This weekend's excursion took us south, towards the picturesque Monterey Bay. We rented a car and headed out Friday morning, after I hel...

Monterey Bay

This weekend's excursion took us south, towards the picturesque Monterey Bay. We rented a car and headed out Friday morning, after I helped at a morning master's row and had coffee with my mom!

On the road!
Our itinerary was pretty flexible. We started in Santa Cruz, at the northern end of the bay. We really liked the downtown and spent a few solid hours wandering around. We visited shops, walked down to the beach and I even managed to sneak in a few running miles along a river trail!

One of the "rides" at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The wharf in Santa Cruz. Dan took photos while I went running.

The trail was marked with mile markers, and I ran a timed mile. I'm not sure how accurate it was, but I clocked in at 6:52--the fastest mile I've ever run!

We ended our evening with a meal at Cafe Gratitude, a vegan, organic cafe that serves incredible food with a side of satisfied soul. It was the perfect start to a great weekend.

The hotel we booked was about 20 minutes down the coast, in a town called Watsonville. We visited Watsonville a month ago with my parents and sister+boyfriend. This time, it was mostly a stopping point before our next adventure.

Saturday morning, we feasted on cinnamon bread we'd picked up in Santa Cruz. We set out on the road relatively early, hoping to make it to Monterey before the crowds got too bad.

Unfortunately, we got distracted.

About ten minutes south of Watsonville, we found a huge farmstand, with some great deals. 70 cents a pound for grapes, 10 for a dollar grapefruits and 3 for a dollar red bell peppers, to name a few! We stocked up on fruits, veggies, chips and salsa, and had a feast in our car when we finally got to Monterey.

We did eventually make it to the aquarium, although it was super crowded. Having been before, I was less enthusiastic about the exhibits than Dan was. 

Still, we saw some pretty cool sights. After a brief nap in the car, we headed out for some driving, and a rest for our tired legs! Just south of Monterey, we drove along 17-mile drive, a beautiful coastal route filled with cypress trees--one of our favorites!

The route took us through Carmel-by-the-Sea, an expensive tourist trap. From there we headed to Salinas, to see what it held. It was completely the opposite of Carmel--total ghost town. We stopped in at a Nob Hill Foods to grab dinner supplies and made the drive back up towards Watsonville.

We hadn't booked another night at our original hotel, but they did have a room left and they agreed to give us late check out as well! Awesome!

We dined in our motel room, but it was quite decadent: individualized, largely organic salads; artisan chocolate; wine; and even a tablecloth to go with our plastic cups!

Sunday morning found us up and at 'em early again. We finished off some fruits from the farm stand and supplemented with cereal from home for breakfast. Well-fueled, we headed down to Moss Landing and rented kayaks! (We tried to rent boogie boards, but there was neither surf nor an open rental location. Bummer.)

We kayaked in a slough that was filled with seals, sea lions, otters, birds and jellyfish!!!! In fact, the exact jellyfish we'd seen at the aquarium! That was pretty awesome.

After kayaking, we headed back to our hotel, grabbed our stuff, and hit the road again. After a re-stocking stop at the farm stand, we headed north. Of all the places we visited, we liked Santa Cruz the best, so we went back. Dan visited the art store. I wandered. And we went back to Cafe Gratitude for (very late) lunch.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend! It was great to have a car to dump our stuff while we went on adventures, and we generally loved the freedom of having no set plans. We also did a really great job of managing our food on the road: we ate a lot of vegetables and whole grains, which helped our bodies feel a little bit more normal after a second weekend away from our own kitchen.

Now, it's back to work! Well, for Dan at least..

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