This post has been in my “draft” folder for weeks. Thought I’d get around to posting this trip and its pics.
A few weekends ago I had four days off. An Advanced Cardiac Life Support class, in San Jose, tied up one day. Still, it was an opportunity to play. Packed up the truck, grabbed the maps and headed out.
Called up an old friend, who I thought may be in the area for the holidays. Bingo! John met me in PINNACLES NATIONAL MONUMENT. We met a long time ago, when I moved to Boulder from MN 1n 1998.
Where does time go?
To get to Pinnacles I took the long way. I veered west from San Jose to the coast and spent the night and AM in the Santa Cruz/Capitola area. Camped at a New brighton State Beach. Caught a sunset over the ocean, which was the magic I needed to ease my cluttered head. (Lots of work stress on my shoulders.)
See the boat?
CAPITOLA: Coffee and the newspaper on a bench with this view:
Lush plants along the street:
Found this little beach just north of Monterrey, Zmudowski State Beach:
Finally learned the name of this plant. It’s called the HOTTENTOT Fig, a succulent plant also called “ice plant.” It coveres the grounds everywhere, reminding me of the way the Snow on the Mountain plantings took over my parent’s yard once upon a time. Can turn a rusty orange in spots, pretty, controls erosion. Likes sandy soil.
An artichoke field:
Zoomed around Monterrey, stopped at Point Lobos, a new favorite park of mine. Point Lobos is known for extensive kelp forests and being home to one of two only wild cypress groves. The ocean floor also drops dramatically, very close to shore, making it a hotbed for marine life. Divers love it from what I hear. Only 5 miles in size, it’s a tiny treasure I must explore more. That’s another trip…
The rocks where the water meets land are almost extra-terrestial in looks I think, conglomerate in nature.
Turned east at Carmel-By-the-Sea and headed up Carmel Valley Road. Always fun turning onto roads, knowing it will get you to point B but not have any clue what the drive will be like. Passed by oodles of multi-million dollar estates, frou-frou-chi-chi shops. Left all that behind and found a pleasant road which rolled through a valley, treed river bed on my right, picturesque hills on the left. Was a slow 30+ miles, the kind of slow I apreciate.
See the snow on the peaks far beyond?
Leftover fall leaves:
This farm had it’s vintage tractors, at the end of the driveway, all gussied up for the holidays.
Found John at the park. Was cold and raining. We laughed and figured we’d end up hiking with no climbing in sight. John’s dog, Thimble, a sweet old girl (met her 10 years ago, as well) gives her opinion of the rain:
Woke the next day to a rain-free sky. It was wet, though. Headed to the rocks late in the AM, hoping things would dry. Rock was a volcanic conglomerate that, frankly, made me glad to not be leading (farther to fall if a hold should break). Managed two climbs, the first much harder than expected. Left knee was pretty ouchy at times (still recovering from the knife in Aug.) Made me whimper like a baby, actually. Second was more vertical, less steep, left knee much happier.
Second climb summit pic. Rain was starting and we were hustling down:
Despite the rain, the hiking here is unusual and fun. One of the trails leads the hiker under boulders, another through cave-like caverns. Headlamps were needed. It was unique!
Slinking through a tight spot:
John headed into a “cave”:
Heading into the dark-deep (made me think of the ring trilogy, which I’m still working on).
Exiting the caves, up the narrow steps to a killer view (no pic, though).
Was a great trip, reconneced with an old friend, climbed after a 6 month hiatus, visited a great little National Park (in off-season, all the better). Returned to work the next day, my final week before ending that contract.
One thing I’ll take away from this traveling nurse experience is how much I apreciate road trips for their theraputic value, calming and yet rejuvinating me.