POINT LOBOS 2X March 21, 2003

Needing a bit of some adventure again, I awoke early this Friday and motored out to the Point Lobos State Reserve. Getting there at 10:30 a.m., I paid the entry fee ($5, without a map) and drove to Whalers Cove parking lot. It was a nice day, with some hazy mist in the air. The Pacific Ocean was relatively calm, but the spray from the waves reached up to maybe 15 feet on the rocks.

Starting first to go to Granite Point, I snapped many photos, all looking pretty much the same on my review. Plastic cable handrails ran along the trail. There is some hazard from falling off over the cliffs, at points. I began to note the flowers, and soon poppies started to appear. I know now how to set the Coolpix focus, so I can choose the distance and watch as the LCD image gets sharper as I move the camera in.

The first of three batteries I used today gave out, so I sat on a bench and changed it. I brought along my 200mm telephoto lens, so was able to get some dramatic shots of the forested seacliffs to the west. This is a small park, and I'd think I did only maybe 4 miles total. Out to the eastern park boundary, I turned around and snapped more close-ups of the poppies. Not having to really save my batteries, I fiddled a lot with the settings, and shot many movie clips.

Back to Whalers Cove, some six or so sea otters were playing around about the kelp beds. They kept diving and flippering up, so I had to wait for a good photo. The museum was closed, so I missed the history lesson.

Continuing on the North Shore Trail, I skirted along above the rocky coast, with deep blue water and such nice green foliage. The trail is lined thickly with poison oak, so you must be careful, and the uneducated might experience quite the contact. I took pictures of the cypress forests. With good dynamic range, a digital camera picks up more details than does a film camera. I was careful to back up the best digital shots with a Kodachrome photo, worried now about another memory card failure. While the companies might replace them under warranty, you may lose the pictures you shot that time, or the storage you planned for.

More deep blue water and more coves marked the hike out to the west. Normally I'd think there would be many more tourists. The entrance here causes traffic back-ups on a good day. On my first visit, I was told that this is considered the most beautiful California State Park.

I came to the cypress grove out on the point, and had checked every viewpoint and side trail. There are good facilities at the main parking lot out here, and more people started to appear. I continued out to the point overlooking Devils Cauldron, a mixture of rocks and waves. The Pacific Ocean stretched out under the sun, and I saw no boats or ships. I guess the marine sanctuary status protects the area from undue commercial ship traffic.

I got an overview south along the rocky shore, seeing people playing out on the rocks. There is some beach in the preserve, although many signs warn against swimming or wading, due to the huge waves and deadly undertow.

Returning on the North Shore Trail, I took the side trip up Whalers Knoll, which was overgrown at spots with poison oak. What little exertion it was, for me, is compensated by more sights of greenery and beautiful stands of trees.

Coming back to the parking lot, divers were sorting their gear. Underwater exploration is a big part of the fun here.

I motored out of the park, back to Highway 1. Taking a side trip to charming Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, I had plenty of daylight. I snapped pictures of the buildings, with architecture and design a prime interest of mine. Flower gardens were nicely tended, and there are plenty of art galleries with interesting window fronts. Food is on the high side, so I figured hamburgers, or what, for me, later.

Still with daylight to shoot, I motored further north to Monterey, CA, and its Fishermans Wharf. The parking lot is metered, and by some terribly forgetful fluke, I forgot to deposit any quarters. I had changed my clothes, and started to snap pictures already. Luckily for me, maybe it was after work hours on this beginning of the weekend.

A nice wide bike trail runs along the coast, with cyclists, inline skaters, and pedestrians all sharing the spacious pathway. I took photos of the hundreds of boats docked, and then the restaurants and shops along the main pier.

The sun was still high in the sky, so I wondered on what I would do. I motored back over to Highway 101, with even a traffic jam, and then passed my choice of a motel stay in Gilroy, CA. I had planned to hike Saturday in the nearby Henry W. Coe State Park, having read about a new trailhead, but decided it wasn't worth the $55 I would then spend for lodging and food.

Motoring back to Interstate 5, I was quickly home after paying $2.139/gal. for regular.

I had walked some 5 miles total, with maybe 500 feet of gain. I shot some 220 digital images, and a roll of film. I have plenty of movie clips (5.8 MB, 1:32, 320 x 240 pixels) of the waves as well. Aside from using about a full tank of fuel, I spent only $15. For me, though, the round trip drive was over 400 miles. Few bugs and cool temperatures marked this hike on this first full day of spring.