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!


Venturing Into The Vortex

If I had gotten a T-shirt as a souvenir from our trip to Sedona it would read, “I went to Sedona and all I got was this lousy T-shirt, oh, and lost in the vortex.” Not that there is anything lousy about Sedona, Az., in fact it is absolutely stunning and mystical in nature, we were just hoping to absorb some of that mystical energy ourselves, instead we got lost. But can you truly be lost when you know where you are? See how this city can play with your mind?  More about that later, first we had to check-in to a hotel and fuel up for the night.

Room with a view!

Once again we arrived without any reservations and were treated to a vacancy at Wildflower Inn whose sign out front boasted, “Best Views,” and it was no false brag. We were treated to a room with quite a view.

It was early evening when we got to Sedona so dinnertime beckoned.  Our next discovery we were treated to was The Silver Saddle Room’s menu at the Cowboy Club. Prickly pear is a local ingredient well utilized in both their margaritas as well as the dipping sauce that accompanies the must-have unique appetizer nopalitos cactus fries. Three words: nom nom nom!

Perfectly prickly

The next morning we headed to Bell Rock, the majestic red formation looming just outside our hotel window, for a hike and to encounter one of these infamous vortexes we’d heard about.  I’m all about energy and any additional good vibes are most welcome.  Touted as well marked we entered the park and began our trek on the trail, feeling just a rush of this anticipated energy.  The beauty is overwhelming and that alone is enough to give you a buzz, but we were determined to ingest more. We passed purple and green cactus and a remote stream along the way. We soon found ourselves on the backside of the rock, but yet to feel anything that would create a tingle or even raise the hair on our arms.  We forged on. And on. And on. And seemed to be further out in this path that circled and should, according to the map, return us to the starting point.  If we continued on we should simply arrive at the place where we started, so we did, but only continued to feel more distant.  We passed others along the way and could even see some folks scaling the rock itself, so we weren’t alone on this adventure, but we were getting tired and a bit frustrated. We weren’t lost exactly, the rock was still right there, we could freaking see it, but somehow getting to the other side seemed impossible. We found signs on this well marked trail, several in fact, and they started to contradict each other, pointing us back to where we had just come from, and after over two hours to get to where we were, we weren’t going back, so we went forward, it seemed to be the sensible route.  Finally we found ourselves scaling the rock itself, just like the others, but with no end in sight, even though we knew there had to be a way around, let alone the front side where we had started.  Perhaps we had encountered the vortex after all, we were just lost in it! The energy had taken its effect but so had our patience. We might not be able to see the path that led to the end but what we did see was the road off to our right. The same road which led to the entrance and lot where our car was parked. What survival skills I did have told me to head for the pavement, so we did. We scaled back down the side and eventually opted for the white lines along the highway to lead us back.

But we weren’t done. Jenn was not going to leave this other than place without anything other than encountering the vortex itself.  So after we regrouped and rehydrated with some water at the car we went back in.  With map firmly in hand we found the vortex. Turns out we had already been by it, so this time we stood our ground on this sacred ground and summoned it with all our might.  Can’t say we really felt it though, or what we thought we would feel, but we were in it and it had affected this journey one way or another, maybe just not how we expected.  But isn’t that the case with the unknown?

What I did know was that we had gotten in a heck of a workout and it was time to leave the vibes behind us and fuel up on some food.  Next stop was Javelina Cantina to store up on some Southwest fare and a toast to our survival.






Video in the vortex!



Roaring it up in Big Bear

Big Bear was the next big stop on our trip.  Jenn, the savvy one (I lean towards sassy) found an online deal and scored a weekend at a bed and breakfast in this lovely lakeside location.  We arrived during dusk, just in time for happy hour as our gracious hosts checked us in and poured us each a glass of wine to celebrate our arrival at The Inn at Fawnskin.  What’s not to like?   The charming log cabin home was the perfect place to settle down for the weekend and even has a teepee.  We stuck with the home and the benefits of indoor heating and plumbing as well as a DVD collection to play on your room’s TV. I can only rough it so much. (We attempted to view Strange Days later that evening after a night on the town but it only seemed stranger a decade-plus since its release so we switched to late night talk shows instead.)

Facing dinnertime, our innkeepers recommended a number of local hot spots and we shipped ourselves off to The Captains Anchorage known for its “fine dining and cocktails since 1947” and a friendly ghost named George.  Sadly George was playing shy and didn’t make an appearance that evening so we made our way to the salad bar before digging into that fine food.  After dinner we headed into the bar for a nightcap and chat with the bartender in their Andy Devine Room.


The next morning we were greeted by a gourmet breakfast and a get-to-know-you session with our fellow guests seated around the dining room table.  This was a far cry from the usual granola bar Jenn and I grab while on the road and eat in the car.  We learned that innkeeper Nancy was a professional jazz singer and performer and soon realized it was her delightful voice filling the room from the speakers as innkeeper Bill beamed when asked if that was indeed her. There are several things I enjoy about men but nothing more than when one lights up about his lady.  He informed us we could even pick up a copy in their gift shop. Gotta love an honest plug. I would have continued to inquire about her career had it not been for soon discovering more about the woman seated across from me. She and her husband were in town to enjoy some antique shopping and oh, by the way she used to be a writer for The Love Boat. Hold the presses! Stop the jazz CD! Say what?!  I wanted; no I needed to know about all things Love Boat. Working for television icon Aaron Spelling, the coochie coo guest appearances by Charo and the behind the scenes stories about Captain Stubing, Julie, Doc, Isaac and Gopher.  I think I surprised her, and myself, along with the rest of the table, with my sudden obsession as I steered the conversation strictly to the fictional antics of the high seas that highlighted TV during the 70’s and early 80’s.

I worked out my excitement after breakfast when Jenn and I hiked Castle Rock Trail. Then it was time for some bear sightings. No real ones on this trip but they had every other kind from carved to quilted all around the town. We even captured this video of a bear carver in his natural habitat.

We walked around the lake and stopped into an ice cream parlor for some frozen treats. To her utter delight (which bananas is number one on that list for those who don’t know) Jenn not only was treated to a banana but a chocolate dipped one at that. Double the pleasure.

That evening we indulged in some divine Indian food at Himalayan Restaurant recommended by a fellow guest then hit the town to try our hand, yet again, at pool at Chad’s Place. We did better posing than fulfilling our pool shark ambition. The next morning we went for a jog and some photo ops before another sit-down breakfast, although sadly The Love Boat writer had set sail and was not there to discuss the made-for-TV movies of the show I was looking forward to. Pretty soon it was time to pack and set sail ourselves… onto our next stop.


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