Pinnacles! Monterey!! Morro Bay!!!

P i n n a c l e s

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my boyfriend Brian & I went on a lil roadtrip.

We drove up to Monterey and walked around Cannery Row until the sun went down. I don’t usually go to any pier near where I live, but on trips I don’t mind being touristy. Plus, there are a lot of small businesses that we visited.

View of Monterey Bay from the beach by Cannery Row.

They had up some holiday decorations, which I L O V E!

We stayed at Hotel 1110, a small, refurbished, modern boutique adults only hotel. The room was a perfect size for us for the one night. It has bamboo floors, 2 small closets, but no mini fridge. No one is at the desk after 9pm, so we were given a key to the front door to get in, if we chose to stay out later, but of course we did not.

I was excited about the electric fireplace, though I wasn’t awake to enjoy it for very long.

The shower has a shower head that moves up and down on a track and the track has 4 jets. I wasn’t going to bother taking a shower before our hike the next morning, but did just to use it. Should not have been as thrilling as it was.

I do want to give a shout out to the restaurant we went to that night. Abalonetti Bar & Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf. The hostess and our bartender/server were just so damned nice and the food was so incredible. Like, REALLY good. It was walking distance from our hotel, so I was free to drink my face off with wine without any worry about driving. Highly recommend.

On Thanksgiving, we went to Pinnacles National Park. We picked the Old Pinnacles Trail to Balconies Cave. We entered via the East entrance. It wasn’t terribly busy that day, which was a plus. The weather was perfect. One thing to know, however, is the shuttle does NOT go to the Old Pinnacles Trail. We were told the shuttle will take us to the hikes, but it only goes to Bear Gulch. The park employee we first encountered when trying to park at High Peaks didn’t mention that, so it did add a lot of walking for us. The shuttle driver did have mercy on us after we mentioned where we wanted to go, and dropped us off near it. So, if you go, tell them you are going to Old Pinnacles trail, not Bear Gulch as they were having people take the shuttle based on parking availability at Bear Gulch.

The hike was mostly flat, which I prefer, and there were a lot of trees. When we got near the cave, there were a bunch of rocks we were going to have to climb & the temperature went down quite a bit. We were prepared with flashlights and sweaters to go through the cave, but I ended up not being that into it. We continued to walk up Old Pinnacles trail for a bit to find a place to sit and eat our sandwich. No condor sightings at all, but that’s okay. It just means we will have to go on a few more adventures to try to see some.

Since there was no shuttle back to the parking lot, we had an additional 2.4 miles to walk to the Pinnacles campground and then a bit more to the parking area. The whole thing was 9.3 miles. Fortunately, I had taped up my feet well and made it through the hike relatively unscathed. The parking / shuttle debacle did cost us a few hours, so that did affect our evening plans. I did read that the park has a shuttle, but am unsure if the shuttle always is like that or if it is a seasonal or holiday schedule, but be sure to plan ahead. My hiking limit is usually about 6 miles, so my legs were in some pain for a few days afterwards, but absolutely worth it!

We drove to Morro Bay after our hike but were too exhausted to go out once we got situated into our hotel room. I have been to Morro Bay many times, but always linger around the actual bay part. The last time we went up there, we enjoyed the Elfin Forest. This time, we walked around the shops. The owner of one of the shops mentioned an area that might have lots of Monarch butterflies. This is the season to see them and there are more of them than there has been in years. We went to Black Hill Trail by the golf course. She mentioned Eucalyptus trees, but we didn’t see any at the trailhead, bu thought maybe there were some up the hill.

The trail to the top is only about 1/4 of a mile and has a gorgeous view. We were delighted we did this small walk, despite it not being the one with Monarchs.

I looked on the map for any other nearby places that have butterflies and there is one nearby in Los Osos, so we headed out. As we were leaving, we noticed the Eucalyptus trees the shop owner mentioned for butterfly sightings, but went on our way.

No Monarch sightings at the Monarch Butterfly Preserve either, but it smelled amazing and was a lovely trail. Notice the horse between the trees.

We didn’t have time to go all the way to the coast on this trail , but are planning on returning another day to spend more time there. The Preserve starts at the end of a residential area, so don’t worry! You are in the right place!

-Jenn

Zion

Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

A few years ago, I won a contest to Zion from A to Zion. Since the server this blog was on was not working, I never did finish posting about the trip.

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Brian’s and my flight was delayed from Denver, so unfortunately, we lost a few hours on our first day in Zion. The shuttle from the airport costs way more than renting a car, so Brian and I opted for the wheels from Alamo. St. George has a nice and small airport so finding the car rental was a cinch.

I have a fascination with aviation arrows and knew there were some around St. George. Though I had a map printed out, we were unable to find the first arrow. We weren’t sure if the land was private or not and didn’t want to risk trespassing. Also, it was really hot out, so we postponed that search so we can get to our hotel, Flanigan’s Inn, in Springdale.

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The view from our hotel, Flanigan’s Inn.

I cannot say enough nice things about this place. The staff was extremely nice. The room was lovely, clean and comfortable with a balcony that had an out of this world view. AND. . . it is the closest hotel to the entrance of Zion National Park. They were kind enough to leave me this lovely note and gifts. IMG_1777.JPG

 

We threw down our luggage and got right into our hiking clothes to hike Emerald Pools, since it is an easy hike.

I have been to Red and Bryce Canyons, but Zion quickly rose to the top for me. The deep red and browns, with perfect fluffy clouds made for an almost out-of-body experience. It felt like a nature-Disneyland. So beautiful, that I had wished the sun would not go down. Utah, for the win.

On the hike, there was a little girl that kept clapping her hands together, yelling at her Dad, “CHOP CHOP!” Pretty funny. Then we passed a gaggle of girls that were all talking at the same time, with not one actually listening to the others. I don’t miss being that young. Then we got to the waterfall! Everyone loves a waterfall!!!

For dinner, we went to the Spotted Dog at Flanigan’s Inn, which I definitely recommend. The dinner was outstanding. They played Nora Jones, so she will forever be associated with that pleasant evening. I really like getting stuff for free and the dinner was included in my winnings.

The next morning, I woke up very early so I could walk up to the labyrinth to see the sunrise. Yes. Flanigan’s Inn has a labyrinth!!! I went up alone and enjoyed the silence as the sun arose. (Their labyrinth is flat on the ground and not like “The Shining.”) I spent quite a while there since I knew there was NO way Brian was going to be awake yet. Then I had to walk down. It is not a tall hill, by any means, but when I realized that snakes like sunrise, too, it became the longest walk ever. No snake sightings, though. I have never actually seen a rattle snake in the wild and am hoping to keep it that way.

 

We fit in two hikes that Tuesday. Neither required a permit and were both fairly easy and not too lengthy. Per weather.gov, I knew it was going to rain, so we hoped to get the hikes in before it was to start in the later afternoon.

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The first one we did was Weeping Rock. Gorgeous, with water seeping out of the rocks above. GORGEOUS!

 

The second was the Riverside Walk, which is a very simple walk that leads to the Narrows. As we were walking, the sky made it clear that it was ready to spout upon all of the hikers. Parks are always extremely clear about dangers within and Zion was sure to have warnings about lightning and flash floods. So, when we found ourselves right by a river with no safe cover when the torrential rain began to pour, I may have been a bit panicky. We started to walk back quickly as the drizzle began, and I kept believing we wouldn’t get wet, but, as I became more and more drenched, it became more and more fun. We were in hiking clothes so who cares how soaked we got? It was exhilarating and romantic. Also, cold. Wet clothes can definitely get cold.

 

We snagged a shuttle back to the entrance, where we had tickets to see a movie about Zion.

The movie was weird. Just weird. It was a story about the evolution of people dwellers in Zion and hmm. Sure. So, when that was done, we got massages, available at Flanigan’s Inn, which is always a nice perk. The rain had finally stopped, so we thought we were good for the evening.

We had the rental car, but I made us take the shuttle for the fun of it. So, when we first checked in, the front desk told us about the shuttles to/from the rest of the town (on Zion Park Blvd.), and also the ones that are within Zion. I did not remember when the last shuttle back to the hotel was, which proved to be an unfortunate mistake later. Slight foreshadowing: We went to a store across the street and randomly bought water/hiking shoes before we hopped on the shuttle.

Brian and I perused the stores until we needed food. For that, we chose pizza and noodles at The Flying Monkey and sat outside. At a metal table. As we ate, it began to rain again. I got my first ever picture of lightning. I probably took 800 pictures until I got it. We enjoyed the rain and our pizza as we gazed into the street, watching a shuttle go by and thinking nothing of it.

Dinner was finished and the rain was coming down so hard it was kind of opaque. We dashed across the street to the covered shuttle area and waited. And waited. And waited. We called Flanigan’s to ask when the last one would come. Oh, shit. The last shuttle left at 9. The shuttle we watched while eating. Neither of us had paid any attention to how far away our hotel was and it was dark and really stormy. I have no explanation why I did not just look at a map on my phone. I can’t remember if I had reception issues. Let’s go with that. Funny how my mind works. We went to a bar, Wildcat Willie’s, to try to wait out the rain. I ran into the store next door to buy some safety items to get back, like a flash light, ponchos and a bright orange bag so we would be visible to cars. AND.. we had those new SHOES! After I purchased everything, I mention to the store clerk, Spencer, how derp we were and he said if we waited until he was finished closing the store, he would take us back to the hotel. AND THAT is why I love smaller towns. So, Brian and I wait him out with some wine, beer and chips, buying a brownie for Spencer as our thank you. Finally, I go to Google to find out how far away our hotel is…. When Spencer was done, we hopped into his car and arrived at our hotel in less than 5 minutes. But, at least we have a cool bright orange bag that we now bring with us on every trip. The most important thing in it now is the wine opener.

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My first ever photo of lightning.

 

 

-Jenn