Salinas, Carmel, and Monterey

By Jason

Since last weekend was a long weekend we decided to take a trip down the coast to see Monterey and Carmel.  The hotels were pretty booked up (and expensive) so we stayed in nearby Salinas.  Salinas is famous for…  well, not much, except maybe John Steinbeck.  Also, according to Wikipedia Craig Kilborn worked there as a sportscaster before he hosted The Daily Show.

One fun fact not listed in Wikipedia is that there are two Best Western Hotels on the same street, separated by one other hotel.  We almost went into the wrong one before we realized the address wasn’t quite right.

Overall I think we would give Salinas a thumbs-up – it was pretty close to everything we wanted to go see, and we had some really good Mexican at El Zacatecano.  At the end of our trip we also found out that there’s a free shuttle between Salinas and Monterey so we could have even taken advantage of that.

A quick warning:  this will be a pretty photo-heavy post, since I got a new camera, a Nikon D60.  I’ve been thinking about getting a new camera for a while now but I really wanted to get a DSLR before the baby came – that way I can better handle low light and motion.

Our first stop was Monterey, where we visited Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  There was a nice little Greek Festival going on but unfortunately we had already eaten.  The view from the wharf is nice:

Moored in the harbor of Old Fisherman's Wharf

We kept passing places that had caramel corn, salt-water taffy, cotton candy, and other sugary goodness.  Ann captured me trying to get the last sugar fibers off the cotton candy stick.

There's still some cotton candy left

The wharf was worth a stop, probably a bit more touristy than we would have liked but a good place to pick up whale watching tours and such.

Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

On the drive back I couldn’t resist playing with my new camera.  It gives me a lot more options, for example 4-second long exposures at night:

Driving at night, long exposre

Ann was pretty worn out:

Dozing off at the hotel

The next day we drove down to Carmel-on-the-Sea with then intention of taking some pseudo-artistic pregnancy photos on the beach.

Portrait on the beach at Carmel

I like the way this one turned out, specifically the low angle and the way the breeze has Ann’s skirt moving in to the middle of the frame:

Black skirt and white sand

We were hoping to pick up a long flowing wrap or a sari to make better use of the ocean breeze but the stores were selling nothing but jackets and hoodies.  I understand that they stock things seasonally, but I can’t imagine we’re the only people on the planet who once in a while want to buy a summer item in summer or a winter item in winter.

Holding the baby

The waves were fun to watch but it was in the 60s and the water was pretty cold anyway, so we didn’t do any swimming.

Posed on the beach

Carmel is a nice little town, it started as an artist community and still has that feel, though the houses are all ridiculously expensive and the shops sell $400 purses and whatnot.

Closeup portrait

We followed the coast a bit further down to the Carmel River State Beach and took more pictures.  This is the estuary where the river meets the pacific.  The water from the river is clear and and very warm and calm compared to the ocean just a few feet away, so it looked like a great place for little kids to play.


A fun picture of Ann’s shadow:

Baby bump shadow

Our next stop was the top of Jacks Peak, the highest point on the Monterey Peninsula.  You’re able to drive pretty close to the top, but Ann made it up the rest of the trail, so we’re going to say she officially climbed a mountain while pregnant.

On the bench at the top of Jacks Peak

Ann gives me a classic skeptical look:


A view of Monterey from the peak.  I made a very large vertical panorama of the view looking towards Carmel, too.

View of Monterey and the Pacific Coast from Jacks Peak

Here’s Ann smiling.  The park was nice, though full of poison oak.  There were a couple places that were supposedly filled with fossils but I didn’t see any, which was disappointing.  Ann thought maybe they were there, but I just didn’t notice them.  I assured her that I know what a fossil looks like.


The next stop on our trip was Cannery Row in Monterey.  There they have not one, but two Thomas Kinkade stores, which meant that I had to throw up twice.  Other than that it was nice, touristy like the wharf but a little bit upscale (meaning more expensive).  We didn’t go to the aquarium, so we’ll have to head back some time to check it out.

This always happens when I walk by a Thomas Kinkade store.

It was getting late so we decided to head to the beach for the sunset.  Monterey faces north so we had to go up the coast a bit.  There are miles and miles of beaches but not as many access points as you would think.  We ended up in Sand City, on a big dune overlooking a beautiful beach.

It's getting chilly as the sun goes down

Here’s the sunset.  Because of the often cloudless sky and general haze off the ocean, I’d have to say we have better sunsets in Cleveland, but I’m not complaining.

Birds glide past the sunset

On Monday we drive back up the coast toward home.  Here’s Ann at the Moss Landing beach.  It was too chilly do take any artsy photos here.

In the wind on the beach

These tiny birds are sanderlings.  They’re pretty entertaining to watch, because when the water retreats they all rush down the beach the look for food, but when a wave comes in they all run back up.

Sanderlings retreat up the beach as a wave washes in

Here’s a photo of the Elkhorn Slough wetlands near Moss landing, this is supposed to be a great place for birdwatching.

Elkhorn Slough and the inland side of the dunes

We went home and had a little cookout with hotdogs and a greek salad.  We’re probably going to go ahead and count this trip as an early anniversary, too.

I’ve got more photos at Flickr.  You can also see the photos from our trip mapped out by following this link.

Next up, an update on baby names and some democracy, so stay tuned!

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One Response to Salinas, Carmel, and Monterey

  1. malison1999 says:

    Thanks for the nice blog. Planning a trip to Monterey this weekend for the Jazz festival and looking for suggestions for side trips in the Monterey area. Best wishes for the family

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