Destination: CA-1, Garrapata State Park Hike

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This weekend we returned to one of our favorite coastal destinations: Garrapata State Park. As one of the northernmost parks in Big Sur, Garrapata’s understated entrance leads to many a visitor speeding right on past (which is quite fine by us). This hike features stunning coastal panoramas, cactus-studded hillsides, Redwood canyons and ethereal cloud banks. This was our very first road trip destination as California residents and it holds a special place in our hearts.

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On our several visits since, we’ve repeated the same path through the non-native cactus and into Soberanes Canyon. But this time, we ventured up Rocky Ridge trail to catch some of those legendary coastal vistas.SAMSUNG CSC

We’ve yet to make the full loop, but have never been disappointed by either trail direction. Locals care for this trail as they hike it and keep record of closings and weather. Check out their site: Friends of Garrapata.SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

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We cleaned up a bit and returned to Monterey for lunch. When I was touring the coast with my mom and sisters this summer, we stumbled across Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar. I didn’t remember the name, but the view stuck with me, and with a few right turns I stumbled right back to this delicious eatery.
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Located on the lower level of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, guests will appreciate the contrasting woodwork that stretches across the floor and up the walls, porthole style windows and all the other design choices that make you feel as though you’re walking through a million-dollar yacht.

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But much more importantly: the food is delicious. Dan ordered the Seabass B.L.T. with a spicy remoulade that almost made me regret my choice of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Their chowder is devine, though, and it’s criminal not to order this specialty at least once when you’re on the west coast. Honestly, they’ll pull you over and test your blood for levels of cream and clam.

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And who doesn’t want to enjoy this view while they dine?

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Waiters double as gull-chasers, but when all else fails a stare-down works marvelously.

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garWith all that fresh air, I had certainly worked up an appetite… for shopping. Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea boasts hundreds of boutiques and galleries with endless charm. Get ready, because the cute factor on this post is about increase exponentially.

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Ducking in and out of little shops like this is something that my mom and I love to do, but Danny was kind enough to humor me. It barely took any bribing at all…
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Even the alleys are darling in Carmel. The European influence is felt even in the smallest of details.
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This hallowed display beckoned us in from the street and to my delight I found my favorite fall treat: pumpkin ice cream! It’s always comforting to discover experiences that I imagined were exclusively midwestern out here in the west. It’s no Covered Bridge, but it’ll do!SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

As we traced our way down Ocean Avenue, we glimpsed the first signs of fall. But the feeling of fall was as familiar as an old friend beneath the close grey skies. There’s a certain quiet pause that only seems to happen in this season – a breath held as though its release would trigger a cascade of any remaining leaves and then winter would be upon us.

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Not that I have much to fear from winter in the Central Valley… but the instinct to nestle in and cook soups and roasts hits me whether the temperature reads 50 or 90. As they say, you can take the girl out of the Midwest…