June 23, 2001: Part 2

Monday morning Harvey and I met his friend Morris, a former music professor and accomplished water colorist, in midtown San Francisco, where we rented a car (a Kia Sportage, what I call the "Chevette of SUVs!") for our drive south.

Harvey, who has lived in Michigan for more than 20 years, grew up in the Bay Area (more precisely in Mountain View, in Santa Clara County.) I don't think we made a single wrong turn the whole day and I didn't have to consult a map once -- what a luxury!

From San Francisco we head down Highway 1 through Pacifica and Half Moon Bay and further south. We stopped at a couple of places along the way so that Morris could use his digital camera to take pix, most notably at Pescadero Beach, which had an amazing collection of driftwood. From there it was on to Santa Cruz and Capitola, where we had lunch at Shadowbrook, a lovely restaurant and garden built into the steep hill going down to the creek that cuts through this tiny, beachy enclave. We had a delicious lunch on the terrace, filling up on sourdough and listening to classic Frank Sinatra wafting up from someone's boathouse.

After lunch we took a quick sidetrip to Antonelli Brothers, reputed to be the best purveyors of tuberous begonias anywhere in the world. (Harvey is a major orchidist but he's almost as fond of begonias...) Then we drove past the artichoke fields and the dunes and what remains of Fort Ord and Monterey and Carmel down to Point Lobos State Reserve, which is, as Harvey pointed out, "sacred ground."

On the way down I pointed out to them that I grew up on a very different coastline, that of the northern Gulf of Mexico, which is spectacular in its own, radically different sort of way. The main difference is that the Gulf and the dunes of the barrier island don't have the awesome backdrop of the Coast Range. I love the shore, I love the mountains -- having both in one place...well, how can I describe it? I feel like I'm floating among different planes of existence. Am I rock? Am I water? Am I air / sunlight? Disorienting and invigorating, all at the same time.

(Morris took some incredible pix, which you can find here.)

We spent a couple of hours hiking around Point Lobos, then headed to Carmel, which is very scenic and not nearly as festive as I thought it would be. Which probably had to do with the day and time more than anything else -- I got the feeling that Carmel late on a Monday afternoon is lethargic at best.

Up and around the curves of Monterey Bay, through adorable Pacific Grove, and Monterey's very touristy Cannery Row (I wonder what Steinbeck would think...), and then around to the wharf, for dinner at Mike's Seafood and a last, sunset look over the bay before heading back to the city.

My first visit to San Francisco -- and my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean -- was in 1987, just 2-3 months after David was born. It's taken three more trips and 14 years but I can finally say I've "done" the California coast, or at least a very significant, beautiful part of it.

I'm already ready to go back.


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