|Bixby Bridge, Big Sur|
When we were having trouble deciding on a California vacation spot with my wife's family, I threw out Monterey as a possibility. I've never been to Monterey, but between the allure of seeing Big Sur and Steinbeck and Kerouac's old haunts, and the desire to balance the various family requirements (not too cold, not too hot, enough to do, not too much to do...), I thought it might be a potential. I'm not sure if they agreed, or whether it was simply the path of least resistance, but the die was cast and off we went.
Vacationing with 6 adults and two small children was an exercise in logistics and managed expectations. It was great to see everyone, even if it sometimes felt like we were all moving in asynchronous orbits within the same space. The demands (and naps) of our miniature overlords are as numerous as their spurned wrath is thunderous. That being said, the time we and our far-flung family had to spend together was invaluable.
Our rental house in Pebble Beach had commanding views over coastal forests and a vast sweep of the Pacific Ocean. It would be the first of many "how the other half lives" moments in the Monterey areas. Pebble Beach is the great granddaddy of gated communities, and surrounds several of the more prestigious golf courses in the country along the rocky coast (none of us play golf). It's also known for its 17 Mile Drive, a scenic coastal loop road that the common folk have to pay for the privilege of enjoying. The drive on the Drive was pretty enough to make it worthwhile, but less for the views of rich excess, and more for the seascapes. What struck me was the density and diversity of wildflowers throughout the region. The area was like some high-achieving offspring of some unnatural coupling of Thomas Kincade and Winslow Homer. Vignettes of stormy (but not too depressingly dark) seas, and wildflower strewn (but not too cheesy/pastel) landscapes.
The high points of the trip for me, other than the family time, were our too-brief jaunts out to Point Lobos and a drive through Big Sur. We were limited on time in both cases, but I enjoyed the chance to explore the rugged coastal areas without the tourist trappings/wealth pollution of Monterey/Carmel/Pebble Beach. My wife and I even got some much needed alone time on our Big Sur drive, thanks to babysitting grandparents.
|Pacific Ocean at Sunset, Pebble Beach|
|Wildflowers and Cottage, 17 Mile Drive|
|17 Mile Drive Beach|
|Seaweed on Rocks, 17 Mile Drive|
|Golf Course Cypresses, 17 Mile Drive|
|Clouded Forests, 17 Mile Drive|