America. / Cheesy / PCS

I left my heart on 17 Mile Drive

A perk that comes with each PCS is the opportunity to explore new parts of America the beautiful. On the Kentucky/Tennessee line, that beauty was mostly in bluegrass and bourbon. In Monterey, you can see that beauty in the Pacific Ocean every time you merge onto the coastal highway. (On a clear day, the ocean is even visible from our bedroom window. It’s going to be very difficult to leave California.)

So on Valentine’s Day, Jonathan and I celebrated our love for each other and our growing love for California by hopping just a few minutes down the road to take the famed 17 Mile Drive.

17 Mile Drive trip

Admittedly, Jonathan’s love for California is budding pretty slowly. I blame all the homework. And his very broad definition of the term “hippies.”

17 Mile Drive is an iconic driving route down the Monterey peninsula that boasts scenic viewpoints of the coastline. It also winds through the famous Pebble Beach golf course, where the non-menber, non-celebrity public absolutely cannot play golf, but they can grab a meal if they don’t mind coughing up several years of savings.

The drive itself is more on the frugal side, which makes it a great little Valentine’s Day getaway for military families; you gain admittance to one of the 17 Mile Drive entrances off of Highway 1 for $10 per car. And $0 extra per dog. This is easily the nicest place Loxley has ever peed.

Pescadero Point

I’ve said some harsh things about military life, but the army putting this view 10 minutes from my door erases up to half of those things.

Along the route, there are more than a dozen marked attractions where you can park your car to take in the views. And sometimes have a picnic, if the weather is cooperating. We got lucky on Valentine’s Day; the typical Central California winter rain disappeared briefly, and we were able to stop at beautiful Pescadero Point when the sun broke out.

Pescadero Point View

Of course as soon as we headed to the next vista point, the fog rolled immediately back in.

17 Mile Drive

The fog did not seem to bother Loxley.

17 Mile Drive coastline

Or the seagulls. Who were very aggressive.

We drove up the winding, wooded, 17 Mile Drive road, catching glimpses of the ocean’s changing colors through the fog and trees. Against the grey sky, the Pacific’s blues looked especially vibrant.

17 Mile Drive fog

When you could see them, that is. Photo credit to Jonathan so that he doesn’t sue me.

Perhaps the most famous spot on 17 Mile Drive is the Lone Cypress, which is exactly what it sounds like: a single cypress tree standing alone (apparently with some help from wires and cement these days) out on a bluff. I’ve seen this icon called “one of the most photographed trees” in America, which explains why it looked familiar when we pulled up.

The Lone Cypress

Not mentioned in the 17 Mile Drive brochure: the very friendly squirrel hanging out by the fence at the Lone Cypress vista point. I named him “potato chip,” because that’s what he was eating. So poetic.

The Lone Cypress Squirrel

Speaking of trees: 17 Mile Drive, though beautiful, is also home to the deceptively dangerous Ghost Tree–a big-wave surfing location off of Pescadero Point that is no longer legal to surf, because it’s relatively certain that you will die if you do. (Statement has been tested and proven by better surfers than you.)

17 Mile Drive Ghost Trees

These cypress trees, however, did not get their ghostly appearance from the deadly waves. Apparently they’re being eaten alive by beetles. Still creepy enough to warrant the name if you ask me.

We ended our drive with a second visit to Pescadero Point, where we watched the clouds roll on and off the mountains in the distance. Not a bad way to spend Valentine’s Day. Luckily a lot of other people thought so too, so we were able to solicit strangers for photo ops when we were tired of trying to get a decent 17 Mile Selfie.

17 Mile Drive Date

Yes; I wore a sweater dress covered with hearts. February 14th is the one day a year when I can validate having purchased that sweater dress.

We ended the day at home with a bottle of red California wine and a bottle of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to celebrate our past and our present, and to ignore the two PCS moves in our near future.

Valentines Day 2014

And then we had another bottle of wine. And a cookie jar shaped like a rooster, because my husband knows me very well.

If somebody were coming to your town for a weekend, what’s the one thing you’d tell them they must absolutely do or see?

3 thoughts on “I left my heart on 17 Mile Drive

  1. I always drag people to “The Sculpture Garden.” It’s a free outdoor exhibit tied to the Walker Art Center. Not only does it have nice meandering paths, but it also has cool sculptures as well. If that isn’t enough, you can cross the bridge to Loring park, which lets out into Downtown Minneapolis. The views are AMAZING.

  2. Pingback: Fort Ord from my bike | Army Pants And Flip Flops

  3. Comme to Toronto and I will not only tell you what to do, but show you!
    Since I can tell from your blog posts that you like hiking/walking/nature-is-awesome, I would bring you into the ravines, one of the best kept secrets from most tourists. You need to know the paths to find them.

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