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Sunday, December 23, 2012

California Coast Road Trip - November 2012 - San Francisco to Monterey

Here's another installment from our late November 2012 California Coast road trip - this one covers the drive from San Francisco south to Monterey.

After four nights in San Francisco (scroll down for the previous posts), on Tuesday morning we loaded up the Santa Fe and headed south along the Coast Highway CA-1. Our destination for the evening was Monterey, about 125 miles away. We took most of the day to get there, and in our usual style, didn't all that early of a start anyway. Before we left San Francisco we made one more stop at the far western end of Golden Gate Park to check out the Dutch Windmill and the Bison Paddock (home to a small herd of bison from the San Francisco Zoo).

Our first stop on the road south was the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse, which at 115 feet tall is one of the tallest lighthouses in America, was opened in 1872. Up until about late December of 2001 you could climb the cast-iron interior spiral staircase to the landing at the top. This lighthouse is very similar to the ones that Heather and I climbed in Georgia and South Carolina earlier this year. We actually showed up here intending to check out the view from the top in early January of 2002 - only to find out we were about a week too late. A large portion of the brickwork cornice on the exterior of the tower had fallen off just a week or so before we got there, it was closed to visits, and has been ever since.

The first-order Fresnel lens is 16 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter, and weighs 2,000 pounds. Although this original Fresnel lens is no longer in use, the lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coastguard light station, using a more modern beacon they've stuck up on the top.

We stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz, and then continued south to Monterey, arriving at the hotel in the late afternoon. It was too late to go to the Aquarium, so we opted to check out the shoreline south of town. It had rained some during the day, but it was a beautiful evening. We got to Lovers Point State Marine Reserve a little after sunset. There was a great view out across Monterey Bay.

The moon was close to full as it rose up behind this seagull on the rocks.

Monterey Bay was calm in the early hours of Tuesday evening. It wasn't going to stay that way for long.

Later we wandered along Cannery Row looking for a light dinner. Heather spotted an Italian restaurant called Paradiso inside one of the hotels. The menu offered Sicilian style sardines and Sicilian squid salad, and of course I had to try them both. I'm generally leery of hotel restaurants, and I've found that not everyplace that says they have Sicilian style food really means it - but there weren't many places that looked better, so we gave it a try. The sardines had a tomato sauce with fennel and raisins - which sounded like something I would make. The squid was served with a very light dressing and bits of oranges. Both were quite good. My photo, on the other hand, is not so great, since I started to eat the sardines before I remembered to take a picture. It's a good thing I'm not a professional travel photographer - I would constantly have to be ordering extra dishes.

There really isn't all that much to do in Monterey. We walked around Cannery Row a bit after dinner - it was really quiet, being the middle of the week after Thanksgiving. It's mostly a bunch of tourist shops and not-so-great-looking restaurants. We could tell the weather was changing, so we headed back to the hotel for a relatively early evening. We knew Wednesday would be a long drive, even if it was only going to be at most 140 miles. We didn't have a hotel booked for Wednesday yet, we figured we would see how far we got. We were finally going to make the drive down the stretch of California coastline known as Big Sur.

Click here for more images from our drive from San Francisco to Monterey during our November 2012 California Coast Road Trip.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.