Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Central California & Chased by Bull - Christmas 2014

I had been wanting to do the drive on the famous California Highway 1 from Monterey for a very, very long time. Over Christmas break, my wish came true when my husband and I took a road trip to Monterey.

It's been 10 years since I've been to Monterey, which is my favorite place to visit in California. It's breathtakingly beautiful with rich history. We started driving Christmas morning and got there early afternoon. After settled in our hotel, we went to the Fisherman's Wharf to get some food.

By the Wharf, there's the oldest government building in California, the Custom House. From 1822 to 1846, Monterey was the capital and main port of entry for Alta California. This was named the State Historic Landmark #1 on June 1, 1932.


For our Christmas dinner, we went to the famous Old Fisherman's Grotto on the Wharf. We had some excellent clam chowder and I had this lobster. We also had some pumpkin cheesecake for dessert which was out of this world. After dinner, they gave me a pretty yellow rose...that made my evening!


After dinner, we went walking around the historic Cannery Row for a bit. You can see all the old bridges across the street from the old sardine factories.


Right after sunset.


This now houses the Monterey Bay Aquarium.


The next morning, we went to the 17-Mile Drive. On our way there, we stopped to admire the oldest, continuously-operating lighthouse on the West Coast since February 1, 1855.


The entire drive was beautiful with vast oceans, crystal clear waters, and lots of sea lives.


We saw this seagull feasting on a giant fish head. We suspected that a nearby seal or otter had eaten the body.


After stopping by many vista points, we came to the famous lone cypress tree.




Then, we made a stop at the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Course. It's such a posh place that they've got Rolex street lamps here!


This golf course held many tournaments such as the U.S. Open in as recent as 2010. You can walk up to the 18th hole and soak in the feeling of playing in this picturesque place.


Since it was Christmas time, the Lodge overlooking the 18th hole was decked out for the holiday. Where's Waldo in this picture? :)


The Lodge has several trophies on display. One of them is the U.S. Open trophy with all the past winners' names engraved on it.


After the 17-Mile Drive, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Just down the street from the aquarium is the old Wing Chong Building. I learned that there was a good number of Chinese workers and fishermen in Monterey back then.


The aquarium sits in the old Hovden Cannery building with Portola being its brand.


The aquarium has lots of good exhibits and educational talks. They have sea otters, sharks, sea turtles, sardines, sea birds, giant Pacific octopus... We saw this beautiful rainbow trout and it made us wanted to have sushi for dinner (which we did afterward).


They also have a good collection of mesmerizing jellyfish.


The next day, it was time for us to head home. We drove down from Monterey along Highway 1 and stopped by the magnificent Bixby Creek Bridge. I've seen this bridge in commercials many times, and this is the one bridge I've always wanted to visit.


The Bixby Creek Bridge was built in 1932. It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world. It's amazing how the engineers designed and built this back in the days without technologies and equipment like we have now. I was in awe.


We kept driving south, enjoying the incredible views along the way. The road was very windy. On one side is the mountain cliff, on the other side is the majestic Pacific Ocean. We saw many animals along the way including some large bulls. My husband was so intrigued by these beasts so we decided to stop and take some pictures of them. We went up to the fence and started taking pictures. Somehow my zoom wasn't working properly when I took a picture of this one. My husband was taking pictures of this bull also right next to me.


I didn't bring my good camera on this trip so I had been taking pictures on my iPhone. When I tried to figure out the zoom while looking at the phone, I heard sounds of an animal running toward us. I looked, and the bull I was taking pictures of apparently didn't like us and started charging at us! The fence, although barb wired, wasn't very thick. The bull can very easily run over it. I screamed "It's COMING!!!" and ran across the highway back to the car. My husband was taking pictures of the other one (on the right, and it was sitting down). He saw the bull stood up all of the sudden, heard my scream, and the next thing he knew, the bull was charging at him, so he ran for his life as well. After we were back at our car, we and the bull stared each other down for several seconds. Here's the bull staring us down across the street like "Don't you dare come near us!" We shouted back "We're having steak for dinner!" and took off. :D


Our adrenaline was pumping and we couldn't stop laughing at what had just happened. Then, we reached Big Sur and came across this beautiful creek flowing behind a hotel. The air was so fresh, clean, and crisp, and the sound of the water so tranquil in the morning. It calmed us down after being chased by a massive bull.


Throughout the drive, we came across fantastic sights like this and stopped several times to take God's creations all in.


While stopping by a vista point, we saw 3 whales migrating south. We saw their blowholes and tails coming out of the ocean. It was exciting to see. This is when I regretted not bringing my good camera to capture them. (You can see a blowhole in this picture.)


I am so happy we did this drive. I highly recommend that you do this drive once in your lifetime!


You can view the entire photo album here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157649888835466/

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