Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monterey, California – Part I

One of my favorite places in the country to visit is the San Francisco / Monterey area of Northern California. I was fortunate enough to travel to the area many times on business over the years and a couple of times on vacation. Taking a look back... Our latest vacation trip to the area was in May of 2007 – we had a wonderful time.

We started our vacation in Monterey and spent three days taking in the sights of one of the most scenic areas in the world. The city of Monterey is not very large - about 11 square miles sitting on Monterey Bay. The focal point of the town (at least for tourists) is Cannery Row, with the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium sitting at the end. Cannery Row is a street along the bay, made famous by John Steinbeck, lined with long abandoned sardine canning factories, which have been turned into numerous shops and restaurants.

As beautiful as the scenery around the area is, the highlight to any visit to Monterey has to be the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the premiere aquariums in the world. From the huge kelp tanks to the penguins to the sea otters to the Monterey Bay habitats, you can spend days in the aquarium and not see everything. It was fascinating just standing in front of the huge kelp forest tank watching the many species of sea life swim by. I could have sworn that I saw Mr. Spock swimming along with them.
But the highlight for me was the “Jellies: Living Art” exhibit. I didn’t realize that there were so many varieties of jellyfish – from microscopic to huge. The fluorescent-lit exhibits of jellies lazily floating around with the current were just beautiful. I understand that there is currently a seahorse exhibit that is equally as amazing.

Jellyfish, Monterey Bay Aquarium by Lou Ford
Jellyfish, Monterey Bay Aquarium (Click for more info)

A visit to the Monterey peninsula wouldn’t be complete without a leisurely drive around the famous 17-Mile Drive. The area features some of the most expensive mansions and most beautiful and famous golf courses nestled among some of the most stunning seascapes in the world. I know a lot of people say that 17-Mile Drive is nothing special – I assume that those people are not golfers. To me it is a golfer’s and a photographer’s dream. As my kids said to me the last time they were there with us, “Can’t we drive more than 50 feet without you jumping out to take pictures?” The rocky coastline with the crashing waves, along with bird rock and seal rock make for beautiful photos.

As someone who played a lot of golf in the past, including a round at Pebble Beach Golf Links, just being able to walk around the Lodge and pro shop and see the 18th hole makes it worth the drive. Pebble Beach is just the most famous of the many world-class golf courses on the peninsula, including Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, and Spanish Bay.

Probably the most famous and most photographed sight along the drive is the Lone Cypress, symbol of the Pebble Beach Company, and object of much controversy regarding trademark and intellectual property infringement. The first time I came to the area was in 1969. Then you could walk out on the rocks to just a few feet from the tree, however, today you have to stay back at the road. The pictures of the Lone Cypress are still very stunning with Monterey Bay in the background.

Lone Cypress by Lou Ford
Lone Cypress (Click for more info)

On the coast, just off the 17-Mile Drive, lies the town of Pacific Grove, noted for its Victorian houses, the Point Pinos Lighthouse, and the annual migration of Monarch butterflies to the area. It’s also noted for the pink flowers that flourish along the coastline.

Pacific Grove by Lou Ford
Pacific Grove (Click for more info)

During our time in Monterey we had a very enjoyable stay at the Monterey Bay Inn, a small boutique hotel located on Monterey Bay. The hotel has very reasonable rates, free parking, and was very convenient – a scenic and easy 10-minute walk to Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We had a spacious room on the fourth floor with spectacular views looking directly out over the bay. I really enjoyed sitting on the balcony watching the otters and sea lions with the binoculars supplied in every room. Another nice feature was the complimentary breakfast every morning served right to your room.

If you have a chance, please check out my ImageKind Galleries and Flickr Collections

NEXT POST: Monterey, California – Part II


  1. Very nice pictures and great information.
    I loved your Jellyfish pictures how you got them so perfect. Did you take that with a Flash? Using a Digital Camera ?
    Very nice...maybe the best Jellyfish Picture I've ever seen.

    Anyways if you get time come visit by and say hi and post a message or link visit my Monterey Bay Pacific Coast Network....I wish you all the best.
    Keep up the great work !!
    here's my site...
    The Monterey Bay Pacific Coast Network
    Thanks LaVern Williams

  2. LaVern... Thanks for the kind words about my jellyfish picture. Flash never works wells through glass - too many reflections. You have to go to a high ISO to get a fast enough speed without flash. I've been using a Canon 30D digital camera. That particular shot was at ISO 1600, f4.0, 1/60 sec, 36.0mm focal length, flash off.

    I took a look at your site - tons of great info and pictures about Monterey.

    Lou Ford