Our story continues with the Great California Coastal trip. We rolled into the sleepy coastal town of Moss Landing on Dec. 16th. One of our missions on this trip is to see as many California Missions possible. Moss Landing KOA Express is a good launching site to explore the area from Santa Cruz to Carmel by the Sea. Soon after we set up, we hopped in the Jeep with Lyra and cruised over the marina bridge to the beach. Lyra had never seen the ocean and, boy, was she in for a surprise. Walking Lyra on the beach was like trying to put a two year old to bed. Not happening! A Local walked up to us with a big smile on his face. "Well, I've never seen a cat on this beach in my whole life!" Bam! Instant celebrity! The tale of the cat being walked on the beach will become a legend in this little town.
Watching the sun sink into the Pacific ocean felt like the world around us had melted with it. This is why we do what we do. Phil's Fish Market and Eatery is the Place to go when in town. Live music paired with exceptional ciopinno. Their ciopinno is so good that the Food Network's Bobby Flay did a feature about it.
The next day we worked our way up the coast to Santa Cruz. This was our first time. We drove onto the pier and ate lunch at Stagnaro Bros. restaurant's upper deck. With sweeping views of the bay and a lighthouse on the point, we couldn't have found a better place to enjoy the best seafood in Sana Cruz. By the way, it was my first time driving on a pier. Pretty cool.
We headed over to the Santa Cruz Mission. It was a quaint mission tuck next to the Catholic church. The day was still young so we decided to make the trek to Mission Soledad. It took about an hour of driving but since I was behind the wheel we went for it. We turned off HWY 101 down a roughly paved road through farmland. The little mission was surrounded by fields. We were greeted by two lovely ladies. They were sitting on the veranda knitting and selling lemons. Some day I would love to have their jobs. The mission was built in 1791 but reconstructed in the 1950's. The original mission had be excavated and markers told where the buildings were suppose to be. It always impresses me that these missions were not only spiritual places but an economic hub for travelers throughout California.
With a little light left in the sky we turned down the River Road which is known for its wineries. We stopped at the locally owned winery of Pessagno. I love going off season to places. There was only one other couple tasting and they were locals. Even though we were sharing a tasting she gave us a sample of all the wines on the menu. I am currently drinking their Rose while typing this blog. So delicious! She told us about the River Road wine region and, believe me, I wish I would have written it down. Some of their bold reds are 19%. Mike drove us home.
Our last day in Monterey Bay was spent in Carmel by the Sea. We were on a mission to see the Mission of Carmel. It did not disappoint. It is magnificently restored. If I were to marry Mike again, I would do it at Mission Carmel. It captures the history of its time. So far this is my favorite mission.
The Carmel Valley is known for great wines so of course we had to try some. Our fist stop was Folktale. It looked like a Spanish fairytale winery. We were greeted with Bubbles. Always a good start to any wine tasting. After strolling the grounds we settled in on the setti on their expansive patio area. Our server met up with us and we decided to share a tasting. She was very generous with the samples. The wine is good but with limited space in our rig we passed on buying any. The Carmel Valley Village is host to numerous wine tasting rooms. All the vineyards decided to create one location of tasting rooms since the mountains where the grapes are grown are windy and difficult to traverse. It's great for visitors because you can park and walk to all the wines in the region.
So far this trip has been fantastic. We have seen several missions and tasted some amazing wines. Next is Pismo Beach! More wine, more missions, more beach, more fun to come!
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.