Slightly overcast a wisp of sea mist blankets itself upon the land making it feel mystical. Crooked trees hunch over as if they need walking sticks, the white foam of the sea explodes on the rocks spraying everything in its path and eager golfers are wrapped up warm defying the elements. Salty sea air dampens our skin as we twist and turn around the wild wind-swept coastline otherwise known as 17 mile drive.
We are exploring a part of the Californian coast by bike, cycling towards the historic town of Monterey famous for its superb aquarium and iconic Cannery row. The 17 mile drive road easily takes us into Monterey.
It guides us to a coastal bike trail surrounded by a patchwork of plants. The plants coat the earths rocky edge down to the water and we stop often to admire the contrasting colours. We pedal past sleepy wooden homes overlooking the bay and romantic couples sitting on benches gazing out to sea.
Cannery row is busy and we continue pedalling knowing we can visit at a later date. A huge mass of Sea lions can be heard barking in the distance as they laze by the water’s edge on one of the concrete piers.
Approaching Fisherman’s wharf we spot what resemble giant sausages lying a top the lone rocks in the harbour. With a closer look we realise they are dozing seals trying to catch rays of sunshine. From our view-point I am sure they are smiling?
We walk our bikes on the wharf with restaurant staff offering free tastings of Clam chowder – Each restaurant competes to tempt us into their place for a bit of fresh seafood. We refuse politely and keep walking.
At the end of the wharf we are treated again to more wildlife. A couple of energetic sea otters roll and dive through the kelp before lying belly side up to happily munch on mouth-watering shell-fish. I am captivated by their playful antics.
Back on the bike seats the coastal trail takes us away from the wildlife of Monterey through golden sand dunes towards the busy roads of Seaside town. Here the bike trail continues north with the highway on one side, the rise and dips of coastal hills on the other. The eerie sea mist returns, slowly setting around us. We see many sandy walking trails disappearing over the hills and curiosity entices us to follow one of them.
We leave the cycle trail and pedal down a rocky path heading between sandy cliffs to the music of the ocean. An audience of an empty beach awaits with angry waves pounding themselves into the sandy punch bag.
Big clumps of slimy seaweed lay like long leather belts. We pretend we’re cowboy hustlers spinning our huge seaweed lassoes above our heads as we battle with the cool breeze. It is a small challenge cycling back on the incline of the rocky path but get there in the end, the mist disappears as the sun is getting ready to shine.
The Castroville farmers fields spread out before us and our stomachs began to grumble. A pit stop at a local farmers stall allow us the opportunity to experience the unique taste of deep-fried artichokes. Artichokes are plentiful here and being a novice I can now say I certainly have a taste for the green leaves of this vegetable.
The town of Castroville is our turnaround point and the cycle back to Monterey allows us the chance to enjoy the coast for a second time in the sunshine. I have a feeling that those sausage-shaped seals were actually smiling – who wouldn’t be smiling living in such a beautiful place?