We decided to be weekend warriors on Easter Weekend and braved the 5 1/2 hours (from San Gabriel Valley) to Monterey Peninsula. We started our day at 4:30 a.m. We took Highway 101 towards Morro Bay. The drive was easy and the view of the Pacific Ocean was magnificent. We passed by Pismo Beach and other beach cities. We decided to stop by Santa Maria to grab some coffee at around 7:30 a.m. By around 8:00 a.m. we were already in Morro Bay. We headed towards Giovanni's Seafood Restaurant where we had some photo opportunity around Morro Bay Pier and the Morro Rock. A group of fishing hobbyist were there and they caught a mantra ray (i think). We took some pictures around Morro Rock. Morro Rock is a large extinct volcano located a few hundred feet off the shore of Morro Bay, California along the California coast (Source: Wikipedia)
Our next stop was San Simeon, CA. We went on the 9:50 a.m. Experience tour of Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle is the palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It is located near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean (Source: Wikipedia). We were awed by how big the ranch is. On the way to the Castle via the Hearst Castle bus, we saw a rooster and a deer. According to our tour guide the ranch used to house the world's largest private zoo and there are still animals around the ranch that were decendants from the animals on the zoo. William Randolph Hearst took inspiration from his travel in Europe as a child, with the help of architect Julia Morgan (who they said was the first female to graduate with a degree in architecture in Paris) who executed his dream. By the time we got back to the visitor center it was almost 12 noon and we were hungry . We decided to take a quick (small meal) bite at the Camp Hill Grill prior to the National Geographic feature movie (which was included in the tour) which was about to start in 20 minutes.
After the Hearst Castle tour, we went to visit the Elephant Seals... again for another photo opportunity. April was the molting season. We saw a few pups sleeping... a few chipmunks.
Not knowing that our next drive will be a grueling 122 miles of two lane road poised high above the Pacific Ocean we braved the CA-1/Big Sur highway for almost 3 hours. We stopped at Ragged Point Inn where we thought we can find more than a sandwich but decided not to get any since we ate the same thing at Camp Hill back at Hearst Castle. At this time, we weren't expecting that it would be 3 hours drive to Carmel/Pebble Beach where we were planning to have our next meal, so we forego Ragged Point Inn. (by the way, this highway was featured as one of the scarier road in USA.)
We had to stop for gas in Carmel where the nice guy manning the Chevron Gas station showed us the way to 17 mile drive off Pebble Beach.
By this time it was already 4p.m. We started the 17 mile Drive at the Gate of Pebble Beach. I think we paid $9 and some change for the entrance fee. There are 20 points of interest along the 17 mile drive. We did not stop on everything. 3 are Golf Courses along the route - Spy Glass, poppy hills and I forgot the name of the other one. (I'll remember once I get the guide that they gave us when we entered the gate.) First stop was Sheppard's Knoll, which supposed to give you a grand view of Monterey Bay (instead we saw a lot of trees.) We still took some pictures. Next was the Huckleberry Hills, again saw bushes/trees. We drove by Poppy Hills Course and the Inns and Links at Spanish Bay. Our next stop was Spanish Bay where a scenic picnic stopped awaited us. Too bad we didn't bring picnic food with us. It was windy so we took some pictures and off to our next stop -- Point Joe and Restless Sea. Here you'll see big waves and turbulence on the sea. Our next stop was China Rock where we saw a photo opportunity and took a lot of pictures on top of the China Rock. (named in honor of the chinese settlers) Some of the points of interest were closed so our next stop was the famous Lone Cypress Tree. There we took some pictures with the tree (which was trademarked by the Pebble Beach Company). We also noticed that the tree had a harness to keep it standing. We saw two cute chipmunks eating bisquit (well, we fed them) so we took more pictures of them than the Lone Cypress Tree. Then more tree... Ghost Tree - with a trunk bleached white because of the wind and the salt sea. Our last stop was the Lodge at pebble Beach. We saw the market place and had picnic benches so we decided to order food inside. I had their blueberry cheesecake and it was so good...
At 6p.m. we decided to head to our Hotel in Monterey. He stayed at Monterey Inn which was a nice non- smoking (thank god!) hotel for its price. We had an oversized room with 2 queen bed.
After settling in the room, we decided to go to the Cannery Row. We took more pictures and had dinner at Willy's Smokehouse and Grill. We ordered to their Willy's BBQ Bonanza (which they said was good for 3-4 but was good for 6 people.) We finished it anyway.
We were tired and freezing so we headed back to our Hotel and rested.... nite nite!