Friday, April 28, 2006

April Waterfall Visits - McWay Falls 4/15/06

I spent the weekend down in the Monterey/Carmel region. The weather was tolerable on Saturday and down right bad on Sunday. That didn't stop me from wanting to see waterfalls though!

One of my favorite hotels is called the Highlands Inn in Carmel. It is a Park Hyatt hotel and basically it is like you are staying in a condo. Each unit has a fireplace, a big jaccuzi tub, a small kitchen, a deck, and some of them even have killer views of the ocean. There is also a great restaurant there called Pacific Edge (guess what, it gives great views of the Pacific ocean too!). The last time I stayed and ate there was a few years ago for my birthday. This trip I couldn't bring myself to pay $500 to stay there for one night (YIKES! - prices more than doubled since the last time) but we did eat at Pacific Edge Saturday night.

Saturday morning was spent en route to waterfalls - Salmon Creek Falls was the furthest out which is about 80 miles further down the coast from Carmel. If any of you have driven down the coast of California on Highway 1 then you know how beautiful a drive this is. Highway 1 snakes along the cliff above the ocean for miles and miles. Some of the most classic California shots are of bridges that are along this stretch of highway. Anyway, just like the Road To Hana on Maui, this road, I guess, is more fun for the driver than the passenger... It didn't help that winter has done a number on the highway and it is in bad shape.

The trailhead for Salmon Creek falls is in the middle of nowhere. It is just a little turnout on the side of the road you would never even know it was there unless you were specifically looking for it or just randomly stopped there and saw the small sign. From the trailhead you start to gain elevation along a really pretty creek. Winter was hard on this trail (along with a lot of trails that I have been on this year) with lots of downed trees to manuver around. Louis was with me up until we started to see lots of Poison Oak. Since he is extreemly allergic to it he turned around fairly early on. I kept going for a bit but ended up turning around (after, of course, I slipped and got my feet wet). The trail to the waterfall is relatively short but really in the middle of nowhere (I have a bit of a problem hiking in the middle of nowhere by myself - my mom did a good job of ingraining the "buddy system" in to my psyche - I also watch too many horror movies for my own good). Had I been wearing my GPS trainer or had I had some sort of walkie talkie or something I would have probably ended up going all the way to the waterfall. What it comes down to is: stop one - unsuccessful.

McWay Falls - Rating 3.75

Stop two was a success though. McWay Falls is a beautiful waterfall that drops off a cliff down on to the beach in a secluded little cove. There is no beach access so you can't get up close and personal to the waterfall (it makes it hard to catch the negative ions!), but the scenery is georgeous. The state park system charges a bit too much to park at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (I am a big fan of paying fees but I wished that I had the state park annual pass so I didn't have to fork over $8 to spend 1/2 hour parking there) - it was a pretty crowed place too. I definitely like it a lot better when I have the waterfall to myself. Crowds can really ruin the whole experience. There was actually another waterfall in the park but I had had enough for the day so we just headed back up to Carmel to get changed for dinner instead of attempting to see any other waterfalls. I will have to go back to catch the other waterfalls that were on my list to see some other time.

Dinner was good. It was a nice place to have an anniversary dinner. The food started better than it ended (they need to work on their entres) but I had a brussel sprout salad as one of my early courses that was to die for! I ended up having one too many courses as well. I should have eliminated one of them because I ended up just a little too full. I also made sure to stay away from the wine pairing menu this time (I learned that valuable lesson last year - that was the first and probably the last time I will ever be drunk).

Easter brunch was had at the Hyatt Regency Monterey. It was a pretty nice spread with the works (although the eggs benedict was not good at all and the waffles and pancakes were rubbery - they spent all thier time on their omlete bar - which was quite impressive actually - and neglected my favorites). They even had little Easter baskets full of chocolates on each table.

The drive back home was very messy - lots of heavy rain during the trip over the pass. Once home though, I caught a rare but luxurious nap later in the afternoon. :-) Yay for naps!

My waterfall count for April = 2

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