We wouldn’t have driven up Rt 1 in the RV even if the road was open all the way to Monterey. Too extreme for too long. Yanks RV Resort and its excellent reviews came upon our radar and, when I couldn’t get a reservation at a couple of county parks on the way north and was not going to pay stupid prices for an RV site near Monterey, I booked Yanks for a few days. The drive out of Santa Cruz, east through the mountains, rather sucked. Too much weaving back and forth, up and down. Once we got to the 101, it was relax mode:
Having decided on Yanks, we figured we’d drive to Monterey, at least one day, cruise down Rt 1 to Big Sir, and then chill a day. What we didn’t realize was the primary attraction near us, Pinnacles National Park. What? How is it I didn’t know anything about this place?
We looked it up and found some interest – one of the largest congregations of California Condors in the world (California Condors are only found in, you guessed it, California), and a do-able hike that included passing through a cave.
So, let’s go chronologically. We headed for the coast. Our route took us a half mile out of the way so we could drive by the greenhouse-growfield that we were alerted to by someone in the park. Oooh, That Smell! Who sang that?
We got past that skunkiness, which was heavenly – why don’t the stinky candle makers come up with the odor of, say, Acapulco Gold, Cannatonic, Bubba Kush, or Alaskan Thunder Fuck, and, hey, who makes up these names, and drove into the mountains to emerge in Carmel. Carmel, on the weekend, is a cluster fuck. The traffic is horrendous. So don’t go on weekends. Who would want to live here?
Getting past the traffic, we headed south on Rt 1 to Big Sur. We went about 20 miles or so. If we hadn’t driven an hour and a half, the long way, to get there, we would have gone much further. Pretty damn beautiful!
We came upon a few of people who looked like they were rehearsing for that asteroid movie that created killer waves:
Though, it also could have been a common Turkey Vulture. We’re going with the Condor gliding majestically around the cliffs of Big Sur.
Next day we drove up the 101 a little bit to Pinnacles National Park. Reading more about the hike to the cave we took off, hoping my friggin leg would hold out. It was a 1.6 miles hike – very short compared to the ones we took pre-surgeries, and 7 miles now seems like the moon – with the first three-quarters a climb among the pinnacles.
Oh, it was drizzling at times.
When we got back to the RV, we read the brochure in more detail – cell phone flashlights are not sufficient and because of scrambling over wet rocks, should be stowed away in a safe place to prevent from breaking. Oh. We used cell phone flashlights.
As we approached the cave, we ran into a large family that had just come out of it. They looked quite disheveled and a bit like deer in headlights. We inquired about the cave, specifically, about my ability to get through it. The mom looked at my cane and said, “No, turn back.”
So we turned back.
Are you kidding me? Tell me I can’t do something? That’s all I needed to hear. Onward into the darkness. And it was pitch black through a lot of it. Using the camera without a flash was not going to work. With the flash, it looks pretty easy:
As we were told, it took about a half hour to go through. With our minimally effective flashlights, we sometimes thought we were in dead-ends, but with some climbing up wet rocks and crawling on hands and knees through one narrow passage, we finally saw the light.
It wasn’t exactly sunlight but we were out.
What a hidden gem. Best surprise of the trip so far.
Clint, you can keep Carmel-By-The-Sea and your hoity-toity golf course at Pebble Beach. Onward to Monterey’s northern neighbor, Santa Cruz.