Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cali Day 1: Coastal Drive

We're heading into the last day of our annual summer vacation, and Cali sure has been a great trip. I took the week off from blogging so I could just enjoy each day with my family, but I have a lot to share so will try to sum it up over the next few days. This is the first day we've relaxed around the house without any real plan, so while Riker has been napping and Matt went running through the California hillsides, I sat outside sipping coffee and reading Dan Brown's Inferno.

My eyes started to go hazy after about 100 pages, so I figured now's as good a time as any to take a break from the book and tell you about our first full day here. Last Monday we all woke up early - probably because of the time change - so got on the road by 8 am to drive the coastal Route 1 from San Fran all the way down to Monterey Bay.

Matt and I actually drove this route about six years ago -- actually, it was on that cross country trip that we stayed for two days in Napa and got engaged at a vineyard, so we chose this location for this year's summer vaca so we could also celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary at the same place we got engaged -- but, on that trip we drove all the way down to San Diego so didn't have time for many stops along the way. This time we stopped in a bunch of places and really explored.

We stopped at Mavericks, the famous surfing beach known for its huge waves and dangerous conditions. I've seen documentaries on this place so it was really neat to see it in person.

It was windy and rough even during the summertime, but we saw lots of seals and other wildlife.

We drove through Santa Cruz and stopped at a few other surfing beaches too. I love how the coastline here is so different from Jersey; it's all cliffs and rocky shorelines with crazy fog and powdery soft sand.

We stopped and had lunch at a seafood place in Half Moon Bay, where we ate chowder, fish tacos and fresh Ahi tuna. I've eaten my fair share of clam chowder on this trip, but have tried to balance it out with fresh fish and salads too.

We drove through dozens of strawberry, garlic, artichoke and all other kinds of farms, and when we saw a sign at a farm stand that said "Avocados 10 for $1" you can bet we screeched to a stop and picked up a bagful. We've been eating avocados right out of the skin with salt and pepper for snacks.

And eventually we made it to the cute town of Monterey, where we walked around town and then hung out in the famous aquarium for a few hours. The aquarium is beautiful - it's right on the bay so you can see wild seals, sea lions and birds from their decks, and they have huge exhibits full of sharks, jellyfish and amazing sea horses.

By the time we left the aquarium at closing, Riker was pretty tired and sitting down to dinner didn't seem like a great option. Instead, we picked up fresh crab cakes and veggies from a fish market on the wharf and ate in the car on the drive home. We took a shortcut off the coast and watched a gorgeous sunset most of the way and finally ended up home around 9:30 that night. Talk about a packed day! The sunset pics turned out kind of crappy, so instead I'll leave you with this picture of the most insane sea horse I've ever seen. Doesn't it look exactly like a plant? So crazy.

And with that, I can hear Riker stirring which means it's time to head out and enjoy our last full day. We're planning to spend the afternoon in San Francisco and eat at Pier 29 Cafe, which apparently has the best Dungeness crabs and fish tacos according to Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. We'll see!

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