Central California Weekend

We recently took a long-weekend trip to central California.  We traveled from our new home in Orange County up to Paso Robles on a Friday. On the way, we made a stop at Wheeler Ridge where the California Aqueduct crosses. The water is pumped up the north side of the wind gap and then continues on its way to the San Fernando valley.IMG_6220

We didn’t get to see much of Paso since the days are short and we arrived around dinner time. We did discover that there are no shortage of wine tasting establishments though! We ate a Mediterranean meal at the Panoliva & Jaffa Cafe near the City Park downtown.  The park has a Carnegie Library in the middle of it. We stayed at the Adelaide Inn which has easy access to Route 101. The Inn gave us discount breakfast coupons to the nearby Margie’s Diner.

IMG_6258We headed for Pinnacles National Park afterbreakfast Saturday. Pinnacles just became a National Park but has been a National Monument since 1908. There are miles and miles of trails, but we only had time to hike up to the Bear Gulch Reservoir – a 2.5 mile loop. There is a cave that you can hike though on this trail. We didn’t have flashlights, so we used the bypass trail. There were still plenty of opportunities to squat through low overhangs of rock. The reservoir was beautiful with the sunlight reflecting off of the surface of the water. The trail has lots of ups and downs, but overall is only a moderate hike. We could have definitely spent more time in the park if time – and daylight – had permitted.IMG_2575

From Pinnacles we drove on to Monterey where we stayed at the Merritt House Inn. A short walk from the Inn is Rosines Italian restaurant. There was a marathon in town this weekend and the place was packed, but we waited and enjoyed our dinner there. Sunday morning we made the short trip up to the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove to see the butterflies. There weren’t many butterflies there and the monarchs seem to be in trouble across the country due to loss of habitat. Just south of Monterey is Carmel where we stopped to see the Spanish mission. We are trying to visit each of the 21 missions built between San Diego and Sonoma.

IMG_6305We then started south along the coast on the CA 1. Our first stop was at the Point Lobos State Reserve. We had great viewing of sea lions and harbor seals on the rocky coastline. Lots of pelicans and other birds were there. Continuing south, we stopped at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. This is a lovely forested park with towering trees. We hiked up to Pfeiffer Falls but since it was November, the waterfall was not at its best. It would nice to come back in the spring and see what it’s like with lots of water. We arrived at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery at sunset. The seals were playing in the water and waddling across the beach as we watched the sun set.IMG_6321

We had planned to make a couple of other stops, but since we ran out of daylight, we just headed to San Luis Creek Lodge in San Luis Obispo. We had dinner at the nearby Pappy McGregor’s. Monday morning we made a stop at the San Luis Obispo Mission as we started our trip back home. While it was not an extensive vacation, we were able to spend a lot of time in nature and we saw some beautiful places. Overall, a pretty fabulous weekend!IMG_6345

See our Flickr album for more photos.