Still mainly on East Coast time, we awoke early in Monterey and explored the empty park at Lover’s Point just across the street from out hotel, The Lover’s Point Inn , and took a drive north up the coast in Pacific Grove, CA. It was strange that even in the early morning, most houses did not close their window coverings – everything was very wide open.
We then headed south along the coast to take a peek at the seals as we had heard they were still in pup season. The seals have a safe cove beach inside the secured area at Hopkins Marine Station (part of Stanford University). You can peek through the fence to get pretty close to the seals right near 1st Street and Ocean View Blvd.
There were some small pups learning how to battle the waves and scoot up the beach to higher ground as the tide was coming in.
We had confirmed with a local kayak rental place that we could rent a kayak out of the Coast Guard Pier the day before, but when we arrived at the rental office, it was closed due to staffing issues. Staving off disappointment, we contacted the rental place by phone and it turns out they have multiple branches and another one was within walking distance. We made our way over to the office, rented the kayak, grabbed some paddles and wet gear, and were swiftly pushed out over the break and into the Pacific Ocean. We were about a mile from the Coast Guard Pier, so we got to paddling and made it over shortly. Brooke had the time of her life once we were inside the marina area and got to see just how many sea lions were resting on the rocks and the pier (how many? not sure couldn’t count that many). On land, a group of sea lions on land is called a pod or colony, and in the water it is called a raft. We got to experience both.
The kayak was rented for the day, so we took our time moving up and down the pier and then further throughout marina and beyond. Sea lions sleeping, sea lions barking, sea lions swimming under our kayak, sea lions “sentries” making sure we weren’t too close were all part of our day. There were also a few sea otters throughout that were extremely playful.
After a couple of hours coasting up the pier, we decided to return the kayak and return to our trip south in California. The ocean break had definitely picked up since we had departed and we had a rocky return, but made it back only slightly soaked. Famished, we searched for somewhere local that we could get to go so that we could save time on the road. We landed at Compango’s Market and Deli . The massive sandwiches we ordered here were the best tasting I have ever had. We could have ordered one half of a sandwich and split it, but we both ordered full sandwiches, and the sandwiches won.
As we departed Monterey and headed south, we lamented that we were unable to fully take the Pacific Coast Highway, but were glad we had been able to do so on our family roadtrip last summer through California. In addition to the bridge falling out, mudslides and other road hazards closing the famous road for at least a year, even more recent news of massive mudslides put concern into any reasonable time line for the road reopening. This new to us route took us inland and through the valley, riddled with farms and vineyards. It was beautiful in its own way, especially compared to the flat landscape we were accustomed to in Florida.
We finally made a stop at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA a few hours later to dig through the many rocks looking for a moonstone.
Still surprised at the changing weather from inline to coastal, we were glad to have dressed in layers for the day. As we traveled south along the PCH from Cambria, we could help but notice Morro Rock jutting out from the ocean and decided to explore. We made our way out to main harbor and were surprised to encounter a sea otter raft (group of floating sea otters) with 15 or so otters. We hopped out and watched their playful interactions with each other and focused in on a mother and her pup, as the mother kept her baby afloat on top of her. By the time we left this area, a pretty large group of other observers had gathered.
From a further distance, Morro Rock (a 581 foot volcanic plug) looked to be inaccessible from land and almost its own island.
But, as we left the harbor and followed the road around Coleman Park, we quickly learned that it could be reached. We parked directly next to Morro Rock and first explored the attached beach. Aside from being extremely windy and cold, we also found a large number of starfish washed ashore as we explored.
We were also able to walk around the other side of Morro Rock and peer out into the Pacific Ocean. We could hear the calling of a whale, but never saw the whale rise above the water. Spent, we climbed back in the car and headed to our hotel in San Luis Obispo (SLO), a short drive away. We checked in, cleaned up and headed out to explore what was still open. We walked down Higuera Street and walked in many stores and restaurants.
As the night fully set in, we decided to venture outside this area and visit the famous Madonna Inn. This eclectic hotel has been a landmark feature in California for over 50 years. The opulence is overwhelming, but well worth exploring just the lobby, shops and restaurants. Even more interesting might have been staying here, as each room is unique.
We enjoyed some food and cocktails before deciding to call it a night after a long and exciting day!
This was Day 3 of our 8 night California Road Trip. Check out the rest of the trip!