Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monterey Bay California

Dale Matson

One of the advantages to Fresno’s location in (almost) the center of California (North Fork is the center), is the access it provides to the mountains to the east and and the central coast to the west. Over the years we have done overnights and day trips to Monterey. It is about a three-hour drive to Monterey from Fresno and it can be quite a welcome respite in the heat of summer here.

My first visit to the area was Infantry training in 1967 at Fort Ord. I do remember enjoying the elaborate Enlisted Men’s Club that was right on the beach. As it would turn out, my group that came after finishing basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood MO was only there for two weeks and was sent back to Ft. Leonard Wood for AIT training as Combat Engineers. There is a sadness to revisit the area that is now California State University – Monterey. Many of the old buildings are abandoned and filled with graffiti.

We have driven, hiked, biked and run most of the area around Monterey Bay including Seaside to the north, Pacific Grove to the west and Carmel to the south. There is great bike path going north from Monterey along the coast and there is a bike lane on 17-mile drive.

I had an opportunity to run the Big Sur Marathon twice. It begins in Big Sur and ends in Carmel. It is considered one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the world. I especially like the view of the iconic Bixby Bridge but there are some serious hills on this course.

We have been to Point Lobos several times and enjoyed the ocean views and sea life including migrating whales passing the point. Watch out for poison oak along the trails! There is also a Monarch butterfly park in Pacific Grove where migrating butterflies overwinter. There are also several charter boats for fishing and whale watching. There are Kayaking and scuba diving opportunities also. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is great for kids and has almost 2 million visitors a year. One of the 21 Roman Catholic Missions is in Carmel.

There are some things that are always a part of our visit. We always take in the colorful Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf with its clam chowder, shops and restaurants. In addition to the restaurants we also hit the sweet shop for a chocolate treat of one sort or another (does it matter?) We also visit 17-mile drive with the wonderful ocean views, stately mansions and iconic stops like the ‘Lone Cyprus’, which is one of the most photographed objects in the world. If you drive it, you will get a map at the gate house when you pay your $10.00 entrance fee. The map will locate and describe all of the views at the numbered pull out locations.

Sometimes my wife and I just sit on a rock by the ocean and let the smells, breezes and views fill us to the brim. It is a wonderful place. Each visit brings back all the past memories in a cumulative contentedness. Click on photographs to enlarge.  

No comments:

Post a Comment