Happy belated solstice, everyone. We’re at the turn of the year – days start getting shorter and the heat really cranks up here in Indiana.
I had good intentions of posting daily about vacation but obviously that didn’t work out.
Flying to California
- As previously noted, we had some problems getting to San Francisco – but nothing like what was to come. (Cue ominous music.)
- We already weren’t planning a lot of time for San Francisco but, with the additional delay, we basically just had one day.
- Pier 39 was a heavily corporate heap of meh. The sea lions were awesome though.
- Redwoods, man – believe the hype. I highly recommend Tom’s Private Muir Woods Tour. It’s not cheap but it was worth it to avoid driving in an unfamiliar city and to have an expert with vast knowledge walk with you through Muir Woods.
- The ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco was good. (Tom dropped us off in Sausalito after the tour.)
Transport to Monterey
- We had a very mixed experience with the Monterey Airbus. The first leg from San Francisco to Monterey wasn’t great. The driver worked very hard – I felt very bad for him – but he didn’t organize the luggage by drop-off point so every time a passenger was dropped off, he had to go through all the luggage piece by piece to find what was needed. It added a lot of time to the trip. Our return trip to San Francisco went much more smoothly.
- The Hilton Garden Inn in Monterey was a good hotel but too far from everything. I wasn’t as clear on the distances when I booked it as I should have been. It would have been better to have a hotel within walking distance of the places we wanted to visit. I did walk one morning from the hotel to Old Fisherman’s Wharf but it wasn’t the most pedestrian-friendly route.
- We enjoyed Old Fisherman’s Wharf. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there watching the sea lions and eating seafood. Crepes of Brittany – very near Old Fisherman’s Wharf – is a good breakfast spot. Rachel and Darcy liked the crepes. I enjoyed the almond croissants too much to try anything else. I recommend getting breakfast there and then finishing off your coffee while watching the sea lions.
- There’s a little Robinson Jeffers memorial in the courtyard of the Convention Center near Old Fisherman’s Wharf. I stumbled upon it while looking around the area on Apple maps app. Jeffers seems displeased by being included in my selfie.
- Cannery Row was okay but I wouldn’t particularly recommend it unless you’re planning to visit the famous aquarium, which we didn’t. I do recommend the Coastal Trail, though, which we walked to get to Cannery Row.
- We went on a whale watching tour and I very much enjoyed it. It was my first time on a boat in the ocean (well, sort of – we were usually in sight of land) and my first time seeing whales in the wild. We didn’t see any spectacular breaches but seeing their backs and tails was beautiful enough for me. Unfortunately, Rachel and Darcy didn’t enjoy it quite so much. Darcy was seasick the entire time and Rachel for half of it. What can I say? We’re landlubbers.
- Everything is expensive here, but thankfully we knew that going in and mostly spent our time walking, window-shopping, and sitting on Carmel Beach – a beautiful public beach.
- The fairy tale cottage style buildings are fun. Some of them are on Ocean Avenue, which seems to be the shopping hub and which leads directly to Carmel Beach.
- The highlight here was visiting Tor House. (I posted a couple of exterior pictures here; they asked that we not post any interior pictures.) Robinson Jeffers is a hero of mine, so maybe you wouldn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did. It will be a lifelong memory for me. Our tour guide Peter was extraordinary. At one point he asked me to read aloud a Jeffers poem. Standing there between Hawk Tower and Tor House with the Pacific behind me, I read about two lines before I couldn’t go on.
- The flight from San Francisco from LAX went smoothly. LAX itself, though … what a miserable place.
- Our American Airlines flight from LAX to Indianapolis was cancelled. I immediately ran to the customer service desk and the rep said that all he could do for us was put us on a flight to Phoenix and then on standby for an already-full flight from Phoenix to Indy the next day. I couldn’t stand to be in LAX for another moment so we took it. I figured if we had to be in an airport hotel overnight, it would be easier to manage it in Phoenix than Los Angeles.
- While we were waiting to fly to Phoenix, I bought tickets for a Southwest flight from Phoenix to Indianapolis as a back-up plan.
- We dutifully reported to customer service when we landed in Phoenix and a very helpful agent told us she could get us on standby for a flight to Indy departing in an hour. There were enough open seats, she thought, that we would make it. Alas, we did not. There ended up being only one seat available and we needed three. That was a bit crushing. The gate agent gave us hotel vouchers and we made our way to the hotel, where we stayed overnight with only our carry-on bags.
- The next morning, as expected, there weren’t enough seats on the American Airlines flight. Again we waited for hours, hoping our back-up Southwest flight would come through. Thankfully it did and we finally arrived in Indianapolis at 2am. I drove home in more of a haze than I’d like to admit. Thankfully the roads were empty.
Since arriving home, we’ve all been sick but we’re getting better every day. It was a vacation of pretty steep ups and downs. I remain glad we went but I’m also ready to be home for a while.