2001: Northern California

Carmel and Monterey


Carmel River Park.

For our first venture in the new trailer, we chose territory close to home -- Carmel and the Monterey peninsula.We settled into the nicely wooded, if crowded, Carmel River Park only a few miles east of downtown Carmel and the beach. Mike got to practice his "backing-up" skills -- a lot -- and we celebrated our first bivouac.

We did a little shopping in Carmel and visited my favorite breakfast cottage, the Tuck Box, for their terrific scones; but mostly we drove around and enjoyed the fabulous scenery. I was attracted to the unusual Pride of Madera plants that grow all over Carmel, and we made a brief visit to the pretty Carmel beach. While visiting Monterey, we solved one of our traveling problems by popping into the local Kinko's for an internet connection.

The Tuck Box. Pride of Madera. Carmel beach.

We spent a day of on-again, off-again showers driving along the California Coast near Big Sur, where we were treated to gorgeous, if chilly, vistas. It was a relaxing day of beachcombing, cruising above the rocky coastline, and frustrating other drivers with our lolly-gagging.

One of the most incredible sights I saw was a surfer -- no lie -- doggedly paddling through the surly waves in the 50-degree water.

Mike-on-the-rocks. An awesome bridge. Seals beach-napping.

Well-concealed in an otherwise uninspiring and scrubby landscape near Salinas, California, Pinnacles National Monument is a puzzling and delightful jumble of rocks. Here hikers can take a liesurely stroll in the flat valley, savor the coolness of a tree-lined stream, clamber among boulders tumbled willy-nilly like fallen Legos, or test their mettle with a stiff climb to the -- what else -- Pinnacles! Vultures and hawks soar over the rugged ridges, while songbirds brighten the meadow.

Unfortunately, this was our last exploration on our maiden voyage. We were parked in our next campground, fast asleep, when a car rolled into our trailer! It was homeward bound for repairs -- after only five nights out!