(written Friday, 5/20)
I just got back last night from a fast 2-day road trip up to Monterey! It was an amazing trip. I cannot believe how much of the state I saw within 48 hours. Time feels like a blur, and it definitely seems like we went through a week’s trip in just two days.
My boyfriend and I aimed to leave at 4:15, just 15 minutes after my Disney interview, to drive the 5 hour trip up to Monterey. We didn’t decide until 6:30pm whether or not we were still leaving, so we chose to leave in the AM.
We woke up at 4:30am, and left at 5:15 and headed north into and past the mountains of the Valley. I love road trips, but when we leave that early, I never stay awake. Surprisingly, I did for this trip. Just even driving 30 minutes outside of the valley takes you into amazing views along the desert hills.
For the first 2 or so hours, we drove from the 5-North through the hills into the San Fernando Valley, which is comprised of flat farmland and wineries. Driving through this part of California, although nice, is also boring, like driving through the flat stretch of Texas’ Panhandle.
Three hours, and several cookies later, we finally made it to a small town called Carmel-by-the-Sea. We got in around 10:15am, and checked into our hotel room. The hotel itself was the gorgeous regal red, 1900’s décor.
The first item of our agenda was, about 10 or 15 minutes north… Monterey. Of course we made it to the aquarium! We watched some fish feedings, looked at the Sea Horses and just enjoyed strolling around with no time limit, easily spending about 3 hours there.
We then strolled through downtown, Cannery Row, and eventually, to the wharfs where we had a really simple lunch at the Sandbar and Grill. This restaurant was located actually under the dock just above the water looking out onto all the boats. It was really nice and relaxing.
Once we walked the 2 mile trip back to the aquarium, we drove back to Carmel and got ready for our picnic at the beach. With a bottle of champagne and our camera, we headed to the beach and watched the last hour of the sunset. It was spectacular!
The sky was trying to decide if it wanted to rain or stay sunny. The clouds literally came off the water and turned grey just off shore and got darker as the clouds rolled into the mountains. It was really a beautiful sight. We would watch the clouds grow from wispy strings into thick and dark rain clouds.
After the sun set we walked back and around town for dinner. We never actually made it to dinner because we ended up talking and looking at the art gallery windows. This town was so quaint at night. It reminded me a lot of my neighboring home town, Summit. Instead, we found ourselves at the local bar around 10:15pm and we were later told the kitchen closed in ten minutes! A bar closing before 10:30? No way! That ended our night early, but then again we had almost a 24 hour day!
On Thursday, the next day, after a nice night’s rest, we got up and walked around Carmel some more. We walked through the touristy shops looking for a hoodie sweater, which ended up incomplete because they had small sizes only. Oh, how this world is not really meant for tall people!
As we walked around, we found ourselves stopping in about 3 different art galleries. Although they were neighboring stores, they all had completely different types of art for sale. The first was a gallery specifically dedicated to one artist who designed The Grammy Event posters. His pieces sell for over $400,000 a piece! We talked to the art gallery owner and he was from NJ, so we had a nice coversation about home and moved on to the next gallery.
Mary Titus’ art gallery is one of contemporary pieces that mix color in some abstract yet mystical way. I am not much of an art follower, but these were really nice. There was one piece the looked like an angel flying towards the moon. So pretty!
As we walked around, the gallery supervisor, Tony, talked to us about art. He was from Big Sur, the next stop we were going to visit after Carmel. Good thing we met with him because he told us a new way to get home since The PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) was closed at a certain point. His roads were the most amazing scenery… I’ll explain later.
After meeting Tony, we walked through a photo gallery with some Ansel Adams artwork. Some of his pieces were spectacular. No wonder they were selling for 40-75,000 dollars a shot!
Our last gallery we visited was of the artist, Boban Bursac. He was from Serbia and moved to the US some 25 years ago and never left. He was a nice older man with a thick accent, but loved to talk. He explained all of his pieces to us from their origination to the copy. My favorite portrait was of the back of a blonde girl in a fancy 1700s red dress. He had it splotted with beautifully painted spots and it looked like something from an old book. It was so gorgeous; I wanted it, but not at the price of 20 grand.
Finally, our time at Carmel had finished and we left to head towards Big Sur. Only about 20 minutes south on the 1 from Carmel, Big Sur is famous for its blue watered beaches. Rocky and surrounded by tough terrain, this small, hippy town is definitely a sight worth seeing.
We stopped and had a local beer at Nepthenthe, a famous bar visited by many celebrities over the years. The view was beautiful. Over looking the cliff, you could see the Blue Pacific, gold sun, and green mountains. Picturesque for sure.
Our next and final stop was the Big Sur library, but it was not much of a library at all. It was a little hole-in-the wall, wooden room with some books on sale. Suddenly, we were kicked out because the community was putting on a local fashion show. The theme: Back to the Future. The catch? Make the clothes out of anything BUT fabric. We didn’t stay for the show, but just looking at the décor was enough. Strange and eccentric.
So we headed our way back to LA. This time, we took the path Tony, from the gallery, had suggested. It was a tough and windy road that took you from the Coast up and over the mountains. We got so high we were actually above the clouds and couldn’t see the ground! The cloudy hills soon turned into magnificent forest land. About an hour later we were enough inland that we hit flat land.
This flat land was by far my favorite scenery! It was near the military base of Hunter-Liggett. The high prarie-like tan grass was seen for miles and miles. Massive, thick trees were spread throughout the land. It looked like what I assumed Africa to be on a safari. I was seriously expecting a lion to come out at some point! The land was so beautiful. I could look at it for hours.
Soon enough our roads connected to the highway we took up, so we were in familiar territory. A few short hours later, we were back in the Valley before 11pm. It was definitely a wirl-wind of a trip. It felt we had been gone for a week and seen so much, but we were gone for not even 48 hours!
It was a trip well spent! I hope to go back up there to see more of Northern California. I definitely like it much more than Southern Cal. It reminded me more of the East Coast with its greenery, windy roads, and community. I think my next trip will be near the San Fran and Napa Valley area.
Well… now I have to go pack because I leave for NJ in less than 12 hours!!!! HOME!!! Here I come. Until then… goodnight!