Carmel – Big Sur

We visited Oxford’s manager in Monterey last weekend. They played perfect hosts, and we had a great time with their 5 smart dogs (who helped in taking away my fear a little), 5 chickens and ofcourse them. 🙂

They drove us over to the famous Nepenthe for supper. We had heard a lot of it and hence expected accordingly, so were surprised seeing the small menu (I know that is irrelevant but there were just about 5 dishes in every category). But the food was good, I was so full having just the huge prawn burger.

The CA 1 S highway stretch from Seaside-Carmel-BigSur is amazing, it has spectacular views and we were bowled over, so dreamy and we wished we owned a house there. Our first stop was the Point Lobos State Reserve. It has many things to do/see, we chose trails to the China cove and the Whalers cove.

It is a steal, every worth of the $10. Anybody would love to walk by the trails along the pacific coast, the blue green clear water, crashing waves at the variety of rocks, the wind, the fog, oh god, time stood still and I was amazed at the sheer beauty of nature. Some people were even scuba diving, how cool.

I was disappointed that it was not a right time for whale watching, and guess what, you can actually see the whales with their calves in the month of April/May. I got all wide-eyed when I heard it, imagine seeing the huge whales in their natural habitat. I’m so waiting for the Dec-May period when they migrate here. Anyway, we spotted sea lions, sea otters, sea gulls, and some other birds.

Next we headed to McWay falls, an 80 ft waterfall which flows year round and empties directly into the ocean (spot it in the center in the below picture). We caught a foggy glimpse of the Bixby bridge on the way, but were lucky to catch a clearer view on the way back. It was simply beautiful either way.

It seems many celebrities hog these places and it is very likely you will find them around you. I’ll leave you with some more clicks of the wonderful beaches. I just can’t have enough of them. Also there was this person with a guitar singing his way to happiness near the bridge, that was very pleasant. I wondered if I could capture the sounds along with the pictures, the music of nature. 🙂

End of the Trip

We still had some places to visit before we could call off the vacation, so firstly had a fulfilling breakfast buffet at the Mountainside Grill leaving no room for lunch, so we had enough strength to explore. 🙂 The potato salad was so good.

Our first destination was Bodie Ghost town, the name itself was intriguing. We stopped at Mono Basin visitor center to learn more of the lake, the tufas and its salt content etc.

Then we were on our way to the ghost town, which was pretty far and some part of the road was patchy too, but were simply beautiful. I must include those road pics.

Finally reached the town, and it was so interesting. We spent more than an hour looking around, its history is amazing, do read more here. In short, gold was discovered here in the 18th century, and after the boom, came the decline. People left their houses, vehicles, business etc as is and fled, making it deserted and hence the name.

Then we came across one of my favorite places, the meadows. We stopped at one of the bigger ones, the Tuolumne meadows, which was so dreamy. There was a spot for the soda springs, then the river, the serenity, and ofcourse the deers. I’ll better let the pictures do the talking.

Next we passed through the awesome Tioga Pass road, the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. We made stops at Olmsted point which gave a new view of the Half Dome and then the lovely Tenaya lake.

And with that, we bid adieu to Yosemite and reached home sweet home very tired by night and only the spicy hot chicken curry with plain rice could rejuvenate us. 😛

Day 3 at the Mammoth

This place had compulsory shuttle services which was in a way better as we could relax during travel. We started with a hike to the amazing Devils PostPile national monument which is a natural volcanic formation of basalt, and also saw the natural soda springs (notice the redness underneath due to iron) there. The weather was super hot, so much that we suffered nose bleeding. We gave the Rainbow falls a miss and went further up to a cafe for a fullsome lunch.

Then we went on the scenic Gondola over the Mammoth mountain, and spent some nice time at an elevation of 11,053 feet. There were people cycling all over there which was fun to watch.

Next destination was the Convict lake, which was great. We were tired of rushing here and there till then and chilled for atleast an hour watching the sunset. It was so serene.

Phew! We then rushed to see the Hot Creek Hatchery before it is closed for the day. It was cool watching natural smoking hot blue water springs (notice the smoke). Itseems they provide ideal temperatures for incubation of trout eggs.

Lastly caught the almost setting sun at the Mono lake and ended the day with a lovely dinner at the LakeFront restaurant. I absolutely loved the Tomato Basil soup, must try to recreate it at home.

Yosemite Day 2

I was feeling better the next day and we first went on a small 0.5 mile round trip hike to the nearby lower Yosemite falls, this was completely dried up but we just climbed the rocks and it was very pleasant early in the morning.

Then we freshened up and went on one of the tiring hikes to the Vernal falls, which further goes up to Nevada falls and then over to the magnificent Half Dome, a total of 14.2 miles. We had no great hopes to climb the Dome and were satisfied with the Vernal of 3 miles, which in itself was tiring for me but it felt amazing when we reached the top, where we just chilled out enjoying the peaceful and beautiful nature surrounding us.

The hike down was much easier and we caught a shuttle back to the hotel but my spirits were running high and when I heard the shuttle driver say there was a short 0.5 mile hike nearby to the Mirror lake, I told oxford lets go. But it was not a great idea. The path we followed was full of horse shit, which we mistook to be a bear’s and were scared it is nearby. 😀 And the lake was dried up too, we just saw a new view of the Dome. We were back on the shuttle soon and my husband so wanted to see the 5-star Ahwahnee hotel on the way, so we again got down. Our race against time was to catch the sunset at Glaciers point.

I’m glad we could drive and visit the Glaciers point which is at an elevation of 7,214 ft. It provides awesome views of the Dome and the Valley. Mountain sickness stuck me again but we so wanted to be there. We could not wait to catch the sunset though as we had a 2 hour drive back to Mammoth Hills. I slept through the return journey and poor oxford had to manage the GPS and also drive on the narrow lanes of the mountains for a long time before we reached our destination at 10 in the night.

Yosemite Trip

Oxford (the husband) was just back from his Boston Trip and a new long weekend lay ahead. We wanted to laze around on the beaches of Big Sur but decided against it as it is just 3 hours away and we wanted to go on a 5-6 hr away road trip for 4 whole days. And Yosemite it was.

Curry Village is one the best places to stay in Yosemite for a camp like experience in the midst of the forest but as expected it was full, but we got lucky when there was one cancellation for one night. So we booked it immediately BUT there is this hantavirus alert on, and we were skeptical and cancelled it. But got another great booking at Yosemite Lodge very close to one of the waterfalls.

I love packing food and stuff for the trip and my husband loves the detailed planning of the trip. We were all set and started early morning and reached at around 12, headed straight to BridalVeil Falls first where the fall was dried up and we just climbed the rocks to the small pool at the foot of the lake, also encountered the Tunnel View on the way which provided a good view of the magnificent Half Dome. Then we visited the huge Mariposa Grove with lots of redwood trees and hiked almost all the way but were so tired at the end that we had to take a tram back. Thank god for that. There is this huge, supposedly 1800 yr old huge tree named Grizzly giant and many more who have survived what not and still stand tall.

Summer was not such a bad season to visit because we could atleast see almost everything, many places like the beautiful Glacier point are closed for winters. But ofcourse June/July would have been perfect when there is water in the falls.

We chilled at the lovely lodge that evening and I so wanted to see a bear whose warnings were pasted all over the area but no luck. I realized I had mountain sickness and all thanks to Saridon I was fine later.

And that was all for Day 1. To be continued. 🙂