plate, it wasn’t in our budget. So we walked the windy, cold few blocks to a Mexican restaurant called Mexicali. Luke declared it the best taco ever because of the thick homemade taco shell. Jimmy had a huge plate with several options including a beef tostado that was out of this world. Seth even lost a tooth.
We were glad that we had to walk a few blocks to our hotel – we needed to walk off all the food we ate before we fell into bed.
Thank you, Lord, for another wonderful and safe day!