Tuesday, May 20, 2008

California Dreaming

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down. ~Lily Tomlin


Ah, vacations! Hubby and I just returned from a four-day get-away up the coast of California, where the weather was gorgeous and the days were relaxing.

That's me in the photo above, posing in front of one of my favorite little shops, Heart of the Home, in Arroyo Grande. Susan Branch is a wonderful illustrator who has branched out into books and fabric and all kinds of darling things that I just adore. You may not know her name but I bet you'd recognize her work (check her out here.) Her shop is about three hours from my home, so I don't often get there. But we had to make a stop on our way up the coast: I shopped; hubby strolled up and down Main Street!

We had planned on taking the 101 Freeway all the way up to Salinas, which would have taken us about two hours from Arroyo Grande. But we made a last minute change of plans at San Luis Obispo and decided to take Highway 1. This actually doubled our driving time to our hotel to four hours. But I'm so glad we did it! Look at this example of the scenery along the coast:

Isn't it stunning? The water and sky were incredibly blue the day we traveled. And that portion of the California coast is like no other: we were driving through redwood forests at Big Sur. It almost felt unreal.

We spent the next day in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which has to be one of the most charming places I've ever visited. I was there 30 years ago, and it really hasn't changed much in all that time. We walked up and down its quaint streets (my calves were so sore from hiking the hills!) stopping in various shops, widow shopping in many more. Then we visited the Mission at Carmel:

Hubby and I have a goal to one day see all 21 of the California missions: so far, we've seen eight. Carmel's is by far one of the prettiest.

After the Mission, we took the famous 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach, on the Monterey Peninsula. It was like being in another world! Again, we were in a forest, growing along the ocean's edge. It was late afternoon and the fog came rolling in through the trees. It was very ethereal and so lovely. Here's a shot of the iconic Lone Cypress:

Yesterday was spent indoors rather than out. We spent two hours going through the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas (where I had planned on buying a copy of East of Eden -- and they were out! Can you imagine?) Then we headed to Cannery Row in Monterey and spent over two hours going through the Monterey Bay Aquarium. What a great place! We saw otters and penguins and beautiful jellyfish. It's an outstanding facility, and 50,000 of our closest friends agreed (yes, it was very crowded!)

After all this education and enlightment, we needed an adult beverage. So we stopped at A Taste of Monterey, where we relaxed with a nice glass of local wine in front of a floor-to-ceiling window over looking Monterey Bay. That was lovely enough as it was. But all of a sudden, at the mouth of the bay, we saw this:

The photo is grainy, but I think you can tell that it's a whale. A small humpback was breaching there in the bay, right before our eyes! It jumped out of the water, turned somersaults, slapped the surface with its tale flukes - s/he was having a great time for about twenty minutes, and gave us quite a show. It was one of those magical moments you know you'll likely never experience again (although did you know that I've actually touched the inside of a whale's mouth? Not one on display: a live creature, out in the ocean -- one who was three times bigger than the tiny boat I was in. But that's a subject for another post one day!)

It was wonderful to be away, and it felt good today to come home. This trip was quick, but very special in many ways. I'm going to try hard to hang on to the relaxed, peaceful feelings I experienced and recall them when life stresses get to me.

Yes, I know: easier said than done!


Until next time...

16 comments:

Hanlie said...

Thank you for sharing the pictures and your impressions, Pattie! Glad you had a chance to recharge and delight your spirit.

RunningNan said...

What a great trip. I like your goal of visiting all the missions!

Cammy said...

Oh, what a wonderful trip! Everything you did, I hope to experience some day. Carmel, especially, has always intrigued me. I'm so glad you had a delightful time!

Erin said...

Those were beautiful pictures and it sounds like you had a great time, I'm glad you got to go away for a few days on a little vacation!

Have a great rest of the week!

Ready to Shrink said...

Great pics and GIRL, you look FABULOUS! :)

Lora said...

What an awesome get away Pattie! You look SO happy in that pic. Thanks for sharing your trip - it must be wonderful to live so close to the coast!

Manuela said...

Beautiful! My sister LOVED Carmel when she went to Cali several years ago with friends.

I'm so glad you could get away with your hubby and what a cool goal--I'm sure you'll get to all of the Missions some day!

jovaliquilts said...

What a great trip! I used to live in both Monterey and Salinas. I miss it. In my house I have a scale model replica of the house John Steinbeck grew up in (the place you visited) that my father built. He got permission to climb on the roof and take measurements, and he cut and turned every piece by hand. For awhile it was on exhibit in the Steinbeck Library in Salinas.

thislittlepiggy said...

Everything looks so lovely! Glad you had a good get away. I'm thinking I'd like to have one of my own. SOON.

Take One Stripper Pole said...

You got to see a whale breaching and playing! I am so jealous. Do you know that every whale watch I have been on in California has yielded no whales ... lol. One of these days I want to got up north to Puget Sound and see killer whales. And the 1 is always a better drive ... even if it is longer ... lol. So pretty!

Kathy said...

Gorgeous! And I am a huge fan of Susan Branch.

Ready Maid said...

PATTIE! What an AWESOME trip! I'm sitting in the Memphis airport, wishing I was on my way to the beautiful places you described.

Ever thought about travel writing?
:)

Scale Junkie said...

WOW what awesome photos, places I'd really love to see some day. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you.

jillytacy said...

It sounds and looks like you had a great trip! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and your experiences with us!

Midlife Mom said...

What a WONDERFUL trip! I've only been to CA a couple of times at conventions so didn't get to roam around like I would like to do so you took me along on your trip! Hope you didn't mind, I tried to be quiet in the back seat! heehee! Yes, I know who Susan Branch is and love her stuff! Your pictures are gorgeous thank you for sharing them with us all! Great to see the whale too!

Needled Mom said...

Pattie, it sounds as though you had the perfect trip. That is such a pretty area of California and your photos do justice to the beauty.