Saturday, September 24, 2011

Using Sunset Beach as a Hub for Other Activities

Every September for a quite a few years we have camped at Sunset Beach, just out of Watsonville, CA. We have found it a good "hub" for exploring other fun places. This year we did a Tuesday through Saturday escape. Our friend Ray joined with us camping for the 5 days, 4 nights. Several other friends came later in the week.

DAY 1 (Tue): Set up camp. Ate foil dinners. Tasty!

Day 2 (Wed): Went to the Santa Cruz County Fair in Watsonville with Ray. Turns out this is one of the better fairs in the area with more of the old-fashioned atmosphere of home-made food, antique farm implements and tools, farm animals, arts, crafts, horticulture displays, model railroad exhibit, free entertainment, face painting for the kids, arena shows, circus acts, and miscellaneous entertainment. The theme this year was "Dancing with the Steers." What a hoot! We even had a piece of olallieberry pie made with local berries. The entry price to all this was only $6. The weather was perfect. Hard to beat.

Day 3 (Thu): Julie and I used this day as our day to go to Carmel and Point Lobos. We didn't tour the mission this time. The fee is $10 per person. We have seen it before and felt it was too steep for the short time we would be there.

The Carmel Mission is famous for the view shown in this picture.

But I like this angle better because of the juxtaposition of the towers and roof lines.

Then we were on to Point Lobos State National Reserve, less than 10 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.

Here is an artist at Whaler's Cove, marked by a very rugged coast line. The cove itself (behind where I am standing) is used extensively by Scuba divers

This is near Devil's Cauldron, a very rugged jut of land out into the ocean where the water churns endlessly. Sea lions lounge on the rocky islands off to the right (out of the picture). Dolphins chase each other and leap and dive in the restless ocean. We got some video of the dolphins but too much to put on this blog. We will have to do as a second best photo; although we are not jumping and diving. (Or was that "dumping and jiving"?)

At Weston Beach we ate lunch. Oops! Eating not allowed in the reserve except at designated areas. Sorry, we didn't know that until after we finished eating. A docent clued us in that we had better scram quick before the ranger came by and saw our lunch papers. Before we left we took this picture of a crab out of it's habitat.

After Point Lobos, we strolled around in Carmel. Some guy came walking by and pointed out a hat shop to us (weird). Little did he know that Julie was looking for a hat for our trip to New England at the end of the month so we took him up on the idea. She bought this hat (shop in the background). She likes it except it is a bit plain, so after we got back she has been fixing it up to be a little more decorative. Our next blog entry (in October) will probably show it with some of her handiwork.

After buying the hat, we found a bunch of narrow alley typical of Carmel to walk through. This one goes back to the Thomas Kincade Gallery which was closed. Maybe Tom was taking a vacation. Cute little walkway though.

This is our obligatory stop at Carmel Beach. A couple of pictures included from there. Maybe you will recognize the area if you have been there before.

More Dolphins. This one is swimming around in the surf at Carmel.

While exploring Carmel earlier we ran across this place so we made a note to come back for dinner. Perhaps you have heard of the name.

As you walk down an alley toward the inn you come to this outdoor area down one flight of stairs. Notice the mural of Carmel Valley on the wall.

Inside, you find this hog's head; the namesake of the inn...

... and you find this picture of the namesake of the owner. He actually shows up about once a month we hear to check it out. We missed him this time around.

The food was just excellent. I had very tender center cut pork chops topped with apple chutney, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh cooked veggies.

Julie had melt-in-your-mouth rib eye steak, cheese potatoes and veggies. Some of the best food we ever had at a restaurant. We recommend it but save your pennies before going. Is this the way to camp at Sunset Beach, or what?

Oh well, the end of a perfect day...

But wait a minute... We didn't make it back to Sunset Beach that night. How about a stop at the Best Western Monterey Beach Resort, 3rd floor with a beach view? Beats tent camping just by a little bit.

Day 4 (Fri): When we got up the next morning there was a cruise shipped docked in Monterey Bay outside our window. Go ahead and click on the picture for a larger view.

We went for a walk. This is a view of the hotel from a rather deserted beach.

We actually did make it back to Sunset Beach later that day and went down to the water to check it out.

Pelicans doing a fly-by.

Our campsite at Sunset Beach. So you see, we actually did camp there. This is along toward sunset...

... so we hiked up to the top of a sand dune overlooking the ocean and snapped this beautiful sun setting into a fog bank lurking off the coast. Just gorgeous.

Day 5 (Sat): We had a group breakfast with about 25 ward members. Sorry... no pictures of that. We were so engrossed in eating a delicious fare of pancakes (homemade cherry and strawberry jam), bacon, eggs, milk and orange juice and talking with our friends we didn't get the camera out at all.


Kristen said...

LOVE this dad. Way to make me homesick for CA! Such a beautiful area!

Stefani said...

So much fun. I shoulda come with you to Monterey that day... why didn't I? I love all these places. And I love you guys!

Lindseys said...

I agree with Kris that it makes me homesick for CA. That was a really fun post. I liked the description of your day in Carmel and agree with your comment that it beats tent camping by just a little.

Donna said...

Beautiful pictures!

karensumpter said...

Did Mom write this post? With all the detailed descriptions of meals, I thought it was her. I guess she's rubbing off on you Dad...hee hee.

Janet said...

what a way to go camping... i'm coming with next time! it is such a beautiful area!