Big Day in Big Sur
We just spent an exhausting but great day in Big Sur. We drove down to Monterey last night after work. We were thinking about going to the Aquarium's member's-only night (since we are members and need to recoup the cost of our memberships), but we were tired and just went out to eat at the Mucky Duck, a pub in downtown Monterey (picked on a whim out of the guidebook in the motel). It was great--we had a huge plate of nachos to start with, we were sitting by a nice warm fire, and Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode came on the radio (apparently John Tesh has his own radio show in the Monterey area, and he doesn't have horrible taste in music), and it was just a beautiful moment and I was happy :) We should eat more nachos! Anyway, following the nachos, I had Bangers and Mash (not outstanding, but not bad), and Patrick had Fish and Chips. It was an appropriate meal for a cold rainy night.
This morning, we got up moderately early and drove to the Carmel River Beach [Backstory: I emailed a wedding planner in the Monterey area and asked her if she had any good beach locations appropriate for a wedding with around 17 guests. She wrote back and described three locations, but didn't name them, because that's one of the ways she makes her money. But she sent a picture from each location, and we ferreted out from the brief descriptions and pictures what the locations were. They were (1) Carmel River Beach, (2) Pfeiffer Beach, and (3) the trail above McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We'd been to 2 and 3 and didn't really think either was quite what we were looking for, so we decided to visit 1 on this trip]. It was a nice little beach, more peaceful and rugged than Carmel Beach. There were rolling green hills shrouded in fog to the left and Point Lobos down the coast a little. It's also sheltered, so less chance of nasty weather on the big day. And free to use, as far as we can tell.
We had an appointment with the wedding coordinator at Ventana at 11, so we drove on down to Big Sur, passing green pastures with cows in them and all sorts of beautiful scenery. The last time we drove down there, it was raining hard; this was much nicer. We'd never been to Ventana before (but we'd had dinner at Sierra Mar across the street at the Post Ranch Inn in October, so we knew the area). DeAnna, the coordinator, was talking with another couple when we got there, so Patrick got a complimentary iced tea from the bar (I stuck with water because the whole free drink thing caught me off guard), and we took our drinks out on Cielo's terrace (Cielo is their restaurant) and basked in the sun for a little while. The view is amazing, of course. It's slightly different than the view from Sierra Mar's terrace. Cielo has more rolling hills and foliage, and the ocean is farther away, but still wow! Big Sur is a good reminder of how tiny we are in this great big world.
I'd approached Ventana as a long shot, since it was pretty pricey (especially compared to public beaches for $25), but after our appointment, my mind has been changed. It turns out we may be able to get a decent price for both ceremony and reception locations because of our small wedding size. And if we can get married on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, it'll be even cheaper, but we don't know if that's necessary. We're definitely doing a lunchtime wedding, so that's a money-saver already. So the plan is that we'll sleep on it and discuss things tomorrow, and then try and set a date early next week. It's exciting to be making progress! I'd love to get married in such a beautiful place, especially if we can get a good deal on things.
Picture 3: Mountains and foliage from the Lower Terrace at Cielo.
Picture 4: DeAnna and me talking under the arbor (potential reception site). That's the ocean stretching out in the distance.
Picture 5: Part of the Wedding Site at Ventana with the ocean behind it. Probably won't go with this as the ceremony site, since it's more expensive than other options.
So that's some exciting wedding stuff! We ended up staying at Cielo for lunch. The food wasn't mind-blowing, but it was all good. We weren't too hungry (why, I don't know, since our motel's continental breakfast wasn't very impressive). I had oak-grilled mystery fish (the server told us what the fish of the day was, but it wasn't a kind I'd heard of before) on a bed of organic micro-greens with yummy cherry tomatoes. Patrick had a good-looking grilled chicken sandwich on rosemary bread with applewood-smoked bacon (mmm!) and melting brie. For dessert, we split Valrhona chocolate mousse, which was only slightly marred by a layer of coffee whipped cream. Yum all the same! It was a great couple of hours, even though I ended up with a sunburn from enjoying the sun on the terrace for too long. We're so lucky to be able to enjoy a little luxury every so often.
Following lunch, we went to Julia Pfeiffer Burns park because I wanted to do a dayhike there (Ewoldsen Trail). It was described as 'moderate to strenuous', but it was way more than strenuous in my opinion. It was a 4 mile loop with a lot of uphill stretches. I had to take a break every few minutes for some huffing and puffing, and Patrick broke a sweat too. There were some fallen trees at a few points along the path that almost made us turn around, but instead we climbed over/under/around them, which was kind of fun but also a litle scary (if we'd fallen off, there would've been an unpleasant fall down to ground level).
By the time we got up to the top of the loop, to a little path marked "View Point", we weren't really sure if it would be worth it to actually go up to see the view (there were other awesome views of the ocean on the way). The path up looked even steeper than the path we'd been on so far. While we were standing around trying to decide, another couple came up the path behind us and decided to go up to the View Point. After a minute of so, we heard the wife say "Fuck you if you think I'm climbing that!". So we decided to skip the final uphill climb and just get back to civilization, which was no easy feat itself. There were some really awesome ocean vistas on the path down, but there were points at which it would've been very possible to tumble all the way down the hillside to Highway 1, a long way down. Luckily, we didn't fall down there, or at any of the other steep declines we had to descend. Our legs are so tired now!
Picture 6: Rolling green hills and lots of ocean from near the top of the loop. I was so tired at this point I kept giggling maniacally every time we hit a switchback and realized there was more uphill path ahead of us. We took a picture of ourselves around here, but my grimacing attempt at a smile is not flattering.
Picture 7: The part where we worried about taking a tumble down the hill to the highway and the ocean below.
We arrived back at the parking lot very tired, but we decided to walk over and see McWay Falls (a very short and easy walk), and then Patrick wanted to explore a path that branched off that turned out to lead to some campsites. It's a nice location, right near the water. I'd worry about getting rained on, but I guess that's always a worry with camping.
And then we headed back home to Menlo Park, skipping Garrapata Beach (I wanted to check it out, but it was hard to find, and we were tired and the sun was setting). Maybe next time...