Day Thirty Seven: A Series of Interesting Events : California (Big Sur, Carmel)

(Events of Tuesday, April 21st, blogged Friday, April 24th)

The morning was foggy and gray, but that seemed to fit rather perfectly with the crashing surf and craggy rocks. So Annie and I made one last tour around the campsite beach, had a hot breakfast, and got an early start on our explorings, which was perfect as we basically has the highway and the overlooks to ourselves. Heaven.

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We drove over the iconic Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world, and kind of a symbol of the Big Sur coastal highway.

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A little further on we pulled in to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This is where I had originally intended to camp the night before. Lucky thing I didn’t press on with those plans, as all the camping signs had big red X marks on them. OK, so. The park had a sign that there was a $10 entry fee for day use. Now all I planned to do was take a quick, 45 minute hike down one trail with Annie. That hardly seemed worth ten smackers. And there wasn’t a ranger on duty, it was self-pay. So I decided to be a little bad ass (or criminal, take your pick) and ignore the fee station.

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And then, when I started toward the trails with Annie, I saw that they were all marked “No Dogs”. And I remembered the woman at the campsite last night telling me that it was a California State Park rule not to allow dogs on trails. Which I found ridiculous as every other state park I have been in welcomed dogs. And the reasons listed were “dog waste unpleasant for other visitors” (MAKE PEOPLE PICK IT UP!) and “dog smells will drive away wildlife” (which, I get, but I’m pretty sure all the people on the trail do the same thing. Plus I can have Annie stinking up the parking lot a few feet away. Plus I’m basically covered in her odor most of the time.) So, seeing as I already knew the ranger wasn’t around, we decide to take this outlaw thing a bit further. Now this next bit may be TMI, but Annie usually only poops twice a day, first thing in the morning and in the evening. Maybe an hour and a half ago this task had been executed and in no small manner. So I didn’t think I needed to scrounge up a poop bag. You can guess what happens next. Fifteen minutes into the walk, not far from the parking lot and ranger station, Annie heeds the call of nature. Perhaps making a statement to the California State Park System. Luckily it was in some tall grass, so we move on. We go a bit further, and come to a T intersection. With multiple, large, hard to deny seeing NO DOGS signs. At that point my courage runs out and I take her back to the car. And not much further than that intersection, come across perhaps the most beautiful views I’ve seen yet. (Can you see the waterfall?)

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Cool fact: that sandy beach was not originally there, it was the result of a landslide maybe 60 years ago. This area is McWay Cove, and at the top of a cove was once a house built by a New York City heiress, Helen Brown. When her husband passed away, she deeded the property to the state and asked them to name it after her bestie Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a woman who had grown up on the property. For some reason, the state couldn’t adhere to the terms of her will because the couldn’t find a public use for the house, so they tore it down. Below is the foundation which remains and the view from what was the bedroom.

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A little past eleven, we decided to stop for lunch at the Cafe Kevah at Nepenthe- an oceanside restaurant recommended to us by Annie’s dear friend Olive, a black lab who lives in England. As you do. The outdoor patio had a gorgeous view of the mountains and the ocean even if it was a bit foggy and consequently a bit nippy. Shockingly, and rather perplexingly, they don’t allow dogs. At an outdoor restaurant. Ten miles away from the most dog friendly city in America. Okay then.

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So I had perhaps the best Chai tea of my life, a delectable sliver of blueberry cake and a grilled cheese sandwich. There was this cool blue bird who kept flying around and perching on chairs and staring at me. Now sometimes, when I see a solo bird like this, and it seems to be acknowledging me, I think of it as sort of being my mom communicating with me or checking in. Silly, I know. But this bird was NOT shy!

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A few minutes later, he got even bolder, and came over and started eating my cake crumbs. (Now I KNEW it was Mom!) All while giving me the eye. And kind of a stern eye. Moments after this picture was snapped, while I was fiddling with my phone, he stalked over and took a bit of my sandwich! WHICH WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND I WAS STILL EATING! So apparently, it was channeling Annie as well!

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Despite the lack of dog service, the restaurant was great and it had a cool little shop downstairs as well. So it was back on the road, and before too long we were pulling in to Carmel, the aforementioned most dog-friendly town in America. I knew this because I had studied up before my visit, but I also learned it from Jules. Who’s Jules? Jules is the old guy who stopped me moments after I got out of my car, asked me where I was from, when I said Virginia, muttered “Richmond, Virginia Beach, no you can’t be from the south.” When I confirmed I was from the Northern end of the state he then called out: “AREA CODE 703!” Um… yes? He then asked me to name any town in the country and he would tell me the area code. This went on for some time. Jules used to (still may?) sell balloons to McDonalds franchises and so knows the area code to almost everywhere. Jules also has a plan to cure cancer AND save the economy all using balloons that he calls “A Balloon-A-Thon is a Love-A-Thon for a Job-A-Thon.” And “It has to make S-E-N-S-E before it can make C-E-N-T-S.” Jules, who had a cute little Pomeranian named Pom Pom that he adopted on Psalm Sunday also had LOADS of tips on where to take Annie. And gave me a mini shoulder massage (NO TONI I DON’T KNOW IF HE’S SINGLE BUT HE LIVES IN PEBBLE BEACH SO I SUSPECT HE’S RICH! ALSO NUTTY AS A FRUITCAKE!) Finally we were able to extricate ourselves from Jules and tour the town.

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We saw the Fountain of Woof in Carmel Plaza.

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We took a mile and a half stroll along Scenic Road, which reminded me a lot of Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach as that’s where all the ritzy houses are and great views of the ocean. I don’t have any ritzy house photos, but below is a cypress tree which is sort of the official tree of Carmel.

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By five we were getting a little rumbly in our tumblies, so I let Annie pick the dinner venue as she got shut out at lunch.

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She chose Forge in the Forest, and I can’t say as I blame her. Cozy outdoor fireplace, her own menu… (she got the Quarter Hounder)…

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They even rolled out the red towel for her! Yes, this will do just fine.

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Sated and exhausted we drove five miles down the road to Monterey where the have a cool park, Veteran’s Memorial Park, right in the heart of the town, that allows camping. And we parked right next to another “campervannie”!

Keep those Qs coming folks- As to arrive shortly!

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