As we pulled into the parking area, it looked like an Edelman-Szuchman family reunion! Aunts and uncles and cousins and moms and dads of the bride and groom were hugging and smiling and, dare i say it, plotzing, as everyone arrived for the "Pre-nuptial Hike." Though it was overcast, we still had wonderful views of the water crashing into the rocks.
Once everyone was ready, the whole bunch of us headed out on Bird Island Trail. This was a mile loop that took us high above two white sandy beaches - China Cove and Gibson Beach. China Cove was closed that day due to a, shall we say, stair issue...
Jamie even went hunting for shells, and found this!
We finished up the hike by noticing just how many people among us had braces (at last count it was upwards of six), checking out Bird Island, and looping around Pelican Point.
As we were leaving the hike.... someone mentioned that the entire path had been lined on both sides with poison oak.
So we promptly baby wiped all of our exposed skin as if our lives depended on it!
AND THEN IT WAS OFF TO CARMEL BY THE SEA!!
If you know any locals in Carmel, please do not mention to them that we found a quiet street off the beaten path where we took off our potentially-contaminated poison-oak-clothes. In someone's front yard. It had to be done. Thanks for your discretion.
Anyway, once that problem was solved, we were in need of a good breakfast! We tried the historic Tuck Box, but it was past noon by this time, and we needed more than tea and biscuits.
We asked a [very proper] lady -- who brought her own plates into the small shop and ordered her 'usual' -- where we might find a hearty brunch at this time of day. She [very properly] advised us that the locals enjoy a place called the Little Swiss Cafe over on sixth. Man, oh man, this for me was the find of the century. I am looking forward to going back to Carmel for many reasons, not the least of which is to eat here once again. The food was terrific, but there was something about the atmosphere that I really enjoyed. The small diner had a mural on the surrounding four walls that depicted the Dutch countryside in all four seasons. Behind me you can see the end of winter blending into the beginning of spring...
And as you can imagine, spring blended into summer, etc. What you can't see here are all the hidden, humorous characters and scenes the artist Andre Balyon incorporated into this amazing multi-paneled painting. (The perspective was perfect!) The restaurant is on 6th between Lincoln and Monte Verde. Order the blintzes and bring cash. Cash is king in Carmel.
After some art gallery window shopping (and giggling),
... and trying to find a friend's house without an address -- they don't use street numbers in Carmel -- it was finally time to check into our bed and breakfast!
OFF TO PACIFIC GROVE!!
Our bed and breakfast, the Old St. Angela Inn, was in Pacific Grove. Everything (and by everything I mean Monterey, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, Pebble Beach, and the 17-Mile Drive) was in our backyard!
The view from our Cape Cod Room
The weather was gorgeous, and we were unpacked - so we decided to jump back in the car and hit the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach (yeah, we never stopped during these four days!). Here are some of the points of interest!
Jamie at Point Joe
Early mariners often crashed upon these rocks after mistakenly setting their course for this point, believing that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay.
Here and at Point Joe, Chinese fishermen built lean-tos against the rocks for their homes in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This stately landmark is home to countless shorebirds and groups of harbor seals and sea lions.
We could not believe what we were seeing - and how very loud this spot was!!
Cypress Point Lookout
For over 100 years, this point has been a preferred view of the dramatic Pacific coastline.
The Fake Lone Cypress
(We didn't actually stop at the Lone Cypress... so we're pretending that this tree is the famous landmark.)
The Ghost Tree
With a trunk bleached white from wind and sea spray, the remains of this unique Monterey cypress has a sinister silhouette worthy of examination.
I think this looks like a chess knight.
Anyone else see it?
My favorite photo of the trip,
near the Ghost Tree.
After returning home from the drive, we took a stroll through Cannery Row on our way to the Fisherman's Wharf. We were determined to have a delicious seafood dinner at this end of this magnificent day! If you're ever doing Monterey on the cheap, just head to the Wharf -- each restaurant is so determined to get you in to eat their "best clam chowder in Monterey," that you'll be full of free samples in no time! It was tough, but we finally chose a great restaurant: Old Fisherman's Grotto, where Jamie discovered her love of abalone.
Spotted this guy (and many others) on our way to dinner.
On the Wharf
And finally, at the end of the day, Jamie had the opportunity to rock out with the art that adorns the warehouse walls along Cannery Row. Now, if that's not a lovely Steinbeck-inspired swan song, I don't know what is.
The weekend's not over folks - stay tuned for Jamie's blog about the big wedding day... DAY THREE!!!