Day 4 - Up and away & down the road we go with daughter Stephanie & her friend Ewa (Eva) for a hike around the perimeter of Point Lobos State Park Reserve. The name comes from the rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the
sound of the sea lions carries inland. The Reserve has often been called
"the crown jewel of
One of the coves in the park
Over the past 150 years, this area has been the scene of a variety of activity. Point Lobos has been home to Native Americans, Chinese fishermen, Japanese abalone harvesters, and Portuguese whalers.
It has been the site of an abalone cannery, coal mining business, granite quarry, military base, and numerous film productions.
From the official website: "In the mid-1890's, a young marine biologist from Japan, Gennosuke Kodani, arrived at Point Lobos to investigate reports of rich beds of abalone in the area and soon sent for workers from his native village of Chiba. At first, abalone near the shore were harvested and dried in the sun on wooden racks set up along Coal Chute Point at the north side of Whalers Cove. As the supply of shallow-water abalone dwindled, the workers donned hard-hat diving suits and ventured out on boats into deeper water. Using hand-powered pumps to supply air to the divers, the Japanese at Point Lobos pioneered an industry that eventually spread up and down the California coast. Around 1899, Kodani formed a partnership with Alexander Allan, who had recently purchased the property that now forms the Reserve, and together they established an abalone cannery which was located at what is now the Whalers Cove parking area. The cannery was so successful it eventually accounted for 75% of the abalone sold in California. It stayed in operation until 1928, and was dismantled in 1933 when the property became a state reserve."
Following our hike we were - naturally - a bit thirsty so we headed into the Carmel Valley to see if we could find some wines to taste (what else, right?).
We stopped at one along the main road - name forgotten already - so obviously not worth the prices they had on their wines. I mean, 90 bucks for a cab sav? Even if it is a reserve? No way! At least not for THAT cab sav.
At least we got a good photo of the ladies at this one.
On down the road we went, daughter Stephanie at the wheel & papa Joe napping in the back seat till we got to the Ventana winery. 400 acres of grapes, grapes, grapes. All wine is made from their own grapes - they don't buy any from other vineyards. In fact, they have so many grapes they sell 'em.
We tried several on their long list of tasting wines - at only $5 for tasting - and that is waived if you buy wines. Of course we did! We even liked their Pinot - Madame Wife has discovered a recent penchant for the Pinot and we've been trying a few this week. Ventana stands up to the rest quite easily so we have a bottle awaiting us in San Francisco when we arrive there in a few days - courtesy of our wine transporting daughter (listen up Steph, that Pinot better still be in the bag when we get there!). Their Tempranillo is also excellent. They brought the vines over from Spain & found a warm & sunny spot on the side of one of their vineyard hills and have been quite successful at growing this flavorful grape here. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.
Back in Carmel in time for our reservation at Basil , a small restaurant where the chef, Michele, is a co-owner. Good lamb, very good Italian bass, but Steph & Ewa found the clams & pasta a bit too peppery - however, I noticed they didn't leave much (none) in their dishes. The bottle of Champagne we took with us - a very nice rose - went quite well with our starters and the bottle of (you guessed it) Pinot we bought from the wine list was perfect with our main dishes; Talley 'Rosemary's Vineyard Pinot.
Exercise, wine, good food - what better way to spend a fantastic day in Carmel By The Sea and the areas around it before heading home to "the Nest" for a good night's sleep.
Day 5: Sunday brunch time. Off we go to Em Le's , a Carmel locals' favorite that has been in operation since 1955. Starting life as a chocolate shop Em Le's now serves hearty meals. I decided to give their "famous" French toast a try. Okay, you've probably all had French toast before, but have you ever had it battered & deep fried? Yep, that's what you get at Em Le's, with some sliced almonds, a dusting of powdered sugar, and their special syrup. Unless you have the appetite of a sumo wrestler order the 1/2 portion - that's still 3 pieces and more than I could eat. Best to share this dish around the table. The olollieberry pancakes or buckwheat pancakes make for some pretty good vittles too if you like pancakes. Otherwise, go for one of the big - BIG - omelets from the well appointed menu.
Staggering home, tummies full, daughter Steph & Ewa headed for Santa Cruz for a bit of shopping on their way back to San Francisco. Lo & behold, an hour or so later, we caught up with them in SC - forgot my sunglasses in Steph's car & figured I might need those in hot & sunny Arizona this week. So, up the road we went too for an unplanned visit to Santa Cruz. Glad we did since we hadn't been there. Busy place with beaches packed on a warm day like today.
Driving back we decided to forsake highway 1 for a while & just followed the coast until we ran out of road. Back on to highway 1 just a bit north of Monterey & we were back in Carmel in time for a very light at-home dinner and only a glass of Pinot tonight (hey, are we slowing down?). Nah, just decided to go light for a change - the ol' bodies can only take so much "goodness!" But, there is still one night to go in Carmel so..... till then; be well, enjoy life, and remember, life is too short to drink bad wines!