Category: California

Monterey to Big Sur

We had happened on this area on the “Memorial” day weekend – the equivalent of our Anzac Day – so everywhere was busy .So our next lot of accommodation was in Prunedale , only about 8 miles away from Moss Landing but – the middle of nowhere somewhere near Salinas ( where there are protests currently due to some recent police shootings –  – some of  you will have heard of the recent shooting rampage – by a mentally deranged guy –  in Santa Barbara also). So we drove south to Monterey and got lucky with some free parking next to a section of lake. We walked towards the aquarium . This took us first past the Monterey harbour which in beautiful treed and garden surrounds.  On the beach next to this there was an outrigger kayak racing event . There were also loads of rental kayaks out and stand up paddle boards. We walked out on the commercial jetty which is a very active place , there were a few people fishing(not catching ) from the jetty. In the harbour there were a lot of sea lions some making their raucous noise. Our route continued on the well constructed shared biking/walking track busy with tourists and walkers and runners to Fisherman’s Wharf .On the way we went past some ocean rowing vessels which will be used in a race to Hawaii.  The wharf is full of eating places – and all have their own version of clam chowder besides whatever there specialty is . We decided to continue on to the aquarium. This took us through the hub of the waterfront and past a host more eating places  and beautiful stately buildings. On sighting the aquarium   we realised this was a very busy day with the queue extending outside and round the corner.
We walked back the other way but only got as far as one of the pubs and went in for lunch . We both ordered fish on salad , Lily – Ahi Tuna , and me Sandabs( a local bottom feeder a bit like a flounder) . Both meals were superb , and the local beer was good too – except I had 2 16oz glasses – looks like we were gonna need to walk for a while before getting behind the wheel !
We walked again out past the aquarium intending to head for Point Cabrila , but got only as far as the tin cannery outlet stores .  Lil was trying things on left right and centre ,in a Van Heussen store with a 70% off sale , but I wasn’t really thinking straight so I said  wouldn’t bother getting anything . Anyway in the end Lil bought one shirt and I bought 2  shirts,a tie  , a pair of trousers , 2 belts and 6 pairs of socks and shoes in  different store! ( You all know I need a new wardrobe , right? ). $210 US for 13 items – good deal . We walked back to the car to drive to Prunedale which would be back the way we came , north out of Monterey.
The RV place seemed OK , and was clean enough and well maintained – but the water tap leaked ( so after informing the manager I used our stored water – California is in drought so we don’t want leaky taps)  – there was no cable connection for the TV(as promised) and the wifi was slow and kept disconnecting    ( I was impressed that a plumber actually came and fixed the taps the following day )
Now the next day , there really didn’t seem to be much to do in Prunedale , but we didn’t want to drive into Monterey either and fight the crowds. We asked the RV staff about walking tracks in the area and she said they were far to far away to walk to  but we found walking tracks 1km away.We were trying to get to the shops and could see Safeway about 250m away as the crow flies but even out in this neck of the woods you would have to cross busy freeways to walk there ! Anyway about one kilometre down the road there was another group of shops and a back entry to Manzanita Park. We walked up the very steep entry track which then met a wider track which circumnavigated  the park . For a while we thought we were back in Australia as in places we were walking between eucalyptus and there were large strands of them on a couple of the ridges. When we reached the main entrance of the park there were playing fields, where there was a little league softball and baseball tournaments in progress . We took a few detours on some other tracks and eventually came out of the park and went to the shops for supplies . We saw poison Oak several times but luckily didn’t touch any as it can cause a rash for weeks. Later I went for a run on some of the tracks we’d walked on and went for quick dip in the pool and dinner was fresh tuna from the Monterey Deli  cooked on our gas stove in the  RV with salad.
The next day we left Prunedale and drove back into Monterey , found a spot big enough to park the RV though this time we had to pay.  Arriving at the aquarium, around 930 am  – there was no queue . The aquarium is well done with many displays of local marine flora and fauna in gigantic aquariums. We just caught the end of the feeding of the tuna and mahi mahi , and I just can’t understand how most of the 13000 sardines get away . After a coffee and snack we got on our way back down highway 1 . The highway heads along some spectacular coastline  where the mountains meet the sea and the road is carved trough the mountains or on sides of cliffs but unfortunately the roads were full of traffic it being the Monday of the long weekend . We continued over the famous Bixby bridge and  then the highway turns slightly  inland to the Big Sur . We called into  the first campground and to our surprise they had a spot . The area is famous for its tall coastal redwoods – I believe the tallest trees in the world ( the tallest of them being north of San Francisco ) . After a bit of a walk , I went for a dip in the currently rather shallow waters of the Big Sur river – but it delightfully refreshing . So I’m sitting here on a very pleasant evening under the redwoods typing this – as the micro-climate here is just that tad warmer than where we have been the last week  .

Moss Landing

After leaving San Francisco we drove toward the Monterey Bay area to Moss Landing where we had booked for two nights .Turns out this is an old fishing town with a population of 782 – well all of them must own a boat/ship. The area is where the Elkhorn Slough(wetland) meets the sea. Walking down to the beach we were treated to a web of life display with sea lions cruising the beach , pelicans diving into the shallows from a great height , and a lock couple of Japanese descent who must have caught 40 jacksmelt between them . I tried fishing in the surf and on the breakwater of the Estuary entrance  but my tally was zero. We walked round the town and down to a small market which was selling the plentiful local produce and bought supplies. There is a definite Mexican influence with restaurants called the Haute Enchilada and the Whole Enchilada.
In the morning I went down to the beach early with a revised rig to try my luck . On the way there were Otters in the Estuary near the bridge lying on their backs in the water munching noisily on vegetation. On reaching the beach there was numbers of sea lions cruising back and the usual range of birds – pelicans,pacific gulls and others . A pod of dolphins about three , I think,  then cruised through maybe 50 metres from the shore.  Following the just a little further out a Grey Whale broke the surface . Finally a jacksmelt took a liking to me crude rig .
Late morning we walked along the Estuary and along a beach track toward the Salinas state beach area then finally back to the edge of Moss Landing . We first went to ML Liquor store which also happens to be the tackle shop, and I purchased a  pre made Sabiki bait rig similar to what that Japanese couple were using . We walked a bit further along and  had lunch at the Moss Landing Cafe. We both had the fresh grilled fish on Caesar salad ,Lily the LingCod and me the Sandab( similar to a small flounder) .Both were superb. After getting back to the van I tired my luck on the beach .The same couple were there again , with about 40 fish. Despite fishing next to their berley trail , with almost the same rig , I came up with one jacksmelt . Anyway the jacksmelt have a bit of reputation for eating a bit like Australian Salmon or our mullet – not great eating and make good bait .Well of course fresh fish done right will usually taste good and they did  .

Pacifica Beach

On our last day in the San Francisco area we decided to avoid the public transport for the day and instead walked south mainly along the coast . Having walked past the pier we took a different route which went around the Old Morro Rd and avoided the ridge on Morro point . Seems the whole area is called Pacifica . We went into the next beach and then climbed out on a bitumen track which zig zagged back and forth up the steep slope and had a sign saying Tsunami Evacuation Route . Coming down into the next beach there was a striking difference in the sand color , finally the beach being light colored sand rather than the dark volcanic type on the beaches near the RV park . The waves were also more normally formed , especially on Pedro point rather than the confused wash near where we were staying . There were a number of surfers at Pedro point . We spotted a Peruvian restaurant which we went to for lunch after returning from Pedro point . We shared a Paella for lunch . After lunch we took the more direct route back over the steep ridges . For the first time round here we were traversing  a sand dune , before coming back on to the volcanic rock of Morro Point .

Berkeley, Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay tour, Aquarium.

We took  the usual bus and train , but this time to Berkeley. We had a look  around the town, which is very pretty and walked through the University of California,  We had lunch  in an El Salvadorian restaurant. I had  tamales  which is like polenta wrap round small amount of chicken, and purposa which is a  pancake with cheese in it. Rick wasn’t as adventurous as me so had New York steak which was just steak and salad.

Today we took the train Embrarcadero  station . It was a lovely sunny day  about 70F with  a little wind, so we decided to  take a  1.5 hour tour of  San Francisco bay it was very informative  particularly about Alcatraz and great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the only surfable wave we’ve seen here.
After having lunch at the markets we took a tour of the aquarium which was mainly a display of local marine life.