To cap off our day, we headed to the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, located close to our hotel in Carmel. There are several trails that you can hike and since we had about 2 hours till sunset, we chose the three most interesting to us. First up was Sea Lion Point trail where you could see (with binoculars) the sea lions out on their rock islands, frolicking and making a general din. Even with the cloudy day, the hike was still beautiful. Love seeing the mountains in the distance and the fog just adds a little mystery!
Then it was on to the trail furthest south where you take these very steep steps down...
All the way to a gorgeous beach--China Cove
Our final hike was Cypress Grove Trail
Monterey Cypress trees are rare and only grow in this location (something about the combination of the soil, weather and sea air). These magnificent trees grow over 70 feet and live as long as 300 years.
Stay tuned for day 3--when the sun finally came out and we did more hiking, including my kind of urban hiking...through an antique mall!
We headed next to Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was by far the best aquarium I've ever been to. My favorite exhibits were the jelly fish and this huge tank teeming with tuna, sea turtles, sharks and mackerel that resembled the open sea. Truly amazing.
The penguins and sea horses were pretty awesome to see as well.
The aquarium is housed in an old cannery (sardines were Monterey's top industry back in the day).
Best of all, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non profit organization that educates and furthers the efforts to conserve our oceans. They protect and rescue many of the animals and fish there and seek to educate the public about sustainable seafood that is healthy for you and the ocean. You can learn more and support their efforts here.
Still to come, more of day 2. And...there's hiking involved! Surprised? I was too.
We had the ham and egg buckwheat crepe (delicious) and the nutella and strawberries (oh California strawberries, how I love you!) dessert crepe. I'm pretty sure these were the best crepes I've ever had. (and you know I've had a lot of crepes)
We walked around the wharf a bit--it's filled with seafood restaurants, gift shops and candy stores.
There was a car show in town and we walked up and down the streets checking out all the amazing restored cars on show.
We landed in Monterey and headed straight to Compango's for lunch. These were the half sandwiches and they were huge--highly recommend the "Marines" special and the Reeses peanut butter chocolate cake (our slice was as big as our sandwiches!)
Then it was on to Trader Joe's for our regular favorites and some new items since we have a kitchen in our hotel suite.
Love California produce--have you ever seen raspberries this perfect??
Checked in to our awesome hotel off Hwy 1
And finally enjoying the foggy but still beautiful view of the Pacific out on our deck with some birthday champagne
Picked up this little blue glass jar/vase at an estate sale recently. The sale tag on it said "Blenko" but there aren't any markings on it. I bought it for its color anyway, not the manufacturer. There are lots of enthusiasts out there, and a really helpful site for identifying Blenko glass here, but I'm not sure if I have the energy to figure it out. It's tough enough keeping my Pyrex and Fiesta ware straight :)
We're hopefully headed into our last 100 degree weather day but meanwhile, we're keeping cool and taking advantage of summer produce to make simple and easy salads for dinner. This is a particular favorite b/c we cut the corn fresh from the cob and also, did I mention croutons? Yum.