California Vacation - June '98

Thursday, June 18th

Night Flight to San Francisco

Our best airfare dictated that we fly from DFW to San Francisco in the evening, spend the night at one of the hotels near the airport, then start our vacation the next morning. While this wasn't the most exciting beginning to a vacation, it gave us the feel of getting away and provided the aire of a true start to the trip.

Friday, June 19th

The Pier in Pacifica

We started our drive to Carmel, which was our first destination. A little south of San Francisco we saw a pier extending out into the ocean. We decided to stop and check it out. It was much longer than it looks in this photo, and took a while to walk all the way out to the end. It was cold out there, but we got a great look at the ocean and saw a lot of the locals hauling in breakfast.

California's Highway 1

There may not be a more beautiful drive in the world. The road winds all along the shore, with some breathtaking views of the Pacific. We stopped every few miles at one of the scenic look-outs to check out the beauty of the ocean and the cliffs along the beach.

Beach St. Cafe in Santa Cruz

By the time we hit Santa Cruz we were starving, so we got off Highway 1 and went down to the boardwalk. The Beach Street Cafe was a neat little place to grab a meal. The food was great, and we got to sit and watch the people drifting by on the boardwalk.

Vagabond's House Inn

Hog's Breath Inn

Clint Eastwood's restaurant, the Hog's Breath Inn, has the best steak in Carmel. While you're waiting for a table, though, the courtyard has several fire places where you can have a drink and stay warm. Even in June the evenings are cold, so this was a welcome feature.

Carmel beach

After dinner we walked down to the beach in Carmel. The water was freezing, but the sunset was breath-taking. Many of the locals turn out to watch the sun go down. The walk along the beach was relaxing, and we actually had a great time playing in the sand!

Vagabond's House Inn Courtyard

The courtyard at the Vagabond's House has a huge tree covered in tiny white lights, along with a very relaxing waterfall. One of our favorite things to do is to grab blankets, bread, and a bottle of wine, and go sit out near the fountain. While we were out there two birds came along begging for food, so we fed them pieces of bread and had a wonderful time watching them.

Saturday June 20th

Breakfast - Vagabond

Breakfast was delivered to our room every morning at Vagabond's House, and it consisited of fresh fruit, pastries, and their own cereal blend. It was different every day, but it was always delicious.

Carmel by the Sea

Carmel is a town packed with small shops and galleries, and it is easy to lose a day or so just wandering around looking at everything. There are no big chain stores, franchises or anything like that - all the stores have local flavor.

Tor House

It is really hard to express how moving an experience this tour was. The poet Robinson Jeffers built this stone house with his own hands. We both fell in love with his poetry, and with the stories of the home that he build for his family. This is a required stop for any visit to Carmel.

Lunch - Bully III English Pub

This place was architectured to look like an English pub, and it fit the bill well. Mitchel had the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, which was a lot like a chicken fried steak on heavy toast, and Tami had the Charbroiled Chicken. It was a delicious lunch, and the barkeep was even able to pour up a perfect black & tan.

A Coffee Break

In the middle of our rampage through the shops and galleries, we found an alleyway that had an incredible coffee shop. We stopped for a cup, and had a relaxing time sitting there watching the world around us.

The General Store

The General Store was a real treat - it had fireplaces out in the courtyard to keep its patrons warm, and we were fortunate enought to dine beside one of them. The restaurant had a number of different dining rooms and patios. Part of its charm was exploring them all while we were waiting for our dinner. After a great meal, we bought a couple of Hamilton cigars to enjoy on the leisurely walk back to the B&B.

Sunday June 21st

Breakfast - Vagabond

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Fish Hopper

For lunch we went to the Fish Hopper where we grabbed a table with a sea-view, and watched a sea lion lounging on one of the nearby rocks jutting out of the ocean. Tami went for the Teriyaki Chicken, and Mitchel had the Fish & Chips - both were delicious. We also tried some of the local microbrews, the Humpback Pale Ale and Carmel Wheat.

Carmel Mission

Driving down to Big Sur

The drive to Big Sur was highly touted by everyone, so we decided to go for it this afternoon. There was some road repair along the way due to the damage by El Nino, but it was still a magnificant journey. We stopped for many of the photo-ops along the way. In this photo, you can see the famous Bixby Bridge.

Nepenthe Restaurant

We kept hearing that if we made the drive down to Big Sur, we had to go to the Nepenthe restaurant. It was an interesting place, but the view was its best asset. This view from the porch was one of our favorites from the entire trip.

Dinner at Toots Lagoon

A tropical atmosphere and great food made Toots the perfect place to stop for dinner. Our only problem here was sitting far enough away from the bar, where a television was on that might have given away the results from the NASCAR race that took place earlier in the day. We had it waiting for us back at home, and didn't want to hear anything to spoil it!

Monday June 22nd

Breakfast - Village Corner

On our last morning in Carmel, we decided to forego breakfast at our B&B and head for one of the local restaurants that we'd heard great things about, the Village Corner. As with many of the Carmel restaurants, this one had a fire pit to keep things warm during the morning chill. We ate a delicious breakfast along with the locals.

Gilroy Garlic Store

We'd heard about Gilroy being the "Garlic Capital of the World", so on the drive up to Napa we stopped to see what was there. While there wasn't much to see in town, we found the Gilroy Garlic Store which had every form of garlic food and gadget that you can imagine. We picked up several things, then got back on the road. The good folks at the store told us that things really get hopping in town during the yearly Garlic Festival, so maybe we'll get a chance to go back then.

Robert Mondavi Winery

Mondavi's was the first winery that we visited in Napa. The architecture was done in a California Mission theme, and the building and grounds were beautiful. The tour and tasting was free, but advance reservations are required. The stop at Mondavi was well worth the time!

Domaine Chandon Winery

We toured Domaine Chandon on our last Napa vacation, but we were so impressed that we decided to return. Their sparkling wine is one of our favorites, and the winery tour is not to be missed. The tour was free, but there was a small charge for the tasting.

La Belle Epoque

This Victorian-style Bed and Breakfast is in walking distance of downtown Napa. Our hosts gave a wine tasting in the evening that gave all the guests a chance to get acquainted and compare vacation notes. We also found a wonderful poem in our room (click here to read). The breakfast was a formal, sit-down affair that was truly a culinary delight.

Downtown Joe's

Downtown Joe's is one of our favorite west-coast brewpubs. The food is always good, but their hand-crafted beers are the best. Their selections were an India Pale Ale, a lager, a light ale, a dark ale, a bitter and a stout. The IPA (a style that neither of us care for) turned out to be one of the best - it was served at room temperature through a beer engine, which gave it an exquisite flavor. For details about their selections, click here.

Tuesday June 23rd

Niebaum Coppola

Lunch - Pometta Deli

Cakebread Cellars

Casa Madrona

Dinner - Horizons

Wednesday June 24th

Sasalito & Marina

Patterson's Public House

After walking around town, this was a welcome stop. In the evenings, the place is apparently packed. We hit it in the afternoon, though, so we were able to spend a lot of time visiting with the gentleman behind the bar. He told us many wonderful stories about the area, and gave us some great tips.

Marine Mammal Rescue Center

We're pet lovers extreme, so when we heard about this rescue center we just had to visit. The animals there were fabulous, even though they were being treated for a multitude of illnesses. Watching a sea lion climbing up a plastic slide and spashing into a large free-standing swimming pool was a trip highlight. These animals were great - it was like visiting a hospital for local marine mammals.

Cat & Fiddle Restaurant

This place had been recommended by several people, so we showed up for dinner. We asked for their best table for two, and we were treated to an intimate setting overlooking the bay. It was a very enjoyable experience, from the dining to the view, but in the course of our dinner we saw an interesting house boat parked out in the harbor.

Taj Mahal

The house boat that we saw from the Cat & Fiddle Restaurant was shaped exactly like the Taj Mahal. We walked out to it, and were amazed that someone could re-create this landmark on a houseboat so faithfully! It did draw us out into another great part of the trip, though, since we wouldn't have otherwise walked out onto the piers. Everything was pretty much deserted, so the wind blowing through the rigging of all those boats sang out in a very mysterious tune.

Thursday June 25th

Muir Woods

We were told to be at Muir Wood as soon as the park opened to avoid the tour busses, and we quickly understood why. We strolled though the giant trees alone, and it was almost like going to church - we really felt the presense of God. In fact, we took a one-mile side jaunt, and by the time that we were out of the park there were tour busses pulling in by the dozens. If you are in this area, you must visit Muir Woods - but get there early!

Pelican Inn

While we were in Napa someone told us that we should look up the Pelican Inn. We found it by accident, and since it was almost lunch time we stopped in for a few pints. Their pub is represented with many good beers, and you should certainly bring something from your hometown area to staple to the ceiling!

Lunch at Rooney's Cafe, Tiburon

We'd driven over to Tiburon, across the bay from where we were staying, and found a


Dinner - Spinnaker Restaurant

The Spinnaker was located out on the marina area, and was on an outcropping of rock that gave almost every table a view out into the bay. As with most of the restaurants, seafood was the specialty of the house. From our table, we could see San Francisco across the bay.

Friday June 26th

Underwater World at Pier 39

This was a new addition to Fisherman's Wharf, and it featured a lot of the marine life from the bay area. The aquarium was basically a huge tank with a glass tube for humans winding through it. We were carried through it on slow moving walkways, and there were plenty of guides to answer questions about the aquatic inhabitants.

Fisherman's Wharf

We took so many photos at Fisherman's Wharf that it was hard to decide what to put on the web page. We finally decided to show you what we enjoyed most - the sea lions playing and lounging around. Three of them had a "king-of-the-hill" game going on, pushing each other on and off of the piers. It was great fun to watch, and made us miss our bassets back home.

Lunch - Stinking Rose

Hands down, one of our favorite restaurants anywhere. Everything is made with garlic: appetizers, entrees, deserts, even the wine! We both had the 40 Clove Garlic Chicken, with an order of Bagna Calda (garlic cloves roasted in extra virgin olive oil and butter). Their motto is "We season our garlic with food!"

Ghirardelli Square

The famous Ghirardelli chocolate company used to be located at this complex, but now it's a collection of specialty shops. From our favorite, the dog store "Beast-ro by the Bay" to the delicious Ghirardelli chocolate store where the air inside even has a calorie-count, it's a wonderful place to spend a few hours.

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