Deer on the Beach in Pacific Grove, CA

2023 California Vacation Part 3

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Travel | 0

Day Six (Tuesday)

We started our first full day in Carmel-by-the-Sea with breakfast at Carmel Belle which has been the place we’ve gone to for our first breakfast the past 3 visits. We usually get something on the healthy side knowing we will be having heavier vacation breakfasts during our trip.

After breakfast, we went to Carmel Laundry. It was hard to believe we were already 5 days into our trip and ready to do laundry. We discovered Carmel Laundry last year when we knew we’d be staying for an extended period. Although it’s not the most fun way to spend part of a vacation, it’s a convenient option so we don’t have to pack for 14 days. Next year, I think I can pack even lighter.

Although it’s not necessarily fun, doing laundry is relaxing. We bring our Kindles and our journals and read and/or write while waiting for our clothes. It was nice out and the doors were open so we were getting some sunshine and cool breezes.

Once we were done there, we drove out to Pacific Grove and walked along the coast. It was a bit of a chilly and cloudy day (as most days would be) but still lovely. Of all the sights, the most interesting was a family of deer on the beach and the John Denver Memorial.

I took photos with both my Samsung Galaxy S9+

…and I finished the roll of Kodak Portra 400 I started at Griffith Observatory with my Minolta X-700.

I then loaded a roll of Kodak Color Plus.

After our walk, we went to lunch at Wild Fish in downtown Pacific Grove. Holly had found it on a list of places that get their seafood from sustainable sources. We both really enjoyed our lunch choices. I had the fish and chips and Holly had the fish tacos. It was our first time there, but it’s definitely on our list of places we’re interested in returning to.

We walked around downtown after lunch. Not being able to resist checking out a stationery store, we stopped in The Quill. We also stopped in Spirals Consignment to see if Holly could get a new belt, but she was unable to find one she liked there.

When we were stuck at the airport hotel and not confident about the whereabouts of our luggage, we had each—unbeknown to the other—looked up places in the Monterey area where we could buy some new clothes and other necessities if we were to be indefinitely separated from our stuff. Luckily, we were reunited with our bags, but we at least knew of another option to continue the hunt for a new belt: the Del Monte Center. Neither of us are big on in-person clothes shopping and rarely do so. Going to a shopping center on vacation seemed to us a stranger thing to do than laundry. Holly had better luck there and got her new belt.

We returned to Carmel-by-the-Sea and went to our first wine tasting of the week at KORi Wines. It was our first time there and enjoyed our wines but maybe not enough to make it part of our regular routine. For a while, we were the only customers and were chatting with the server who was fascinated that we live a car-free lifestyle in a city. We’re so used to it (nearly 12 years!) and know many people who live this way that we sometimes forget how unusual it must seem to someone who doesn’t live in a pedestrian and public transportation friendly city. She even asked us “how do you go on Costco runs?” As if that’s a necessary part of life. I appreciated her genuine curiosity and probing questions.

For dinner, we tried another new-to-us place, Vesuvio. Although it’s hard to say that it was 100% new to us since, last year, we went to Little Napoli, run by the same people. The menu was similar, and we even got the same roasted garlic appetizer. Holly really liked her Eggplant Parmigiana entrée. I was less thrilled with my Cioppino. I would try Vesuvio again and try a different dish. Everything else there and at Little Napoli was really good. I’ve had (and make) some really good Cioppinos so have high expectations.

Some Notes on Geography and Nomenclature

I thought it might be helpful to share maps of all that I’m writing about.

We stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is in Monterey County. This map outlines the “downtown” part of Carmel-by-the-Sea. I put downtown in quotes because this area is a small subsection of the city and although I’ve heard it informally referred to as such, it’s not quite what I think of as a “downtown.” I usually refer to this area as either downtown or Carmel-by-the-Sea.

That said, Carmel-by-the-Sea is actually larger than this. Generally, people use Carmel and Carmel-by-the-Sea interchangeably. I usually only use Carmel for areas outside of the downtown area or for the entire area.

As I mentioned, Carmel (the entire area) is in Monterey County and is just south of the City of Monterey.

A couple places I’ve mentioned or will mention, like Pacific Grove and Seaside are included on this map.

Point Lobos is just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, as it is outlined on the map, but technically still within Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Day Seven (Wednesday)

I should mention that every morning started out lazily. We’d wake up and have coffee in our room and spend some time reading or writing in our journals. Mainly writing. I read surprisingly little during our trip. There’s not much to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea at night, and we were usually pretty exhausted from our days. We usually went to bed early and woke up early.

After our lazy morning, we would head out for breakfast and begin our day.
We decided to spend the first few days doing things on our list that were farther away and then spend more time in Carmel-by-the-Sea later in our visit when we started getting worn out. When I say “list,” I mean just that: a list of things we would like to do. Other than that, we tend to be pretty flexible and don’t make a strict itinerary. Planning is usually more like “what do you want to do tomorrow?”

For breakfast that Wednesday, we drove out to Seaside, which is about a 15 minute drive from where we were staying. We had never been there before but were curious to try The Butter House. I had their delicious shrimp and grits and Holly had their Elvis sandwich. It was definitely worth the trip and worth seeing more of the area than we had on previous trips.

After breakfast, we went to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. We had been there during our 2019 trip and again last year. It’s absolutely beautiful. We revisited some areas and also explored parts we hadn’t been to before. It’s along the coast so there are great ocean views, but it’s also heavily wooded so you can suddenly go from being along the shore to being in the woods.

I mostly took pictures with my Minolta X-700 which I already posted.

But I also too pictures with my Samsung Galaxy S9+…

And just a few with my Rollei Giro 105 with Lomography 800. After I finished the roll of Portra in my Minolta, I switched to the Rollei but quickly changed my mind and went back to the Minolta. I wasn’t sure how well nature photos with the Rollei would turn out.

After our hike, we drove to Monterey to have lunch at The Wild Plum. I’ve been going there for years. I probably first went there in 2009 when I had been going to Monterey for an annual conference. It’s a small and quaint restaurant. The food is always fresh and delicious and the service friendly.

We went back to Carmel-by-the-Sea for an afternoon wine tasting, this time at Scheid Vineyards which is another place we had not been before. We enjoyed it enough that we’ll mostly likely return on our next visit.

Dinner that night was at La Bicyclette. We had been there a couple times before and each time shared a tasty mushroom appetizer and a pizza from their wood fired oven. This time, they no longer had the tasty mushroom appetizer. Instead of our usual, we decided to try their entrées. We liked what we had but if we go back, we’ll probably return to the pizza. And hope they bring back the mushrooms!

We were about at the halfway mark of our vacation, but the Carmel part was just getting under way.

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