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