Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Monterey Bay Memorial Day

When Jonathan’s parents decided to make the trek to California for Memorial Day Weekend, they requested that we do some sightseeing in North Cali while they were here. Since we had just been to Napa and plan on returning to Tahoe later this summer, we decided to head back to one of our all-time favorite destinations: Monterey Bay. 

We had been last July when Forest was only 7 months and had a great time amongst world class scenery and hiking. We couldn’t wait to go back and were thrilled to share the experience with Jon’s parents. The added in help with the baby was a nice bonus too! 

His parents got into SFO late Tuesday night so we had a lazy morning before loading up and hitting the road to the central coast in time for Forest’s naptime at noon. We were slightly worried that F wouldn’t nap with a full car of people to entertain but he went down pretty easily for a 45 minute nap. 
The drive only took about 2 hours which meant we arrived an hour too early for check in at the 3 bedroom house we rented in Pacific Grove. We decided to just park and hunt down some lunch. We stumbled upon a fancy-pants restaurant called Fandango and decided to give it a try. I was apprehensive because Forest’s recent restaurant etiquette has been slightly obnoxious so we tend to steer clear of any place with linen table cloths. But since Fandago appeared at the same time as Jon’s hungry monster we had little choice but to take the risk. And….it was fine! 

Forest did as well as a toddler could do and the staff were super accommodating to him. We may have slightly bribed him with a bottomless bread basket but it was really a treat to get to dine at a fancy restaurant while on vacation again! 

After lunch, Jon went to get us all checked in and unpacked while Jon’s parents and I took Forest and Samson for a stroll along the Monterey Bay coastal trail. 
I love how walkable this part of Monterey is! There is a trail that essentially winds along miles and miles of coast line connecting our quaint and quiet neighborhood with the more crowded and touristy Cannery Row area and beyond. 

Anyhoos, we walked down to the main area where the harbor seals are and then headed back to the house to meet up with Jonathan and get dinner started. 

Our house for the week.

The next day we planned to go to Point Lobos State Park in the morning and then  after F’s nap do 17 mile drive ending with a cocktail on Pebble Beach. 

We debated taking Sam with us to Point Lobos since we figured he wouldn’t be allowed on the trails. In the end decided he’d rather at least go along for the car ride than be stuck in his kennel at the house so we brought him along. This turned out to be a pretty critical mistake since when we pulled up to pay for parking we were informed that dogs weren’t allowed in the park at all, not even inside of a car. We were not expecting that! 

Fortunately Point Lobos was only about a 20 minute drive from where we were staying so we decided to reverse our plans for the day. We first headed to the nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea beach to let Forest and Sam (Carmel is VERY dog friendly) stretch their legs before heading along 17 mile drive for some photo ops. 

Our first stop along 17 mile drive was the famous Pebble Beach golf course. 

We also stopped at the Lone Cypress and at one of the beach areas for more walking around and photo taking. 

Forest was over it at this point so we went back home to put him down for a nap. When he woke up we headed back to Point Lobos, this time without Samson in tow. 

We did a little hike along Whaler’s cove were some docents helped us to spot some otters playing in the water and munching on clams. 

Otter eating a clam is directly in the center of this picture.
After making a loop in this area we drove off in search of sea lions. At this time of year, the sea lions, otters,  and seals are all birthing pups so there were a lot of restrictions about how close you could get to them. Last July when we went we were able to hike down to a beach where the sea lions were 20 yards away but this particular trail was roped off through the middle of June. Good thing I brought my zoom lens so I could still see them up close! 

I love walking up to this one cove and hearing them barking. There are literally hundreds of them in this one spot. 

It’s quite spectacular and one of my favorite hikes of all time. California is a special, special place. 

After hiking we headed to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixings and all went to bed shortly after the little guy’s bedtime. 

We reserved Friday morning for the world famous Monterey Aquarium. I was beyond excited to take Forest back now that he would be able to interact and get so much more out of it. 
It did not disappoint. His favorite thing was the Kelp Forest but he also loved the ‘touch’ exhibits and the wave simulator.

He also enjoyed getting to play in the baby/toddler play area where they had a little water table area. The kid is drawn to water like nothing I have ever seen. It’s totally his element and he would have splashed around all day if we had let him. But nap time was calling (for all of us) so we headed back to the house after lunch. 

That afternoon we went back to Carmel-by-the-Sea for some shopping and wine tasting. 

I just think Carmel is one of the cutest little towns I ever saw and I love how dog friendly it is. 

After perusing Carmel we headed back to Pacific Grove and ate dinner on the deck of 17th Street Grill, a casual little burger place on the main drag that is very family and dog friendly. 
The next day was our biggest outing as we planned on making the rounds in Big Sur, a stretch of coastline known for it’s dramatic scenery along Highway 1 and it’s giant redwood coastal forests. 

We made sure in advance that all the parks would at least allow dogs on the premises before loading Samson up for the ride. All of the parks we planned on visiting did allow dogs to at least be in the parking areas so we were good.   

First we hit Pfeiffer State Park and made the steep hike up to Pfeiffer Falls, a not-so-impressive waterfall. 

On our way back to the car, Forest promptly fell asleep in his carrier and would only continue his nap if Jonathan kept walking so once we were finished the hike, Jon went to explore a nearby path while I walked Samson in the dog friendly area of the park. 

Once Master Forest awoke from his 40 minute cat nap we had a picnic lunch before heading to Julia Pfeiffer Sate Park to take in the splendid McWay Falls. 
Unfortunately the parking lot was packed when we arrived and was doing a ‘one car in, one car out’ line at the entrance. Since Jon and I had already seen the falls, he agreed to stay in the queue while I hopped out with Jon’s parents to escort them the ¼ mile to see the stunning vistas. 

By the time we returned to the parking lot, he was still in line so we just took turns using the restroom and then hopped back in for the drive home. We stopped on the way back for an alternate view of Bixby Bridge and then went back to the house. 

Forest decided to take a proper nap in his pack n play at the house but once he was awake we walked down to Cannery Row for some final sightseeing and souvenir shopping. 

That night we just took Forest to the nearby playground, made some oven pizzas for dinner and played Clue after Forest went to sleep. The next morning we packed up and headed home to San Ramon. Phew! It was a full but relaxing stay in Monterey. 
We hope to visit again really soon! Thanks for joining us, Nana Kay and Poppa George!