Monterey & Big Sur (7/8/03 - 7/9/03)
Last updated 7/8/03
Russian translation here
Monterey was one stop on our way
that I had to fight for; Puneet intended to just drive through it, but
in the end even he was glad we took the time to explore historic
downtown and the wharf (seals! seals! see numerous pictures below). Our
previous visit to Monterey a year ago was for the National Corvette
Restorers convention, so we got to see a lot of Vettes and also a
little of the Aquarium, but none of the actual town of Monterey - big
mistake which has now been corrected.
Daria is absolutely right, I
intended to drive through it, but I was dead wrong... the historic
downtown section of Monterey is very beautiful and definitely worth
seeing (look at all the cool seals we got to see!)
Historic downtown is lovely and quite educational to see; I didn't even
know that Monterey used to be the capital of California and home to
many important events like signing of the Constitution of the state
when CA became part of the United States. Near the wharf there is a
nice museum of pre-US history of Monterey (free admission), and a
self-guided walk around the downtown area gives you a feel for the
Spanish and early US period of Californian history. The historic path
is very easy to follow, once you've figured out that there are guiding
yellow circles on the sidewalk that you should be watching out for. To
our shame, we managed to get lost badly (in spite of having a map)
before those yellow marks caught our attention. On our walk we got to
see pretty adobe buildings, among them the house of the first and only
US Consul to Mexican California (there weren't any more because the US
took over CA), inviting gardens and plazas, and the wharf with its
yummy smells of seafood and not-so-attractive aroma of the seals.
Except for the smell, they are such loveable creatures! I enjoy
observing them when the wind direction is right.
Big Sur & CA-1
Big Sur is best known for its artistic
community and expensive beachfront mansions, but we got to explore its
other side - beatiful redwood forests and cheap campgrounds. CA-1
(South) was a fun drive: winding road, one lane in each direction for
the most part, great views of the ocean on the right and steep hills on
the left. I'm glad we only drove in daylight hours, for at night, I
imagine, the highway loses its picturesque quality and gains a
Pfeiffer Big Sur is a state park in a redwood forest setting, with many
miles of developed hiking trails and even a waterfall. We hiked to the
falls at night, leaving at sunset and coming back well after dark which
was a scary experience - don't try this at home kids. The waterfalls in
moonlight were a marvellous, albeit not a photogenic, sight and well
worth the hike, but flashlight-illuminated way back to the camp showed
me that the primitive fears aren't buried too deeply inside the modern
man. The forest suddenly became forbidding, every twig seemed an
animal's paw, every little noise made me jump - not what I'd call a
pleasant walk through the woods. So, from now on, only day hikes for us!
downtown Monterey: old jail, theater, and a lovely garden.
SEALS! SEALS!! SEALS!!!
Pfeiffer Big Sur campground among stately redwoods.