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I took my own advice…

Monterey, California 

… and took a “day off” with my wife. It had been too long since I “stopped to smell the roses.” I was the passive partner today as we headed “west.” I left my camera at home, and I took my iPod and folding beach chair (and used neither!), instead. We proceeded to Highway 17 over the coastal range, stopping only for a bag of drive-through breakfast.

When we reached Santa Cruz, she decided to travel south on Highway 1. Somewhere between Santa Cruz and the exit for Capitola, she decided that Monterey and Pacific Grove would be our destination.

We eventually approached the town (actually a “census-designated place“) of Moss Landing, which is located on the shore of Monterey Bay at the head of the Monterey Canyon and mouth of the Elkhorn Slough. Moss Landing is home to the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, a multi-campus research facility of the California State University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Before reaching Moss Landing, I convinced her to travel to one of the Santa Cruz Area State Beaches that we had never visited before, Zmudowski State Beach.  The beach is a popular fishing area for perch, steelheadsalmoncabezonbocaccio (tomcod), lingcodsoleflounder, kingfish, halibut, jacksmelt and rockfish. We saw no fishermen today. The beach features the Pajaro River estuary with a natural preserve. The sandy beach is popular with birdwatchers and equestrians. Horses are allowed only near the waterline. Swimming and water sport are hazardous because of the strong rip currents. We reached Zmudowski State Beach after zig-zagging through farm fields of strawberries and artichokes. Right before the beach parking lot was a lagoon full of birds! There was no admission fee. The parking lot had two porta-potties and it was a short hike over the sand dune to the beach. If I wanted to spend a day reading or watching nature without other humans nearby, this beach would be the place, at least at this time of year. The few other people around were widely scattered up and down the beach, which is one of a chain of beaches in the area.

After a little beachcombing, we got back on Highway 1. We bought gas at Seaside for $399.9/gallon (ouch!) for regular.

In Monterey, we found the Presidio and explored the old downtown, including the Lara-Soto Adobe, where John Steinbeck (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962) lived when his book, Cannery Row (1945), was published. Steinbeck also wrote the novella, The Pearl (1947), while living at the Lara-Soto Adobe, which is now part (Admissions) of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

From downtown Monterey, we drove to Lovers Point, and walked to the point from the west. The path was awash in colors (pinks, purples, yellows, and white) from all of the flowers that were in bloom. Traffic at Lovers Point was “crazy.” There were a LOT of visitors! It looked like a class of painters was in session along the path. We walked in the park, petted a 165-pound mastiff owned by an elderly gentleman, and watched a beach full of people. There were kayakers, snorkelers, scuba divers, and folks just enjoying the sunny warm day (around 63 degrees F at that time, with a high of 69).

After returning to the car, we drove to one of our favorite places for lunch – Vivoli’s Chowder House, 127 Central, Pacific Grove.

After lunch, we took a leisurely drive out to the point in Pacific Grove  (1234). We stopped to relax in the sunshine and watch two sea otters eating and playing in a cove where Monterey Bay meets the rest of the Pacific Ocean.

When we traveled on to Asilomar State Beach, we saw a buck and a doe in their natural habitat, the golf course.

The ride home, from Route 68 to Highway 1 to Highway 101 to I-680 was uneventful. We had a great getaway and, from the looks of the beaches (with the exception of sparsely populated Zmudowski) and highways, so did a lot of other people!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.  

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