Well, this is not the first Presidents’ Day Weekend where we have had to change plans due to weather. We are stubborn people though, not easily deterred from Dory time just because of a few days of 40-60 mph winds. We aren’t completely stupid though, and we decided that perhaps camping right by the ocean in one of the most remote places along Highway 1 might not be a great idea. I had scored an awesome site at Limekiln SP where the ocean is just right there next to you. The park is conveniently located between two of the most likely places along Highway 1 to experience massive mudslides during a storm. And it’s not that we didn’t consider the possibility of being stuck there for five or six months while road repairs might be underway. We did. But Richard is kinda sick and kinda needs to attend to some dental work in the very near future, and that was unlikely to be a good match for risky camping.
So we did some last minute searching for more urban spots, in places where you can do things indoors, or in a car. We landed on Saddle Mountain Ranch and RV Park, a privately run place in Carmel Valley. Its location is convenient as a jumping off point for both Monterey and Carmel. It is like an upscale KOA type place, with a playground for kids, a pool, a badminton court, and nice bathrooms. The sites are close together, but there are at least some low fences in between. The first thing I noticed about our site was that it was under a huge oak tree. We’d seen tons of downed trees on our way in, so that made me just a little nervous. I spun Dory to get out a little from under the big branches and that also served as a way to not look directly at our neighbors. RVs are limited to 30′ and the road leading up to the place gets very narrow, with a killer climb right at the end. They are nice to place a sign for you, right when you’re pretty sure you’re lost, saying it’s just up the hill. It is also a tight little lot once you get up there, but we saw some big rigs able to maneuver it, and Dory was fine of course.
As it was a four day weekend, we got two full days to explore the area. Friday night we started with dinner at a ramen place. Toribashi in Monterey was a great call for comfort food on a rainy evening. Saturday we tried to check out Point Lobos SP, but it was very closed and looked kind of demolished by fallen trees from what we could see at the entrance. So we shifted Plan A to visit Garrapata State Park and Beach by just driving along south down Highway 1. That way, we still got to bask in the glory of the California coast. And glorious it is.
Plan B was to wander around Carmel. That, however, was also the plan of a whole lot of other people, each with their own car, occupying every possible parking space. We nearly gave up there, but I was able to find a sketchy spot by some construction fences and just accepted that the price of a ticket might just be what it costs to park in Carmel (I did not get a ticket). After lunch, we headed over to Carmel Mission, which I’d only ever seen from the outside. That is a “worth it” visit for sure. The whole place has been beautifully restored and hosts museums, gardens, and historical exhibits, all in addition to the lovely basilica. We happened to get there right when a wedding was about to be held, so we killed about an hour wandering the grounds and watching informational videos until we could go inside the church. I really tried not to photograph too much of someone else’s wedding for my blog, but some shots couldn’t be avoided (or were kinda funny). One thing I’ll say, those dresses were a bold choice for a wedding scheduled in February. I know it’s California, but it does get cold sometimes and those poor women looked uncomfortable. Or maybe that’s me making assumptions because I was warm and toasty in my new down sweater.
Sunday we spent pretty much the whole day on the famed “17 Mile Drive” in Pebble Beach. The two themes of the day: holy moly that’s a ton of fallen trees, and wow, we really do not live like wealthy people. I admit to feeling a little torn about all the damage. I mean, I’m sad for all the trees and I recognize there was a huge amount of damage done. But, I’m also betting whoever owns the mid size castles and full size villas, costing who knows how much, will probably be ok. One really sad thing though was the damage done to the iconic “Lone Cypress” tree. This tree has been standing there for over 200 years as a symbol of resilience, come what may, and we just happened to come the weekend it blew down. Now all of the businesses using that tree as a logo will need to cut a third of it off I guess. But that doesn’t really convey the same message. Or maybe it says, “Yeah, I know it’s beautiful and prestigious here, but sh*t happens to everyone, doesn’t it?”
We did some googling and the price for a night’s stay in some of the hotels can run around a thousand per night. Not sure if that includes golfing, but that apparently is not cheap either. Maybe if I got golf I would understand.
We considered, but rejected the idea of visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, figuring it would be at least as packed as the streets of Carmel. Plus, I got to see my fill of otters out in the ocean. But these were the real badass ocean otters, getting continually tossed and turned by the frigid, tempestuous waves. And they’re all, “Whatevs, dude. I’ll just roll with it and crack some dinner on mah tummah.”
Though I’m still a little disappointed we missed out on Limekiln, I know it was a good call. Urban camping is fun too and it was a good way to take it easy. Plus, any time you get to see an ocean sunset, it’s a good weekend.
Total miles: 130.6, 15.7 mpg, 3 hours 2 min. Full hookups. All the sites are similar with no clear winner in terms of privacy or view. Nice bathrooms, nice facilities, wifi at the office, LTE for both of us. About 8 miles from Carmel Beach or 12 miles to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.