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Friday, March 16, 2012

after three gorgeous days in cayucos, it was time to head north and check out the drive along route 1.  of course the day was overcast and misty, however, we set out armed with a playlist, well-thought out and ready.  the first stop was to see the elephant seals, less than a half an hour away.  what a treat!  it was mating season and the shore was packed with males, females, and pups...national geographic style!

a tired mum and her pup rest peacefully, for now...

two males showing up one another before attacking.

wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and back on the road, we drove winding our way into the heart of big sur, stopping often to take it all in!

a dignified eshcer decides to pose for a picture at the first stop.

a stop at julia pfeiffer burns state park, named after a big sur pioneer woman, provided a beautiful trail on the edge of the cliffs.  at the end of the coastal trail, the terrace from a 1940s home remains...

with a most pleasant view.

with grumbling tummies, we stopped at a restaurant not far from the park.  lunch was nothing to write home about, however the view was peaceful and the food was fresh and came out fast.  after lunch, we continued the drive, stopping at pfeiffer big sur state park for our first redwoods sighting!

while driving away from the park, we toyed with stopping at one of the small villages along the way to stay the night and decided to continue on to monterey, plotting another adventure through big sur in the future!

with the sun beginning to set, we made our way over the bixby creek bridge and descended into carmel.  too dark to really walk around, we headed just past downtown monterey, off the highway, and began the motel search.  hoping to scope out the room status at a motel 6, the desk clerk asked for id.  needing to grab it out of the car, emily realized that her purse was missing!  the only logical place it could be was at the lunch restaurant which was about 2 1/2 hours back.  whoopsie!  the restaurant opened next day at 11:00...guess that means we're taking another trip through big sur!

tuckered out from the day's events, we looked into getting something delivered.  pizza my heart, a california chain, was most delicious and reasonably priced.  fittingly, we ordered the big sur pizza, with roasted garlic, pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, and portebella mushrooms...yum! 

after a good night's sleep, we awoke to a gorgeous day and excitedly headed back up to big sur.  a call from a restaurant employee confirmed that the purse was still there and would be waiting. 

due to the drastic weather difference, we were able to capture more 
of the beauty that had been hidden by the gray the day before. 

we returned to julia pfieffer burns state park to walk a wooded trail.  
escher loved walking across the logs over the stream,
 making our way up to a smooth, trickle falls.

happy cows live in california

the rest of the afternoon we went to the monterey bay aquarium and spent hours in awe of the various marine species, trying to identify everything in the tanks.  from mahi mahi and hammerhead sharks to dragon seahorses and rock shrimp, there is something to capture your attention around every corner!  being a leader in the sustainable seafood movement, many of the staff are on the floor trying to educate aquarium goers.

while attempting to find a restaurant, that ended up no longer existing, we stumbled upon some disc golf baskets.  not sure where the course started, we hopped out to survey the scene and enjoy a walk in the gorgeous sunshine. 

this hole was especially noteworthy with the start being so high above the basket and the gorgeous view.  poor pete lost this orange disc (his favorite) in an attempt to capture a perfect action shot.  out of the three discs thrown, this was the best shot!
the next morning, steamer lane and a health food store stop called us to santa cruz.  just less than an hour north of monterey, this crowded lazy surf town satisfied both our cravings.  staff of life natural food market proved to be a most "fruitful" stop with fresh juice and smoothie bar, great local kombucha supply, and inexpensive staples.  emily even got carded for the kombucha at the checkout!

pete was able to rent a board and get out in the water.  steamer lane wave goes forever, offering the perfect wave for all surfing abilities from hot doggers to long boarders.  pete hung out towards the middle, trying to catch as many waves as possible.

lucky to get this shot, considering that there were about 80 (give or take) other people in the water!

the santa cruz pit stop left us refreshed and ready to head to the city.  needing a room for one night, pete found a great, inexpensive room at the marina motel.  located in the marina district, with on site, individual garages for guests, clean, cozy rooms, and a fridge, this place is a gem!  we met up with nantucket friends, willem and dee,  at fog city diner, for some crispy brussels sprouts, truffle fries, and other tasty treats!  dee was off to new orleans the next day, to meet up with some other nantucket ladies for a big birthday bash. 

for the next two nights, we stayed at the comfortably chic, "chez mcrobie", and dee was thoroughly missed as her other half hosted and guided us around this new place they call home! 

spent an afternoon at SFMOMA,
had some snacks on filmore st and people watched,
and ate yummy mexican for dinner

had la boulange bakery for breakfast,
checked out chrissy field,
went for a great walk cliffside with spectacular views...
pete looks like he's about to sneeze!
we lunched at the farmer's market and wondered around wanting EVERYTHING!

best sushi.  ever.
enjoying tuna toro, 
the belly of tuna

after a farmers market breakfast, we said our goodbyes, drove over the bridge,

and headed to point reyes, only to stumble upon cowgirl creamery!!! 
we loaded up on picnic provisions at the organic, artisan cheese makers headquarters
and had their homemade ice cream for breakfast!

having trouble getting to the beach access (closed for the season), 
we stumbled upon this fairy forest running along the bay side of point reyes.

 delighting in the nature, the fairies showed their 
appreciation with these beautiful black truffles!

oysters in point reyes are highly recommended with several roadside places to stop.

we chose hog island oysters...

and enjoyed a half dozen raw and barbequed oysters,

before our drive up to jenner, over through guerneville, and down route 12 to sonoma.

 escher enjoying the very sensory drive!

having success at finding fantastic, inexpensive, pet-friendly hotels, pete booked a room at the sonoma creek inn.  wanting to rest up for a full day of wine tasting, we ordered some homemade italian delivery for dinner.

the next morning, we grabbed a healthy breakfast and headed to kaz winery, a small, funky, newer winery.  where the tastings depend on what is in the barrel.  having been most attracted to this one based on internet research, it was just okay, however, we did get to meet kaz, as he's very active in the day-to-day happenings.

our second stop was at benzinger family vineyard, a biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farm.  the wines were tasty and the staff friendly.  we especially enjoyed watching the weeders do their work...

 these little guys take a break from their job as weeders.

the last winery we stopped at was imagery estate winery.  with visually appealing labels, featured reds,  and comfortable patio, it was a great place for a picnic. 

picnic of cowgirl creamery cheese, mary's gone crackers, 
organic persimmon jam, olives, artichoke tapenade, and 
imagery wine on a pleasant sun filled afternoon.

after several recommendations, we went to the girl and the fig for a most incredible feast!
here are a couple of the delicious treats we split over the evening...


local sardines with red onion and capers,

profiteroles, perfect for sharing!

a brisk walk around the town square with the dog rounded out a most perfect day in wine country and our last in california...colorado bound!!!