A Guest Post from The Mister: On the trail in Point Lobos

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My graduate school program is mostly distance learning, but for two weeks every quarter they bring in our cohort for presentations, guest lectures and other classroom work.  Each day we spend eight-hours stretches in a windowless classroom, including a half-day on Saturday. The saving grace is that that the windowless classroom happens to be located near Monterey Bay, one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the country.

One Sunday, the one full free day we have, several of us went on short hike on a path along the coast in Point Lobos State Park. It’s a mostly flat hike that winds itself around the many coves and inlets on this peninsula. Near the end there is a low lying rocky area that during low seas you can walk out on and be sprayed by mist created by the waves as they break.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trail.

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Fog Rolling in …

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Whaler’s Cove, a popular SCUBA Diving Destination

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Wanderings: Biking around the Monterey Peninsula

One of many breaks along the trail

One of many breaks while biking around Monterey Peninsula

One afternoon, I found myself on my own with time on my hands and no place in particular to be.  I popped in to Adventures by the Sea and asked about renting a bicycle for a few hours.  Within a few minutes they fitted me for a small white, dutch step-through style rental bike, taken my info, and pointed me in the more scenic direction of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

My ride

My ride

This part of California is known for quick weather changes and this day was no exception.  On the ride out, the fog (they call it the Sea Layer) clung to the rocky outcroppings and crashing waves, and the landscape was spooky and otherworldly, making the coast seemed wild and a little dangerous.  On the ride back, the sun had burned through the fog and everything was bright and warm and calm, and almost unrecognizable from the earlier ride.  I felt as though I was returning through a completely different place.

Red ice plant growing along the dunes

Red ice plant growing along the dunes

Monterey.Bike.4

Foggy, craggy coast

There are numerous little beaches along the way, some of them with benches and picnic tables.  I probably stopped a dozen times, locked my bike up to a chain or fence post and wandered down to the beaches, exploring the rocks and tide pools, numbing my feet in the water and looking for sea glass.

Tide pools and crashing waves

Tide pools and crashing waves

Little boy looking out at the giant waves

Little boy looking out at the giant waves

The crashing of these giant waves is incredibly loud

The crashing of these huge waves is incredibly loud

Red aloe bushes

Red aloe bushes

There and back, I rode a little under 19 miles in 3.5 hours–pretty slow and leisurely.  I’ll probably be back in California later this year, and I’m hoping to pack a picnic and do the entire ride down to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  This would almost double the distance and probably take a full day, but I’m looking forward to it.

Towards Lover's Point

Towards Lover’s Point

A few notes on the ride: I started my ride on the paved bike path near Cannery Row.  This is part of the larger Monterey Bay Coastal Trail; its a paved multi-use trail that is separated from the street.  After Lover’s Point, in Pacific Grove, the paved bike path ends, and I followed some other cyclists on to the street along Sunset Drive.  I don’t typically feel super comfortable riding along with cars, but the traffic on Sunset Drive was slow and lazy, and after about two miles a bike path reappears on either side of the road. I followed this for another mile or so to Spanish Bay, then cut inland and joined up with 17 Mile Drive.  The road is free for cyclists, $9.00 for cars, and absolutely beautiful.  Ride along for a few miles or the length of the trail, there are plenty of places to stop and rest, but be sure to bring your own food and water, as I didn’t see anything available for sale.  The ride is relatively flat, with only one incline that left me a little winded.  Here’s a map of the approximate ride I did, 8.7 miles each way.

8.7 Mile bike ride along the Monterey Bay Peninsula

8.7 Mile bike ride along the Monterey Bay Peninsula

Wanderings: Kayaking in Monterey Bay

Sea lions chasing each other around our kayak (and splashing us!)

Sea lions chasing each other around our kayak (and splashing us!)

Early one cool, golden morning, we headed down to the beach to explore Monterey Bay by kayak.  It was a little breezy, but the water was glassy and calm, and our wetsuits kept us perfectly warm.  I expected to see harbor seals and sea lions, and was surprised by just how many animals we saw.  I only got photos of a few of them, but altogether we saw sea lions, harbor seals, otters with pups, dolphins, sea nettles, starfish, a sea hare, cormorants, pelicans, and small octopus.  Our guide was thrilled about the octopus as it was the first one he’d ever seen there and couldn’t recall hearing of a sighting in three or four years.

Our amazing guide, Alex, from Monterey Bay Kayaks was incredibly knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and clearly loved his job.  Alex was careful to keep us a safe distance from the birds and mammals (for their safety), but many of them seemed just as curious about us and swam over to check us out–and occasionally give us a good splashing.

Starfish

Starfish

Sea lion

Sea lion

California sea hare releasing ink

California sea hare releasing ink

Sea lion diving beneath our kayaks

Sea lion diving beneath our kayaks

Great day out on the water

Great day out on the water

These cormorants popped out of deep water next to us, then completely disappeared twenty seconds later

These cormorants popped out of deep water next to us, then completely disappeared twenty seconds later

Lounging sea lions

Lounging sea lions

Ghostly harbor seals checking us out from below

Ghostly harbor seals checking us out from below

A sea nettle among the kelp forests

A sea nettle among the kelp forests

Happy kayaker

Happy kayaker

Wanderings: Monterey

After a satisfying hour of looking for sea glass

After a satisfying hour of looking for sea glass

After nearly two weeks spent in California, I’m finally home and it feels strange to no longer be two blocks from the ocean.  I already miss the crashing waves and smell of eucalyptus.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Beach path leading down to Monterey Bay

Beach path leading down to Monterey Bay

I worked via laptop most of the time I was away, so it wasn’t really a vacation.  Still, it was amazing to walk down to the bay when I was done for the day and work with the windows thrown wide open because the weather was so lovely.   I’ll likely be back again in early December and I’m already making lists of things I didn’t have time to do this time.  Longer bike rides and boating, the aquarium and the markets.

A little strip of beach near Cannery Row

A little strip of beach near Cannery Row

Wandering around the neighborhoods before dinner

Wandering around the neighborhoods before dinner

California was golden days and the perfect blend of warm and cool.  Now I’m home and the heat seems to have burned off for the year.  It really feels like the start of autumn and I’m looking up and waiting for the leaves to change.  Its been more than five years since I was last in school and summer blends into the other seasons with no clear delineation.  This year feels different.

Candy shop along fisherman's wharf

Candy shop along fisherman’s wharf

Kayak crossing

Kayak crossing

I want one of these perfect little bungalows

I want one of these perfect little bungalows

Cormorants and gulls

Cormorants and gulls

Dunes

Dunes

Brown pelican and the marina

Brown pelican and the marina

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