I live in Sacramento, known for politicians, tomatoes, and hot weather.
And while I love living here, I am always glad when I have an opportunity to drive to Monterey and visit my stepdaughter, Carrieanna.
Not only is Monterey cooler than Sacramento (which is very important to Carrieanna, as heat exacerbates her MS), but it is also abundant with flora, fauna and beautiful scenery!
Naked ladies, lilies …
Pelicans, loons and seagulls …
stunning sunrises, boat reflections … for an amateur photographer like me, the list goes on and on!
And because I enjoy walking, I often spend my mornings – camera in hand – walking along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, which is very wheelchair friendly, and a wonderful way to enjoy the Monterey waterfront.
Although the 18-mile trail runs from Castroville to Pacific Grove, I generally spend my time walking between Lovers Point (Pacific Grove)
and the commercial wharf (just a little north of Fisherman’s Wharf).
Many favorite tourist attractions are easily accessed from the trail. Cannery Row, with its abundance of shops, restaurants and hotels, is one block toward the bay, running parallel to the trail.
At the end of Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium — a favorite destination for children of all ages!
On a weekday morning, the coastal trail is fairly quiet: Joggers and cyclists, people walking their dogs, and, very occasionally, a group of people pedaling a surrey (a canopied quadricycle – possibly more work than they bargained for!)
I enjoy listening to the sounds of the bay as I walk: The waves breaking on the rocks, the squawk of seagulls, the occasional barking of seals.
Shortly after walking past the Aquarium, I enter Pacific Grove.
A familiar pungent scent tells me that I am near the little cove where Harbor Seals hang out and sun themselves. And have babies.
Springtime is pupping season, and visitors are encouraged to enjoy the bay view without disturbing the new babies and their mamas.
During my recent visit a portion of Ocean View Boulevard, adjacent to the pupping area, was being repaired. To minimize the disturbance to the new seal families, the fence was covered with tarp-like material – with a small section left open so visitors could see the seals.
The fence and viewing area is a little way off the Coastal Trail, but with a little assistance from a companion (or using her motorized wheelchair), I’m sure Carrieanna could get close enough to see the seals.
Walking toward Lovers Point, I am reminded of the first time I walked this trail. It was April of 2006, and I was part of Team Carrieannamals, joining Carrieanna and many of her friends as we supported the annual MS Walk.
The trail is wide enough to accommodate the crowd which, naturally, includes people using wheelchairs, walkers, canes and other types of assistive devices.
The trail has also been used by the local MS Quality of Life Project for their annual Walk and Roll fundraiser.
Although the Coastal Trail continues on to Asilomar State Beach and, further, to the famous 17-Mile Drive, I generally only go as far as Lovers Point.
I sometimes walk the Coastal Trail in the opposite direction, heading toward Fisherman’s Wharf, another favorite tourist attraction.
Not only is the trail user-friendly for people on foot, on bicycles, or in a wheelchair, but benches can also be found along the way for those who want to sit and enjoy the view.
Although Fisherman’s Wharf has many shops and restaurants,
I generally bypass it and walk past the Marina,
on my way to the commercial wharf .
I especially enjoy visiting this wharf in the morning, when the fish companies are doing business – and the pelicans stand in line to get their fair share!
The sea lions also hope for a handout!
While there are not many restaurants on this wharf, a little diner called LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle always seems to be busy during breakfast time!
While my walk generally ends at this wharf, the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail does continue northeast, going through Seaside, Fort Ord, Marina and on to Castroville.
Perhaps on a future visit to Monterey, I’ll head that direction …..